Characters in the Cosmos: Meet Dixon Jenner
This week I am pleased to introduce Willie Handler's character Dixon Jenner from an unpublished novel entitled Loved Mars, Hated the Food. The manuscript is currently in the editing stage and Handler hopes to be querying it in early 2018.
Who are you? What do you do?
I’m Dixon Jenner, but everyone calls me Dix. Life was pretty dull for me until I decided to try something different.
I was an unemployed chef living in Toms River, New Jersey. I rented an apartment over a garage in a house owned by a widow with six cats. I was thirty-one years old and had never been in a relationship that lasted more than six months.
Then I spotted an online ad for a chef. It mentioned something about a government agency and an opportunity to travel. So, I applied. The next thing I know, I’m part of a mission to establish the first permanent colony on Mars.
What is your greatest fear?
How about dying? That’s big, isn’t it? They told me that everything had been tested over and over again. There were back up systems, contingency plans, everything had been considered. Well, it turns out no one considered the colony blowing up and everyone dying but me. I’m just a chef. What do I know about survival on another planet? Now, that I’ve survived the disaster, my greatest fear is never getting back to Earth. Does anyone even know I survived the explosion? Your guess is as good as mine.
What’s the worst thing that happened in your life? What did you learn from it?
I used to think that the worst thing that every happened to me was when my dad cut me off financially. He told me that I was never going to amount to anything unless I learned to get by on my own.
That was until I found myself on Mars. A near death experience can change your perspective on life. Living among aliens on another planet also forces you to become independent. I was really pissed off at my dad but now I realize he was right.
What or who is the greatest love in your life?
I admit I was never in any long-term relationships. I was selfish and eventually people gave up on me. There was a woman on the mission I liked. Tammy, she was an engineer. When she died with the others, it was the first time that I felt a loss in my life. But did I love her? I’m not sure I know what love is.
When and where were you happiest?
Strangely, I am happiest on Mars. I felt liberated. I created my own sports league. Can you imagine that. Even though it eventually failed, it felt great doing it. Then I put my energy into a restaurant chain, which was far more successful. None of this would have been possible on Earth. I was a nobody on Earth but on Mars I’ve become a bit of a celebrity.
What is your most treasured possession?
Most people laugh when I pull it out, but my most treasured possession is an autographed basketball. It’s an official NBA basketball signed by Knick star Bry'n DeMatwah. The New York Knicks are my favorite team and DeMatwah is their star player. I hung out at the exit of the parking lot of Madison Square Gardens three years ago waiting for him to come out. I was able to get him to sign my ball. I was so excited. NASA let us take a couple of personal items to Mars with us and I chose the ball.
What do you value most in your friends
I have to admit I don’t have a lot of friends. I’m a bit of a loner. I like to hang out with my buddies, drink a few beers, blaze a joint. Don’t like people who are judgmental, clingy or demanding. Being stuck on Mars has changed my perspective. I can’t afford to be as picky when it comes to friends. As it turns out, I’ve met some cool Martians and we’ve become friends. The vibes are different but it’s all good.
Tell me about your best friend.
I know people are going to think this is odd, but I’ve become best friends with a bot. NASA sent six Sementric robots with full artificial intelligence. The bots have human features, can speak and have some human emotions. You could swear they are human. Sementric 3 survived the Colony explosion and I found it wandering on the Mars surface. We immediately hit it off. I call him Larry, which pisses him off. Every time I ask him to do something he doesn’t want to do, he claims he hasn’t been programmed to do that job. He reminds me of myself sometimes. I’m not what he thinks of me. How can you really know since he’s a bot. I think he enjoys the company because he was programmed to interact with humans.
What’s the worse thing you’ve done to someone? Why?
I was mean and insubordinate with the mission commander, Tom Jonas. He was trying to do a job and keep everyone happy and safe. I would do crappy things just to annoy him. Like the time I commandeered the public address system and played rock music for hours. There wasn’t any one bad thing. I just had a bad attitude. Looking back, I feel bad about it. I think I’ve always resisted authority and found his approach to be very regimented, like in the army.
What’s your ideal world?
It would be a world where people got along and treated each other as equals. People wouldn’t exploit others. There would be very few rules. You need to have some rules, stuff like the Ten Commandments. But society has too many rules. There would be no wars, no hunger, no corruption. Maybe it’s why I like Martians. They have their faults but they’re much closer to my ideal world than humans.