Myrah left her friend to go look over the shoes alone while she headed back to the rows of soccer gear in order to get a few supplies for the kids. They’d forgotten to put away a pump that was used to inflate their balls on the garage floor a week ago and Jack had driven over it coming home from work one night. The event had heralded a great deal of yelling on Jacks part and a lot of general anger from the children.
At the time, she’d dealt with the drama the best that she could but still all of their soccer balls were slowly going flat and everyone in the family continued to be hot headed over the issue. The kids were blaming Jack for their inability to properly inflate them because he’d run over the pump. He accused them of being irresponsible. It was beyond time to replace the damned thing and let everyone just get over it.
Looking over the different models Myrah grabbed two of the most expensive pumps then she selected two new pro-sponsored balls for both her son and her daughter. She decided that she’d give these things to the children when their father wasn’t around and tell them to be sure and keep them in their rooms until he’d forgotten about running over the old one. She also decided that she needed to get Jack something as well so she grabbed an unoccupied basket from one of the rows and headed over to the golf section. There she found Jill and Sanjay.
Jill was holding a gleaming metal club up to her face. Her long black hair cascaded down over her shoulders and around her chin. Beside her the Indian stood.
Sanjay traced the edge of the head with his fingers. “This is the portion of which is meant to have contact with the ball.” He said seriously.
“Girl!” Myrah interrupted pushing her cart up to the pair. “What the hell are you doing here now?”
Jill glanced sleepily in her direction and smiled. “I was thinking about golf.” She said. “Thom use to play golf. I was thinking that maybe he’d want a new set of clubs.”
“What about the gun?”
“The gun was a mistake. I never even gave it to him. It’s hidden in the hall closet.”
“Can’t you return it?” Myrah asked looking over at Sanjay.
The Indian nodded. “We honor all returns on unused items up to 90 days.”
“So why not return it?” She asked Jill.
“I used it.”
“You what?” She said more out of surprise than anything else.
Jill shrugged. “I’ve never fired a gun.” She said simply. “I wanted to see what it was like so I got some bullets for the thing and I put on the scope. I went out to a place where they showed me how to set up the sighting and shoot targets. It took all day. The man there said that once I had it down it would be like riding a bicycle.”
“How’d you do?”
Jill shook her head. “I’m not very good. I can’t hold it steady enough to hit where I want to hit and I don’t like the sound that it makes. I decided that I didn’t want to give it to Thom. It seemed silly when I was out there taking shots at a bunch silhouettes of little men printed on paper.”
The Indian held up a finger. “I believe they are called dog targets.” He interjected. “We sell them here. They are our most popular brand of paper target.”
“Yeah.” Jill continued with a frown. “I asked the guy there if they had anything other than the dog targets but everyone at the shooting range told me that they were the most popular type of thing to shoot at in this town and that no one even stocked anything else. It was loud and every time I pointed the rifle at them I just kept thinking of Thom’s father and what Thom would be feeling in the same situation. It didn’t seem like a very good thing to give him.”
Myrah pointed towards the club that she held. “Do you know what type of clubs that he would want?”
Jill shook her head. “I know that his favorite color is red.” She answered.
Sanjay took a club from a nearby bag and held up the handle. “These are our most popular brand of red handled clubs.” He said confidently.
“How do they play?” Myrah asked nodding down at the bag.
The Indian shrugged. “This, I could not tell you.”
“Sanjay’s just filling in over here today.” Jill clarified. “This is not his area of expertise.”
“What is your area of expertise?” Myrah asked turning to the Indian.
“I am considered an expert on cold weather attire that protects the wearer from the elements.” He answered proudly. “I remember you from the coat that you purchased the last time you were here with your friend. It was not a good decision.”
“What do you mean it wasn’t a good decision?”
“The insulation on it is sub-par.”
“Well why the hell didn’t you tell me that then?” Myrah asked sounding somewhat annoyed.
“That model of coat is very popular.” The Indian replied. “The winters here are milder compared to those of my home village so that coat would be favored more for its pockets and straps rather than its ability to keep the person that it adorns from succumbing to the elements.”
“That’s why I wanted it.”
“Then it was a good choice for here.”
“Sanjay is from a village near where the meteor hit.” Jill said looking over at the man as if he were some sort of religious object.
