Once inside the airlock the group removes their pressure suits. Underneath they have on ragged grey loin cloths. Chen passes around short metal staffs that expand into something that looks like spears. One for each of them.
Issac’s gut is hanging over his loin cloth. “This had better work, Heinie.”
“We have to out-maniac the maniac. We’re out to alpha-dog the alpha dog.”
“Comprendé. ¡Vamanos! before we freeze our asses off!” The monks are staring longingly at the pizza box José holds. One draws his fingers across the lid in a caress.
“Can we see?”
Beth has a frosty response to this. “No. Not until we have the credit card. Let’s get this done.” The grill monks reluctantly nod and lead the group forward. They shuffle through the metal corridors, grill monks withdrawing from their path, heads bowed.
Before long they are standing before Earth’s richest man, Elron Muskatel and his T-bone. The Last Steak. At least he’s rich on Earth, not so much on Mars, a place where money has no meaning. Apparently the tribal presentation by the group has made an impression as his eyes practically pop out of his head. The hooded monks around him do their best to pretend they don’t notice a half-naked group of people armed with spears and bickering quietly to each other in Esperanto.
José slowly lowers the pizza box to the floor and opens the lid. The gasp from the other people in the room is audible. One can almost hear the drool gathering at the corners of their mouths as they drink in the sight. Beth pounds the floor with her spear. The monks jump with surprise.
“We are here to make an exchange. We have the pizza, now we need the credit card.” Elron motions an assistant over and whispers in his ear.
The monk steps back and intones: “The pizza is pleasing to us. It has been too long since we’ve been able to snack properly.” From his flowing sleeve he pulls a computer tablet and with a bow hands it over to Beth using two hands and a reverent bow. “Here is the credit card information, and our shopping list. May it please Amazon.”
Quietly Beth and José take the tablet and look over the list. It is a long list. José gives it a quick look-see. “Uh-huh. Yup. Got it. MMMmmm-hum. Gold plated bowing-ball, Check. Frozen instant pizza tacos, check. State of Florida – no check. Amazon can’t deliver real estate you know.”
Elron seems to heave a deep sigh and waves his assistant over again. After a short whispered conference the assistant replies, “We accept that we can’t get the state of Florida delivered, but perhaps a Key Lime Pie can be done.”
(Here’s what you might not know: Key Lime Pie is basically three things – condensed milk from a can, lime juice from a bottle and eggs yokes. Usually in a pre-packaged graham cracker crust. José can make this with his eyes closed.)
José performs a ceremonial bow with the tablet before him. “We shall have gold-plated bowling balls, and we shall have Key Lime Pie. So it has been written, so it shall be done.”
Over his should to Beth he whispers, “Am I getting good at this or what?”