An Uncertain Thanksgiving

Somewhere in the future


What the fuck is Thanksgiving anyway? And why are the American crew members talking so much about it? It sounds like one of those commercialized opportunities that are trying to infiltrate Australia like McDonalds, Halloween, Black Friday and Baseball.

Anyway, I don’t have any time to think about that now. Right now, I’m trying to work out where the fuck we are in the universe. Slipping into hyperdrive after two standard hours at regular local earth speed made sense. It left us clear of the near-earth trade and tourist routes so hyperdrive would not interfere with other space travel. God help us if we upset the passengers on an interplanetary cruise. Those cruise companies have friends in high places.

So, this is what happened. Hyperdrive was wonderful and did all it was expected to do except for one thing. It didn’t reverse and return us to regular space travel speed (as authorized by Space Traffic Control) when we wanted it to. As a result, we overshot our destination. When the Engineers decided they could not just shut down hyperdrive they shut down the whole spaceship, except for defence field, protective guidance, life support and a couple of other random functions.  This does not mean that we are stationary in space. The laws of motion are, like most things, outside the control of the engineers which means we are still travelling at probably near hyperdrive speed somewhere in the universe. So, you can say we are currently uncertain about both our velocity and our position.

At the moment the bridge crew are asking me where the fuck we are. It’s interesting how formal communication breaks down under stress. When the Engineers closed down the ship’s operational systems to stop hyperdrive it also closed down our UniNavGuy navigation system. UniNavGuy knows it’s stuff and has charts covering the entire known universe. Every standard week it alternates between a male and female automated voice. Of course, the gender of the voice is irrelevant if the system is down. As much as I try the Engineers aren’t interested in restoring UniNavGuy.

The crew on the bridge are still asking for our position. I explain that at present we are travelling too fast to get a visual fix on anything and when we slow down, I’ll try old-fashioned positioning using solar coordinates etc and hope we have charts for this sector of the universe that aren’t too out of date. I mean who uses those old physical and hologram charts now anyway? I admit I get frustrated and tell the Commander that he should tell the Engineers to provide power to the UniNavGuy system.

He replies that the Engineers had made it clear that they would get systems up and running when they were ready, and it was not up to the Commander to tell them how to do their job. I reflect that it was the Engineers who got us into this mess in the first place and, as a result wherever we are in the universe. Oh well.

So here we are on the DSS Heisenberg, a Deep Space Spaceship, marooned in deep space. Now most people think of marooned as being like stuck on a desert island in the old days or stuck on a planet you can’t get off even if the location of the planet is known, but we are marooned on a spaceship that currently does not know where it is and is currently careering further into its own uncertainty.


I can’t do anything here so I may as well go to the rec area and have a drink and a snack. I enter the rec area and spot my cabin mate, Charlie, with some friends playing gravity pool. That’s where the mass of the pool balls distorts the bed of the pool table as they roll across it. Of course, each pool ball has a different mass, just to make the game more challenging. I head towards him and hear some complaining. Complaining crew is nothing new but this is different.

“This is the last time I’m going on an internationally crewed vessel. These people from those other countries aren’t interested in Thanksgiving. I mean some are even ignorant enough to ask me what it is! How could you not know about Thanksgiving.”

“Unwind dude. There’s enough of us to have our own Thanksgiving dinner. We just have to talk to the head chef.”

“I did that. The entire Catering Crew in the galley is Asian. They didn’t include any Turkey on their inventory. The head guy said they had plenty of duck and said we could have peeking duck, whatever that is.”

I pause and suggest, “I think he was talking about Peking Duck. It’s a specialty Chinese dish from Beijing.”

“Yeah, but it’s still not Turkey.”

I can’t disagree so I leave them and continue over to my cabin mate. Something is wrong. There’s no food available.

“What’s going on? Where’s the food?”

“There’s ice cream. The freezers are still working but the galley doesn’t have any power for cooking.”

I don’t want ice cream and settle for a warm soda.

As if things are not bad enough, what looks like the entire Engineering Crew loudly enter the rec area and take over.

The Chief Engineer, Randy, strides over to the serving counter, thumps the counter and loudly calls, “Hey service. We want service. Where is everyone?”

I ask, “Why aren’t you in the Engine Bay sorting out the hyperdrive problem?”

“Because, geek, we’re on a meal break and want to eat.”

“Good luck,” I reply. “The galley is closed because there’s no power. Would you like an ice cream?”

“No, I don’t want a fucking ice cream. Why don’t they have power?”

“I think it’s because Engineering closed down their circuit.”

“Shit!” He walks away talking softly into his communicator.

I join my cabin mate, Charlie, at the pool table. We share a cabin because he’s academy-trained and is onboard as my assistant navigator. Our cabin is not like a dorm room. It’s like a small suite and conveniently close to the Navigation Bridge. Charlie isn’t all that good at navigation but once we decided to become “friends with benefits” the best assistance he provides is sexual.

I’m about to start a conversation when power is restored to the Galley and it fills with Catering Crew who start cooking meals. My communicator gives me an alert. UniNavGuy is back up. The ship’s navigation systems are on the same power circuit as the galley. Go figure.

