CH. 23 «Costa Mensa»



I finish walking the block back from the convenience store to return to my apartment. I put out my brand new cigi and use my free hand to search for my KEY. Accessing the garage, I take a short cut by walking under the rest of the complex. The main courtyard and two stories of units skirting it are held aloft by great pillars, protecting residents from coastal flooding while creating an ample parking situation.

My unit is in the back though, separate from the proper structure. Past a row of locking garages and up the only set of stairs, the new apartment rests on top of two other 2 bedroom homes. To one side a small group of Martian students and directly below a single Europan family. I keep them in mind as I walk softly up the steps to our place, glancing at the empty parking lot next door.

I use the sliding hatch, since its open to the nice ocean wind blowing up in the early day, and slip off my shoes inside. My roommate, Tohm, is lounging on my big comfy couch with the tube of a vaporizer to his lips. While he holds his breath I set down our breakfast and cigis and then hand him his coffee while he exhales. Before I get a ‘thank you’ or an ‘I appreciate you getting breakfast’ or even ‘good morning’ Tohm takes a sip and nearly spits it out on the new carpet.

“You messed up my drink again,” he exclaims wiping his lip, “it’s too blasted sweet. I can’t drink this!”

“You’re overreacting, you can still drink it,” I half-heartedly try to calm him. “And I got the order right today, they screwed it up,” I blurt before shoving a bite of breakfast sandwich in my face.

“No, I have to go back and fix it now,” he shouts standing up and grabbing his KEYRING and the Martian Spirits. He takes out a cigi and drops it on the table, taking the pack with him as he storms out the sliding hatch. I chuckle to myself as I finish my breakfast, washing it down with the simple black coffee they couldn’t mess up.

Snatching up the smoke he left me, I grab my shades and step back out on the balcony. It’s a warm weekday afternoon and the pink sun radiates nonchalantly overhead.  I sit down in the satellite chair and light up, slumping back into the soft pad and closing my eyes. The wind and a sporadic lizardcall tug at my peace. The intermittent drag and puff of smoke the only unnatural interruption. It’s a relaxing day.

Or at least, it is until they arrive. Out of nowhere three clamoring broadsides descend upon the empty landing pad my balcony overlooks. I grumble as the oversized economy transports land and their hideously whiney reactors begin to unwind.

My roommate and I suspect it to be a sober-living unit next door to us. Moving to Mars to recover seems somewhat ironic to me, but I’ve learned there’s a lot of addiction management taking place in this foggy coastal city. Tohm felt authoritative on the matter, having come here under these very parameters. He’d been through the process and done his steps life times ago, and was certain of his deduction due to the tell tale signs.

Within their entire complex not one of our 30-some-odd neighbors is allowed to drive themselves. Hence the incessant sound of broadside engines whirling off the tarmac. Someone’s gotta ferry around these reprobates to keep them constantly entertained with activities and work lest their hands become idle. Everyone else is standing outside smoking constantly, and usually chatting away on their comms in very outside voices. Especially the staff members. You can hear them complaining up the balcony all day-round. Carrying on about pick-ups, drop-offs, rebounds and fall-offs. The shouting and the depression pours like an Amazonian sprinkler system. It rains shouts and yelling on the dead planters of my new balcony.

As I wonder when exactly it was that sober people became this loud, I hear a familiar stomping up my stair. My lanky Earthling roommate returns somewhat satisfied with his new drink. Taking a seat on the stool next to me he tosses another cigi.

“I ‘ought to punch you in the nose,” he says half serious in his New Tros accent.

“You ‘ought to just be the one who goes out for coffee the first time,” I snicker lighting my cigi. He simply shakes his head, glaring at me as he lights his own.

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PREV: CH. 22 «Everything I’ll Miss»

PREV: CH. 22 «Everything I’ll Miss»

NEXT: CH. 24 «On the Third Day»

NEXT: CH. 24 «On the Third Day»


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