The catwalk was narrow, rusty, and in violation of at least four safety codes, but Juan didn’t care. When he stepped from the concrete landing by the elevator onto the precarious metal walkway, he grinned. It was a good day.
“Eight pounds seven ounces,” he told his coworker for the sixth time. Still, Jamal afforded him a hearty chuckle as he dragged the heavy light-box from the elevator. “Juanita. I like the sound of that. It’s a good, solid name, right?”
Jamal grunted an affirmation. “Get the other end of this, would you?”
Juan returned to the landing and grabbed the handle without breaking from his train of thought. Together, they hauled the metal crate onto the catwalk. Nine thousand feet beneath them, the light-studded skeleton of San Diego was recumbent with sleep, twinkling lazily in the hours before artificial dawn. Somewhere, in the more twilit area to the south, Carmen and Juanita were sound asleep in the concrete cradle of their home.
“She’s smart, you can tell already. Her eyes are all open and she keeps looking at stuff. She’ll be a city planner, I bet, if I can get the money for taxes. Or a doctor. Doctor Juanita Del Rosa. She’ll live on the upside.”
Again, Jamal grunted. “How much was the hospital bill?”
“Four thousand,” Juan said. “That included registration, though. And taxes aren’t due for a month. If we sell the car, we’ll be class A next year and everything’ll be covered.”
“We’ve been planning for years,” he said. Juan swung his end of the light box over the edge of the railing and hopped down to the broad, flat surface of the sun panel. Jamal lowered his end slowly, but it still fell the last six inches with a shuddering clatter.
“Christ!” Jamal yelled. “Pay attention!”
Juan dragged the crate to section 34-b, where the carbon-copied orders directed him. “Doctor Juanita Del Rosa,” he repeated with a smile.
“Ain’t no maintenance-worker’s kid gonna be a doctor,” Jamal snapped, now irritated at his partner’s lack of focus. Juan was unfazed. He popped the latch of the light box and Jamal leaned in, checking the massive LED panel for cracks.
“She will. You watch.”
“So what are you going to tell her, then, when she comes home crying because all the scientists’ kids are making fun of her? Daddy’s an ‘illumination technology specialist?'”
“I’ll tell her the truth,” Juan said as he slid the black and silver pane into its slot. “I’ll tell her I keep the sun from burning out.”