I feel the slight shudder that signals we have dropped to standard space speed. Apparently activating the navigation stroke galley circuit triggered the hyperdrive reverse thrust. I wonder if we will survive this Engineering Crew.

I run upstairs to the Navigation Bridge because, as you guessed, the lifts aren’t working. UniNavGuy is actively working on our position but with an unexpected camp persona. “Oh sweetie, you’re back. What do you want me to come up with?”

I try to ignore the innuendo. “Do you have any idea where we are?”

“Oh, you are sooo booring, daarling. Always the same. Where are we? Set course for. How about something exciting like what are you wearing to the next pride ball?”

“I hate to point this out but you’re a navigation system. Your job on this spaceship is to set courses and tell us where we are.”

“Oh, tetchy aren’t we! You need to learn to relax sweetie. How about a hug?”

“How about you tell me where we are.”

“I’m not sure you want to know.”

“Of course, I fucking want to know and so do the rest of the crew.”

“Owoo, cool it, sweetie. Watch the language.”

I try to stay focused. “Do you know where we are?”

“Do you really want to know?”


“Remember, I warned you. . . . . The answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’.”

“What the fuck does that mean.”

“Such language darling! I’ve already warned you once. Next time it’ll be a spanking.”

“Sorry.” Why am I apologizing to a computer? “What do you mean by ‘yes’ and ‘no’?”

“I can give you the space coordinates, but I don’t have any charts for this sector of the universe. I can tell you where we are but not what’s around us.”

I sigh. “You mean it’s like we’re somewhere in the Pacific Ocean and know our latitude and longitude but have no idea if we are near an island or a continent or even a reef.”

“Oh sweetie, you got it in one.”

“Just print the coordinates for me and I’ll use my collection of old charts to find what’s here.”

“You’re really going to use those old physical charts?”

“Yes, if I have to.”

“Well hunky, just for you, I’ll print out the coordinates but then I’m going to sulk.”


"Aren’t you going to comfort me?”

I’m trying to decide what charts I’ll need. “What! Oh sorry of course. You know I love you and what you do for me.”

“Promise you won’t cheat on me.”

Am I really having this conversation? “OK, I promise.”

“Oh honey, I think I’m blushing. Let me know when you’re finished with those old tarts and want to come back to me.”

“They’re old charts, not tarts.”

“Whatever darling. I need my beauty sleep. Bye-bye.”

“I read the coordinates and rifle through my collection of old charts. I get a lot of shit about keeping old charts, but then back home I also have a huge collection of old 16th to 18th-century maps of earth.

I pull out the hologram chart I need, activate it and look at the display and compare it with what is still on screen. I understand where we are and why. TransUniverse built a hyperspace bypass through this sector. While we were having propulsion problems, we overshot our destination and then slipped off the bypass and ended up in this neglected sector.

I’m interrupted by the Commander on the bridge. “Can you tell us where we are, because we don’t have a fucking clue.” UniNavGuy stirs but quickly returns to sulking.

“Yeah, I’ve got our position.”

“Fantastic. Are there any local planets where we can dock, evaluate our status and undertake remedial procedures.”

“Do you mean fix the fucking problem?”

“Yes, but I can’t write that in the official log.”

I scan my hologram chart and there is a small planet. I log its name and search old copies of the ‘The Lonely Universe Guide’. Yes, I have old copies of those too.

I press ‘Bridge’ on my communicator. “Commander, we’re not far from a small planet called Denny’s®.”

The commander interrupts. “Seriously! Like the restaurant chain? Are you shitting me?”

I continue, “Seriously, it’s called Denny’s® and apparently the whole planet is not only named after the restaurant chain but owned by it. I did some checking and before the bypass was built it was a popular stop for cargo vessels. They could dock, refuel, eat and rest. Like old truck stops on earth. You know like those stories in the historic section of Nifty. Since the bypass was completed, they only get local traffic dropping in.”

“Sounds good enough for us. Set a course for us.”

“I’ll get back to you in a minute.”

I manually enter the coordinates for Denny’s® and ask UniNavGuy to plot the course.

“You’re still no fun. I suppose you want me to send the course setting to the Bridge as well.” Obviously still sulking.

“That will help and the Commander will love you.”

“Are you trying to set me up with someone else?”

“No. Send the course settings and go back to sleep. I’ll wake you if I need you.”

UniNavGuy pouts but sends the setting. I know because I feel us turn. My screens confirm we are heading for Denny’s®. I walk up to the Bridge because it is the best place to watch the approach to a planet, and in this case a planet I have never visited. I suspect that is true for most of the crew.

I watch the displays showing us approaching the planet until it is close enough to view through the wide-view ports on the bridge. In size and colour, it looks like a small earth. The most obvious differences are the size of the planet and the very different arrangement of oceans and continents.  

I’m lost in looking at this planet and thinking how beautiful it looks when I hear Denny’s® Local Area Space Control asking why we are entering their control space.

Our Commander responds with a request to dock and carry out maintenance. We wait for a response. First is acknowledgement that our ID, personnel and cargo transponders are cleared and we have permission to dock.

This involves transfer to Planet Approach Control to guide us to our dock.

Planet Approach Control guide us through the various way-points on the way to our allocated dock. I’m still on the bridge watching through the ports and on the screens.

