Outward Bound
Chapter 7

Copyright© 2020 by UtIdArWa

Floyd’s dad Wayne Turner was a longtime member of the security division. His job was to do background checks on prospective new family members and contractors. Currently, he didn’t have much to do. The ship was in a refitting stage, and there were no requests for backgrounds. This meant that Wayne had plenty of free time it gave him time for his second job.

Wayne was a respected member of his neighborhood. The folks that lived on his level respected him and his word. And not just because he worked in security. Over the years, he had been asked his advice in local disputes. From there, he gained a reputation for fairness and honesty. From that, he had been elected as the community representative and local magistrate. He was sometimes asked to judge local problems or send them on to the ship’s judicial Council. He was even asked to judge events from other levels when an impartial voice was needed.

Wayne didn’t have an office or even a courtroom. If he was available, he could be found at the intersection of the five corridors for his level. There was no judge’s chair. Wayne would sit on the benches that had been placed in the plaza at the intersection. To his right was the ramp leading up to the next level. On the left was the ramp leading down.

The intersection itself was a spacious area. Arranged at various spots were the local vendors. These were people who had established kiosks and stalls where various items were available. Everything from clothing and jewelry to foods and pastries. Wayne’s wife usually had a table on her off days where she would sell pastries and loaves of bread. She had a sourdough starter that had been handed down to her by her mother, who got it from her mother. To hear Jane talk, the starter had originated on old earth San Francisco during the original gold rush. Of course, nobody believed the story, but everybody had the good sense to keep their opinions to themselves. Jane Turner was known for her temper and knife-sharp tongue.

After checking his mail and the threat board, Wayne’s day had begun at his usual time, and he checked in with his supervisor. “Mr. Barth, it looks like the threat board is clear, and I haven’t got any action requests what do you want me doing today?”

Wayne had been working with David Barth for several years. David trusted his decisions. Pulling up Wayne’s timesheet, he pondered it for a minute. “Well Wayne, I would put you on that stowaway search that’s going on, but you are over on your e-suit limits. That cancels you for the exterior survey. It seems the best thing for you is to take a rest day. Why don’t you head for home and tickle your wife’s fancy.”

“Boss why I never, “ Wayne was grinning when he said this.

“Like hell Wayne, I know you’ve got three kids.”

“Won’t work David, Jane’s working a special for this meeting they’ve got for the new captain. Making donuts and cookies for the oh so important folks.”

“Wayne, as long as you bring in the leftovers, you get a full day on the books.”

“Boss, you’ve got a deal.” as Wayne walked out of security ops, he was whistling a tune.

The rest of Wayne’s day was quiet. Several people came up just to shoot the breeze, nothing important. At midday, he went over to Mama Rosas kiosk. Mama Rosa specialized in old-style southwestern food. She had handmade tortillas, three kinds of fresh salsa, one mild one hot and a third that only the brave ordered. She usually had a posole that Wayne enjoyed. And on Sundays, she would have Menudo. But she always complained that she couldn’t get good tripe and wouldn’t call it Menudo. Today Wayne got his usual posole and two tortillas. When he offered payment, as usual, Mama Rosa refused. She held Wayne in high regard and felt that he deserved a small return for the unpaid job he did for the community. As he was leaving, he slipped a half gram slug onto the counter unseen. This was twice what mama asked for posole, but Wayne knew that she needed the credits. It was a little game that they played.

Towards late afternoon Wayne saw his son coming down the ramp. Wayne was proud of his son. Floyd had never been a problem child. Always happy and fun-loving. Willing to do anything asked of him. But Floyd had a problem. Not really a problem, more of an issue. When Floyd started school, he began having difficulties. While the social aspects were fine, the academic areas became increasingly difficult. Soon after, Floyd was called in for evaluations. The counselors were gentle when they talked to Wayne and Jane. Floyd was a bright, sunny, boy. Willing to do anything asked of him. But Floyd had a problem dealing with upper-level thinking. He wasn’t stupid, they were assured, and given time and patience. He would learn to function quite well. But it would never be a quick or easy process.

While Wayne and Jane were devastated by this news, they still loved their son. After explaining the situation to their other children, life went on. Floyd continued being the bright sun in his family’s life. When he reached 14, his mother petitioned the Environmental division and was able to secure a conditional job for Floyd as a part-time janitor. Floyd still went to classes and counseling, but in the afternoons, he would report to his supervisor and start work.

When Wayne saw his son coming down the ramp, he couldn’t help his sense of pride. He loved his other children and had pride in their accomplishments, but Floyd was special. The little achievements in his life would always be hard fought for.

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