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Shorts-Final

“Dude, I’ve got a deadline.”

He didn’t look impressed. In fact he looked like he was actively considering throwing me a block on this one. It was starting to look like this was the time; that legendary time when your luck runs out, the house of cards crumbles like the proverbial cookie, that taste of goose fat on your lips, dust billowing from the well, the wagon repairman handing me the bill, the… you get the picture.

I mean they always told you to be conscientious, get your work done ahead of time, nose to the grindstone, prior planning and performance, but who really did? There was those two dweeby girls and the weird guy who whined about getting a lowly 99% on the Final, but really, we all knew they were on something. I’ve always suspected that Ridalin was some sort of keener’s high. But not the rest of us. No, the rest of us just sauntered along, doing all-nighters and pulling rabbits out of our asses like normal people do. Month after month, year after year, that hokey parental advice continued to prove false and all was right in the world. Ok, some people started to get scared as they got a bit older. They said the odds were against them now, it was time to shape up or ship out, time to accept the responsibilities of an adult… cowards one and all.

But I don’t blame them. Really I don’t. They say as you get older and continue to learn, that more and more wrinkles appear in the old braincase. Cortexes convulate or something. More surface area to compute the horrific fates that lurk and loom around every corner. Some people just give in to the wrinkles. But to me, a few crowsfeet on the Corpus Callosum is no reason to  break faith with the only dictum worth dicking around with: “I can always do it tomorrow!”

At least until now.

Brad here was about to break my streak. My phablet was dead, I was 30 miles by water from the nearest power outlet and while I was sure I could wangle an extension out of old Beasley, I couldn’t do that unless Brad lent me his Sat phone. And Brad wasn’t budging.

“You should have planned ahead. The Sat phone is for emergencies only. You know it costs over 10 bucks a minute. I can’t let you run down my batteries for nonessential purposes. I have to be here for another 3 months you know.” Brad looked at me as if I was some sort of defective trained seal. “Do you understand what I am saying? Emergencies only.”

“Brad,” I replied in my calmest and most persuasive tone. The tone that had got me into grad school with the crappiest marks on record. The tone that had convinced Sara that I’d behave upstairs in her bedroom that lovely summer before Grade 12. The tone that made sure that Mitch caught hell for the burned down haystack and I was absolved. The tone that had never, ever failed me.

“Brad. Look at it like this. An emergency is a situation that threatens the life or well being of someone or something important. I’m important right? And my wellbeing is definitely under threat…”

” Yah, but you coulda prevented it by…”

“Brad. Really? I could have known that there was no generator here? I could have known it was going to take two days to collect the data? I could have known that there was no one else on this rock in the middle of nowhere. No one at all? Really Brad, open your mind a bit…”

“No. That’s final.” He turned and stumped down the hill towards the docks and his dilapidated old cruiser, leaving me standing there alone like a scarecrow in a harvested cornfield.

“Crap.”

Oh well, now I guess I’ll have to steal the bloody thing. How hard could that be?