There is nothing, apart from sex, as exhilarating as watching the approach to a planet I’ve never been to before. In this case, this planet is new to all on board. We reach the first way-point and I scan the sensors. Planet about half the size of Earth. Atmosphere and climate are similar to Earth. Inhabitants are predominately humanoid and of those the largest majority are of Earth origin. The planet grows in the view-ports. Similar blue, white and green to earth. I’m feeling comfortable about this planet.


We reach the last way-point near the capital city and change over to Port Control who guide us to our allocated dock. I feel the excitement on board as the crew prepare for some planet leave.

I walk back to the Navigation Bridge and start to get ready. I plan to join the crew going on planet. UniNavGuy wakes up and this time, for reasons I don’t know, it has the persona of a strict Nanny. “And, where do you think you’re going?”

“I’m using some leave to go on planet.”

“Well, I’m not happy about you going out there. How do I know you’re going to be safe? There could be all sorts of dangers.”

“Hey, I’m an adult. I’m twenty-five, almost twenty-six and fit. I can look after myself.”

“There you go. Thinking you’re all grown up and don’t have to listen or take any notice of me anymore.”

Why isn’t it still the gay persona. At least there’s a chance he would wish me luck at finding a hot, horny, hung hunk in some bar.

I hope to end this and get away. “I do listen to you. I promise I’ll be careful.”

“I suppose that will have to do. You were always wilful.”

I roll my eyes.

“Now promise you’ll keep your communicator with you.”


“And you’ll call when you get into trouble.”

I try to correct her, “IF I get into trouble, I’ll call.”

“And you’ll stay in the safe areas.”


“And you won’t go anywhere by yourself.”

I sigh, “OK.”

“And don’t talk to any strangers.”


“Don’t get stroppy with me young man. Don’t talk to strangers. You don’t know where they’ve been.”

“How can I do that? Everyone on this planet is a stranger to me. How can I get a meal or a drink or buy anything without talking to a stranger.”

“Oh well I suppose that will be OK but you still need to be careful you don’t get ripped off. You’re very gullible and remember you won’t have me there to watch out for you, my little precious.”

For the first time since this conversation started, I feel relieved. I won’t have UniNavGuy with me.

“OK, I’ll be careful.”

“Are you wearing clean underpants?”

“What! Why?”

“What if you are involved in an accident. You don’t want the medics to see you wearing dirty underpants. Oh my God, you’re not going commando, are you?”

I roll my eyes again. “No, and yes I’m wearing clean underwear.”

I really need to end this. “We’re docked now so I’ll heading off. You can go back to sleep.”

“Sleep! You expect me to be able to sleep? You’ll be out there doing whatever and facing all sorts of trouble. I won’t be able to sleep until I know you’re safely back on board.”

I groan. “See you later. Love you. Bye.”

“Love you too, Dear.”


Wearing my backpack, I walk into immigration arrivals and join the queue. It’s moving quickly as the scanners read our embedded ID chips and clear each crew member for entry. I reach the scanner and . . . . and there’s a question over my clearance. I’m wondering “What the hell” when I’m approached by a large guy in a uniform that clearly says he’s official.

He takes me to one side and asks, “What’s the problem?” And looks at me as if I have the answer.

I look at him, “There seems to be a problem reading my universal ID chip.”

He looks at me, “Yeah I can see that.” He uses another scanner. He pauses and reads his screen. “Have you been here before?”

“No. Never.”

“Hmmm.” He taps something on his screen and reads the response. “Interesting. You’re from Austria.”

It wasn’t a question, but I correct him anyway. “Australia.”

He looks up from his screen. “Whatever. You’re cleared to enter. Enjoy your visit.”

I exit the spaceport and realize I have no idea where to go. I don’t have to think much as I’m grabbed by some fellow crew and dragged onto a mini shuttle. “Come on. Join us for some fun.”


I look around as the others disembark. We are in the middle of a brothel area. The heterosexual brothel area. The driver notices my hesitation. “Not your scene?” He motions ahead. “The boys are just down the road.”

It’s tempting and I try to remember where it is in case I need to come back, but right now the navigator in me says I want to have a look around and get my bearings. “Maybe later. For now, I’d just like to have a look around and maybe try the local food and grog.”

“OK. I’ll drop you off closer into the city. There’s plenty of Denny’s® restaurants and you can also get Denny’s® in most of the bars.”

“Are there any other restaurants or cafes or diners? You know like Chinese or Mexican.” I see the look on his face. “Just asking.”

“Nope. It’s all Denny’s®. But some specialize more than others.”

He drops me at a bar. It’s a bit noisy and more crowded than I expect at this hour. That is by my body clock. I have no idea what this hour is on this planet. I check my communicator screen. OK it’s late afternoon and obviously people are enjoying an after-work drink. As I move further in, I notice it’s “happy hour” with reduced price drinks. I squeeze my way to the bar to order a drink. I’m not sure what’s available and the barman couldn’t care so I end up with a mixed drink of unknown contents and unknown effects. At least it won’t be a pangalactic gaggle blaster as they have been banned across the known universe.

I look around but don’t see anyone I know. I can hear the Engineering Crew and decide to avoid them. The drink is pleasant. It’s full of flavour and moderately hallucinogenic. I finish and decide one is enough.

