Good News From the Goon
“They’ll be fertilizin’ the entire field tomorrow with a big machine,” the field goon announced as he stopped a few rows from us. “They’re startin’ at the other end and should finish at this end before dark. When they’re ready to do this end, I’ll come by and let you know you’re done for the day. Don’t leave until I tell you unless you’re wantin’ a bullet in the back.”
The goon snorted, turned and stomped back in the direction from which he had come.
“Sounds like the perfect opportunity to take a little walk in the ruins just before supper, since you’re curious,” Arn said.
“I’ll take you up on that offer,” I replied.
We worked out the remainder of our sentence for the day in the dry, unrelenting heat and hot wind that had turned this world to dust, dust that now swirled around us. Finally the last siren sounded and we headed back to our tree, then to the shack for our bowl of slime stew.
“Lick ‘em clean when you’re done,” Prune Face advised us “cuz you’re keepin’ em. I don’t want to wash your spit off anything. Bring ‘em back each night and I’ll fill ‘em with stew.”
Arn and I headed back to our tree to eat.
Where Are You?
“Tammy, where do you think you are? Like in a dream or on a strange planet or what?” Arn asked.
“I’m still trying to figure that out. This all seems so real, but sometimes dreams can be that way. If I’m on another planet, I can’t even imagine how I got here without some sort of spaceship, and you didn’t see any spaceship dropping me off did you?”
“I didn’t see or hear anything unless the aliens had some way of beaming you down,” Arn said, smiling.
“Star Trek. You know about Star Trek, don’t you? Did you have some way to watch old TV shows when you were a kid?”
“So how did you know about Star Trek? Oh wait. I think I know the answer. Gramps told you, right?”
“Then maybe Gramps explained to you where this place is. Maybe you can tell me where I am, Arn.”
“You’re here with me, right where you’re supposed to be, Tammy.”
“”Where I’m supposed to be? What’s that supposed to mean, Arn?”
“I think that’s something we’re going to have to figure out together.”
I think he knows something he’s not telling me. Maybe he does know how I got here, although he sure didn’t act like it when I showed up.
We finished our stew, licking our bowls clean as Prune Face had advised and then went to the water barrel near the shack for our last drink of the day. We did not talk again until we were back to our tree. Arn went around the other side of the tree, leaned over and walked back to where I was sitting.
Time for a Quick Haircut
“I think we barely have enough light to give each other a quick haircut,” Arn said, handing a pair of scissors to me. “It doesn’t have to be pretty. You do me first. Whack off about a third. If my head’s still too hot tomorrow, you can chop off more tomorrow night.”
“O.k. Sit down in front of me, your back to the mountains. There’s a little more light coming from that direction.”
Arn sat down, removed his hat, and his long sandy hair spilled out. He handed me a comb.
“You might need to untangle it before you cut,” he suggested.
I ran the fingers of my left hand through his unusually thick hair as I combed. There weren’t any tangles, but I took my time combing.
It feels like this is where I should be, right here combing the hair of this guy I met just a few days ago. Right here on this insane planet that is as hot as hell. Well, if it is hell, at least it has its good points. Make that good point, and he’s sitting right here in front of me while I’m running my fingers through his hair.
“Better cut it, Tammy. Soon it will be too dark to see and you’ll cut off my ear. You’re kind of into hair, huh?”
“I’m just thinking that it’s a dirty shame to cut such great hair.”
“Do it anyway. It will keep me cooler.”
I did as Arn asked, and soon it was my turn. I took off my hat, handed Arn the comb and scissors, and he began combing my hair.
“How much do you want me to cut off?” he asked.
“Cut it just below my shoulders. It took me a long time to grow down below my shoulder blades, but that’s too much hair to keep under my hat.”
“I see what you mean,” Arn said, holding the ends of some of my hair away from my back. “I love your long blonde hair. It looks really good on you. I hate to cut it.”
“Cut it Arn. The idea is to make our heads a little cooler during the day.”
Arn did not simply chop off my hair. He took his time, given that he was almost out of light. He combed, cut, ran his fingers through my hair, and said once again that he really hated to cut it. I figured out that he was enjoying what he was doing.
Oh! He’s sending shivers down my spine. I’ve heard that can happen when you’re getting your hair cut. But I don’t remember it ever happening to me before.
My shoulders relaxed. I was slowly going limp.
“Turn around,” he directed. “Let’s make sure it’s even on the sides.”
I turned. He laid the comb and scissors in his lap and held his hands on either side of my neck, supposedly making sure both sides were even.
“Have you ever been kissed, Arn?”
“Can’t say I have.”
“May I give you a kiss to say thanks?”
“Uh, yeah. Sure. But I don’t know what to do.”
“You’ll do fine,” I said as I put my arms around him below his outstretched arms. He scooted closer and returned the hug.
Maybe that first kiss lasted a little longer than I thought it would. Now I know it didn’t last long enough.
“Do we have to wait until I cut your hair next time to do that again?” he asked while we still hugged.”
“Of course not. You liked that?”
“Yes, probably because I like you.”
“You’d better put away your comb and scissors, then we can talk ‘till we fall asleep.”
Arn returned the comb and scissors to his stash underneath the tree, then came back and lay down next to me.
Tell Me About Yourself
“Tell me about yourself, Arn. You don’t remember any family except Gramps?”
“I don’t. Weird, huh? Neither of us can remember anything about our families.”
“At least you can remember something about your past further back than a few days ago.”
“Yes, I suppose I can. Ya’ know Tammy, I just realized – Hoth is the only thing either of us remember.”
“I seem to remember little bits and pieces and dream about things that you say don’t exist here. I’m sure I have a family, but I can’t remember them. I’d like to be able to remember.”
“I think you will remember, Tammy. Maybe you just need something to jog your memory.”
“Like what, Arn?”
“Oh, maybe a walk through the ruins will do the trick.”
“Why do you think that will jog my memory? I’ve never been here before this.”
“I just think it might. That’s all.”
“Arn, do you know something I don’t know?”
“Maybe. Let’s test my theory tomorrow.”
We fell asleep with Arn’s right hand resting atop my left hand.