The clarkl soup kitchens, p.18

The Clarkl Soup Kitchens, page 18


The Clarkl Soup Kitchens

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  No birthing situations, though. Apparently the Clarklians are used to delivering their own children. Of course, the Drones and the Batwigs don’t have offspring, and the Drones are over half of Tata’s clientele.

  November 26, 2140, 1300 hours, on Clarkl – back to the clinic each day, wiring the new addition.

  The dumb Monarchs have decided they can’t sit with the others. Need their own waiting room and examination room. Monarchs paid Tata about $800,000 to build the extra rooms, and Tata has spent most of the money on fancy equipment.

  No lack of help with the project this time, though. The farm people are coming late in the evening to help with erecting the frame, and one woman from the Bishop’s office is a master plumber. We ought to have the new rooms ready by the time the equipment arrives in January.

  Certainly admire how Tata is taking the lead on this.

  February 22, 2141, 0900 hours, on Clarkl – just finished with the unloading of the staples, and will go down to the clinic after lunch to help place the equipment in the new rooms.

  This spacecraft was full of nearly everything we ordered. I know we have enough flour and sugar for over a year, even if other units have to borrow.

  The chef was delighted to see enormous bags full of wild rice. California has started to harvest wild rice again, after moving the operation to the north after the big quake.

  We could never afford to order the Minnesota wild rice, but this product is nearly as good and within our budget. Of course, since Oregon is warmer now, the southern part of Oregon is nearly ideal for rice.

  April 17, 2141, 1500 hours, on Clarkl – thirty-four different Monarchs have visited the clinic, all with the same problem. Infertility. It seems the Monarchs are dying out and there is nobody to replace them.

  The people at the dining rooms have always said they have never seen a child Monarch, and we assured ourselves they were probably hidden away somewhere, deep in the mountains to the north. Keep the youngsters away from the Wolpters, we said, so the Wolpters can’t produce Monarch children.

  The Wolpters have no trouble producing Drones and Wolpters. They are the scourge of the planet, refusing to work and living on the dole forever. Sometimes a Wolpter will produce a Slinker, but it needs another Slinker for help and the Slinkers are known to avoid the low-class Wolpters.

  Apparently the Monarchs are not interested in Wolpter offspring. They want to grow the next generation of Monarchs themselves. And they want Tata’s doctors to help.

  August 31, 2141, 1100 hours, on Clarkl – four Monarchs are expecting. Tata is very excited and hopes to have the babies born at the clinic.

  Actually, there will be quite a wait. The gestation period for these Monarchs is nearly eleven months. You can build a Drone in seven.

  Monarchs rarely have multiple births, according to Tata. None of the four is expecting more than one offspring. Not so for the Seekers, who come in twos and threes regularly.

  It turns out the Carriers are also having fertility problems. There is not much concern because the Monarchs can think only of their own troubles. If the Carriers die out, the Monarchs believe some other type will take over their duties.

  The only difficulty with this plan is the Carriers are very good workers with some of the best brains on the planet. The Seekers are the true geniuses, but they have to be cajoled into working. The Carriers are nearly as creative and work hard without prodding.

  Tata agrees the Carriers must be helped, and the doctors are carefully documenting all the tricks that seem to work with the Monarchs in hopes they can help the Carriers.

  November 15, 2141, 0100 hours, on Clarkl – a long day today, putting all the staples from the latest spacecraft into the bins. Those bags I used on my feet the night Len died are now on their way to Noowal, wrapped around seventeen pieces of furniture in need of repair.

  Our dining room is serving more meals, and my sore back is a testament to that fact. Our orders from the farms have increased about forty percent since I arrived, and the bags of flour and sugar have nearly doubled.

  Where do these Drones come from? The dining room that is being redesigned as an automat was supposed to pick up the slack, with creatures now able to eat around the clock. Instead, more of them are coming here and to several other dining rooms, too.

  March 26, 2142, 0930 hours, on Clarkl – more Monarchs are coming out of the hills, demanding to see the doctors. Tata has another $1,200,000 from them for expansions of the clinic.

