The boss was lizardish,
green and brown with a criminal record
but a regular guy, easy to work for.
He led the boys, Click-click and Dave,
from planet to planet;
and they picked up the crazy junk
no one else would touch;
neutron stars, strontium, powerful politicans,
acids, plague victims, antimatter,
and the odd corpse of a robot
which had failed in a bid for world conquest.
Click-click was the handler,
a black bug who hoped for better things,
like an end to Dave's abuse.
He begged to drive the truck but
the boss said "No, pilots need opposable thumbs.
It's in the union contract,"
so it was Dave who wove them through the web
of space and time, bottle in hand,
stubble on his jaw, complaining about his girlfriend,
wondering where his life had gone,
a thousand years off course
before anyone noticed.
They had to stop for directions twice
before they found the dump.
After Dave backed up the truck
and they jettisoned the load,
the boss swung them into orbit,
turned the oxygen to its highest,
and got them stoned on sweet air.
They felt like pals, then.
Click-click told them he would go
back to school for his degree.
The boss said, "Scum.
We're all just scum."
Dave stared into the black hole and
wondered aloud where everything had gone.
- Originally published in Beyond magazine