Month 2, Day 10
Smitty looked up from his cup of coffee to see Lt Adams and Ensign Jones facing him across the table. “Did you want something?”
“We want you to pass MacDowell on her probational,” Adams replied.
“What’s that got to do with you?”
“She won’t date us,” Jones answered.
“Don’t change the subject.”
“He’s not,” Adams said. “She’s too worried about her test to have time for dates.”
“Except for Bugalu,” Jones added. “She always has time for him. And MacGregor isn’t far behind.”
Adams gave the ensign a quick scowl. “But she’s never got time for us, and we don’t think that’s fair. So, we want you to get her past probation.”
“Right,” Jones agreed. “Then we could all have a ride.” Smitty’s mouth contracted, and Adams stomped on the other man’s foot. “Ow! I mean, get a date. That’s what I meant.”
“The way it’s done is, she gives the right answers to the questions,” Smitty pointed out.
“Well, maybe you aren’t asking the right questions,” Adams suggested.
“Definitely not asking the questions I would ask,” Jones offered.
“Why not try different questions?” Adams asked.
Smitty scowled at his cup of coffee and took another swallow. “And what do you suggest-“ He looked up, saw Colleen sitting across the candle-lit table. Her hair was swept up into an intricate mass of curls, and her red gown plunged to reveal a fascinating cleavage. The wine in his glass matched her hair and smelled almost as sweet as she did. “-I should ask?” His mind tried vainly to make sense of these sudden changes.
“You can ask me anything, Dear,” she purred. “I’d do anything to stay on the Fireball.” She stood up, started around the table. Smitty scooted back, ready to stand, but before he could, she was in his lap. “Absolutely anything.”
Smitty sat up, stared around the dark bedroom. I wish I could stop having these dreams. It would be so much easier to get through my days - even with her here - if I didn’t have such dreams every night.
Month 2, Day 20
Smitty raised his cup for a drink - a candlelit table, red hair arranged in intricate curls, and a plunging neckline revealing - get out of my head! - but his cup was empty. He gazed at the dispenser, all the way across the deck 11 rec room. I’m too comfortable to get up just now. With a slight smile, he closed his eyes and leaned on his arm, sinking once more into enjoying the smell of green plants. Something was blooming in the arboretum, sending a familiar aroma upwards, into the rec room. What is that? Roses? No. Whatever it is, I like it. This morning, even the drone of voices from the other side of the well, muffled by the crown of the willow, was pleasant. I could fall asleep here.
“I thought so.”
Smitty frowned. Is that Adams again? He opened his eyes to glare at the midnight shift engineer, but it was Bugalu who crossed the room to disappear behind the willow.
“Having morning coffee already, Bugalu?” one of the women asked.
“Try lunch,” the helmsman returned.
“Lunch!” Abdullah repeated in surprise.
“Yeah, you’ve been here all morning. Come on, Mac, it’s time for bed.”
He’s interrupting her studies for a lunchtime quickie?
“I’m wide awake,” the redhead protested.
“Doc’s right about how tired you look, and I’m tired of hearing about it. Come on, you’re going to bed.”
Smitty heard her sigh of resignation. “Okay. I’ll see you for supper.”
“I’m not waiting that long for supper,” Bugalu told her. “I’m not waking you until 2000. That’s 8 hours for you to sleep.”
“But that will put my whole schedule out of whack!”
“Should have thought of that before you stayed up so late,” he returned as he pulled her to the door. “Thanks for helping her, Abdulla, but she’s got to sleep sometime.”
“Sorry, Bugalu. I only intended a 2-hour study session.” The door closed behind them, and Smitty heard Abdulla sigh. “Well, that put a bigger dent in my day off than I intended. And she’s left her study files. I’ll give them to Bugalu at supper, and he can return them when he wakes her up.”
Smitty saw the dusky woman emerge from the willow’s screening foliage, headed for the exit. “Abdulla?”
Her head swiveled, and she changed direction to approach his table. “How long have you been here?”
“A while,” he admitted, and showed her his empty cup. “How’s she doing?”
She cocked her head slightly. “If you’ve been here that long, then you know.”
He shook his head, waved at the tree crown that hid the table where the two women had been. “Everything was muffled. I was lucky to make out a word here and there.” He waited, but Abdulla just stared at him. “I’m sure you have things you’d rather do on your day off. I appreciate your efforts to assist Lt MacDowell. And now I would appreciate an assessment of how she is doing.”
“She’s doing fine,” Abdulla stated. “She knows the material backwards and forwards.” She turned, then added over her shoulder, “She knew it a month ago. Problem is, now she doesn’t have any confidence.”
Smitty watched her leave, then sighed. She’s still upset. I hope the girl does better on her next test. Well, she’s bound to. Couldn’t do any worse! He considered another cup of coffee, but a glance at the clock convinced him he’d better have it in the messhall, along with lunch. As he placed his cup in the dirty dish chute, it occurred to him that this was Abdulla’s day off. And that means Colleen worked last night. And will again tonight. Hate to admit it, but it’s a good thing Lt Bugalu is trying to make her get some sleep. Don’t know any other woman aboard he’d do that for.
Dream of Success?
Month 2, Day 20
“She’s going to ace the test, Mr Smythe,” Abdulla told him as she entered the meeting room. “I’ve taught her everything I know.”
“Good,” he replied. Abdulla started around the table, allowing him his first view of the redhead. Her curls were massed atop her head, and her slinky red evening gown revealed every curve she had. “Lt MacDowell!” he exclaimed in shock.
“I’ve got your answers,” she purred, and sat on his lap.
Smitty’s eyes popped open, but saw little in the darkness of his bedroom. Maybe, if or when she finally does pass her test, I’ll stop having these dreams. He rolled over to his side and punched his pillow into a new shape. Sure I will. An idiot, that’s what I am.