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The three medical directors were in a stalemate with him. They were in the medical section, on their turf, but not a one of them wanted to be the first to break the silence. The Administrative Director stood behind them, not hiding, just to the side, because she had no part in this conversation.
Dr. Bronson was the first to speak and risk Ken’s wrath. “I want you to sit down, because you look like you’re going to hit somebody, the way you’re standing.”
“It’s in your body language,” Dr. Pierce added.
“My body language is in a violent mood, and you’re not making him feel any friendlier. We’re trying to keep our footing in the middle of a 9.5 shitquake, so what did you need to tell me this goddamned urgently.”
“Well,” Jenkins stuttered, “Wesley’s alternate’s a lush. Duh, I know.”
“We only put him on the team to appease the Russians,” Ken said, “who felt they were getting frozen out of the primary team only having one member who hailed from their former communist paradise.”
“Well,” Jenkins continued, “it’s worse than I think anybody realized, like drink you under the table on a good day- or are those bad days?” Ken raised an eyebrow at that.
“Since his last physical he’s starting to show signs of cirrhosis,” Pierce said. “It’s early, but it’s the kind of damage that’s kind of sort of impossible to deal with in space. We can’t know if it’ll continue to progress, but it looks like our alternate needs an alternate.”
“You three have like a hive mind, right?” Ken asked. “Chips in your brains, data cables hidden under the white coats since wireless would interfere with the equipment?” he asked, lifting up Jenkins’ lab coat to check.
“We’ve worked together in close proximity for fifteen years now,” Jenkins said, smoothing the back of his coat down.
“But aside from the spreading cheeks for the Russians aspect of his selection,” Dr. Bronson said, “he has the same relative skill set as Wesley. If we tank the Russian- which we may have no say in- we may not be able to fill the hole he leaves. That could mean tanking the whole team, going back to square one, having to train people up.”
“So that’s why you have the administrative director here. God,” Ken groaned. ”We’re going to pick teams, like this is fucking dodgeball and it doesn’t matter who ends up on what squad.”
“The Mars mission is very sensitive,” Dr. Pierce said. “We can’t have any waste. The teams were chosen to be the most flexible and versatile possible. The alternative is to pray for a medical miracle from either Wesley or the Russian vodka cask.”
“And we don’t pray here at NASA,” Ken said, “because our God is science, and that son of a bitch is indifferent to even the most fellating prayers.”
“Maybe science is a she,” offered Dr. Bronson. “Perhaps if your prayers had more cunnilingus...”
“I wouldn’t give my wife more tongue, why would I give more to your sissified deity?”
“Maybe that’s why she left.”
“I will not have you bringing that Nietzsche shit into my space port.”
“I think he meant your wife,” said Dr. Pierce.
“She left because she’s a cunt. At least that’s what the judge said. Still gave her half my shit, on account of that stewardess I banged. But that was worth it. She could get her legs behind her back and her pussy near around my face; I swear to you it was a thing of beauty like unto gazing upon the face of God. If I had my druthers we’d scrap all this space nonsense and put you to work on the question of how a pussy gets to be that damn good.”
“Aren’t you at all worried about a hostile work environment?” asked Dr. Bronson.
“I hired you boys so I could talk about pussy without getting dragged back into court again.”
“I don’t know that we’re all comfortable discussing female genitalia,” said Dr. Pierce. “Jenkins is gay. And from what I’ve seen of her personnel file, and the skirt, I’m pretty sure the Administrative Director’s a lady.”
“Administrative is not part of this conversation yet. And no one is this gay, Jenkins, you have to take my word for it. It was like if you could fuck a sunset, or if the Mona Lisa gave out rimjobs with a baby oil reach around and a lollipop.”
“Is a lollipop something sexual I’ve never heard of, or…” the AD asked before trailing off.
“No, it’s just a lollipop, Ms. Freud, and as I’m fairly certain I just mentioned, you aren’t part of this conversation.”
“I’m not sure excluding me for my gender makes things better…”
“And it all sounds tantalizing, sir, but back to the point,” said Jenkins.
“The point is you don’t need me for this shit. AD, you’ve got files including the mission critical skill sets, right? I want a chart of every possible combination that nets us a workable Mars team without returning to square one. That means you can take em from the JV squad, but no recruits, no candidates. They have to have been on one of the parallel training teams. When I get back I expect it to be on my desk.”
“Back, sir? It’s two in the afternoon.”
“And I’ve been up all buttfucking night. I’m going home to sleephump my pillow. If experience holds, that means I’ll tucker myself out from that five, five-thirty. Expect me back in at midnight. Later if you prefer I find pants.”
“Later it is, then.”
“The junk-constricting I do for this place,” Ken muttered as he got up to leave.