* Author : Louis Evans
* Narrator : Dave Robison
* Host : Summer Fletcher
* Audio Producer : Peter Adrian Behravesh
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Translunar Travelers Lounge
Everybody’s Got a Hungry Heart
by Louis Evans
Agent Heartbreak and the Misery Muse meet cute on a lonely-hearts cruise.
Their gazes lock above the brunch buffet.
She—let’s go with “she” for Agent Heartbreak, inaccurate though it is—she is a vision in a silk robe, bathing costume high to her neck and cut open just below her sternum, cheekbones like a jewel-thief’s kit. She is spooning a single deviled egg onto an undersized plate, objectively the most awkward food to serve at a buffet, but her muscular arms move it the way the hired dance virtuoso whirls an ingenue across the ballroom floor.
He—let’s call the muse “he” although, at least by percentages, this is dead wrong—looks like nothing more than the most fuckable elf-prince of Mars. Iron-oxide skin, understated jewelry. His hair is platinum from root to tip and flows over his collar and down to his chest. His shirt is open to his navel. He is buttering a bagel.
They stare deeply into each other’s eyes, which are utterly unalike in appearance: light and dark, wide and narrow, round and sharp. They do, however, have one commonality. To stare into either pair of eyes is to feel oneself drowning in a tank of cement.
They hold each other’s gazes for a long, long time. Everyone on the cruise, from crew to captains, hold their breath. Every seabird wheeling in the sky and dolphin leaping alongside forgets to exhale.
Finally as one they look away, the same quick flash of eyes that so coyly invites pursuit.
They do not look back. He finishes buttering his bagel. She eats the deviled egg, standing right there at the buffet table, and gets a big fat blob of mustard and yolk right on her chin.
They stomp out of the dining hall by opposite exits. Though neither of them knows it, they are thinking the exact same thing.
“Who the hell was that a*****e?”
Agent Heartbreak is the crowning glory of a secret government research program. At least, that’s what her handlers tell her. When they come to her they wear sunglasses and thick mittens and noise-canceling headphones that render her voice flat and robotic. They are , always in pairs, and when they leave at least one of them is always weeping.
Her handlers tell her that back in the fifties, after the war—they do not say which fifties, whose war—the government saw the rise of the three-headed dragon of the cosmetics/beauty/advertising industry and sought to conquer it. They tell her that for a decade or more men in plain grey suits and shuffling gait bombed fashion runways, advertising agencies, television studios, hair care counters, while apprentice models in fashionable shifts slit throat after bureaucrat throat, smiling smiles that never reached their eyes.
After Armistice both combatants joined their energies toward a single purpose: the strategic use of sensuality. They bred It Girls and rugby players and hypnotists and lifeguards with each other, with the frantic enthusiasm of a child who finds that smashing two dollies’ groins together causes a different sort of warmth in its loins.
And that’s how they made her. When the military-cosmetological complex loves itself very, very much . . .