“Okay, but what happens if I get caught?”
“Jazz who?” he said theatrically. “The delivery girl? I barely know her. Why would she do such a thing? I’m baffled.”
“I see how it is.”
“I’m just being honest. Part of the deal is your word that you won’t drag me down if you get caught.”
“Why me? What makes you think I can even pull this off?”
“Jazz, I’m a businessman,” he said. “My whole job is exploiting underutilized resources. And you are a massively underutilized resource.”
He stood and walked to the credenza for another pour. “You could have been anything. Didn’t want to be a welder? No problem. You could have been a scientist. An engineer. A politician. A business leader. Anything. But you’re a porter.”
“I’m not judging,” he said. “Just analyzing. You’re really smart and you want money. I need someone who’s really smart and I have money. Are you interested?”
“Hmm…” I took a moment to think. Was it even possible?
I’d need access to an airlock. There are only four airlocks in the whole city and you have be a licensed EVA Guild member to use them—their control panels check your Gizmo.
Then there was the three-kilometer trip to the Moltke Foothills. How would I do that? Walk? And once I was there, what would I do? The harvesters would have cameras and film everything in a 360-degree arc for navigational purposes. How would I sabotage them without getting spotted?
Also, I smelled bullshit in the air. Trond had been squirrely and evasive about his reasons for getting into aluminum. But it was my ass on the line if something went wrong, not his. And if I got caught I’d get exiled to Earth. I probably couldn’t stand up on Earth, let alone live there. I’d been in lunar gravity since I was six.
No. I was a smuggler, not a saboteur. And something smelled off about the whole thing.
“I’m sorry, but this isn’t my thing,” I said. “You’ll have to find someone else.”
“I’ll give you a million slugs.”
What’s new? Haven’t heard from you in a few days. Did you get into the chess club?
What kind of junior high chess club has entrance requirements, anyway? Are they so impacted with applicants they have to turn some away? What, like they don’t have enough chess boards? Only so many tables? Limited number of pocket-protectors?
My school is trying to put me in the gifted classes. Again. Dad totally wants me to go, but why should I? I’m probably just going to be a welder. I don’t need differential calculus to stick pieces of metal together. Sigh…
Hey, so what happened with Charisse? Did you ask her out? Or talk to her? Or indicate in any way that you exist? Or are you sticking with your brilliant plan to avoid her at all costs?
Sorry, I’ve been busy with extracurricular stuff lately. Yes, I got into the chess club. I played several games to establish my skill level and they rated me at 1124. That’s not very good, but I’m studying and practicing to become better. I play against my computer every day and now I’ll get to play against people too.
Why don’t you join the gifted classes? Academic achievement is a great way to honor your parents. You should consider it. I’m sure your father would be very proud. My parents would love it if I could get into the advanced classes. But math is hard. I keep my grades up, but it’s hard.
I have resolve, though. I want to make rockets, and you can’t do that without math.
No, I haven’t talked to Charisse. I’m sure she wouldn’t be interested in a boy like me. Girls like boys who are big and strong and who beat up other boys. I’m none of those things. If I talked to her, I would just get humiliated.
I don’t know where you’re getting info about girls but you’re WRONG. Girls like boys who are nice and make us laugh. We DON’T like boys who get in fights and we don’t like boys who are stupid. Trust me on this. I’m a girl.
Dad has me helping out around the shop. I can solo the simpler jobs. He pays me, which is nice. But he stopped my allowance now that I have an income. So now I’m working for a little bit more than I was getting for free. Not sure I’m on board with that plan but whatever.
Dad’s having problems with the Welders’ Guild. Around here, you can either be freelance or part of the guild. And the guild doesn’t like freelancers. Dad doesn’t have a problem with guilds as a rule, but he says the Welders’ Guild is “mobbed up.” I guess they’re pretty much owned by Saudi organized crime. Why Saudi? I don’t know. Almost all the welders here are Saudis. We’re just the people who ended up controlling the welding industry.
Anyway, the guild forces people to join with bullshit tactics. Not like in movies where they threaten you or anything. Just rumormongering. Floating stories that you’re dishonest and you do shitty work. Stuff like that. But Dad spent his whole life building a reputation. The fake rumors just bounce off. None of his customers believe them.
That’s too bad about the Welders’ Guild. There are no unions or guilds at KSC. It’s a special administrative zone and the normal laws that help unions don’t apply. KSC has a lot of power in the Kenyan government. There are many special laws for them. But KSC is a boon to all of us and they deserve special treatment. Without them we would be poor like other African countries.