  No American goes to that clinic. We have two doctors who support all the Americans who have come to work at the farms and the dining rooms.

  Americans are healthier on Clarkl. Don’t know why. The star is not as bright, and the days are almost always too cold. The skin cancer that is so prevalent in North America is almost unknown here, and people don’t die of other cancers either.

  Of course, you can’t get a drink of alcohol here unless you are very crafty. Same with cigarettes. Almost no American has a car, so you have to stay fit to walk to work.

  Then, there’s the fact that there is almost no meat to eat. Sometimes some smoked salmon somebody’s nephew sent from Oregon. Never any meat offered on the list of foodstuffs I can order. We are all vegetarians. Probably has something to do with our good health.

  June 17, 2142, 1900 hours, on Clarkl – three live births and one stillbirth for the Monarchs. They are elated! Now, seven more are expecting, and Tata and the doctors have been dragged off to a cold, primitive pile of rocks to receive medals. Much ceremony, little food, no drink.

  The three new Monarchs are in very good health, and the doctors expect they will survive their infancy. The entire clan comes into the clinic about once a week so the doctors can look over the babies. What a procession! Sometimes I go over to the clinic to see the bowing and kowtowing as the Monarchs march past the Drones and the Wolpters.

  Tata has sent a number of people here, self included, a list of suggestions for the extra money. The doctors would like the latest machines, the Monarchs would like an additional office and waiting room for themselves, and Tata would like to open another facility for the non-Monarchs.

  Ollie has been sent home to Omaha. Just never got over the loss of Len, and the Congregation decided she would be happier with her parents than with Tata. Feel terrible, but what option did I have?

  October 22, 2142, 1600 hours, on Clarkl – helping again with wiring. Tata decided to expand the Monarchs’ part of the clinic and order a couple of machines. Gave her $50,000 for upgrades to the non-Monarch waiting room, and she ordered nice chairs.

  My money situation looks even better. Genuvusa is still making requests, but the house in New England seems to be finally repaired. Just $127,000 this year, so far, but Christmas is just around the corner.

  With all the debits and credits, I have over $24,000,000 in the bank now. Should give more to Tata.

  January 8, 2143, 0700 hours, on Clarkl – five more baby Monarchs, ugly as sin. Monarchs still are coming to the clinic each week, sometimes with the babies and sometimes alone.

  Batwigs are always there with them. Can’t understand why the Batwigs aren’t in charge. All the brains the royals have are in these sterile relations.

  Gave another $50,000 to Tata. Told her the year-end bank statement contained a windfall, and that’s as much truth as fiction. I expected less, but the bank is paying average interest for the Universal Gold market. I could shop around, but I might increase my risk. Too much risk in my life now.

  March 2, 2143, 1100 hours, on my way to Noowal – on a shopping trip for Tata.

  The doctors finally figured out what was the attraction of the clinic to the Monarchs. The whirlpool baths! Now, I am on a week-long trip to Noowal, just a couple of planets away in this same star system, to buy as many of these bathtubs as I can.

  One dealer assured Tata her company had about forty in stock, and Tata agreed to take all of them. She is sending me to pay the dealer and accompany as many as possible back to Clarkl.

>   The plumbing lady from the Bishop’s office is taking a tour of the various castles to decide where to place the tubs. She is beside herself, not knowing how to cut through all the stone to lay the pipes. When I left, the fallback plan was a simple outbuilding at each royal home. The design for the outbuilding calls for a structure that is three times the size of my cabin.

  Typical spacecraft used for short trips. Not fancy, and not equipped to offer more than very simple meals. At least there is meat on the table twice a day.

  Small cabin here, with a tiny bathroom. All these Noowalians are skinny and not interested in large beds and ample showers.

  Captain is a Noowalian, from the capital. Speaks a few words of English but has a translation cube around his neck at all times.

  The passenger in the only luxury cabin is from Charta, another planet in this same system. Handsome fellow, with dark eyes and lots of hair. Wears a cape-like silk coverall. When he is in the room, the Captain ignores me.

