“This was your great-grandmother’s microphone,” Arturo explained, noting Dellasura’s interest. “She often complained that it was too tall for her.”
Dellasura examined the microphone. “Well, it is rather tall. I’m afraid my dehydration is distracting, is there …”
“She stood on a wooden box. I think she felt confined,” Arturo, momentarily lost in the past, grew silent as he stared into the framed photograph of Bettysura next to the wardrobe.
“What do you mean? What do you mean; she felt confined?” Dellasura pressed, forgetting for a few seconds about her dehydration headache, yet unable to look into the photographed eyes of her great grandmother.
“There you are!” Sax Cat flashed a smile at Arturo. “Derek is looking for you; wants to run through Maye’s new opening tune. Been a change.”
Arturo shook his head. That meant another solo he wouldn’t have time to think about before the spotlight lands on him. “Yeah, yeah, okay. Can you take our lovely guest for some water and I’ll let the maestro know you’re on your way?”
Sax Cat turned to Dellasura as Arturo hurried out of the gallery. “I’m Sax Cat. You?”
“Dellasura. Strange place.”
“The Cafe? That’s an understatement.” Sax Cat laughed.
For the first time since her arrival to this strange place and its cryptic assignment, Dellasura was joining in the laughter; it felt good. She tried to remember the last time she smiled, much less laughed. Too long in a civil war zone on a planet too far from home, or at least the starship she’d come to know as home.
“So, your name is Sax Cat?” Dellasura asked.
“Sort of,” Sax Cat shrugged, looking down. “Here at the Cafe, I’m Sax Cat, I play the sax. Out there? I’m just another cat woman, a vet, doctor of veterinary medicine. Mostly cats, for some reason; that’s my job and I’m good at it, but that’s not who I am in total; there’s so much more to me than what I do as a profession, to all of us; maybe that’s why —” She was interrupted by a distraught Javier.
“Have you seen her? She … she … ” he pleaded.
“Valentina? That way,” Sax Cat pointed, turning back to Dellasura who was beginning to droop.
“Come on, we better get you something to drink.” She led the young Starship officer away from the gallery.
“Hey Serafina, you covering?” Sax Cat asked, surprised to see Serafina behind the bar.
“Yeah, sort of covering, but not really,” Serafina glanced at the clock. “What can I gitcha?”
Sax Cat waved at Dellasura. “You first.”
“Thank you. Water, for post-transmission rehydration, please.” Dellasura replied, with an obvious sigh of relief.
Serafina stared at the young Starship officer. “You want what kind of water? We’re talking water, right?”
“Yes, water. Post-transmission …”
Joon hurried into the soda bar, waving at Serafina Blue. “I got it Sera, thanks. Dellasura, your room is ready and there is plenty of water to your specifications. Sorry it took so long.”
Dellasura turned to Sax Cat. “Thank you again. I hope to hear you play.”
“When the doors officially open, you won’t have a choice; the whole block will hear us!” Cat promised as Joon ushered the young Sura woman away to her room.
Serafina Blue, still trying to get her head around the whole water thing, was suddenly overcome by the essence of woodlands, of forests, trees in the rain as she caught the familiar perfume scent before seeing the profile of her old boss. “Yzhah,” she said, her voice flat.
“Serafina Blue… how are you? You look great.” Yzhah smiled at her former bookkeeper.
“You too,” Serafina mumbled, aware that the once spunky idealistic reporter turned failed magazine publisher seemed so much smaller than she’d remembered.
“Hi Sera, trying to find —” Meg stopped. She stared at Yzhah, but continued talking to Serafina. “Trying to find the pilots lounge and was told its this way.”
“We have a pilots lounge? Sorry Meggy, no clue babe.” Serafina Blue was not sticking around to witness any potential unfinished business between Meg and Yzhah. “I gotta run ladies. If you see any of my youngins’ running around here, send ’em all up to room 9, would ya? And, good to see you Yzhah. Good to see you Meg.”
“Top floor,” Sax Cat pointed. “Pilots lounge; its on the top floor.”
“Thank you,” Meg acknowledged.
“Meg… I …” Yzhah reached out to her former pilot.
“Don’t. Don’t.” Meg turned away. “What’s done is done. You did what you felt you had to do. I understand that; and I’ve moved on. I came in here looking for the pilots lounge, not a trip down memory lane. I’m sure you understand.”
“What was THAT about?” Lupita asked, realizing she’d walked in on some sort of tension, then without waiting for an answer, “never mind, I don’t want to know.”
Yelazyveta, taking a spin on the bar stool, spoke to Sax Cat. “You need to hurry, Derek is looking for you. Does that masked-man think only about performance? All the time, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! Give me break!”
“How did you escape your wizard?” Lupita teased. “We saw you with him.”
“Don’t tease!” Yelazyveta defended. “I kind of like the old guy; his magic is … its funny. He makes me laugh.”
Lupita and Sax Cat exchanged looks. “To each his own, I always say,” Sax Cat replied.
“You never stay that,” Lupita countered, “in all the years we’ve known each other, never have I ever heard you say that.”
Sax Cat winked at her old friend as Derek’s booming voice could be heard from the main stage down the hall: “Saxes! Saxes! Where, as usual, are the saxes!”