Month: April 2016
He has little reason to care. He’s married now, with a son. He may not be quite what he once aimed for — as he put it, an artist with a CEO’s salary — but he’s got much of what he needs. He strips companies of their old or surplus technology and resells it; that funds his real work with SRL. In August he put a show on eBay: for $149,000.00 (plus proper permitting and a viable site with adequate electrical power), Survival Research Labs will bring its mechanized mayhem to your city. Thanks in part to some positive media coverage, he’s had over 7,000 views, but no one’s yet taken him up on the offer. “I just thought it would be fun. It was something I’d always wanted to do. Good for laugh. That’s why I usually do things. That’s my main motivation — I might get a laugh out of it somewhere down the line.”
Down the line. Some time in the future, where Mark Pauline has always focused. “I’m 58 and I have no regrets. Yet. I figured that my chances of having regrets are diminished because I’ve made it this far. The percentages look good.” He doesn’t look back much. “At this point I don’t really spend much time thinking about the past,” he says, “I haven’t gotten to that point. Not to say that I won’t someday.” And he’s got time, a long-lived family. “I might be doing this for another 40-50 years. It’s reasonable to assume that,” he says.
And what would make all those long days and nights worth it? What has he been trying to do with this long project he’s made of his life?
“I do this stuff cause I like to do it,” he says, “not because I think I’m going to make any money at it. I’ve been doing it for 30-some years and I still haven’t made any money at it. So that’s good. That means I’ve succeeded. That measure of success has been achieved.”
You should have been here an hour ago. All of MamaSan’s friends in Pirate’s Cove were there for her funeral. We were all cleaned up, for once, in proper black. Palm trees were swaying over her freshly-dug grave. The suns were shining. I’d done a new tattoo for the occasion, drawn from a photo of her hammering the shelf over the bar. She was in her overalls, her short-cropped hair sticking out at all angles, cigar clenched between her teeth. I’d put the tattoo on my left shoulder, the last patch of my skin that was bare. It had sensors that could feel the mood in the air. I didn’t need it to tell me, the mood was sad.
I was at the podium, giving a eulogy for her when the thin, leathery Police Chief Ponseca, (a.k.a. ‘Loco Pete,’ a.k.a. the former Vice President of Charon), stormed in with his battered robocops. He got behind the podium, cuffed me and declared that I, Elizabeth Aguilar (a.k.a. ‘Lady Inked’) was a suspect in the murder of my guardian, Nicole Santos (a.k.a. ‘MamaSan’, proprietor of the High Dive Bar). I was also a ‘person of interest’ in the murders of twenty people who had been crushed to death by a serial killer appropriately known as ‘The Crusher.’
“Who is accusing me?” I cried as he twisted my arms behind my back.
“I am” Ami Watanabe, our head waitress, shouted. She peeked out from behind the robocops, black hair streaming in the wind, her slender frame hidden behind their rusty, dented bodies.
“You jerk!” I said. “I saved your life.” I don’t know why Ami was out to get me. Maybe it was the bad tattoo I gave her. Or the pink shirt I borrowed and never returned.
Read more of “Sari Sari” and many other futuristic tales in Visions IV: Space Between Stars.