  March 5, 2143, 0900 hours, on my way to Clarkl – got seven tubs in this craft, and thirty-three on the loading dock waiting for the next ride to Clarkl.

  Noowal was very fine. The food was good, the atmosphere was easy on my old heart, and the people at the hotel were gracious.

  These people are much better looking than our Clarklians. Not, of course, as handsome as that fellow from Charta, but still not ugly.

  They wear long bathrobes with heavy socks and sandals. The two intelligent species have males and females, but it took me a couple of hours before I could tell them apart.

  The Wotrana women are running the planet, according to the only guidebook written in English. The Wotrana men are second in command, followed by the Beeghy men and, last, the Beeghy women.

  The Wotranas are taller and usually hardier. The Beeghy types are shorter but have extremely long arms, as if they had swung from tree to tree in earlier times. Both types are nearly hairless and have light beige skin.

  The business of Noowal is trade. They buy the Universe’s junk, clean it up, and sell it at a profit. These whirlpool tubs look new, but they have seen service at a hotel on Farnoll.

  The merchant could not have been more cordial, like a car salesman who sees somebody come into the showroom carrying a large bag of Universal Gold. She had about seventy of the tubs for me to look over, and she was ready to fill each one with water and let me try the mechanism.

  It took me more than six hours to pick out the ones to be shipped to Clarkl. This left me with about four hours to complete my tour of the capital before the spacecraft to Clarkl was ready for boarding. During that time, the merchant took all the tubs I had selected to the port and helped load the ones I have with me.

  The capital, Heiple, is very open and clean, much as New Washington looks in the pictures taken in the 2020s. Everything is made from used building materials, with old marble statues here and reconditioned bricks there. If somebody needs a column to hold up a roof, what could be better than a marble copy of Michelangelo’s David? All over the town are interesting uses of old statues, including two Union generals on horses!

  March 10, 2143, 1700 hours, on Clarkl – back on duty as the supply officer. My replacement for the week nearly allowed the chef to run out of walnut oil, and I am glad I returned in time to avert one of his temper tantrums.

  Nice place, Noowal. Treated like a valued customer and not like an insignificant servant.

  Helped to put in the first of the new tubs. I completed the wiring in about four hours, but the bath building was very close to the main castle. The next one, to be worked on in three days, is about one hundred yards from the main house, and the Seekers have been assigned to run the line from the circuit box.

  Of course, they will start to argue about what should be done, as they always do, and I will have to do everything myself at the last minute. The plumbing lady has already had an altercation with them about this job since they are also running the line from the water main.

  Those Seekers are the best looking of this planet’s entities, I think. They are fairly short, somewhat stout, and always exhibiting dreamlike looks on their round faces. The people at the Bishop’s office say they are the most intelligent of these Clarklians, even smarter than the Batwigs, but they have next to no practical skills. When they receive an assignment, they don’t ask when it is required. Time has no meaning to them. It will be finished when it is finished. Period.

  Nevertheless, they are extremely well rewarded for their work. They live in some of the best housing and are rarely seen in any of our charity dining rooms.

  The Seekers stick to themselves, and that’s a good thing for the survival of their kind. A Seeker is either a product of the mating of two Seekers or the mating of a Seeker with a Monarch. Half the time the mating of a Seeker with a Monarch produces a Batwig, though. If a Seeker mates with anybody else, it is likely the product will be one of those lazy Drones.

  Except when a Seeker mates with a Wolpter. Under those conditions, the product is always a Wolpter, very nearly as bad as a Drone.

  March 29, 2143, 1900 hours, on Clarkl – finished the wiring for the Vlogo’s tub today. This Vlogo is the top dog here, and it made a royal progress to the tub’s outbuilding just after we checked all the connections. The Batwig who accompanies the Vlogo told me the Vlogo wanted to break in the tub itself.

  However, I was surprised when the Vlogo, just as ugly as the lesser Monarchs, took off all its clothes and jumped into the tub in front of both the lady plumber and me.

  My gracious, these entities have private parts for both sexes! I knew they were androgynous, but I now know just what that means!

