Author : Benjamin Fischer
Basajaun sighed and rubbed the sweat from under his eyes. A shadow had fallen across reflected rays of his private sun.
â€œWhat is it you want?â€ he asked, blinking and groggy.
The shade resolved itself into the slim image of a woman standing over him.
â€œMr. Miquel, I am Yasamin Judd,â€ she said. Mocha skin, some sort of South Asian. Medium of height, medium build, dressed in a generic gray skintight softsuit that could have belonged to one of a thousand extraterran concerns.
â€œThey always send a pretty one,â€ Basajaun muttered.
â€œThe spa staff granted me entrance,â€ Yasamin said.
Basajaun grunted and made no attempt to cover himself. Lying flat and naked on a cedar deck chair, he rubbed his belly.
â€œYou are from Palamos?â€ he asked her.
â€œYes, I represent the Pioneer Union of Palamos.â€
Basajaun fumbled around at his side.
â€œPioneer Union. Hmph,â€ he said, bringing a bulb of oil up to his prominent stomach and farting out a glob onto his belly button.
â€œWe wish to renegotiate-â€ Yasamin continued.
â€œRenegotiate,â€ Basajaun said, an ugly look on his face like heâ€™d just caught a whiff of something foul.
â€œYes,â€ said Yasamin.
â€œHave you read the contract?â€ Basajaun asked the woman. He began to rub the oil in slow circles around his paunch.
â€œThen there is nothing to renegotiate,â€ Basajaun said. â€œThe contract explains all.â€
Yasamin made to open her mouth again, but he waved her off.
â€œNo renegotiation,â€ he said. â€œIf you had found nothing on that rock, would you come running to me? No. You would have taken my wages and been happy for them. But now that there is copper and platinum at Palamos and you grow greedy.â€
â€œWe are not looking for a higher percentage,â€ Yasamin replied with patience.
â€œBullshit,â€ Basajaun barked. â€œI have hired gypsies and tinkers and jews before–you always want more.â€
â€œSir, the Union remains ever grateful for your employment,â€ Yasamin said.
â€œThen be silent,â€ he replied.
â€œWe are,â€ said Yasamin. â€œThese negotiations exist purely between us. The Union does not wish to give the appearance of labor difficulties at Palamos.â€
Basajaun rotated a pair of beady eyes onto the woman.
â€œSo thatâ€™s your threat?â€ he said.
Yasamin shifted on her feet.
â€œWhat to you want?â€ Basajaun asked.
â€œRights to the asteroid,â€ Yasamin said.
â€œMinus the heavy metals?â€ he replied.
â€œMineral rights will be maintained per the existing contract,â€ she answered.
Basajaun shut his eyes and sighed.
â€œI donâ€™t understand–that rock is worth shit without the platinum,â€ he murmured. â€œAnd thatâ€™s all you want.â€
â€œWe want a place to call home,â€ Yasamin replied.
Basajaun shook his head.
â€œThe membership of the Pioneer Union consists mostly of refugees,â€ started Yasamin.
â€œI know, I know,â€ said Basajaun. â€œThose without hope will work in the worst places for the worst pay. I know this–it is why I hired you.â€
â€œFinish the extraction a month before the scheduled time and the rock is yours,â€ he said.
â€œThank you, sir-â€
â€œGo away. I have to tan my ass,â€ Basajaun said.
Yasamin nodded politely and backed out of the sun booth. Basajaun could see that she was trying not to smile too broadly.
When she was gone, Basajaun looked up at the heavy mirror high above him. There the sun blazed away, its glare beading up the sweat on his cheeks and his chest. Almost hidden in its rays was a tiny sliver of blue and white where the ruins of a flooded Costa Brava fishing village lay blistering under a similar heat.
The deck chair creaked like the worn planks of an old trawler.
Basajaun sighed and rolled over.