Author: Andrew N. McCue

I was 15 when I left home. Replacing schoolbooks from my pack with clothes and food, I steal my mother’s favorite can opener, some flatware and a small stash of cash.

I walk mostly or hitch. Standing on the side of a road I read stapled, tacked and nailed sheets of paper on a power pole; lost cats, yard sales, a suicide prevention lifeline flyer with a few tear-off phone numbers missing and an advert for a free palm reading.

My food supply dwindling, I hope the palm reader offers snacks.

It takes me two days to work my way to the palm reader’s address. Not a horse drawn wagon
or a purple stucco house but a high-rise office building. I go up an elevator and am greeted at a door. Not by big hoop earrings or a gold tooth but by a sharp looking business dressed woman. Maybe she’s my mother’s age.

She shows me to a room with a table. We sit on either side, and she guides my palm-side-up hands under a scope thing. She peers into a pair of eye pieces and makes small noises as she adjusts knobs. The light on my palms brightens.

She looks up from the scope thing. “You have an unusually long lifeline,” she says. She says some other things but I’m mostly wondering where the snacks are.

“We’ll be in touch,” she says as she walks me from the room to an elevator.

“I don’t have a phone or an address,” I say.

“We’ll find you,” she says.

At a mission, I get a hot meal, a shower and a place to sleep. In the morning an army type in a suit and two uniformed army types are standing over me.

“Will you come with us, please,” the suited one says.

“No thank you,” I say and roll over.

The two uniformed army types manhandle me off my cot. In handcuffs, they escort me from the mission. I’m hoping they will offer me snacks.

That was 19 years ago. Standing watch on the starship’s bridge at one-twentieth of the speed of light we still have at least 70 more years before we reach Rigil Kentaurus.

But that’s okay. I’ll still be around. I have an unusually long lifeline.