Professional Advice

Smoke drifted lazily up from the end of Yari’s cigarette. Some of it collapsed and wove into his short, dark curls.

“That’s why ladies never hire you.”

He looked up sharply, the moisture of his bottom lip the only thing keeping his cigarette in place as his expression gave way to a perfunctory scowl. “What’s why what?”

His ward, a fluffy-haired youth who had chosen the name ‘Trouve’ for reasons known only to himself, leaned over the edge of the navigation console. He drummed his fingers on the side. “Ladies. They don’t hire you because you stink.”

“I do not stink.”

Trouve raised an eyebrow. Then he pointed at his own hair. “Those cheroot things you smoke smell like horse manure, and the smoke gets in your hair.” Trouve’s hair was so thick that it looked like a sleepy dog lived atop his head. “And it gets worse with each one you smoke. Like an accumulative effect or something.”

“I wash my hair,” Yari said, a bit more defensively than he had intended. He managed not to reach up and tousle his own curls.

He might as well have given in and fussed his hair into a new style. The bags under Trouve’s eyes often made him look semi-skeletal in low levels of light, but his amusement was perfectly clear. He pushed against the console to stand upright. “Yeah, you wash your hair. Then you roll one before we meet with a client.”

As he walked away, Yari frowned cross-eyed at his cigarette. After a moment’s thought, he tapped a sequence on his own console’s keyboard, summoning an ashtray.

More smoke rose to take up residence in his hair as he stubbed out the cigarette. No sense taking chances. They’d been called in to interview for a job, and the potential client was a woman.

He got up to go wash his hair.

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