Chapter 4: Wasting Time
pawn in the game that's all I am
A job. Job, job, job. The word sounded foreign to him. Spike had never had a job. Being a gangster is not really a job as much as it is a poor lifestyle choice. And being a bounty hunter isn't a job as much as it is avoiding a real one. But here he was, sitting in front of a perspective employer wearing an orange polyester suit and alligator shoes.
"Do ya have any experience at all?
"Well...we all have experiences. I guess the question is if I have the right ones."
The old man stared at him blankly for a moment. "All right, Confucius. Have ya ever worked in a repair shop before?"
"Have ya ever repaired somethin'?"
"Not really, no."
"Do ya know anythin' about aircrafts?"
"Ok, that's a start. What kind of background knowledge do you have?"
"Um...I fly them."
"Ya fly them."
"I fly one. Flew one. Pretty decently, if I do say so."
"Did ya build it or have a general concept of how it worked?"
"No," the old man answered for him.
"Yeah, I'm gonna say that one's a big no as well," Spike admitted.
The old man rolled his eyes and looked down at the piece of paper in front of him as if it was important, when in reality it was a warrantee on a toaster. What the hell was up with this kid? The hair, the clothes, the whole attitude. It was like he was daring the geezer to hire him. Lucky for Spike, the geezer wasn't one to back away from a dare. "So what exactly do ya know?"
"I know how to blow up stuff real good," Spike nodded, pleased with his summation of his skills and talents.
"So...ya do pretty much the opposite of repairin' things."
"And yer applyin' to this job...why?"
"I think I've taken blowing up stuff about as far as it could go," Spike said, in quite possibly the only moment of sincerity throughout the entire interview process. That was a true statement. Once you destroy your worst enemy, normal property damage seems anti-climatic.
"I see. Well, to be perfectly honest with ya kid, ya seem to be a bit of a nutter. But yer a well spoken and coherent nutter, which is better than most of ‘em so far."
"So you're saying I got the job?" he asked, but it wasn't so much in an eager or grateful way as it was out of amusement and mild shock.
"Yeah...I'm as puzzled as you are."
"Nice. Hey, do you have a uniform or something? I gotta get out of this damned suit."
"Oh, yeah. That's good."
Spike cocked his head at him. "What's good?"
"That ya don't like yer suit. It eases my mind slightly."
Spike smiled a bit. "Name's John."
"Yeah, well I'm Noah."
"Like the ark."
"Right. Though I doubt I could round up two of ya if I tried."
"Whoa, whoa. You're selling an Albatross K-1 for only 9,000 woolongs?" Spike stared at the craft in front of him with amazement. If he were a smart man, he would want an Albatross K-1. Every reasonable person in the universe wanted one of those. Being that he was Spike, he was always very content with his glorified hunk of shit. But the Albatross was THE ship. The Holy Grail of hormone riddled teenage boys still trapped inside 27-year-old bodies.
"Yeah, man," the short, wiry kid next to him grinned. He leaned smugly against the ship. "We will not be undersold."
Spike whistled. "Shit. How the hell do you make any money in this place?" he asked.
"John, my man, what you are about to learn is the greatest kept secret of Noah's Ship Repair and Used Craft Emporium," the kid sidled up to Spike as if he was one of his customers. All smiles and easy confidence. Easy the way a cobra smiling at you before it strikes is easy. "See, it's all about favors. The manufacturers...they do us a favor. Then we, the dealer, do them a favor, by keeping their product in such high demand. Then we pass the savings on to you, our valued customer."
"And what do I do to deserve such favors?" Spike smirked in a way very similar to his new co-worker.
"You simply buy our product."
"Ok...so how do you convince the manufacturer to give you the favor in the first place?"
"That is our greatest asset. The secret to a winning b to b relationship lies in trust, honesty and understanding. You see, John...we steal the parts."
"We steal the parts?"
"We steal the parts. That's it."
Spike seemed to consider this for a second, then nodded and said, "I can dig it."