Gegg walks into Henree's saloon, ~~ glad ~~ to once more be among familiar surroundings. He can't help noticing, with his traveler's eyes, that Henree's is a little on the shabby side, but he's more than willing to put up with that to be somewhere he understands the language.
Jed turns to see who's come in and is startled to see Gegg.
Jed: Hey, Gegg! When did you get back?
Gegg grins broadly, and walks over to pound Jed on the back.
Jed pounds back.
Gegg: We got in an hour ago, on the train.
Jed: And Toria drove you out while she gets the house back into shape, eh?
Gegg: Well, yes, although I admit I didn't argue too much.
Gegg: I'll have plenty to occupy me, to get ready for spring, and it'll still be there in the morning.
Jed: Hey, Henree, one for Gegg here.
Fred walks into Henree's, where he figures Gegg will be by now -- or if not, he'd do himself no favors by going to Gegg's house.
Fred: Jed. Gegg. How's it hanging?
Gegg collects a beer, glad that it's the real thing instead of porstan, even if Sat'htine's brew is superior to Henree's "special".
Gegg: Fred! Glad to see you! How's your family?
Fred: Good. Better. Very good, actually.
Fred smiles briefly.
Fred: That's right, you won't have heard. My Bella established -- and I'd passed on my headaches to her.
Gegg: That's good news, or at least the first part is. Too bad about the rest.
Jed: Saved by Sime-kissing.
Fred waves his open hand in Jed's general direction.
Fred: Yeah. It turns out that the head is from not donating. So now we all take a little trip to the Ford once a month. Nice, eh?
Gegg raises an eyebrow.
Gegg: Never figured you to do for something like that.
Gegg really can't criticize more than that, as he has also been acting out of character.
Jed: Old Fred's sister-in-law says it's more evidence of God's plan -- Simes and Gens are supposed to get along and help each other. Fred's headaches must be God's way of showing him he wasn't doing his part.
Jed laughs too. He doesn't take Virla's theology very seriously.
Fred: Not hardly.
Gegg: Huh. Does it really work for you?
Fred: Yeah, it really does. Haven't had but one since my first donation.
Gegg: Well, that's amazing.
Gegg: How's your wife taking it?
Fred: I'm hoping she'll be coming along one of these days, but you know how that is. Right now, well, she's glad I can work six days a week instead of maybe four, maybe five, that's for sure. It was getting some worse, y'know. Anyhow, herself is glad for the trip to the Ford, and the chance to spend a little more money buying this'n'that there.
Gegg takes a slurp of beer.
Gegg: I've missed this.
Fred takes the opportunity to ask Henree for his usual, which he gets.
Fred: Your health, gents.
Jed waves his mug in a toast.
Jed: Friend of yours, Gegg, name of Nick, came through here with a Sat'htine channel. They stayed at Virla's place, and the channel figured out Fred's problem.
Gegg: Nick? He was working with Hajene D'zoll for a while.
Jed: He was on the run from something when he was here, but that Seruffin guy came back and sorted it out for them.
Gegg: I'm sure. Toria will be glad of the same. I didn't hear too much about what was going on there; too busy with Toria and the babies. We're neither of us as young as we were when Mik and Sanda were that age.
Fred: I'll bet. Hear anything of your boy?
Gegg: Mik? We saw him once. Some school trip he was on.
Fred's eyes widen.
Gegg: He seemed to be doing well, although I'm afraid I gave him a bit of a scare.
Jed thinks that's quite a switch.
Fred: You gave him a scare? Howzat?
Gegg: Well, I still don't understand exactly what happened, but it sure had the big boss dancing around in circles.
Fred: But he was okay after that?
Gegg: Oh, we were both fine. It was something about how I said hello that set them off.
Fred: Touchy sonsabees, sounds like. You'd think they'd keep you two apart from each other, given, well, your history and all.
Gegg: I think they may have been trying, at least until I was low field. Or maybe that was for some other reason.
Gegg still finds interacting with high-ranking channels trying, and he discovered quickly that any questions about technical matters tended to lead to demonstrations.
Gegg: But we sort of ran into each other, and there wasn't much they could do about it but fret. Over nothing, as it turned out. We were fine.
Jed: Mik was pretty glad about that, I bet.
Gegg: Yeah. He was a little worried, at first, but he settled down. We had lunch together, although he didn't do more than pick at it.
Fred: That's Simes for you.
Fred speaks as an expert on Sime appetite, despite having only interacted with two channels.
Gegg: He was very glad to see his mother.
Fred: How about Sanda? She behave herself over there? I know she was all excited about seeing Simeland.
Gegg: Well... she did about as well as I expected.
Fred laughs outright.
Fred: That must have been a pain.
Gegg: She's a young girl. That's trouble by definition. Fortunately, Toria has a firm hand.
Fred: You said it, brother. Better their mothers than us, eh?
Jed reflects on how lucky he is to have the two sons he's got.
Gegg: It's not like I had a lot of energy to go chasing after her -- or would have been allowed to do so. They were pretty firm about me not running around without an escort.
