Thursday, December 7, 2023

STC (part 5) - Christmas Party at the S*T*C



Initials for the Satellite Tracking Center

And the title of my historical novel: Women breaking into aerospace in the 1980s meet men behaving badly.

It's 1984. The space shuttle Challenger is up in orbit. The Reagan administration is beefing up defense to fight the Evil Empire of Communism. And the Satellite Tracking Center, known as the S*T*C, is staffing up to meet those challenges.

Then the old boy network finds itself turned upside down when young professional women, such as Samantha Clark and Rosalind Hart, breach the male-dominated mission control teams inside the S*T*C. In the secrecy demanded in the classified world, how do Sam and Roz cope with men behaving badly? Will the women or the old boys break first?

Christmas 1984 rolls around.

Let's take a peek at the festivities inside the S*T*C. 

In particular, the Mission Control Complex (MCC-F) where Sam works as a contractor for Celestia Space Corporation (known as CSC).



The week before Christmas and counting down to launch, CSC held their annual Christmas party. Inside MCC-F, the customers, mostly the Air Force, were invited to CSC’s Christmas lunch buffet in the SCIF.

So, the feasting began.

Those at the end of the line were the essential personnel, who had been running real-time satellite passes at the start of brunch. And when their work was done, nothing was left. The guests had eaten up the food which was calculated as ample enough to feed the contractors.

“Great!” Ned Gaubert on the two-side pouted after finishing a pass. “Our customer…the Grinch…stole this Christmas!”

“Now, Ned—” Paul Coleman started his mild scold. Then he saw the injustice of it all. And PC agreed Ned had a point.

Ned glared at the GC Randy Rowdy, who had a plate of food.

“Hey,” Randy mumbled with a mouth full. “You got to look out for Number One, Ned.”

Ned sneered. “Love your Christmas spirit.”

* * *

The lunch buffet had cleared out of the SCIF. More fun ahead, it was time for the crew to open presents from their secret Santas.

Rich Kerry, tall and thin, wore a red Santa hat and fake white beard. He looked as incongruous as Christmas in July.

Arye smiled when he opened up his present from Sam. A customized Jewish Christmas ornament, crafted from a wooden Star of David, with a fake sprig of holly in the middle.

“Thanks for the Messiah-mas ornament,” he said.

“And I want to show you something.” Sam pulled out a thin book.

Zlateh the Goat, by Isaac Bashevis Singer.” Arye looked it over. “My favorite Hanukkah story. My mother read me this when I was a kid.”

Sam explained, “An old friend of mine—old as in senior citizen—gave me this when I was thirteen.”

“For your bas mitzvah?” Arye grinned.

“My what?”

“It would be a bar mitzvah if you were a guy. A bas mitzvah is when you became a woman.”

“The gentleman, who gave me this, helped me to grow up a lot. He’d be in his eighties if he were alive.”

Sam could see that the book touched Arye as he looked at the cover. “Thanks for thinking of me this time of the year. It’s not easy being a Jew during Christmas.”

“Hey, Jesus was Jewish. He celebrated his bar mitzvah and Hanukah.”

Then Rich called out the next present. “Rosa Martinez.”

“From Doug?” Rosa looked apprehensive as she opened the package. “Chocolate colored bikini underpants? And it says…oh, my—”

Doug grabbed the card. “I want to eat these panties right off of you, my dear.”

“Of all the nerve!” Rosa took her present and smacked him hard on the head with it.

Doug leered back. “More S and M after the party, dear?”

Rosa smacked him harder—several times—and no one stopped her.

Then one by one, all the presents were given out.

Sam asked Rich, “Is there anything…for me?”

Rich shook his head.

Sam stood still for the moment. Then she ran off to the women’s room to cry and pull herself together.

* * *

Frank Bustamonte was a quiet man. Yet he observed more than he let on. Charles Sinclair had drawn Sam’s name. And Frank overheard Charles say that he was not getting anything for that bitch.

Frank wondered if Charles would have a change of heart. He didn’t.

So Frank took action. He repackaged his present from Werner, then sent Rosa to get Sam from no-man’s land.

“This is for you, dear.” Frank presented Sam with her gift.

Rosa came up with an explanation. “Your present fell behind the file cabinet where the tree sat. So, Rich missed it.”

Sam felt ashamed for crying, as she opened the gift of coffee. “This is nice. It’s from you, Frank?”

Frank smiled. “Yes, dear.”

“I’m sorry I misunderstood.”

“Don’t ever deny your feelings.” Then Frank threw in some cookies from a fan of his son, the Elvis impersonator. And he said this Elvis had just gotten his divinity degree so he could do weddings.

“I thought you might appreciate these.” Gordon Howard presented Sam a few El Chichon Chicos, his pet lava rocks with smiley faces.

“Thank you.” Sam looked at her presents, feeling her depression fly away. “These rocks are so nice. They’ll look so cheerful in our garden.”

“And I’ve got a garage full of them.” Gordon flashed his yellowed teeth. Then he belted out a great belly laugh that would outdo any Santa.


To read more, please check out: S*T*C

Your readership is appreciated.

Merry Christmas!

Happy Hanukkah!



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Photo: Gifts_Xmas/