Intercosmic - Chapter 16 - Couch Surfing

“How did you end up on Pluto,” Patrizo asks me staring out the window.

“Just passing through.”

“Nobody just passes through,” his voice has taken a more aggressive tone. “Pluto is the last stop for the worst of humanity that can’t get out of Sol.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, but GPS says we’re almost at your house.”

“The old man, Johan wasn’t just taking pictures of nature like he says. He was taking pictures of kids too. Yeah, the company went under but when they sold all the old equipment and he left some stuff behind, sick stuff. Moved to Pluto because nobody would hire him,” I’m not sure why he’s telling me this.

“Maybe you shouldn’t drink so much, you’ve got a wild imagination.”

“No, I’ve got facts. Tell me what you did, or I’ll find out,” he smiles at me almost as if it were a threat.

“Nothing at all.”

“Beatrix, she didn’t actually do anything bad. Her mom, she did something. She got arrested for fraud at a major corporation on Mars. But hey, white collar crime doesn’t count unless they want you dead.”

“Why are you telling me all of this?”

“Because I want to know your dirty little secret. I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

“You want to know my secret?”

“Yeah.”

“I’m tired, that’s it.”

“Bullshit,” he snorts and laugh but still maintains a threatening aura. “How about I tell you mine? I used to be a detective and a good one. That’s why I know you have a secret, that’s why I know everyone else’s. I could have made it to the top, but I had two problems. The first is vagina, and it didn’t even have to be human. Actually, the stranger, the better. Sometimes they don’t even call it a vagina,” he licked his lips.

“I don’t really want to hear this.”

“But I need to tell you, so listen,” he leans his head against the window. “So, vagina, or women, got me caught up. One of my main things, and if you saw her, you’d know why she was a main thing. She had everything in all the right places, beautiful face and everything. Damn I miss her,” he starts to lick his teeth reminiscing. “Anyway, she gets beat up on. No problem, I’m going to handle it. I get the warrants and they bring in and Enka, a dirty fucking Enka,” I can guess where this is going. “I rough him up a little. Clip his wings, they’ll heal. Nothing too bad, not even the worst I had done. It was on principal, just to make a point. But some rookie turns me in,” Patrizo finally drifts off and stares out the window.

I knew he gave me a bad feeling when I met him. He always seemed nice enough, but there was just something about him that bothered me. Knowing he was a police officer that failed to take his job as seriously and uphold the law just falls into place. I don’t know enough about Johan to say if Patrizo was lying. I’d be surprised, but I wasn’t looking for signs either. He might just be messing with me, but I don’t doubt him either. He’s right about nobody willingly coming to Pluto. History says it was almost colonized on several occasions using prisoners and soldiers as test groups. On the fourth try, they finally got it right and nobody froze to death. I’m only here because I decided to run away from military service and I’m ashamed of that. Still, I have a strange sense of pride knowing I’m not exactly exiled.

The car beeps as we arrive outside a small tenement. Similar to the one I lived in, but smaller, everything on Pluto seems smaller. It just hammers home the idea that nobody should be here, it isn’t like we colonized every planet in the solar system, or even tried. Pluto was just essential for seeing more of the system; if we can make it to Pluto we could make anywhere.

“Come on in,” Patrizo almost falls out the car.

“I’m just going to head back to where I’m staying.”

“Not with my car. C’mon, I don’t have a lot of friends. Be nice to have someone sleeping on the couch besides me.”

I’m convinced Patrizo just wants me here so he can make it up the stairs without killing himself. We make it to his apartment and he fumbles with the key fob, missing the scanner before dropping it. Bending down to pick it up he almost slams his head into the wall before I can grab him. My thoughts head to guesses of just how much he had to drink.

“Are you drunk again,” a woman with brown hair wearing a bathrobe greets us at the door.

“Hey babe. This is Efrem. We got drunk together,” he points to me.

“Nice to meet you, I didn’t drink with him. I just brought him home,” I felt the need to clear myself.

“Don’t be afraid of her, the bark is worse than the bite,” Patrizo smiles and walks past her.

“I think I’ll leave.”

“Don’t, you can sleep on the couch. There’s already a pillow and blanket, because that’s where he was going to be sleeping,” she welcomes me in.

“I didn’t catch your name.”

“I’m Kirsi, thank you for taking care of the child I thought was my husband. Bathroom is to the left, kitchen is to the right. There’s water in the fridge,” she waves and follows Patrizo to the bedroom.

“Thank you, goodnight.”

I close my eyes on the couch, try to get some sleep, but it doesn’t come. Instead thoughts dance around in my head. Would war have been better than Pluto? How much longer until I can leave? How much of what Patrizo said is true? Is Pluto just a planet full of rejects?

Despite the ruckus when we arrived, I hear them in the next room. My envy of Patrizo doesn’t help me sleep. I used to have dreams of getting married to that one person I fell in in love with. We’d raise kids, maybe have a small house on some calm planet I’d never been to before. I might do training for soldiers for income, but I’d be done fighting. Then one day, I stopped having those dreams. I stopped believing anyone could love me, or that I’d be able to care for children. I think the biggest problem is I love too hard. It sounds crazy saying that about myself, almost as if I’m breaking into homes to watch people sleep. I just don’t believe I’ll ever find one true love that I’ll want to be with forever. Sometimes I’ve thought I found the one, I wake up one day and the love is gone. Other times, I’m madly in love, but the other person just doesn’t feel the same. At some point, I started to feel love was painful and chasing it was no good. I felt free, and didn’t care anymore. Here I am approaching thirty, and now that I’ve seen Patrizo with someone who loves him that freedom is no longer there.

Did I waste my life in the military? Would love have been easier to find had I not been fighting and fucking my way through the galaxy the other half of the time? The fact that I’m getting jealous of Patrizo is enough to let me know I want off this planet.

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