“This is true.” The Indian nodded. “There is a scene of which I have witnessed on the television where one of my cousins can be found walking down a mountainous path that leads in the direction of the asteroid. He is wearing a red down coat and thick boots. They are very good at higher elevations.”
“That’s pretty neat.” Myrah agreed. “Have you heard from any of your family since? What was it like for them when it hit?”
Sanjay shook his head. “No one that I know has the ability to call. My village is very primitive. There are hardly any phones there and the ones that they did have were all knocked out when the rock hit. I have read these facts online and seen them confirmed on cable television reports.”
“I guess then that you’re pretty lucky to be here.”
“It is very strange.”
“What do you mean?” Myrah asked. “You’ve got cable TV and phones and warm weather. You don’t have to worry about being sent off to the military against your will or having asteroids fall on your head. It seems to me that this is a damned good place for you to be considering where you came from.”
“Very true.” The Indian agreed. “The problem is that I came here to this country in order study the meteor for NASA. I based all of my research while a student on perusing a better understanding of the geological structure of bodies in space. You see, before the probe launched they were hiring a lot of us to work at resolving for them the best possible way to destroy this dangerous object. Once we had shown them its weaknesses they let us go. Now I have no job which I can confidently say properly uses my skills as a planetary geologist.”
“So you were brought over here to help us save the planet?”
“Yes.” He continued. “I helped to show them where the rock was flawed in its core. I was a member of a large team of scientist who found where it was the most vulnerable and where it could be broken apart. We submitted several reports and once we had argued for the merits of each one they began to lay us off so that they might be able to hire engineers in order to design a vessel with which to blow the meteor up with.”
“How much did that pay?”
“Very little.” Sanjay muttered. “My professional field is not one that is in high demand. There is no use for a planetary geologist without a strange extraterrestrial object to analyze. Everything that is known in our solar system has been mapped and written about. Each of our planets and larger celestial bodies has now been analyzed to the greatest extent that all available data would allow them to be. I cannot demand a high salary for what I do. I simply do it because I find these things that are separate from our own planet to be very interesting.”
“So to me it seems you were lucky to have been given the chance to work on this.” Myrah argued. “I mean, it sucks that you have to sell sporting goods at the mall right now but considering what you do I’d say that this country has been pretty good to you. You’ve gotten to do something that you’d have probably never gotten to do otherwise and you’re living where there’s phones and cable TV.”
“This is true.” The Indian agreed once more. “I enjoy America and I valued my time at NASA very deeply. I hope to work with them again at some point in the future should they discover something else that needs to be destroyed in order to save life on our planet. The sad thing is that these opportunities do not come along very often. Space is not very mysterious and we live in an orbit where we are mostly protected from objects that might collide with us.”
“Could you teach?” Myrah asked. “Don’t they need people like you at colleges to tell the kids what types of rocks are on Mars or something?”
Sanjay shook his head. “I do not have the proper schooling to do this thing.” He said sadly. “Also, there are no open areas of research to where I might apply my skills. Everything that is out there has been discovered. This meteor’s surface was the last of the unknown spots in our solar system. Now it has been destroyed.”
“Thanks to NASA.”
“Yes, and now a small piece of this rock has landed in the land that I was raised in. He said raising a finger. “I cannot see it except as everyone else has, on the news. You see how strange and difficult this situation is that I now find myself in? I was brought here to study something that has now landed where I am from.”
“So go back home.” Myrah quipped. It seemed like such a simple solution to her. The asteroid was huge. “Tell NASA that you want to be out there checking out the meteor. Hell, they’d probably jump at the chance to have a person on the ground who knows the locals looking at chunks of it underneath a microscope or something.”
Sanjay shook his head. “I cannot do this.”
“I have been in this country for over five years.” He argued. “I have three credit cards and a dog. I enjoy my flat screen television. I have a girlfriend. There is a restaurant nearby my house that serves the most incredible spaghetti that my taste buds have ever been privileged to experience. I am enrolled in a dance class where they are teaching me the Cotton-Eye-Joe. I have friends and we play air hockey together in my garage. It is fun. I am completely trapped.”
“So you’re lucky to be here.” She said.
“Yes.” Sanjay replied. “It’s very strange.”
Just then Tara called out to them from down the aisle. “Oh my God you guys!” She said holding a pair of tiny boots up over her head. “Success!”