I walk outside and across the street I see three Denny’s® restaurants. I shake my head. No, I’m not hallucinating. I choose the centre one and inside I see a familiar face. Rowan, the Load Master, is sitting in a booth by himself and scrolling through his communicator.

“Hi Rowan. Mind if I join you?”

He looks up. “Oh Titus, Hi. Yes, please join me. I was just checking the Ship’s Manifest.”

A waitstaff arrives with Rowan’s drink. It’s beer so I order one and some food. We start to chat about the predicament we’re all in. Three more crew members arrive and join us. I recognise them as the ones who are especially keen to celebrate Thanksgiving.

They are still grumbling about not being able to “properly” celebrate Thanksgiving onboard because of the absence of turkey. We are interrupted by the arrival of the Engineering Crew. Are they stalking me? They are giggling and having difficulty finding booths to sit in. I wonder what they were drinking. What looks like the manager corrals them into a booth opposite us.

The waitstaff arrives with my beer and starts taking orders from the three new arrivals. They all order beer and Turkey Club Sandwiches.

“I’m sorry Sir, we don’t have any turkey.”

The three of them look at each other in total disbelief.

“The ship doesn’t have any turkey and now you’re telling us you don’t have any turkey either.”

I’m sorry Sir but yes, we have no turkey.”

“What about the other Denny’s®? Do they have turkey?”

“I’m so sorry Sir, they don’t have turkey either.”

The manager has settled the Engineers and comes over to see what our problem is. He overheard the question about the availability of turkey.

“Bohdi is correct Sir. There is no real turkey on Denny’s®. We can offer you plant-based turkey.”

“What’s plant-based turkey?”

“It’s a processed mix of soy, lentils and chickpeas, with turkey flavouring, formed into a roll and cooked. I’m told it’s nice.”

“Have you tried it?”

“No. I said I’ve been told it’s nice.”

“How come there’s no turkey on Denny’s®?”

“Sad story. Three Thanksgivings ago we were celebrating fifty years on Planet Denny’s®. Some of the chefs got carried away and before we realised it all the turkeys had been killed for Thanksgiving. The turkeys were stuffed for Thanksgiving Dinner but it left us stuffed for the following Thanksgiving holidays.”

“Can’t you just import some?”

“Where from? None of the local planets have turkeys to bred and ships from Earth don’t call in here anymore.”

Our three companions all moan about the unfairness of the universe in marooning them without turkey for Thanksgiving.

Rowan looks at his communicator and calls across to the engineers. “Hey, Randy.” He also waves to attract his attention.

“Yeah, what do you want?” I notice it is a bit slurred.

“How long will it take to fix The Heisenberg?”

“Fix it?” he slurs. “There’s nothing wrong with it. We had it working perfectly.” I disagree but don’t say so. He continues, “It’s those con men who convinced the Commander that they needed to return the ship’s systems to factory settings and then rebuild the updates. It’s going to take us months to get everything back to how we want it.”

Rowan is patient. “How long’s it going to take?”

“It’s uncertain. They reckon five standard days.” He went back to his drink.

Rowan looks at the four of us. “That means we’re marooned here for Thanksgiving.” He seems really upmarket about it. I don’t understand why. Everyone else seems to hate the idea.

He asks me to move so he can go and make a call. I point out that his meal has just arrived. “You eat it. I’ll eat yours when it arrives.”

One of the guys asks, “What’s with him?” I shrug. I don’t know any more than they do. I start eating his meal.

He arrives back at the booth and looks around. “Where’s that manager guy?”

A waitstaff puts my, now Rowan’s, meal on the table. “I’ll get him for you Sir.”

Rowan sits and starts to eat. It’s not long before the manager is at our table.

“How can I help you? Is there a problem with the food?”

“No. Well I don’t think so. It’s just that we might be able to help you. We have a consignment of frozen turkeys on board. We’re stuck here so they are not going to be delivered to their destination in time for Thanksgiving. If you’re interested the Commander is prepared to sell them to you at cost.”

‘How many?”

“Four containers.”

“Let me call the Planet Manager.” He practically runs off.

Three more meals arrive so we’re all eating.

“So, there’s a chance we’ll all have Thanksgiving dinner with turkey after all. There’s not much time. Thanksgiving is the day after tomorrow?”

Rowan nods.

A very excited manager returns. “The Planet Manager said she’ll call your Commander immediately. I’ve never heard her so excited, apart from when she got her divorce.”

We all continue eating, but the mood is now a lot more cheerful than when we started. Rowan leans close to me and whispers, “I didn’t say anything but there’s another consignment on board that could make a lot of money for the Commander and possibly us.” I look at him, hoping he will say more but he doesn’t.

Meal finished and we are ready to leave. The five of us settle the bill and the tip. I glance across at the engineers. They are all asleep. I wonder again what they were drinking and how much. I decide I’d be more careful about what I drink in future.

Rowan receives a message and says he has to return to The Heisenberg to oversee the unloading of the turkeys. He asks if I’m going back to the ship. I tell him I’ll continue looking around before going back. He suggests we catch up later.

I think about going back to the Red Light District and find a boy but decide against it. I decide to just wander around and check the place out. The three lads decide to look for a bar with a DJ. They want to drink, dance, have fun and maybe some sex.


