Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
My orbit is not done. I cannot accept this. A few hours drifting have forced me to admit my stupidity. All the times I cleared up after him, excusing his selfishness as something special, like he shouldn’t have to act decently toward other people.
“Damn you, Neil. Damn you. May perfect stars shine over your unmarked grave.”
His voice is faint: “Danny, that’s no way to say goodbye. This find will let me live the life I’ve been kept from. I’ll never forget what you’ve given me, this wonderful gift of wealth and happiness. I might even see if I can support Myra through her grieving. She never understood why you left her.”
“I left her for you! You needed bailing out of jail on Rustel! I walked away from her and mortgaged everything so I could spend a year at high burn to go and save you. A year! You promised you’d speak to her for me. You told me you were sure she’d come round. Then you told me she’d moved on. Now you’re telling me she’ll grieve? You lying, self-obsessed bastard.”
The laughter over the communicator is getting fainter. He must be nearly out of range.
“Please. That’s charismatic lying bastard. After all, I got to console her over you taking off to follow me all over the galaxy. She was so hurt that you’d sent me to make your excuses.”
I try to let the anger out, but it’s too big for my mouth.
Neil continues: “I can’t help it if your lack of good looks and self-esteem made you latch onto me. I did you a favour. Remember all the good times we shared?”
“You mean all the times I found you’d slipped away with the prizes and then had to save you from the lies you told to get those prizes in the first place? Up yours. I might not be the best-looking man in the cantina, but at least I have some decency.”
“Which is why you end up watching porn while I get served, wind up penniless while I make a mint. How many times have I showed up to pull you out of hock?”
“About as many times as you left me to carry the can and only came back when you needed my spaceship to escape the towers of lies you could no longer support.”
There’s a pause, then a chuckle.
“You’re right. But my version plays better. A little philanthropy always makes me look good.”
A series of staccato noises come from the speaker, followed by the whistle of venting atmosphere.
“Danny! There are holes in the cabin! What do I do?”
I can’t help myself: “Don’t panic. You’re in your suit. Just reach to the left, grab my spare helmet and put it on.”
“Why am I in my suit? I’m inside a spaceship.”
A familiar voice cuts in: “Because you’re playing it safe while in a dense asteroid belt, you idiot.”
Neil and I chorus: “Myra?”
“Your chances of an accident increase when you’re looting alien tombs for the memorial gems they make out of their dead. Those odds turn to a dead cert when I find you trying to abandon my idiot of a lover by stealing his ship. You’re vermin and I’m done being reasonable.”
His last words are not kind. Myra ignores him.
“Danny? After we dump the body, salvage your ship, and put the jewels back, we’re going to have a long talk.”
I’m a fool with woman trouble, and am very happy to be alive for it.