“I Love you, too.” Chuck lingered between breaths, he tried desperately to wear the words as his own, but they fell off of him like a poorly tailored suit.

“What would I do without you?” Jenny was enamored; her fingers danced lightly atop Chuck’s head, pulling together follicles of his hair and whisping them gently like tall grass as she reached the ends. Every three strokes or so, Chuck would get agitated by the state of his head and mash his hair back down. “You’re funny, you know that?”

“That’s the way I like my hair.”

“Well..” Jenny went back to work on his hair.

“Stop!” He smacked her hand away. “I said, stop! It’s not cute, so cut it out!” He was obviously agitated, but she couldn’t catch a hint if it parked in bed between the both of them.

She continued.

Chuck got out of bed and made his way to the shower; he only had eighteen minutes to clean himself up, shovel something he could call breakfast in his mouth, and make it to the trade depot before the auctions started.

Thirty minutes later.

“Plous! You’re late!” Harry was Chuck’s boss. Big, loud type, you couldn’t forget him if you tried. He had this thing for calling everyone by their last name.

Chuck hated it.

“What’d I tell you, son?” Chuck hated being called son even more. “Five minutes early is on time and…”

“And being exactly on time is late… yeah, yeah. I got it on the first day like everyone else.” Chuck just kept walking in, herding Harry with him whether he wanted to or not.

“You’ve got to take this all a little more seriously, kid.” Chuck didn’t mind “kid”, he just minded Harry and kept his aim truly pointed towards his desk. “You may be the only thing I’ve got that’s close enough to a successor in this whole damn port. Just know that I count on you, a lot, and if you’re gonna make an honest woman out of my little Jenny someday, then you need to be on time.”

Chuck lightened up and tried to put his arm across the big man’s shoulders as they made their final approach to his office door. “Simms, you’re a good man!” Chuck smiled openly as he patted Harry on his back. “And I intend on taking every cue and savory piece of advice you’ve got to offer, but I have an auction lot coming in five minutes…”

“And you’ve got to be on time!” Harry fell right into Chuck’s trap.

“Genius! You’ve got it! Who am I kidding? You’ve always got it!” Chuck found that a sizeable amount of praise was enough to fill up Harry’s ego until the next employee came in exactly on time.

The neurotic young man directed his attention to fumbling with his keys and made his way into the private office.

“You’re late, Chuckie.” A firm silhouette was sitting upon the mass he called a desk. Gina lit a cigarette, temporarily giving gaze to her visage.

“Jesus.” Chuck quietly bit his lip and looked to the heavens. The only light in the room sat behind the dame blocking his way. “Thank you.” Chuck was allergic to monogamy.


Gina remedied the visibility problem; She was clad in skip rider jeans, a big belt buckle, a grimy tank, and a loose rider jacket from before the war with a flight patch that said Soarin’ Seven! Her boots had steel toes, the toes had spikes, the spikes were covered in blood and everybody knew Gina never cleaned her boots.

Chuck tried to recall if he had ever needed a tetanus shot before this moment.

“5 weeks!” Gina closed the gap of silence with her attitude. “You’re late, Chuckie!” She hopped off the desk and scared him into the corner. At five-foot-two, she still towered over the nearly six-foot man as he shrimped down like a coward.

“I’ll have the credits soon. I swear!”

“Don’t swear to me, Chuck! Give it to me, or I’ll take it out of you!”

Chuck valued his it very much. “I can get you somethin’ better.”

“Don’t write checks your body can’t cash!” Gina got deeper into his face.

Chuck pulled up his auctions folder gracefully and used it as a shield. His voice was slightly muffled, but audible nonetheless. “Lot # ZERO-ALPHA-ZERO. It’s on page five. It got hauled in with the nuke salvage.”

“I don’t play the nuclear game. You know that! Everyone knows that!”

“I know… I know. Just look at it.”

Gina pulled his paper shield away and skipped through the pages. Her eyes lit up and she backed off to light another smoke.

“Does this make us even?”

“It’s a start… it’s a damn good start. Just make sure you can get this in my hands at the show.”

“There’s no way I can spoof an auction that large. You’re going to need to lift it yourself. I can make the arrangements to leave it all open, but it’ll cost some serious creds to keep Port Authority off your tail long enough.”

“How much?” Gina was willing to spend some cash to attain her prize.

“Twenty thousand.” Chuck knew it would only cost fifteen, but he figured he deserved a taste too.

“I’ll send my men in immediately. They will deliver the case directly, so as to ensure cooperation.” Gina covered all her bases. “I’m sure that won’t be a problem, will it?”

“No problem. No problem at all.”

“Good!” Gina patted Chuck on the back and helped herself to the door. “See you at the show!” She pointed her finger at the coward like a gun and made a clicking noise as she swayed out the door.

Chuck’s heart sank as the door slammed, he swung around to his chair and dropped his head on the card table he called his desk. He knew if he got caught or implicated it would spell the end for his job and even Jenny.

Chuck was allergic to loneliness.