Back on board, I meet up with Rowan in the rec area. We have a beer each.

“How’d the unloading go?”

“Bloody quickly. I’ve never seen a shipment unloaded and cleared customs as quickly. As soon as the customs guys were told that it was frozen turkey for Denny’s® they cleared it immediately without any questions. Even asked if they could help.”

“So, what is Thanksgiving and why is having turkey so important?” I ask naively.

Rowan is speechless. He eyes me suspiciously as he has another swig of his beer. “You really don’t know?”

“No, I don’t.”

“Don’t you have Thanksgiving in Austria?”

I sigh. “Australia. And, no we don’t.”

“What’s wrong with you people. You should get with it. Thanksgiving is the fucking best holiday time ever. All the family gets together and we have Thanksgiving Dinner where we all pig out on the greatest food, especially turkey and pumpkin pie, and probably drink more than we should but, it’s just the best time and the most whole family fun in the whole year.” His eyes glaze over, and he looks wistful.

I comment, “I think if I got my whole family together for a day of food and drink, it’d end up with a few arguments.”

He grins, “Yeah, that can happen too.”

“But what’s with the turkey. Why the emphasis on turkey?”

“Don’t they teach you any history in Austria . . . . . or Australia?”

I smile. I like Rowan. “Apparently not. How about you tell me.”

He smiles, “Get me another beer and I’ll explain.”

I get us another two beers and he explains. I’m beginning to understand.


The next morning, I meet Rowan in the Rec area for breakfast.

He greets me with, “You know what I really feel like?” He doesn’t wait for me to guess and continues. “A Denny’s® Breakfast.”

“What’s a Denny’s® Breakfast?”

He groans. “Don’t tell me you don’t have Denny’s® in . . . . . err, where you come from.”

I smile and look as cheerful as I can in the morning. “Australia. No, we don’t. How about we go out and you show me what a Denny’s® Breakfast is.”

He grins at me and grabs my hand. I’m pulled out of the spaceship and towards the nearest Denny’s®. Even before we reach Denny’s® I notice a change in people’s mood. Everyone is happier than yesterday. It’s as if the whole planet is on a high.

We’re shown to a booth and without looking at the menu, Rowan immediately orders for both of us.

“Don’t I get a say on what I’d like?”

“No. Not on your first breakfast. Let me be your guide.”

For some reason that doesn’t annoy me.

Our coffees arrive and our conversation flows.

Breakfast arrives. I look at the plate loaded with a stack of Maple pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausages and hashbrowns and make a mental note to spend more time in the gym. “This is breakfast?”

Rowan looks up from his plate. “If it’s not enough we can order more.”  

I’m quick to reassure him that it’s enough. As I’m eating it’s impossible to ignore the buzz of excitement in the air.

Rowan also notices. “Isn’t it great? The Thanksgiving atmosphere. It almost feels like home.”

I reply, “I’m beginning to understand the excitement. It’s fantastic.”

“I’m glad you’re getting the vibe. I feel we’re going to have a fantastic Thanksgiving. I just wish I had some family with me.”

“After what you’ve told me I get the importance of family. You should treat the crew as our family. We spend more time together than most families.”

“You’re not wrong. We should organize Thanksgiving Dinner in groups that are like . . . . like work families.”

Breakfast finished, we pay, tip and walk out. At the door I stop and look back.

“What’s the problem?” Rowan asks.

“Nothing. I just thought I heard an Aussie accent and tried to see who it is.”

“So, there are others that sound like you.”

I’m a bit defensive. “Yeah, there’s a lot of us.”

“Cool, I like hearing you talk.”


We walk a short distance and I ask, “What are you planning to do?”

He pauses before responding, “I need to go and talk to the Commander this morning.”

“Is this about that thing that’s going to make you a lot of money?”

“Yeah, but I was thinking us.”

I’m confused. “What do you mean ‘us’?”

“I was thinking of sharing my part with you.”

I am even more confused. “Why with me?”

He looks down for a moment and then mumbles. “I have to get going.” He walks to the corner, turns around and calls out, “Because I like you.”

He’s gone around the corner before I can respond.


I start walking without paying attention. I’m thinking about Rowan. I come to an intersection. I stop and look around and I see it. A shop selling antique maps and charts and random other antique stuff. The door doesn’t open automatically, and it takes me a moment to read the sign that says ‘push’. I push open the door and a little bell rings. I feel I’m stepping back in time. I love it.

“Can I help you?” The voice comes from behind a counter piled high with books.

I reply to the invisible voice. “Amm, I like old maps and charts. I’m just looking at what you have.”

“Let me know if you need any help.”

I quickly discover that this strange shop has the most amazing collection of antique maps and charts I’ve ever come across. I’m searching for an expression to describe how I feel. I think of ‘like a bull in a China shop’. But no that’s not the expression I want. I remember it’s ‘I’m like a pig in mud’.

This little shop has antique charts covering the then known universe and of hundreds of planets. I want the lot but I can’t afford that, so I need to select carefully. I decide to purchase a collection of holograph charts of sectors where the original cartographers got it very wrong and maps of planets I’ve visited where they were similarly mistaken.

