Homebrew - Chapter Ten
I’ve had it up to Here!
Enough is enough! I've had it with these m*****f***ing snakes on this m*****f***ing plane!
-Samuel L. Jackson in "Snakes on a Plane"
The object glistened white where sunlight painted it's surface, where not, it appeared more a near invisible dark gray ghost. Along the darker region, small lights twinkled, marking views into its interior. Drifting silent beyond or trailing behind, as it traveled its endless voyage, three others held formation. One other gave forth the same friendly lights upon its darkened flanks. The remaining two did not.
A smaller object, shiny silver where illuminated by the Sun's rays struck, swam closer, circling as might a shark studying a much larger whale it had chosen as prey. It slowed as it moved closer, slowing as it approached one end of the larger object. As it came closer it took on the appearance of a calf seeking to nurse from its mother. At last, it made contact with the larger, and the lights shining from within it shut down.
"Yee-Haw!" the cry bounced off the corridor walls, echoing around the bend and far down three other passageways. "Mommy, I'm home!"
One of the two people sharing a workroom glanced at her co-worker, "Oh good. Our wandering fly-boy has found his way back to us."
"Now, now. Jealousy does not become you. I'm sure Patrick will get over here as soon as he can get away from the station. Let's just hope that my man remembered to pick up dinner. I'm starving!"
"Grumble, grumble. It's not so much I'm jealous as I resent management sucking up so much of his time as they make ready for Madame Mishkova. You'd think she was God coming to smite the wicked." Ellen replied, then, teasing, she added. "And I suppose I'm worried that J'Shawn's bellowing will be heard as far away as Bigelow's LEO Hotel. Damn, your man has a set of pipes in him. He should try out for town crier."
"I does at that," the object of their conversation said as he flung himself into the room, "Momma kept begging me to join the church choir, but alas, my bold voice could not hold a tune well enough to please our preacher. A sad day for music, I tell you."
He came to rest with his hip bracing against his lover's desk. With a bold sweep of one hand, he shoved their notebooks and papers to the far side of each desk and plopped a large carry-pack in the now-empty space. "Ladies, you work too hard. That message comes straight from my fearless roommate, and your light o'love, Patrick. I'm just the messenger so please refrain from killing me. I also come bearing wondrous gifts, unimaginable delights, all designed to tempt you from the battlefield." As he uttered the words, he snapped open the case and proceeded to lay down over a dozen hot-pack containers, platters and eating utensils. Last, he removed and placed before them two bottles and a half-dozen drink bulbs. When Dora attempted to take one of the drink containers, he slapped her hand, but gently.
"Unh, unh, unh. They're not filled yet. Didn't you listen, Babe? I come bearing wondrous gifts."
"They better. Or you get payback for that slap." Her eyes twinkled, daring him to protest. She continued, "If you've got liquid refreshment to pour, then pour. Your love, that would be me, is thirsty."
"So am I," Ellen added. "So am I. Completing the paperwork for all your crazy projects is hard, tedious work. I hope you brought more for yourself, because this might be sufficient for the two of us girls."
"Ladies. Ladies." he said, reaching for and opening the first bottle and snapping in a pour spout, "It's not the quantity of food which will please you, but the delicacy and richness found within." He filled three drink bulbs from the bottle and re-capped it, handing two of the bulbs to the women. "Methinks you will be satiated before you sample even half my wares."
"But first, a toast." He held his bulb high and waited for them to raise theirs. "To Homebrew Tour Agency and Taxi Service!"
The women sat back, stunned, failing to even take one sip. Finally, Dora spoke. "We got it? It's official? UN-OPS got off their collective hind ends and issued a contract to us?"
"Yep. Now is that worth toasting? Or are you two fine ladies gonna make me drink all this brandy all by myself?" Once again he held up his bulb. This time his partners joined him, tapping the bulbs together before tasting their drinks.
"Whoa! What is this stuff!" Ellen gasped. As she did so, Dora coughed, pounding her chest.
"Yeah, Big Guy... This is way stronger than any brandy I've ever had - not that I have tasted brandy all that often, Mom and Dad were beer and tequila types." She coughed again, and waved J'Shawn away. "Not that I'm complaining. This is smooth stuff, but far stronger than I expected."
"I told you, this is the good stuff. Spoor has a friend who can get all sorts of quality liquor up to the station. If I understand correctly, this one from South Africa, called Oude Molen VOV; it's 14 years old."
"South Africa? I didn't know they made brandy in South Africa." Dora looked off into the distance. "I wonder. If Patrick makes his farm and brewery idea work, would there be a market for his brews down below?"
"That's what he wants to know." he replied. "Sure, he and I both figure our main base of customers will be the people up here in orbit, but he thinks some groundside customers would pay the premium for a beer brewed and bottled in space." He glanced back at Ellen who had finally stopped coughing; she continued to drink from the bulb, taking much smaller sips. She flashed him a thumbs-up.
"I don't know, but that seems like a lot of work before we start making any money. And what about bottles? We would have to have bottles shipped up here; we'd have to find a way to ship them down without breakage; then there's the cost - bottles are heavy."
"So we don't go with bottles. We give them zero-g drink bulbs."
"And we can package them in an 'egg-crate' just like we do up here. Foam's cheap!" Dora added, excitement tinging her voice.
"That may well be a workable plan."