“Von, you got a minute?” asked Rog.

“Sure, come on in.” Von was sitting at his desk looking better than he had a right to look considering what he had just experienced on world. His desk was immaculately clean and organized, which only made the crystal decanter of golden snoot look like it had Rog’s name on it. “Care to join me?” asked Von, knowing from the look in Rog’s eyes the question was rhetorical. He pulled out a second glass before Rog could answer.

Rog forced a smile, his eyes fixed on the glass. Von had the lights set on evening ambiance, which gave the snoot a sunset golden glow as he poured. Snoot was thicker than water and had the most unique and pleasing sound as it rolled from the decanter into crystal, the soothing sound opening to mind all things warm and wonderful as if the door to some fantastic place had just opened. “Thanks Von.” Lifting the glass to his lips, Rog let the warm smooth snoot linger on his tongue before lifting his chin, a gentle nudge to move the sweet nectar along.

“You know,” said Rog, “if we were back on Hyneria, we would be preparing for the big holiday. Family, food, friends,” lifting his glass, “snoot.”

Von smiled and took another sip without breaking eye contact with his guest.

“Do you ever miss it?” asked Rog.

“Miss what?”

“Home. Your family. Hyneria?”

“My home is here Rog and the members of this crew are my family, but that is not the answer you are looking for, not exactly what you want to hear is it?”

Rog pulled his cheeks up in smile without teeth. He knew Von was right on both accounts. “Damn you Von,” he laughed, “I wasn’t asking you for the truth.”

“I know. I can see the pain in your eyes and I think I know, well, let me rephrase that, I don’t know, but I’m open to listening. My words may have ringed true, but there are other bells in the tower and they have every right to sound their truth too. So pull that rope. Pull it hard, ring those bells. From the look of things, we’ve got time on our hands.”

“Maybe it’s the snoot, but I have no idea what you just said, although it sure sounds sophisticated, Taoesque even. Can you translate that into something this ol’ farm boy can understand?”

“Taoesque, now there is a word I don’t think I’ve ever heard.” Von laughed harder than he had laughed in some time. “Been spending some time with Kyra I see. Look, I’m aware of what happened with Yul. I understand there was a note too, which, before you ask, I haven’t seen. But you know what, I don’t need any of that to know something is weighing on your mind, or heart as the case may be. Body language doesn’t lie and yours is transmitting like a blinking neon sign.”

“Really? Uhm, that transparent?”

“Yep. Like a pane of brand new glass. Now I’ve got time on my hands and nowhere to go, so the floor is all yours.”

Rog placed the edge of the crystal glass against his lower lip, hesitated slightly, and took another long sip in the dim warm light. Von had an avuncular way about him, the room felt cozy and the snoot was starting to warm his belly and loosen this tongue. “I hardly know where to start,” sighed Rog.

“Start with Yul. Tell me what is going on there.” Von had been reading before Rog showed up and still had his reading glasses on. In a gesture to say you have my full attention, he reached up and took them off, letting the blue onyx frames rest on his chest, suspended from a cord around his neck.

“You know she tried to commit suicide. Why, is still not completely clear and she isn’t talking. So that part is still muddy and part of me understands her not wanting to talk and part of me is going crazy not knowing what is going on inside her head and part of me is pissed that she won’t open up to me, that she is holding back and part of me is trying to understand that maybe she just needs a little space. If that is all there was, no big deal. But she left a note. She hasn’t asked about it or alluded to it, so I’m not sure that she remembers writing it. I’ve read it and so has Kyra, which, remind me later, that’s a whole other subject. Anyway, the note was tear stained and certain passages are blurred and it is unclear exactly what she said or meant. She alluded to many issues, which, quite frankly, don’t completely add up to the suicide attempt. There is still something missing and like I said, she ain’t talking right now. But one thing in the note was very clear. She was not the one that was supposed to be on Bravo and it seems obvious that that was a factor of stress.”

“Does she explain the who and what behind that statement?”

Rog just shook his head. “No. In her note she talks in riddles. There is a strong sense of guilt, which is understandable in light of her mindset at the time, but she alludes to certain relationships in her life that caused her great pain, and apparently, still do. Why she had this breakdown now, I have no idea—just makes no sense to me. Still, that’s not what really bothers me. What really bothers me is she pretended to be someone that she wasn’t. I feel dirty, deceived, played for a fool and now she won’t talk, which, probably is a good thing since I’m sure I’d say some things I’d regret.” Rog paused as if to allow his thoughts to catch up with his tongue. “Feedback?”

Von thought for a second. “Keep going. I’m listening.”

“I don’t know what to say Von. I feel lost. Lost from Yul. Lost from Kyra, and, perhaps, most disturbing, I feel lost from myself.” Rog stopped and leaned over placing his forearms on the top of his knees. He looked up at Von. “I’ve never felt lost before.”

“When you say “lost from yourself,” what do you mean?”

“There is an anger inside of me I don’t know how to explain, almost like my body has been invaded my some alien creature. This is not me Von. I don’t get like this. Do you understand? I all but attacked Kyra just a short while ago.” A pale smile emerged from behind Rog’s eyes. “I will say this, she can hold her own. I walked in like my balls were made of brass and she handed them back to me on a platter. Kinda made me horny actually, if you know what I mean.”

“Yes, been awhile, but I think I know what you mean. Now tell me. What happened between you and Kyra. This is the second time you’ve alluded to some sort of confrontation.”

“It was about the note. When I read what Yul had to say I was shocked. But when I watched Kyra read it, something just didn’t seem right. It bothered me. And the feeling didn’t go away, it kinda grew. So, I confronted her in her quarters.”

“About what?”

“Whether she knew, knew that Yul wasn’t supposed to be on Bravo.”

“What did she say?”

“Said she knew. Well, actually, she said she figured it out from what she knew about Yul from the manifest and from what she saw and heard from Yul onboard. Said anyone with ears and eyes would have seen something was not right. Speaking of which, did you know?”

Von hesitated.

“You’re shiotting me. You knew?”

“No, I was just thinking, trying to think through the things I remember Yul saying and doing. Some things seemed not quite in sync but I can’t say I really thought much about it. Besides, in my mind, what was and what is—two different things—and after my time in the hands of the Javalinas, well, let’s just say it took a lot of time on Silus to make peace with the past and to let it go. So to answer your question, I didn’t know.”

“Well, I blasted Kyra for not telling me.” Rog stopped as if the statement demanded a reaction from Von.

Von didn’t say anything.

“Von, I don’t blast anyone like that. And I have no idea where it came from and that scares me. As soon as I walked out her door my first instinct was to run to the arms of Yul, for her to tell me everything would be okay and to go back and make things right. But as soon as that thought popped into my head, I realized the Yul I was thinking of no longer existed and those arms I longed to feel wrapped around me might as well be back on Hyneria. So, I came here.” Rog reached out his glass and Von poured. “Tell me what you’re thinking. Help me see what I’m not seeing.”

“You sure you want to hear what I’ve got to say?”

“I wouldn’t be asking if I didn’t. Besides, my balls are already on the platter so take your best shot.” They both laughed as those with bellies of snoot are wont to do.

So Von said what he had to say and Rog listened. Then they both sat for a long time, lost in their glasses as if the words spoken were rocks tossed into the pond of their souls, ripples slowly moving toward the shore. After a while, Rog stood up, thanked Von for the advice, and the snoot, and made his way back to his quarters. So much to think about and yet, at the same time, there was really nothing to think about at all.

Categories: Story, Rog, Von