about friends (2)
I slouched on my bunk and stared at the ceiling hologram revolve. It was the boiling ocean throwing itself against the rocks of some shore. It was Niishima’s time to watch the sea. In about one hour I would change it to the starry night sky over the Sonoran Desert. This was relax time, after a 25 hour shift on the transporter taking us to the mining regions in the asteroid belt. With us I meant, Ivanov, Rico, Niishima and me. Captain Rizzo would remain on board. Five men wedged into a tin can floating through the black emptiness of the space, heading towards some expensive rocks and dirt. The journey we just started would take seven months.
Niishima was moving, and I watched him starting his tai chi exercises. Eyes closed, concentrating on his movements, his muscles worked under his soft skin. I pulled my prosthetic leg in, so he’d have enough space. Stressed out, huh.
I heard he had a fight with drunk Rizzo. It ended with calling names and a bloody nose. No doubt it was self defense on Niishima’s behalf. Rizzo was doing the job for over twenty years, and he was lonely. The booze must’ve killed enough of his neurons that he’d try to hit on Niishima. On a ship like this, there wasn’t much else to do than drinking, and facing the one eyed snake, anyway. And Niishima had a distinctly feminine appearance, small and slender, long lashes over dark almond eyes. That old fart went insane over any trace of feminity. „You’re officially classified as liquid, Kintaro.” I told him and decided to watch his back from now on. Rizzo would never dare to pick a fight with me. I’d break him in half instantly.
„Sumimasen, sorry?” He turned to me confused.
„You move like a bengalese tiger.” I stated and meant to be appreciative. Niishima pulled a sour face instead.
„Ian, don’t say that.” Did I hit a nerve? „Did Jefferson set you up? He did, didn’t he?” His black eyes glistened, cheeks boiled. Blushing, huh?
„Rico?” I shook my head. „What do you mean with set up?”
„Nothing in special, just curious.” Niishima lied. And he was bad at it. Why would he lie? „You two know each other for long?” He asked carefully. I had the feeling that I needed to be wary, for some reason. Niishima sat down near me.
„Well yes. We already worked for five years together on the mining ship Gorgo Beta. He saved my life.” I patted my prosthetic left leg. „I was sent out to repair one of the giant waldos, and Rico was my partner instructing me. Somehow I got my security line tangled up in the hydraulics, and when the gear slammed back into motion, and the gripper went online, it caught it. I got yanked into the grinder mechanism.” I tapped my left prosthetic arm and eye.
„It tore my arm from its socket, ripped my leg straight off.” Niishima’s eyes lock on mine.
„So Rico’s your best friend.” It sounded flat, as if he was stating it for himself. He looked at me and smiled. It was the most sorrowful smile I ever saw on a man’s face.
„Yeah…” That was a strange reaction. „Come on, he’s the funniest guy. You’ll like him, once you get to know him.” I tried, but Niishima stood up.
„We’ll talk later, Ian.” He said and resumed his exercises.