Pensées in Pollux b Penitentiary

For Flash! Friday vol. 3-19, the prompt is a setting of a kitchen, along with the following public domain photo. For the A-to-Z Challenge, P is for Pollux, the brightest star in the constellation Gemini, and named after one of the Gemini twins of Greek mythology. (Despite being the brightest star in Gemini, it has the Bayer designation of Beta Geminorum.)

Kinny didn’t look like no murderer. In fairness, not I nor nobody in the cell block knew if he was, not even Kinny. When the government mindwipes you, you don’t remember nothing. Not your name, not poor momma’s crying face. Still, it costs a fortune to haul prisoners 10 parsecs from Earth to Pollux lockup, so Kinny wasn’t no jaywalker.

KINN-9893 took my cellmate’s bunk. Jaxa was a funny guy and lousy poker player: a perfect cellmate. But after ten years they called JAXA-3514’s number: his sentence was up. In came this scrawny beanpole in grandma glasses.

“You ain’t gonna last one night guarding the stockade,” I warned him. (The prison walls didn’t keep us in: they held the savage Pollux predators out.) “If you got any brains, make yourself useful somewhere.” And he did: turns out he was a magician in the kitchen. Our processed soy and garden herbs never tasted better.

That first evening I lingered outside the kitchen after dinner, drunk on WELS-7332’s bathtub whiskey. The aroma of tomatoes and rosemary lingered in the air. For the first time, an image broke through my mindwipe. A woman in a black dress. An Italian restaurant. “Were you my lover,” I wondered, “or my victim?”


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