Author : Jay Knioum, Featured Writer

I’m getting grease on my sandwich when she walks in. The whole hangar pretends to be busy while throwing glances at her.

She looks around, finds me, smiles. She’s walking my way, but her eyes are all for her baby. I’ve been pulling extra shifts getting her baby ready to fly.

There’s a monkey on her shoulder. It leaps off, and scrambles into the cockpit.

She tosses her goggles on top of my workbench, brushes a braid away from her shoulder. “How’s she look?”

Perfect, I want to say, but that wasn’t the question. “I patched your oil leak, unstuck your throttle problem. Had to replace your altimeter, but I told you that.”

“Yeah, you told me that.” Her eyes are brown. Could’ve sworn they were blue. They’re blue in my dreams.

Those brown eyes are turning the ship over and over. My eyes? Well, I guess they’re doing ungentlemanly things, but they snap back to attention when she speaks.

“Am I loaded?” she says.

I shake my head, grinning. “Yeah. The clockguns are all bolted in and topped off, but the extra weight’s gonna drag ass.”

She smiles, and not like a lady would. “I might have to shoot somebody this time.”

I don’t ask. I don’t, usually. She wouldn’t answer anyway.

She presses against me. She smells like sweat and diesel, but it’s like flowers to me. When she pulls away, her goggles are gone from the workbench. In their place is a stack of League bearer notes, every one a little singed. Blood on the top of the stack. Still good. More than the usual amount.

“Thanks.” She grins, walks away and climbs aboard her baby. The monkey sticks its tongue out at me as the ship roars to life, rotors spin up and pinions unfold.

The Aphrodite takes to the wind again, and I’m just standing here holding my wrench.

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