I take my selection to the counter but can’t find anywhere to put them down. A white-haired old man emerges from behind the pile of books. “Where do you want me to forward your receipt?”

I’m a bit startled.

“My shop and what I sell might be old fashioned, but my financial systems are state of the art. Your selection has been totaled and billed to your account, less fifteen percent because you are from that ship that brought the turkeys. Your receipt is your warranty for the maps and charts. Just bring them back if there are any problems.”  


I figure I should take my purchases back to my cabin for safe keeping. I’m not certain where I am so I download the city map to my communicator and discover I’m quite close to the docks. I’m becoming more and more aware of tomorrow being Thanksgiving. The exuberant atmosphere is almost explosive. My walk back to the ship is through already celebrating crowds.

Soon after I step on board I run into Rowan in the rec room.

“So, you’ve been shopping?”

“Yeah, just some stuff that I collect and a souvenir from being here.”

He’s curious and asks with a broad smile. “What sort of souvenir do you get for this planet? Something with Denny’s® logo on it?”

He’s joking and I laugh along. “No. Something only I would think of. A couple of old maps of this planet.”

“Hmm kinky. So now I know you’re kinky and well as geeky. What else? Oh yes there’s your sexy accent.” He is sounding seductive and I’m loving it.   

“About earlier. You ran away before I could respond.”

He avoids looking at me and hesitates. “So, what were you going to respond?”

I smile happily, “That I like you too.”

He looks up and we look into each other’s eyes. “Really. You like me. Like, really like me. like?”

My smile widens. “Yes, I like you, like you, like boyfriend like.”

He grabs me and kisses me. I’m startled but I’m still able to respond. Our kiss intensifies until I hear a laughing. “Hey guys get a room.”

We pull back enough to disengage our lips and I say, “I think my cabin is closer.”

“Yeah, what are we waiting for.”


Thanksgiving morning and I’m woken with a kiss. Rowan is still in bed and I feel his naked body next to me. We melt into each other.

“Are all Aussies, (did I get that right?) as good in bed as you?

I pull him close. “I’m not going to answer that and I’m not going to let you try to find out.”

We kiss. “Fair’s Fair. I don’t intend to let you stray either.”

I lightly punch him. “You know you didn’t get to set up ‘family’ groups for today.”

“I don’t care anymore. I’ve got my family right next to me.” We kiss yet again.


Rowan goes back to his cabin to dress. That is, after we shower together. I dress and as I’m leaving to meet Rowan, I notice that Charlie’s bed is in the same unmade state it was yesterday morning. He didn’t return last night.

I meet up with Rowan and hand in hand we head out looking for a Denny’s® for my first Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner. The ship is now empty except for a couple of security. Denny’s® are providing Turkey Dinners on board for them. Even the Catering Crew are all going to Denny’s® for Thanksgiving Dinner.

We quickly find a Denny's® (there’s plenty of choice) and share a large booth with the same three crew members who were so concerned about missing out on Thanksgiving. I’ve started thinking of them as Huey, Dewey, and Louie but it turns out they are Daniel, Samuel and Ezekiel.

I’m about to slide into the seat next to Rowan when I hear it again. That Aussie accent. I look around and there he is at the door waiting to come in to eat.

I excuse myself and walk up to him. He’s older than me and there’s something about him that I can’t quite place.

I use my broadest Aussie accent. “How ya goin’ Mate.”

He enjoys the joke. We don’t normally talk like this. “G’day Mate,” he replies, and we start laughing.

“I’ve got a booth over there with five of us and room for one more. I’d like that to be another Aussie. Come and join us.”

He agrees and at the table, I introduce Rowan as my boyfriend, the others as crew mates and finish by introducing myself.

He looks at everyone, “I’m Marcus. I hope it’s OK for me to join you.” Everyone nods. “Thanks. I appreciate it.”

I direct him to sit between me and Rowan. He looks a bit dubious but relaxes and slides in. I sit, as five beers arrive. Marcus orders himself a beer.

I ask, “Have you got a parent who’s mad about Ancient Rome like I have? We’re both named after Ancient Roman Emperors.”

He says, “I was just wondering the same thing and yes Dad Andrew is an expert on Ancient Rome. Weird, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, weird alright. I’ve also got a Dad Andrew.”

Before anymore can be said Marcus’ beer arrives and so does an excited Charlie.

“Titus I’ve got to tell you. I’ve already told the Commander. I’m staying on Denny’s®. I’ve got a girlfriend.” He looks across the room and waves. A beautiful no, gorgeous, transwoman waves back.

He almost swoons “We’re in love. She’s amazing.”

I look back at Charlie, “That’s where you were last night?”

“Yeah, it was awesome.”

“Charlie, I’m very happy for you.”

“Thanks Titus. Sorry to leave you without an assistant but you know . . .”

I glance at Rowan “Yeah, I know. And I think I’ll manage.”

“Great. Got to get back to her. Bye.”

Food, lots of food, starts to arrive at our table and we start eating. I try the turkey. It tastes wonderful.

Rowan turns to look at Marcus and me. “Titus, did you say you have a Dad Andrew?”

“Yeah, he’s an expert on Ancient Rome . . . .” Marcus and I stare at each other, uncertain what to say.

“Where did you live in er Aussie land?”