  How it enjoyed the whirlpool bath! The Batwig tossed in some stuff that made bubbles, and the Vlogo laughed and laughed while it bounced up and down in the water. We left while it was still in the tub, but I understand it later sent Tata a large platinum globe as a present.

  June 24, 2143, 2200 hours, on Clarkl – have installed fourteen tubs, and more have arrived from Noowal and are waiting on the loading dock.

  Tata has welcomed another doctor to Clarkl, making a total of three. I understand one is for the Monarchs only and the other two work nearly around the clock to see all the other entities that fill the waiting rooms.

  Seems to be something of a social event, I think. The Clarklians, except for the Monarchs, don’t complain about having to wait to see the doctors. Instead, they talk among themselves and sometimes play card-like games while they wait. Tata gives out numbers. They are quick to tell her if someone has been called out of turn, but they are generally very pleasant.

  One trip last week was interesting. This was to a castle high in the hills, overlooking Gilsumo. The tub there was to be installed inside, in a room that resembled a little tropical garden. Electricity and water were already into the room, but we had to remove a small pond to place the tub.

  The interesting part was that a large number of Wolpters were gathered in the castle, and we got the idea they lived there. These were younger entities, surely just into adulthood. The plumber decided they were helping the Monarchs develop baby Monarchs, but we didn’t see any children of any type. Of course, the Monarchs prefer their babies have two Monarch parents, but maybe the Wolpter-produced Monarch is now better than having the Monarch types die out entirely.

  July 18, 2143, 0800 hours, on Clarkl – the Vlogo wants another tub, so I went back yesterday to look over the bathhouse for a good location for it.

  How amazed I was when the Vlogo itself accompanied me everywhere I went. It remained fully clothed, I am happy to report, but it talked excitedly with the Batwigs while I took various measurements. It looked very sad when the Batwigs told it I would be unable to install the second tub that day.

  September 2, 2143, 2300 hours, on Clarkl – Tata thinks the Monarchs believe the new whirlpool tubs have made then more virile. About seventeen babies have been born to the Monarchs since the clinic and its tub were built, and they are crediting Tata with this populati
on boom. The Vlogo’s chief Batwig visited Tata last week and gave her funds for about sixty additional tubs.

  I told Tata I would be happy to return to Noowal to handle the purchase. Tata says the merchant on Noowal is trying to find tubs, but the ones I did not select on my last trip are the only ones still available.

  The worst case would be that Tata needs to order tubs from Earth, displacing food on the spacecrafts and taking at least four months for delivery.

  September 2, 2144, 0900 hours, on Clarkl – the inevitable trouble from Genuvusa has started. She has filed a paper with the Universal Court, asking that I be declared incompetent to manage my own affairs.

  These things take time, of course. The Bishop says the only other instance of this known to the Congregation’s cadre on Clarkl took over four years from the time the initial petition was filed until the court’s judgment was published in the Universal Record. In that case, the grasping relatives were found to be without a case and were ordered to pay all court costs, a sum in excess of $100,000.

  The Congregation’s lawyer in Omaha has sent the court the exact same initial response as used earlier, a request to delay the proceedings until I return to Earth in 2146. This will take six months to process since there is a huge backlog of cases, mostly involving child adoptions and custodies.

  In the earlier case, the subject was over eighty years old. I am now just sixty.

  September 17, 2144, 1900 hours, on Clarkl – wrote Genuvusa a long message, using one Gene had sent about ten years ago as a model. Suspect she is having troubles with keeping afloat, etc., here’s $125,000, can spare more after the first of the year.

  Actually, the bank balance is over $26,000,000, in four separate institutions. Have been careful to send Genuvusa transfers from only one bank, the one with about $1,700,000 in available funds. She has never seen any paperwork from any other bank. Hard to say if she has had some financial sleuth dig up the rest of the assets.

  November 8, 2144, 1500 hours, on Clarkl – more of the whirlpool tubs arrived yesterday. These are the several tubs I had identified on Noowal as possible replacements if we had mechanical trouble with any in the initial batch. Workings in good order, but not pristine enamels.

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