Grandpa Jim sits in his chair smoking pipe and watching the fireplace with eyes glazed in past glories. He was in the war. He was an engineer back in the day. On a capital ship. He speaks about that often. Often and loudly. Back when life was not so easy. He never lost his sense of humor. It just became considerably darker they say. “When life gives you lemons, kill yourself” he grunts in disbelief whenever the little boys complain about some menial problem. Once when I was little I scraped my knee and asked him for a Band-Aid. He knocked me over the back of my head and said “when I was young I used to hurt for a living. “I never quite understood what that meant but for someone who hates complaints so much he sure complains a lot. He was a prisoner of war back in the day. They tell me the ship he worked on got captured by enemy forces around the Helios system. “and you don’t want to be captured near the Helios system. not alive, anyway.”
The Helios system is the biggest manufacturer of titanium alloys. Back in the Kepler wars it was the largest weapons manufacturer in the galaxy. And of the large manufacturer in the Helios system Orion is the biggest one. Orion, the hell planet they said. Day in and day out Grandpa Jim was set to work the iron ingots. Even in his environmental suit the temperature was above bearable. Over fifteen million workers died of heat-related injuries alone. Fountains of melted rock. Being an engineer as he was he was forced to work on the ships. All day he would carry around a wrench the size of a grown man’s leg. “18 years of age I was when I got to the hell pits on Orion. When I finally smashed that wrench into some manager’s kneecap and took a leap out of there I was 34. 34! You motherfucker! I spent the better half of my life building flying, fucking, killing, metal trucks the size of a small city. On Orion. Orion god damn it! So don’t give me no shit about your god damn fucking boo, boo.” He yells.
“Jimmy! It’s not a boo, boo. His leg is broken” My mom says as she holds me in place. I wanted to cry. “ha! When I was in Helios I would break my leg once a week. Think I got Medicare? God fucking no. We broke that shit back in place and skipped our way to hell” he said. But more than anything I wanted to be like Jim. The two of them argued away. But I looked to the stars and wondered if one day. I could be a god dammed fucking space pirate. Like grandpa Jim.