“Is it a memory box?”
Teo set it on the table with a clack. “Same principle. It's our Spindrift gift for the rev. We each put a memory in one to add to the family collection. And then at the gala they all glow on the lighted tree.”
“Tree? Do you grow trees on Celos?”
Teo chuckled. “Not really. It's a light-painted representation of a tree, like one of those from old Earth. It's a family tree. Each branch holds the most important memories for the rev from that branch of the family.”
“A shared memory?” Jimenez ran a finger along the smooth top of the tiny cube. It blushed a delicate pink at his touch.
“No. It's personal, a gift, a painful or a pleasant one. One you share because it hurts, and you smooth the edges by giving it away, or one of your favorites you want others to experience. But you give one from the past rev.”
Their conversation grew hushed. Teo attempted to lighten the mood. He grabbed the leftover paper from his package and folded it into the shape of a little boat.
“I've been trying to think of one that would be suitable for family viewing.” He wiggled his eyebrows.
Jimenez glared at him. “That's not the all we've done this rev.”
He picked up the cube and activated it. Teo stared transfixed as Jimenez pulled it close to his mouth and breathed a puff of air over it, his fingers whitening at the tips as he remembered.
Teo wondered which memory put that serene smile on his lover’s face, smoothing the furrows lining his brow. Was it onboard his ship in the Nothing? Or maybe one with Teo on Switchpoint?
“What did you record? Can I see it?” He whispered, unwilling to break the spell of Jimenez's memory.
Jimenez opened his eyes, and his fingers clutched the small cube. But he smiled at it like it held a secret.
“I'm not sure this is one to give away. Do you have extra cubes?”
Kevin Rettinger is the visual model for the Pod, Teo, the bartender of the Klockwerk Kracken who falls for a spacer and then takes him home to meet his family and celebrate the Celosian holiday of Spindrift. Teo, like most people on Celos has four tentacles in addition to his human standard body. These extra arms are a result of his ancestors undergoing genetic modification in order to give them advantages when settling the planet of Celos. He left home after finishing school and bummed around the galaxy before settling on the Switchpoint Waystation where he opened his bar, The Klockwerk Kraken. Although most people on Celos rarely leave planet, Teo yearned for a little adventure. Some of that was a result of the stories his godfather told him—Teo’s godfather is a two-armed human who came to Celos as a visiting scientist but stayed when he fell in love, marrying into Teo’s extended family. Teo has a smattering of his mother’s talent for painting, all the kraken paintings on his old bar were painted by him personally. When he bought The Klockwerk Kraken, it was an old warehouse on the edge of the port. He fixed it up and made it a safe place for customers to have a drink near the docks. He offered food because he learned to cook from his Dad who’s an amateur foodie on Celos. Teo grew up playing several instruments (although he’s no professional like his sister Carlsa) and has a very nice baritone singing voice. One of the things he loves to do on Celos is go swimming. There were several bacteria outbreaks in the pools on the Switchpoint Waystation so he was afraid to swim there. He is one of only four children in his family (considered an extremely small family on Celos). He is also the only one of his siblings that is not married with children. But since meeting Jimenez, that might change in the future.
Iker Casillas Fernández is my visual model for the spacer Jimenez, a man tortured by his past and trying to make a brighter future for himself. Jimenez was born a slave in a crèche where children are bred from anonymous germ cells. Slave behaviors were grown into his brain and taught during his childhood. At adolescence the pleasure centers of his brain were connected to a tattoo above his ankle, designating him a body slave. He was sold to a miner on a distant outpost and used not only for sex but also as a laborer. He was freed after a takeover of the colony company by an abolitionist corporation. The new company cleaned out the slave population. At this point, Jimenez was so injured by his master that he was sent to Celos both for reprogramming and for rehabilitation. He’d been mutilated and nearly died. During his treatment, a nurse asked him what he wanted to do as a free man and he said he wanted something as far away from people as he could get. As a Celosian loneliest thing she could think of was away from family and friends, hauling cargo through the Nothing, a blank part of space near the galaxy arm. He liked the idea of the solitude, so he asked for navigation ports to be placed in his brainstem. He then spent several revs as navigation crew on various cargo ships until he’d saved enough money to get his captain’s port and buy his own ship, The Freedom’s Wing. He learned to fight during his time as a nav operator for a small fleet. Hand to hand martial arts were a hobby of one of his shipmates who taught him so that he’d have a sparring partner. The first time Jimenez ported into a ship’s navigation system was the first time he could envision the future. Space was so wide and he was able to go anywhere. He learned to read as an adult via download, however, it’s still not his most proficient skill. As a result, he’s a poetry lover because poems use small words with big meanings and the cadence of the words is calming.