From The Past, Part 2
By Green Gesus
Bender was already outside the ship, using the only gravity vacuum to repel the cow's muck off the back thrusters. A thin whistling came over the fuzz interference of fry's space suit intercom. Fry recognized a badly tuned "Bridge Over Troubled Water". As much as he disliked cleaning, space was more than a problem. Always before walking outside, he took a calming breath. The door opened into space. Fry tightly gripped the path of hand rails that circumferences the ship. His eyes held tight against senseless beauty attacking him in all directions, his strength holding to the end of his life line. A hybrid cable and air cord with only enough length for half the ship. Yet his bubbling confidence had left him alone to cower from the terrible perspective that became the naked universe.
"Hey Fry." Still whistling at his work, he said. "I guess you came out here for nothing. You know. There's only one vacuum."
"Yeah, I know." He opened his eyes, forced to shade himself with one hand, and gripped the railing tighter. "I wanted to ask you something."
"The space cows, right?"
"Is she…" his buckled voice under the weight, as blunt memories bore old wounds a new pain.
A letter of stars from a not too distant memory burned bright in the sky above him, put into space just for her. The words 'I love you, Leela.' come off him like scripture from a well thumbed faithful breaking his vow of silence.
"You didn't fail Fry, sounds like you need some time off. Get a little rest. I'll finish up here."
As fry inched his way back, he was struck with a thought. "Bender, you feeling okay?"
"Yeah. I'm really enjoying getting into my work." Fry left it at that, but he was sure it was wrong.
With the thrusters cleaned, the PE ship pulled into the nearest Mom's Old Fashioned Ship Wash and Bar. A space age truck stop found off the D.O.O.P. established trade routes known for its cheap repair and quick liquor, all with 20% more Love®. Essentially, it was two constructs, the docking bay, and the bar.
The three crewmates left the hatch, dodging teeth, organs and mud balls of blood out to the center tube way of the outpost, surrounded by docking complex.
"Okay," Leela began, "I'll get the ship put through the service line, you two can watch through the windowed bar. Fry? Fry!"
Her voice shook him from dark day dreams.
"Did you hear me?" He nodded, and left them begrudged of his private shame towards the bar where Bender would run to a few moments later.
"Bender, what's wrong with Fry?"
"Who? Oh him."
"You talked out side the ship right?"
"He must have fallen asleep again in the torpedo tubes. I didn't even see him out there."
"That doesn't make sense. Fry naps in the bathroom, or on the break room tables, or my captain's chair. Don't you get stuck in the tubes every mission?
"Yeah, he's so cute following in my footsteps. Well! I'm going to get hammered, and then I'm going to the bar."
Everyone, it seemed, was here drinking. Or just here. Fry couldn't believe that this many aliens could fit into every ship in the bay. 'Some of them must come here just for the beer' thought Fry. It's just as well he didn't know about Mom's Old Fashioned Sexeteria in the under-level extension. Above orgy level ran the most speculative betting game available at half price of a full service wash: to see what live things are left to get tumble cleaned alongside the ships. Needless to say, there wasn't a seat in the house.
Dodging and weaving through the terrible mass became easier when Fry saw a line formed around attendants passing patrons up for crowd surfing. He rode until a Trisolian tossed into a nearly empty table, still sturdy enough for someone to fall on without breaking it. Not so much could be said for the bear mugs. He rolled painfully off onto a chair a full body length too long.
"That's supposed to be funny?" spoke a clear dreary voice. Fry righted himself, and looked a crossed the table at a grandfather of an old man whose chest and belly bulged from a green and red aloha shirt. Beyond that a normal looking grand father, except Fry found he was smiling. Feeling a sudden giddiness overcome the past degrading hours. The mans beard curled him into a gruff competence. His small glasses sparkled and made him wise. A bright ruddy face inspired a familial comfort, though it did not display it. "What's wrong with you? You stupid?" He looks at Fry, his eyes betraying a wild surprise what his wrinkled face makes incoherent.
"Uh hi. My name's Fry." The old man's face scrunched and flexed with disturbing angles as he slammed on the table, ordering another round from an efficient little holo-waiter. Fry didn't care what he was getting, so he looked out the mural window at the moment the PE ship was pulled through. It was what seemed to be the first stage of cleaning when the man's drinks arrived.
"Fry then?" he started again. "I need you full name."
"Phillip Fry. What's yours?"
"Nicholas." He said, simply, quietly. His figure relaxed as if falling back into a pleasant memory. At this time the PE ship went around a bender into another complicated part of the cleaning process, so foreign that what Nicholas was trying to say was lost trying to just figure out its shape.
"Phillip Jay, Phillip Jay… let me see my list." He looked over some yellowed notepaper taken from an unseen pocket, struggling for some moments before grabbing his glasses in anger and tossing them over the crowd line.
"Damn't those cheap pieces of…" his rush of anger left him, conceding to the symptoms of his age in a brusk flail of his hands, "What the hell. Phillip Jay Fry. What's the problem?"
"My problem. I, I don't have any problems. Really, why would you say I had prob…"
"I may not see everything so much anymore, but I know when trouble brews with a man and a woman."
Nervously, he laughed. "Leela's not my…"
"Turanga Leela eh? Turanga Leela and Phillip Jay Fry." he said them with critical consideration.
"How did you know I was having trouble with Leela? Or Leela?" the man erupted in a spectacle of laughter, squandered out of its cheer by the years. He guzzled his remaining drink, motioning Fry closer.
"I can help you, Phillip Jay. I can do anything. I can win Leela's heart for you. Make you into what she wants." Without a backward thought, Fry said yes, yes, yes. A razor blade grin seeped out of the old man's glowing gentleness, and Fry's marathon heart beat skipped in confusion. An invisible cross punch bounced him back from his chair onto the glass shards on the table. A hard lights out.
The ship was cleaned, but Bender had not found Fry, at the bar. Leela was ready to stay there for as long as it took to find him. Bender had ducked down to the hulls of the ship, assuring there was just one small thing he had to take care of. As she was leaving, a massage came in. It was Fry. Though the voice was broken and confusing, it said he had left urgently on another transport back to earth but couldn't say why. Bender came back up in time to learn they weren't going to stay. It was odd, but Fry had made his decision and there was no more waiting on the cargo.
Bender had left, mumbling something Leela heard to be 'nap time'. The ships course was set to the Viridian System, through some of the nicer parts of the galaxy. During which every system was run through a diagnostic. She stood, still somewhat pleased with the mission and ready to put the autopilot to good use. Her step gave an odd 'chink'. Her foot had kicked a drinking glass Fry was sure to have left in her cockpit, his dry Tang mix stuck to the bottom.
"Hmmm, Fry's glass." she said, her mind absent with the times she found a drawing half finished in the break room or beer bottles by the furnaces. As she looked at the glass, a shadow passed over her face, and she broke it on the cockpit wall. The glass was only now in pieces, her hand had a stain of orange.