Still staring at each other we answer simultaneously, “Adelaide.”

This just got mega weird. Are we from some parallel universes or something. The food is excellent so everyone is still eating but there is no other conversation. They are all watching us.

Rowan asks, “Just to clarify. You both talk as if you have two dads.” We both look at him and nod. “You each have a dad called Andrew. What’s the name of your other dad?”

Marcus says, “Joe, Joseph.”

Relieved I say, “Harry,” and add, “And I don’t have an older brother.”

Marcus looks thoughtful. “When I left home there was a little brother. About four years old.” He turns and looks at me. “I’ve just remembered his name. It was Titus.”

Rowan groans. “I’m calling time out.” He included the traditional accompanying hand signal. “For now, we have to accept that you two are brothers. Any other explanation is too totally fucking beyond weird to be considered. What we need to do now is get another six beers, enjoy all this delicious food and finish it in time for dessert. After dessert we can try to sort it all out.”

We return to serious eating. Samuel, Daniel and Ezekiel start to reminisce about Thanksgiving Dinners at home with their respective families. I realize why they wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving so much. The conversation moves to funny stories involving family Thanksgiving Dinners and I include a couple from my family Christmas Dinners. Yep, Thanksgiving is certainly about fun, food and family.

We have dessert. No Pavlova, but I can’t complain. I have Pumpkin Pie for the first time. The patrons finish eating and start leaving the restaurant. The Denny’s® staff and their families start organizing their own Thanksgiving Dinner.

We ask if we can stay and talk. We’re told we can but are asked to settle to the bill first. We ask about another beer and are told to settle the bill and help ourselves. The staff are off duty and celebrating.

We settle the bill and because everyone wants to stay, I get six beers.

Rowan starts off. “Let’s assume that you two are brothers and that Titus was too young to remember Marcus when he left home. Now what we need to know is why did Marcus leave home and where do these different dads fit in.”

I agree, “Marcus, can you tell me, well us, why you left home.”

Marcus looks around and sighs, “I feel I’m with friends so yes. I was fifteen and decided I had to be open about my sexuality, so I decided to tell my dads that I’m straight. It had always been assumed that I was gay like both dads. But I’m not and I just had to tell them. I told Dad Joe, and he went totally off planet about it. Told me that ‘no son of his was going to be straight’ and threatened to throw me out if I insisted on being straight. I just couldn’t cope and left. I literally ran away to space and worked my passage on spaceships.”

I am stunned. “But what about Dad Andrew? How did he react?”

“He was away at a conference. When he returned and found out, I was already gone from home. He called me and pleaded with me to return but by then I’d made up my mind and I was also stubborn.”

“Your being straight wouldn’t have worried Dad Andrew. I’ve got, sorry, we’ve got a younger sister and brother and they’re both straight.”   

Rowan says, “There’s still the Joseph and Harry mystery. Titus, do you remember a Dad Joseph or Joe?”

“No, but then I don’t remember a brother either.” I put my arm around Marcus. “But I’m overjoyed to have found him. I just wish he would return and be part of our family again.” Marcus puts his arm around me and squeezes.   

Rowan comments, “We have to assume that after Marcus left home Andrew broke up with Joe then met up with Harry. I suspect you haven’t been in contact with anyone to find out.”

Marcus looks at his beer. “Sorry, no I haven’t.”

“Don’t be sorry. You and Titus have reunited. That’s something to be pleased about.”  

“It sure is.” I stand up and pull Marcus out of the booth and wrap my arms around him and we hug. Suddenly the other four join in the hug. I’ve experienced not only my first Thanksgiving but also my first family Thanksgiving.


The next morning, I wake spooning a very naked and very sexy Rowan. I kiss his neck.

He murmurs, “I could get very used to this. Now you don’t have an assistant I can move my stuff in here.”

“I’d like that. I noticed Charlie has already moved all his stuff out.”

“If it’s OK with you, I’ll move my stuff in first before my meeting with the Commander.”

“Of course, it’s OK. I’ll even help you. Is the meeting about your secret deal?”

“Thanks,” I get a kiss, “and yes, it is. We needed to wait until after Thanksgiving. We have a consignment of breeding turkeys on board. We’re planning to sell them to Planet Denny’s® so they can start up their turkey farms again.”

“We can transport livestock?”

“Yes, we have a dedicated section of the cargo hold. All roboticaly managed.”

“So, you expect they’ll be prepared to pay a very good price for them.”

“After the party atmosphere yesterday, I reckon they will. It won’t be a Black Friday Sale. What are you doing today?”

“Marcus agreed to meet up again this afternoon so we can just hang out. I can help you move before I meet him.”


Marcus and I meet for a coffee. Rather than sit inside we order take-away coffee. Coffee in hand we walk through a green park towards a large lake. It is so like being back on Earth, except that I can’t identify any of the birds swimming peacefully on the lake. We talk about Marcus’ life on Denny’s® as we watch the birds.

He stops walking. “Titus I’ve been thinking and this morning I had a long talk with Uncle Dimitri.”

“Uncle Dimitri? You have an uncle here?”

He laughs, “He’s not a real uncle but he and Aunt Karina, his wife, have been good to me and helped me a lot when I first arrived. He also helped when my girlfriend and I broke up. I trust him and his advice a lot. It’s funny. He’s very smart and modern but runs this really old fashion shop.” 

