Zeus and Io - Books 1 and 2
Copyright 2012,2013 by Harry Carton
We were sleeping in the camper. Crowded as it was, it was still big enough for two people and all their 'necessary' stuff, if they had access to Navajo Pete's house to live in during the daylight hours.
All day, every day, we were gone: appointments with an architect (an Apache who worked out of Gallup) to discuss the house, meetings with engineers, a different architect from Denver about the computer installation, and meetings with site prep people from the wind and solar installation companies. That's not even mentioning 'how's it going' meetings with people from the Navajo Nation, and discussions about the scholarships.
I was going nuts. I was not a 'meetings' kind of guy. Arti, on the other hand, seemed to be having a fine old time.
'Ms Lenti' had arranged for the underground site for the server farm to be evaluated, and plans were being readied. We were going to generate electricity from the enormous heat created by the computers, by running it through some kind of complicated generator. It was a double win: we'd get rid of the heat, and convert it into electricity which we would then use. There was a lot of wasted energy, of course, in running the equipment; but it was basically free electricity, and we wouldn't have to air condition the site. Of course, we'd use the normal electric grid for most of our power needs ... at least until Navajo Renewable Power was up and running.
I say 'we, ' but of course, I had nothing to do with it. Io came up with the plans and talked to a 'green' architect firm from Denver. They had contacts with a 'green' electrical engineer, and so on. I didn't know it was 'Saint Paddy's Day' already. All I knew was that it was going to be among the first of its kind, and we were going to get written up in one of the EE journals.
Another thing I had nothing to do with was the power station. Boris Astro turned out to be a whiz at coming up with ideas for the plant. He wanted solar collectors on the ground, underneath where wind generators were running. Why didn't anybody else think of doing that? Maybe there was some economic reason not to do it, but it probably was because the wind generator companies weren't doing solar power, and vice versa. They were going to be on a bluff near one of the canyons, acres and acres of wind and solar generating stations. Not too much in the way of animals up that high: rodents eating bugs, coyotes and foxes eating rodents, larger cats eating coyotes, and that was about it. There wasn't enough vegetation to support the larger browsing animals.
The hard part seemed to be getting the power to the People. Hmm. Power to the People. Catchy phrase, but I digress.
The windmills were easy, and not as effective, from what I could gather. The windmills almost directly made electricity. From there on, it's a question of cables, wires, batteries, more wires, and eventually light bulbs in your house.
For the solar power, it wouldn't be as easy, but it was going to be more efficient. What they were going to do was beam the photons around using fiber optic cables; concentrate them all, at some point, and convert the photons to electrons; then it'd be cables, batteries and eventually light bulbs. Io assured Arti and me that, although the 'convert photons to electrons' part was not now available at cost effective levels, it would be by the time everything was built. Most likely, that would be next spring.
The house plans were coming along. There was one point, however. One afternoon, at lunch, Arti raised an issue that I had considered briefly and put out of mind. 'Out of mind' being the key phrase, as in 'she was out of her mind.'
"Zeus," she said, "how many bedrooms are we going to have?"
Sounds like an innocuous question, right? Wrong!
"Couple of spares for when we have unexpected guests. Yours. Mine. That makes four. I think that ought to do it."
"What about live-in staff? Suppose we want to have a care-taker when we're away?" she asked casually, but I had the feeling that this conversation was carefully scripted ... by her.
"Okay. How about an apartment over the garage? That's pretty standard, from what I see on the TV dramas," I answered.
"And," she went on, as if I hadn't answered at all, "I was thinking of just the one master suite, with maybe an unused bedroom nearby for when we expand."
"Yes, indeed: 'Uh oh.' I knew this was coming!" said the voice in my head.
What do you mean, 'You knew this was coming.' Why didn't you tell me? I answered.
"Not like that. Just ... I knew. Like man-woman knowledge," he said. "And you did too, if you're honest about it. She gave you plenty of warning. And she's been wearing the clothes you said you liked, not her goth look. That's not by accident."
So what should I do now? I asked in exasperation.
"It's your life, not 'ours.' Do what you want."
She had that patient look on her face.
"Did you and Martinez thrash out an answer yet?"
"What? Oh, well. Um. No. He said I should do what I want."
"And that is... ?" she calmly asked.
"Look, Arti. We've only known each other for about two months. Moving into the same house is pushing things don't you think? Let alone moving into the same bedroom." That sounded reasonable to me.
"No. I don't think that's rushing things at all. The house isn't even built yet. That'll take months. I mean ... what do we gain by waiting? We've been through an awful lot in just two months. We've done things together that defy description. You're the kind of man I want ... There. I've said it out loud. You are The. One. For. Me. I want to get started sooner, rather than later."
I was quiet for a while. Then I said, "What did you mean by 'when we expand?'"
