Our intrepid crew members did not use the front entrance however but instead entered the building via a side entrance that was, if anything, even more nondescript than the main entrance. Everyone blinked as they passed from the bright Charleston sunlight into a dimly lit corridor. The main source of illumination came from a barred window (such as one might see in a Post Office or Bank) beside a metal clad door. This was the crew’s destination.
“Hey there” called the woman behind the bars. “Y’all are back little early, ain’t ya? That’s good! Ole Lady Jackson will wanna see ya right away, Captain! Hope yer ship didn’t get all shot-up like last time, did it?”
“Now, now, Janine” answered Captain Willie. “You know we said that we wouldn’t talk about that. Ever again.” He tried to frown sternly but didn’t quite succeed.
Janine chuckled, not a bit abashed. “Here now, let me just unlock this big ole door for you and the rest of you can just sign in here at the window, same as usual. Any receipts or requisitions, just hand them over to me and I’ll take care of everything just like I always do.” Janine prattled on without even pausing for breath. “Then y’all can head home and have a nice rest cuz its att least 2 or 3 weeks before you ship out again.”
Janine, although chatty, was also a very effective secretary and was rapidly putting in order the diverse papers as the various crew members signed and returned time-sheets and receipts for their respective work-related expenses. Janine then opened the heavy, metal-clad door and waved-in the Captain.
“Just let me check on the Ole Lady and see if she can get with you now. I don’t reckon you’ll have to wait very long in any case.
Harry, Kennia and Tira each pocket their pay and left the way they came in.
“Catch y’all later!” laughed Kennia. “I’ve got some partying to do!”
“Oh I bet.” muttered Harry.
Tira glared at him but did not speak.
“You are most wholeheartedly welcome to come by and join us,” said Kennia to Tira while pointedly ignoring Harry.
“That’s alright. I may pop in later but for now I want to take a warm bath, read my technical journals, and sleep for a week. In that order preferably!”
“I hear ya!”