Wel tenne in a compaignye,
Of sondry folk, by aventure yfalle
In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle . . .
So anyway, my seat mate was Nigera Orlova. She was a student of the quiet musician I’d met at dinner. Nigera was from Lithuania, and had been in the States for year or so. She was eager to spend as much time traveling as studying. As she rattled off the list of places she’d visited, I was impressed by how few well-known tourist spots she’d seen. For instance, she’d spent her winter break staying with friends in Columbus, Ohio, traveling around the state to such unknown towns as North Canton and Chillicothe. She’ spent a night camping on the old Antioch College campus and had helped townsfolk rebuild their houses in the earthquake zone near the Pennsylvania border. She was a prolific English speaker, and her accent only made her stories more interesting. She had heard many occult stories about Tar Sands, especially those told by former soldiers and frackers. She promised to send the best of them to me, once our net was up.
Across from us sat two brothers, Sam and Suilmann Morphean. They were from New Orleans and had made a fortune after the Second Katrina Crisis, by setting up fashionable buildings that could be moved at a moments notice. Despite their huge height and massive chests, they were calm and polite as pet dogs, not the capitalist wolves you’d imagine. Turns out their mother was a Syrian refugee, who wholeheartedly embraced our feminist culture, and trained her sons to be the gentlemen she’d imagined all American men were. They introduced themselves to Nigera and me and asked us where we were staying in Tar Sands. Turns out we were all staying at the Tundra Lodge.
It’s a small, rather dowdy inn that is a left-over from early fracking days. After the war the Gates Foundation bought the whole village (or what was left of it) and started the resort. Tundra was the first inn, and isn’t very popular now, which is exactly why I was staying there. It made me feel that much more comfortable with the Morpheans. I could see that they were both attracted to Nigera; I was just the old uncle, but that didn’t surprise me a bit.
About then, our steward came into the room, carrying a tray of water glasses and nut mixes. Thank the lord, this one wasn’t a robo or the idiot at the boarding dock. She was tall, thin and very hospitable. Turns out she was the head steward of the ship. Ms. Elena, as she preferred to be called, was from Cape Town and had met the Morpheans on another flight. She slowly and graciously made her way around the room, chatting with each of us and making even my cynical self feel important, almost loved, for the few minutes I was the only being in her world.