Drained and Topped (Day 1 Afternoon)

“All cleared and rinsed,” the mechanic said casually.

“Yeah,” the skinny kid from the sewage wagon nodded. “Got a might bit close. Thought I’d haveta rustle up another wagon fer a minute there.” He gestured toward the bulky hose as it trickled into a runoff drain. “When water come out clean, I moved ‘er.” He handed the clipboard over. “Sign yer life away?”

“Shiny,” Marisol replied as she accepted the clipboard.

“There’s yer fuel,” the kid smelled of arm sweat, garlic, and the various fluids he was charged to handle for the boats on the docking line. “Shore power charge…hydraulic fluid….drinkin’ water….waste dump charge…that’s the regular,” he nodded as a long, skinny finger travelled to a second line item. “There’s the upcharge fer the wagon tank removal…boss tried to cut you a break. He took twenty percent off.”

“We’re grateful.”

“Sign down there.”

“Good,” she placed her signature on the intended line. “I need to go parts shopping. Can you point me toward anybody?”

The kid accepted the clipboard and bent to sign his own name. “Only fella’s got boat parts is Lurvy. Far edge of town. Nothin’ new,” he tore a yellow copy from beneath the white page on top. “He don’t clean ‘em up, neither. However the Breakers bring ‘em is how he sells ‘em. Here’s yer copy, ma’am.”

“Breakers,” her lip curled as she accepted the receipt. People who murdered boats, was more her line of thought. Rather than salvaging an old and unused hulk, Boat Breakers were notorious for hiding out in the most remote pockets of the black. They’d overtake healthy boats, set to them with rip saws and cutting torches, and strip the carcasses of anything they could stuff into their holds. The victim crews were either captured and sold to slavers, or, if they put up a fight, gassed to death in their beleaguered boats. To her thinking, the only difference between Breakers and Reavers was the fact that Reavers didn’t rape the boat itself before they killed it.

Beaumonde was only a couple days away. She had empty waste tanks, but the rumor was that an even larger passenger load was coming aboard for this run. More folk meant more toilet flushes. “Guess I should go see what he’s got,” she finally sighed.

“Won’t be hard,” the kid chuckled as he tucked the clipboard into a pouch on his wagon. “Lurvy got it all layin’ out in the dirt.”

“Nice sales pitch,” the mechanic said as she turned. “Thanks.”

“Our pleasure, ma’am.” As the kid whistled his mule team into action, the mechanic set to work .

The bulky hose sections were soon detached and dragged one at a time up into the cargo bay. Each haul carried her past Riley’s empty lawn chair. Marisol tied their end couplings together with a rope she looped over the catwalk railing. With a mighty heave, she pulled the hoses upward, leaving just enough length on deck to hang off one side of the cargo ramp. This move permitted the hoses to drain any residual water. The oppressive heat would dry them out before sunset.

After slipping into her booth of the “cot city,” Marisol changed into denims, a short sleeved blouse, and the burgundy boots Lyen had gifted her on New Kasmir. She loosened her hair, allowing it to land upon her shoulders. With rumors that the town could be a rough place echoing in her thoughts, the mechanic strapped her service revolver to her right thigh.

Lieutenant Thorne had returned to her lawn chair. Marisol strode down the cargo ramp. “Lieutenant,” she addressed the pilot, “here’s the receipt for our top offs and drain out.” As Riley studied the yellow page, the diminutive mechanic continued. “The dock service guy told me about a place that carries some used parts. Chances are if they’ve got our valve I can get it cheaper here than on Beaumonde. Boat’s on shore power,” she reported. “I’ll be back before dark.”

<Tag Riley>

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