Tuesday, 11 July 2023 00:00

Professional Courtesy

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It’s amazing what you find when you clean.

Once upon a time I commuted to a job in down town Atlanta using MARTA (Metro Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) and on those buses and trains I carried with me a revolving collection of spiral bound notebooks where I jotted down ideas for stories as they came to me. It made for an interesting way to pass the commute. For the most part they were written down for my admittedly bad memory and never gotten back to.

And then I met Maggie Finson and Bek D. Corvin

I was graciously included in the group that founded the Circle of Friends Universe and, in the midst of brainstorming for it I recalled a story I’d jotted down in one of those notebooks and forgotten about. I mentioned it to my new friends and it took on a life of its own.

From that collaboration sprang such tales as The TLC War , The Best and the Brightest, my own Guardians of the Gates of Madness, The Martian Conspiracy and, of course,The Song of Corazon. You know it as the Care Giver’s Universe.

What follows is its birth, an extremely short story hand written on a MARTA train in 1989. I found it once more going through some boxes and immediately thought it might be of some interest to my fans. I’ve only corrected it’s (many) spelling mistakes so bear that in mind. Nothing has been added or tinkered with, other than transcribing it from its hand written form. Think of it as a peek into a writer’s brain.


A Care Givers Company Tale

Professional Courtesy

By E. E. Nalley


“Hello, my name is Sylvia; I’m from the Care Giver’s Company. I’ve been assigned to your ship.”

She was very pretty; more pretty than Taylor had realized as she came down the row of airlocks to his berth. She was dressed in pink flight togs with the stylized CGC logo on the shoulder and the name Martin on the tape over her breast.

Her hair was gathered at the nape of her skull in an attractive, if somewhat sever style. Surprisingly, she wore no makeup and the flat soled shoes with the metal plate in the rubber for artificial gravity like everyone else. She was nothing like he had expected. The Spacer’s arm jerked out to take the grip she offered, a burn of embarrassment coloring his face. Her grip was warm and firm; she met his gaze easily. “Eugene Taylor, I’m the Captain ofAll American.

“How do you do, Captain?” she shifted the pink tote bag on her shoulder. “How many crewmen will be on board?”

“Just me.”

She smiled. “Oh, I see. Good. I was hoping for a small crew my first tour and I’ve gotten it better than I’d hoped for. What class isAll American?

“She’s home built. Ford 324 engine and drive control system.” Sylvia blinked.

“Youbuiltyou ship?” Eugene felt his blush deepen. She picked up on it and became a little apologetic. “I take it I’m the first representative of Care Givers you’ve dealt with, Captain?” The man nodded. “Why did you come to us?”

“Insurance discount, mostly. Somebody to talk to, another hand to help out… You do live up to the ad, don’t you?”

“Space man’s best friend,” she quoted brightly. “I’m a qualified astrogator, and I’m familiar with the 324; it’s usualmaintenance, that sort of thing. I have your copy of the contract in my bag…” She went to rummage in her bag, but Taylor stopped her.

“We can see to that later. Uh, let me show you around.”

They ducked through the hatch into a small airlock prep room. The walls were circular with a flat suspended decking on the floor. “She’s built in compartments, similar to the old Skylab modules. I based a lot of her design on that,” admitted the Captain. Sylvia looked at the decking.

“Magnetic artificial gravity, very impressive.”

“I usually leave it off. I can run with it if you like.”

“No need to on my account.”

“Well, um…” He led the way through an airtight hatch into a room of about the same size. “…Now, this is the ships shops for in flight repairs.”

“Looks complete.”

He pointed at the aft bulk head. “The ship’s built in three separate compartments, linked by tube steel. They’re joined by locks, each with a separate emergency gas system.” They went through the double door-ed lock to emerge with a stairway up on their immediate right. “The flight deck is up there. Most of the computer stuff is under the stairs through that hatch.” He went through another air tight hatch, passed one door and opened the middle of three.

“This is your room. Mine’s the one forward; aft is the galley. Through that lock there is the Engineering Compartment.”

Sylvia noted a hand rail ladder set into the steel, leading up to a hatch in the ceiling. “Where does this go?”

“The cargo pod, up top.” Sylvia entered the small room and sat on the edge of her bed.

“This is very cozy, Captain Taylor. I believe I’m going to enjoy our time together.” Taylor turned beet red and his eyes began wondering about the compartment, anywhere but on Sylvia. “Did you get my EVA suit?”

“I stored it in the airlock with mine. You’re EVA qualified?”

“Care Givers is a full service firm, Captain. I’m not only EVA qualified, I’m an expert wielder, am familiar with your engine system, fully certified technician of liquid hydrogen/LOX oxidizer fuel systems and I make a mean apple pie.”

“In addition to…”

She smiled, then opened her bag and produced a document protector. “Here’s our contract, Captain. Length of tour, six months with a re-sign option if we’re happy with each other; hazardous duty bonus, other than that it’s a standard Care Givers contract.”

She offered the documents which Taylor accepted as calmly as he could. “Well, let’s get under way. The flight deck’s this way.”

She smiled once more and nodded. “The terms are satisfactory then?”

“Ye..yes, fine.”


* finis *
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