Chapter 3: The Best of the Waitresses
Faye had no idea why it was decided that she should do the shopping for Jet's stupid dinner. It was exactly that. Jet's stupid dinner. If Jet wasn't having some sort of emotional... thing, then there would be no dinner. She did not want to have the dinner. She was pretty sure Spike did not want to have the dinner. And Ed could probably care less. Sure, she and Spike would gladly eat the dinner, had it been prepared and served. And Ed will put anything in her mouth that is given to her. Faye knew this from experience. But to actually cook the dinner or purchase the requisite materials... that was entirely too much work.
This was the future, dammit! Wasn't she supposed to wake up into some brave new world with people popping insta-meal pellets or something? Where were the conveyor belt sidewalks? She grumbled as she struggled with her heels for a moment. Where was her robot slave? The future sucked!
And why did she have to be the one to go shopping? Because she was the woman, that's why! Sexist pricks. Like her haphazard, genetic acquisition of tits automatically made her an expert on the makings of good stuffing. And mashed potatoes. And whatever else was in this stupid sack. Jet was the resident old biddy on the ship, why couldn't he go out in the snow for this shit?
Because he's paying for it, giving you a room to sleep in and cooking the thing, a tiny voice said inside her. That made her feel guilty for a second until she realized other people were mooching off of him too and why couldn't they go?
All right. She knew the answer to that. Ed was a thirteen-year-old girl and Spike was a waste. He really was. If she needed something blown up good then she simply pointed the boy in the proper direction and said, "Make it so." But he was totally useless for anything else. She remembered the one time he had been sent out to get orange juice. Orange juice! And he had actually called her from the market totally dumbfounded over the concept of pulp. Did we want pulp? If so, how much pulp? And what was the difference between Homestyle and Grovestand? Did we want concentrated orange juice? Did we want juice with calcium? And despite her coaching, he still managed to come back with some overly expensive yuppie juice from some privately owned orchard that cost 20 woolongs more than normal orange juice. And Jet couldn't drink it anyway because it also had strawberries in it, and he was allergic. Spike was forbidden to go shopping after that. So that left her.
But it wasn't fair that she should be punished for her roommates' stupidity, which is why she thought she was totally justified in opening and drinking the bottle of wine she was instructed to buy. Worst case scenario, she'd be added to the Forbidden List. Actually, that was the best case scenario. There was no worst case scenario. "I am a genius!!" Faye roared in triumph before she lost her balance and had to pause momentarily to prop herself up against the wall. Damn, it was a far walk back to the ship. It didn't seem that far going to the store. True, she hadn't drunk half a bottle of wine before she left but she thought that could only help.
Faye closed her eyes and muttered under her breath. Nothing good ever came of being called Miss Valentine. "What?"
"This is for you." The man
handed her an envelope. It looked for all the world like a Christmas card
and it seemed to have a return address. Somewhere on Mars. She looked
at the messenger curiously, but he just shrugged and hung around for a
tip. Faye sighed as she pressed a cigarette in his outstretched hand and
then set her groceries down to read the card. On the front was a picture
of Santa in a sleigh. Nothing unusual. Looked like an ad for Coca Cola.
On the inside it read:
I'm not sure how to even
address this letter, since we have never met. I have recently gotten word
from Cryogenics that I am your next of kin. Grandniece, to be exact..
I'm sorry we couldn't have found you sooner but it was only recently brought
to our attention that you were there to be found. Grandma, your sister,
died a few years ago. I hope this letter finds you well and I hope to
see you at our Christmas dinner. If you feel uncomfortable, I understand.
Though, I am very eager to meet you. There are directions on the back.
Faye stared at the handwritten message as if she was waiting for it to explode. It did no such thing. But it might as well have, with the added complication it just hurled upon her life. A few months ago, a message like this would have sent her into a mad cap frenzy of joy. But now too much had happened. She had too many dead ends, and too many people telling her things that weren't true. Now she had no idea what to make of this letter. How could her family have gotten word from Cryogenics that she was alive, when they hadn't even known her last name? And surely they might have tried some other method of communication then a Christmas card and an open-ended invitation. The whole thing reeked of a trap.