Fred: I guess not. We'll have to start calling you Gegg the Invincible, Terror of the Simes.
Gegg gives a snort.
Gegg: Tell you the truth, I'm just as glad to be home. It's kind of hard to live a normal life, with so many people trying to peer over your shoulder. There were almost a dozen who turned out to watch me patch the roof of the guesthouse. You'd think they'd never seen a man tack down a shingle before.
Fred: What, that's strictly a Sime job over there? Or are all the jobs Sime jobs, and the Gens just sit on their prats and donate?
Gegg: Little of both, I think. The Simes tend to do all the heavy work, even the women.
Fred: That figures. Faster, stronger, tougher ... meaner.
Gegg considers that for a moment.
Gegg: Not really. Most of them acted more like mother hens clucking over chicks that stray. Or at least, that's the impression they gave. They try real hard not to seem threatening. Sometimes they manage it.
Fred: Yeah, Hajene Bibi acts like that too. But of course she grew up here, so she knows how to show some respect.
Gegg: The Simes I met -- well, some of them tried to talk me into letting us stay, on the grounds that running a farm was just too hard for a Gen. Or that's what they meant.
Jed: If they want to come over here and spread my manure pile on the maize field this spring, they're welcome.
Gegg: I will have a bit of help with my maize this fall.
Gegg looks ~~ smug ~~.
Gegg: They were going to scrap an old maize sheller, and they agreed to give it to me, instead. Still works just fine, if you give it a little care.
Jed: Just gave it to you. Huh.
Gegg: Yeah. They're rich, and soft. They've got good land, and all the hands -- and tentacles -- they want to work it.
Jed shakes his head, envious.
Gegg: It's a little unreal.
Fred: I guess their ancestors got there firstest with the mostest.
Gegg: From what I understand, having a good supply of Gens gave the Householdings a huge advantage -- one that they've been multiplying for generations. I guess that's one of the reasons they weren't very popular, before the Unity war.
Fred: Well, fine. But we've been here and multiplying for generations, and it hasn't helped that much. What made the Gumgees decide to come here in the first place, anyhow?
Fred's tone is mildly speculative.
Gegg: No one else was dumb enough to settle in a place like this?
Jed: Probably running away from debts elsewhere.
Gegg: You never run away from debts, not long term. Although... I'm gonna be able to pay off some of mine.
Gegg never ran up quite the bar tab that Jed managed, but he's as heavily mortgaged as any farmer.
Gegg: And we'll have some regular additions to our income now that Toria can donate again.
Jed is reluctant to put his friend on the spot by asking why he isn't planning to donate himself, too.
Fred: Ah. They don't want you donating out here, then?
Gegg sees Jed's curiosity.
Gegg: Not to our local channel at the Ford. I'd have to go see a specialist in New Washington, and that's not worth the trip.
Gegg is a little ~~ relieved ~~ about that, actually.
Fred: Wow. It sure wouldn't be.
Jed: That Seruffin seems to be visiting the Ford quite a lot -- sweet on Bibi, they say. Maybe he can do it if he's around when you take Toria and Sanda in.
Gegg: Maybe. They didn't say anything about him. I gather only some channels will be able to manage me.
Gegg is still a little unclear on channel rankings.
Gegg: I don't know if Seruffin has the right specialty or whatever it is.
Fred: Well, whatever.
Gegg would, truth to tell, be happy not to have to donate again until Mik can come and visit, whenever that might be. He doesn't think it's really worth the trauma, without that sort of payback.
Jed: Want another beer, Gegg?
Fred: My turn, I think.
Fred asks Henree for a round for the table.
Gegg: Thank you, Fred. I've missed real beer. The stuff they served over the border was... strange.
Fred: So, was it really Henree's "special"?
Gegg: Not exactly -- some of it was better. But you could tell it was going in the same direction.
Gegg: Me, I like an honest brew.
Gegg demonstrates his preference by slurping a third of his latest.
Jed has a fair slug himself.
Fred drinks slowly -- even with regular donation, he doesn't want to find himself undergoing another migraine.
Jed: So tell us about the twins, Gegg. They okay? Toria okay?
Gegg: Yeah, they're fine. At least until they grow up. Toria had a hard time of it, but she came through all right.
Fred: In short, no news is good news?
Gegg: Well, I'm sure they'll get in to their share of mischief before they're grown. But nothing requiring a Sime's help. Speaking of doing without a Sime's help, Toria will no doubt be ready to hand me a long list of chores by now.
Jed: Let me know if you need any help, Gegg. Not much for me to do this time of year.
Gegg: Will do, and thanks. It'll take me a few days to look everything over and decide where to start, I expect. I'll let you know.
Fred: Same for me, of course.
Gegg drinks the last of his brew, savoring it for a moment before swallowing, then gets to his feet.
Fred: Well, time to get back to work.
Fred gets up too and leaves Henree's, whistling "I owe, I owe, it's off to work I go...."
Jed grins at Gegg, glad to have his friend back in Gumgeeville again.
Gegg grins at Jed, claps him on the shoulder again, and leaves.