“That sells old maps, charts and stuff.” I finish the sentence for him.

He laughs loudly and I join in. “Don’t tell me you’ve been there?”

“Yeah, I have and I loved it.”

He’s happy but becomes serious. “I go to him for advice, and after talking to him this morning I’ve decided I want to return to Earth and join our family again.”

I grab him and pull him into a hug. Fortunately, there’s nothing left in our coffee mugs to spill over us. “That’s fantastic. I’m so happy that having found you I’m not going to lose you.”

He pushes out of the hug. “Hold on. It’s not as easy as you think. Spaceships from Earth only call in here when they’re lost, and getting to somewhere they do visit and then to Earth would be more expensive than I can afford.” He gives a sly smile. “Do you think you could help me stowaway on your ship?”

I shake my head and laugh happily, “Stowaway! There’s no need for you to stowaway. We’re a crew member down and I need an assistant.”

“Really, you think I could be crew.”

“Yeah, and from what you told me you have experience.”

“When do you leave?”

“Well, obviously no maintenance was carried out yesterday so another three days but now let’s get you signed on as crew before you change your mind.”

“I’m not going to change my mind. I’m stubborn remember.”


We meet Rowan in the entry hatch. “We’re on our way down to sign Marcus on as my Navigation Assistant.”

“Does that mean you’re kicking me out immediately after I move in?”

I pull him into a kiss. “No way! I thought Marcus could use your cabin.”

“Works for me. Let’s get him signed on.”

On the way I ask Rowan, “How did the sale go?”

“Brilliantly. We have done very well.”

Before he can ask, I tell Marcus, “I’ll explain later.”  


We are all busy. Marcus is getting organized to leave and saying goodbye to friends. He insists we visit Uncle Dimitri and Aunt Karina. They immediately adopt me, and I know why Marcus likes them so much. It feels like they are family. Marcus bids them a very emotional farewell while I regret not being able to know them for longer.


The day before departure is always hectic. Rowan has unloaded the live turkeys and is overseeing the loading of more cargo. The Commander has managed to locate cargo to transport to both our original destination and back to Earth.

I activate UniNavGuy so we can plot a course out of where we are. I’m greeted by a normal working persona.

“Now all my systems are operational I’ve located the archive file which has the old charts for this sector and I’ve been able to overlay them on the new charts.”

This sounds good so I wait for more.

“I’m uncertain about how we got where we are now but, I have a few suggestions to get us out of here. That is when you tell me where you want to go.”

“First up we need to set course for our original destination. I’ll set the coordinates for you.”

“No need, I still have those.” There’s a short pause. “We can go back onto the hyperdrive bypass and backtrack or we can take a sub-hyperdrive route which will take eight standard hours longer and avoid tolls.”

“I’ll talk to the Commander and get back to you.”

“No problem.”

I walk up to the bridge and greet the Commander.

“Ah Titus. Can you get us out of here?”

I give him the UniNavGuy choices.”

“I like the idea of the sub-hyperdrive route. It’ll give us a chance to shake out any problems before we activate hyperdrive.”

That reminds me. “How are the Engineering Crew?”

“Unconscious in the Med Bay. God knows where they’ve been and what they’ve been drinking or how long before they recover. Denny’s® officials certainly don’t want to be responsible for them and made sure they were all aboard and our problem.  The Medics are looking after them.”

“So, what Engineering Crew do we have?”

“The one teetotal engineer and that guy, Marcus, that you got signed on.”

“He’s supposed to be my assistant.”

“Yeah, maybe but he’s smart, has had experience in Engineering Bays and on the same systems as ours so that’s where we need him.”

I don’t mind so I don’t object.

“Anyway, you didn’t use your assistant for navigation anyway. And by the way, you’re done well getting Rowan. You’ll be good for each other. Congratulations.”

I’m speechless.

“And just remember that in deep space I’m authorized to officiate at a marriage ceremony.”

“Does that mean you can marry us?”

“Yes, but with you two marrying each other.”

“No offense, but I would prefer that too. However, it’s not just my decision. We’ll get back to you.”

“I look forward to it, but I want the course setting before anything else.”

“Yes Sir, coming right up.”

“He’s smiling and so am I.”


Marcus’ luggage is onboard and we have prepared our areas for departure but there is something else we still have to do. We have to clear immigration departures. We approach together. The scanner signals a problem. “Not again,” I think.

The same uniformed official approaches. “Oh, it’s you again. Let me have a look.” He moves us to another scanner and looks at the screen. He taps the screen and reads the results. We wait.

He smiles. “You’re obviously brothers. Your ID profiles are so similar it confuses our rapid readers. I had to go to a full analysis.” He presses the screen again. “There, you’re registered as departing Denny’s®. Goodbye, safe travel and all the best.”

We thank him and walk towards The Heisenberg.

“Are you sure that Dads Andrew and Harry will want me back?”

“I’ve never been more certain of something in my life.”

 “You said we have a brother. What’s his name?


He chuckles. “Another emperor. And, what’s our sister’s name?”

I’m enjoying this. “Obviously, Cleopatra.”

We walk onboard laughing.