But it was also signed by her grandniece, Jenny. Jenny sounded like such a nice person. Jenny was such a nice name. You never hear of serial killers named Jenny. Of course, a serial killer could easily sign his name Jenny but the possibility was still there that it actually was Jenny.
And if it wasn't Jenny, she would really like to give whomever it was what for. So it seemed pretty certain she would be going. On Christmas Eve. She stared back into her grocery bag and took another huge swig of wine. Christmas Eve. Why did it have to be Christmas Eve? Depressing events were always compounded with the addition of a holiday. She had already been let down so often in the past three years. Five minutes ago, for the first time since she could remember, she was pretty certain that she wouldn't be let down. She knew what to expect from the gang on the Bebop. They never let her down. This was because she didn't expect anything of them but at least this was a mutual agreement. They just all decided to count on each other screwing up and be pleasantly surprised if they didn't. She didn't have an agreement with these people. They were all set up to fall short of expectations. Not to mention, they would be expecting stuff of her. Their Great Aunt Faye was currently wearing fishnets in 30 below weather and chugging wine out of the bottle in a public place.
And then of course there was the more likely scenario, which was that it was actually her creditors. And over half of her creditors weren't of the most upstanding variety. She was currently holding in her hand what could be the key to her past or her undoing. Funny, but she suddenly didn't feel much like taking a gamble. She was absolutely certain that the Bebop were neither her family nor her creditors, and that made them the most appealing option of all. Besides, misery loves company, and she was pretty sure that was the true meaning of the holiday anyway. That and presents. And man would she be pissed if she got to this place and there were no presents. She was pretty sure there would be no presents on the Bebop either, but somehow that wouldn't bother her as much as if she went to this apartment expecting presents and found 12 guys with machine guns. So it was settled. She put the card back in her pocket so she could contact these people on a more emotionally accommodating day. It said right there on the card they'd understand.
And if it was her creditors, they'd be knocking on her door by New Years. It was about time to polish off that bottle.
Faye had a monstrous headache by the time she stumbled back into the ship, the groceries still amazingly secure. It was made worse by Jet chewing her ass out for drinking the wine. "Consider it payment," she grumbled.
"Payment!! You want to talk about payment?!!? Blah, blah blahbitty blah blah," is what Faye heard.
But even in her quasi-stupor she managed to feel a pang of guilt. Drunkards are not properly equipped to deal with guilt, so she attempted to pass it off to Spike. "Well, he doesn't pay rent either AND he didn't go shopping!"
"Hey, don't drag me into this," he snapped, lobbing the guilt back over the net.
"I swear, both of you are completely useless," Jet grumbled.
"Fine! Than I just won't do the shopping anymore!" Faye declared dramatically.
"Fine by me. It's not worth it to have you two do me any favors," Jet sighed as he stormed off to his room and slammed the door. Spike just stared after him for a moment, perplexed at the notion that he somehow became involved in this whole argument by simply sitting there. He had to admit it. Faye had skills.
The shrew woman herself let out an exaggerated groan, rubbed her temples, and then flopped onto the couch. Shopping was so exhausting. She closed her eyes, intending to pass out there and then, when she suddenly felt a presence close to her face. Faye opened her eyes to see Spike hovering over her with a smug expression. "What?" she snapped.
"You were trying to get on the Forbidden List," he said.
Faye narrowed her eyes at him, which both expressed her irritation and helped to focus her vision slightly. Seeing one Spike at a time was plenty, thank you. "No," she said, rather unconvincingly.
"Yes. They won't send Jack shopping anymore if he trades the cow for magic beans. You can't pull that on me. I invented that."
Faye whined and put a pillow over her head to drown him out. "I hate you," Faye said half-heartedly from underneath her downy shield.
"With good reason," he admitted. "'Night, Faye."