This week on Endeavour, our hero, James Dannet, has to cheer up the crew!
Last time, on Endeavour:
All I can think of as I’m sent off to do my rounds is that someone’s going to have to find a way to cheer up the crew.
And I really hope it isn’t going to have to be me.
‘What it really comes down to, in the end, is 2.5%. That first 2.5%, that’s the target. If you can hit that first 2.5%, you’ll get 110%, and that’s really the key. Find someone to give you that first 2.5%, and that’ll launch you all the way to that goal of 110%. Now, do you think that that’s something you can do? Do you think you can give that first 2.5%?’
‘I’m sorry?’ I ask, feeling slightly like I’ve come into a story right in the middle of something. It’s like back in second high-school, when you get woken up by a teacher asking you to read from the book, and you flip to a random page and just hope you’re right.
Unfortunately, you somehow flip to the one page in the textbook that talks about breasts, and you start a long, incredibly awkward, and socially devastating monologue about the evolutionary purpose for two breasts on mammalian creatures.
Sorry, I’ll get back to the present. Reminiscing aside, I do know where I am. Or at least I do now. I’m sitting in a chair, across from the ship’s resident psychiatrist, Simone Oya, who’s lounging in her psychiatrists couch. She’s staring at the ceiling and waving her hand while her mobiGlas takes down notes about the meeting, barely glancing my way as she talks.
I backtrack in my mind, trying to remember what she’s talking about. I don’t get far. Time to make something up.
‘I, ah, yeah, I think I can give that 2.5%. I mean, my dad always told me to give it my all, so…’
I trail off, but Simone sits up, apparently excited.
‘Yes, yes, that’s what I’m talking about, now we’re getting somewhere. Tell me about your father, that’s good. Always good things when patients talk about their fathers.’
I think for a second, open my mouth, pause, close it. My brow furrows, and I and I rub my forehead, sliding up to the tip of my hair and sliding my hand away. It’s how I style my hair when I don’t think about it.
After the firefight with the Vanduul, the tending to the wounded marines; after crashing into the remnants of the torn-apart Constellation, everyone in the crew has to have a meet with Simone, a way to keep the mental health of the crew in check, and it’s my turn.
And she wants to talk about percentages and daddy issues.
Not long ago, I worried that I might have to be the one to cheer up the crew. Now? Now I know that it will have to be me. And there’s no better time to start than now.
‘My father… well…’ I pause, remembering.
‘My father used to tell a lot of stories. Said lots of them were passed down for generations, and there’s one I’ll never forget. Changed my life, definitely.’ I wait, hoping she’ll take the bai-
‘Stories are good!’ She’s excited, unnervingly so, ‘tell me the story. These things can give great insight into the mind, you know.’
I smile inside, and continue.
‘Okay, well… this is back, generations, I guess. Back then my family were new settlers on a new planet, and my, well, he’d be my great-great-add a lot of greats-great grandfather, he was a shepherd.’
‘Shepherd, I see,’ Simone says, looking down at her mobiGlas and tapping away.
‘Every morning he’d wake up before the sun, grab his lunch bag and his stick, and he’d go up into the hills, sit among the sheep. He was up there to keep an eye out for Colout Rode, vicious, seven-legged carnivores that would grab onto sheep and tear them to pieces on the spot. They didn’t even eat them, just tore them apart, horrible mess.
Anyway, my, lets just call him my nonno for simplicity’s sake, he’d be up there in the hills every day. And lunch would come around, and he’d get everything out. He’d set himself a little meal, with his pannini, a can of water, a straw to drink it out of. A nice little rustic lunch.’
I’m smiling as I tell the story. It’s a true one, passed down through my family, and it really does make me happy to tell it.
‘So, he puts the straw into the water, sucks on it, and it goes thck, thck, thck, thck, and then water comes through. So he drinks, eats, goes through the day, everything’s fine, and he goes back down home at nightfall. The next morning he wakes up, grabs his lunch, back to the hill, and again, thck, thck, thck, thck, then water. Every day the same.’
‘So, this goes on for a number of weeks, and then my nonno, he finally gets curious. So, on day at lunch, instead of sticking in the straw and drinking straight away, he blows on the straw instead. He blows, and out the other end of the straw, pop nine little tiny two-legged squirming things. About the size of cockroaches, but a very pale white, with little black eyes. Really cute, actually, here, I’ll draw a picture.’
The picture is simple, just a few lines and some dots, and by the time I’m done drawing, Simone has finished tapping away at her mobiGlas and is looking at me, looking like she’s waiting for something.
‘Yes?’ I ask, feigning innocence.
‘Well? What does the story mean for you? What have you taken from it? What have you learnt from it?’ her fingers are poised above the pad for her mobiGlas as she asks, she’s primed, waiting for the answer, expecting.
‘Oh,’ I say, looking her in the eye, ‘I learnt to always blow on a straw before I drink out of it.’
And now we wait. One.
And she bursts out laughing, the first honest sound that’s come out of her mouth this entire meeting.
And I know that step one of my new job is done.