A special Drabblecast interview with author Tim Pratt. Tim’s frequent appearances include Happy Old Year, Annabelle’s Alphabet, Morris And The Machine, A Fairy Tale Of Oakland, Cinderlands, Angel of the Ordinary and others.
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There was a black, one-way window between me and my father, watching my interrogation. I imagined he was looking down at me with the rest of the generals on the second story. Their room looked down into empty cement room where I sat, alone, on a white chair, watching a black video screen. The decision to move them to another floor had been made recently after one of their interrogations became violent. That is, the person being interrogated became violent.
I spent last summer crawling through The Big Thicket with cameras and tape recorder, photographing and taping two of the last ivory-billed woodpeckers on the earth. You can see the films at your local Audubon Society showroom. This year I wanted something just as flashy but a little less taxing.
Perhaps a population study on the Bermuda cahow, or the New Zealand takahe. A month or so in the warm (not hot) sun would do me a world of good. To say nothing of the advance of science. I was idly leafing through Greenway’s Extinct and Vanishing Birds of the World. The city bus was winding its way through the ritzy neighborhoods of Austin, stopping to let off the chicanas, black women, and Vietnamese who tended the kitchens and gardens of the rich.
All the young Kirks in Riverside Public High School are assigned to the same Homeroom class. They sit together in the back corner on the far side from the door. They speak only to each other.
The young Kirk on the Moon goes to school with no one. Each of the colonists has a job and he or she is responsible only to the duties of that job. The others call him Fisher instead of James since he spends his days knee deep in the trout pond, allowing the fish to glide between his legs. When the fish become completely inured to his presence, he thrusts his hands into the water and grasps one around the belly. It fights and Fisher holds on. He is supposed to take it out of the water, to throw it into the white bucket by the shore, but Fisher never does. He lets the fish go and when he comes home, with nothing to show for it, his mother expresses her irrevocable disappointment and sends him to bed.
The night I met Elsie I was up on the roof of my apartment building with a bottle of Kentucky Gentleman, because it’s sort of like bourbon, but cheaper, and better at blotting out reality. Technically it wasn’t “my” building anymore since I’d been evicted and had to be gone by morning if I didn’t want sheriff’s deputies to dump all my possessions out on the sidewalk. Joke was on them — what possessions? Everything I could sell, I already had, in a vain attempt to keep up with rent. What remained was so crappy I couldn’t even give it away on Craigslist.
There were always bright rings on the doorbell and smiling faces carrying covered dishes. There was always a peck on the cheek for us kids when grandma came, and always a strong handshake from grandpa. His big warm hands always convinced us that he was as strong as he was wise. All of them would pile in, cherry red cheeks and warm mittens. They would brush off all the snow from outside and remind us how cold it was where we lived. It was true, we lived in one of the coldest parts of the country, and there was always a blizzard on Christmas Eve.
Life on the moon sucks. Dad got home early from the air factory today and I wasn’t done cleaning the dishes from breakfast so he broke my breakfast bowl over my head. Guess I’ll have to eat out of his bowl tomorrow.
Dad says he’s gonna have to get a new job. Not that he told me. He told Melinda, the girl he’s been bringing home lately. They drank the last of his screech — that’s this nasty rum like they used to make back on Earth — then started poking each other on the bottom bunk while I sat on the top. Dad caught me peaking and near took my eye out when he threw his boot. Melinda calmed him down at least, and they got back to poking at each other.