"You know perfectly well what I meant. Expand. As in 'expand our family.'"
"Arti, I ... well I guess ... I mean I'm just not ready. Plus I'm damaged goods. I've got a plate in my head..."
"Don't care," she interrupted.
" ... and I have flashbacks to unpleasant times..."
"Me too. We can hold each other when they come," she interrupted again.
" ... and I have a spirit in my head that talks to me, and I'm paranoid about everything. I probably have PTSD and I'll wake up someday a raving lunatic, or worse."
"I like Martinez. He visited my head when we were in Florida, you know. I don't care about the paranoia. Have you had any strong feeling of paranoia lately? I don't think so. I think that you were paranoid – note the use of the past tense – because you were living alone. Now you mostly have memories of being paranoid. Everybody who has been through a dangerous situation probably has PTSD. If you wake up a lunatic, I still don't care. You wouldn't hurt me. I know you wouldn't."
"It hasn't been long since my ex-wife left me. I'm not over that yet." That sounded hollow even to me.
"Only about eleven years. Were you planning on taking that to the grave?"
"I was nuts for most of that time. I haven't gotten used to it, now that I'm sane."
"I thought you were nutso now. Suddenly you're sane?"
She said it with a smile. I was amazed that she was maintaining a good humor throughout all this. Probably it was because it was all going according to her script.
"I'm just ... not ready for all that now. Children? With me? Are you nuts? I'd be the worst father imaginable."
"I think you'd be the best. You're honest, loyal, kind, brave, trustworthy ... thrifty, too." She was ticking them off on her fingers. "You didn't even buy much when we went shopping. Let's see ... what else is in the Boy Scout Pledge? ... Reverent. I think you'd fail on that one. What else? Obedient. We'll have to see about that one," she said and laughed.
"Yeah. Obedient. Not so much," I said and laughed along with her. "But seriously, I'm just not ready."
She got serious. "Were you hurt elsewhere, by the IED, I mean? Did it leave you unable to perform sexually? Is that the real problem? 'Cause that won't be an issue."
"What?! No. NO, " I said a bit too loudly. "You can check with Carmel in Shreveport, before I met you. Or Angie in Lansing, that was about five years back. Or..."
"Okay! Stop! I got the picture. I don't want to know about all of them. Do you want to know about mine? There was Mel Stokowski; he was seventeen and I was eighteen. He was the backup center on the basketball team, and..."
I reached over and put my hand over her mouth.
"I don't want to hear about any of them," I said softly. "Whether there was one, or sixty-one."
She took my hand in both of hers, pulling it quietly to the table.
"Okay. What about how I dress, now? Do you like the clothes I bought in Orlando? Bright colors, you said."
"They're fine. Great. You look good. Sexy even," I said. She deserved an honest answer – as honest as I could be anyway. "I'm just not ready ... not now."
"Not now," she said to herself in that quiet undertone that I hadn't heard in a while. "Do you want me to move out? Or to build a separate house – like we had for a few days in Austin? That would be a pain, but..."
"No, not move out, exactly. Just move ... aside. Maybe I'll be ready someday. Who knows?"
"Okay ... Here's what I propose. Sorry, that's a loaded word. What I 'suggest.' ... We'll design a house with all the bells and whistles we want. It will have two spare bedrooms, an 'unused' room near the master bedroom – for possible future 'expansion'..." she wiggled her eyebrows like a short, cute Groucho Marx " ... and one master bedroom with room for a huge king sized playpen ... excuse me, I mean king sized bed." She smiled again. "I will plan on occupying the over-the-garage quarters, until you want me to come into the playpen. Good? We can even have an underground bunker for when they come after you. Okay?"
"I guess so."
"Well, that's what you want, right?"
"But you have to allow me to wear whatever scandalously brief or suggestive clothes I want, when it's just us in the house."
"Not fair, Arti."
"I have no intention of playing fair on this subject."
I again had a feeling that she had the entire conversation scripted before we even started.
The voice in my head laughed.
She didn't need me for the meetings, so I stayed behind at Navajo Pete's. We went shooting out in the back, just to keep my hand in. Sometimes we went down to the bar where old Indians hung out and played Indian Poker – the bar that served as a VFW hall. I may have described it before, but there were no rules to Indian Poker. At least no rules that a white man could understand. I didn't care, because it was played amid a fair amount of beer, some great Mexican food – far better than the Tex-Mex I was used to – and it cost me just a dollar or two in 'card fees.'
One day, when I was looking at a pair of kings (I wasn't really sure if that was good or not, under the current 'rules') I got an 'interrupt' from Martinez.
"Sorry to do this when you have kings, but if I don't tell you, I might forget. I seem to have less room for memory, these days," he said. "We need to have a way to fly into Mexico sometime soon. And fly out again."