Space Girl Blues
by Bruce Pavalon
A young man with a troubled past falls in love with a young woman who believes she’s been abducted by aliens and that one of her alien abductors has fallen in love with her.
Chapter 1: Umbrella
Swirling snow and ice filled the air of Saint Paul, Minnesota. It was five-thirty in the morning. The biggest blizzard of the winter was at full strength, and twenty-year-old Aaron Evinrude was out for a walk. He looked like an arctic explorer, wearing mukluks, wool pants, a wool ski mask, and a heavy black waterproof jacket. This was the time he liked best, when everyone else was tucked away in their heated homes and warm beds, and he could roam the frozen streets alone.
He imagined this was the way the world would eventually be, just snow and ice, and then a distant flash of light caught Aaron’s eye. At first, he thought it might be a Christmas decoration, but when he gazed toward the light, he caught a glimpse of a mirrored umbrella moving through the falling snow. Then, it was gone.
Aaron stepped into a minimart, stomped his feet on a mat, shook the snow off his back, and lifted his ski mask. The bright fluorescent lighting cast a yellow hue on the small store. Two rows of shelves and three refrigeration units were well stocked with name-brand snacks, candy bars, and drinks.
Bear, a short, fireplug shaped man with a thick beard sat behind the counter listening to an AM radio show.
“Do you think you’ll win your old girlfriend back by stalking her?” asked the talk show host on the radio.
“It doesn’t matter, ’cuz when I’m stalking her, I am with her,” replied the caller.
Bear laughed. He could relate to the caller. Bear’s romantic life consisted of one drunken encounter with an emotionally disturbed woman that produced a baby boy, which is why he worked so many jobs. Not only did he work the red-eye shift at the minimart, but he also delivered pizzas and sold peanuts and Cracker Jack at the Twins’ and Saints’ games.
Bear turned down the radio. “Hey, Tunes,” said Bear. “Nice morning for a walk, heh, heh, heh.”
“You bet’cha, Bear. Got any leftover papers?”
“Heh, heh, heh. Yesterday’s news is free today.” Bear placed an old newspaper on the counter.
“I don’t know if I was snow-blind or what, but I thought I saw someone carrying a mirrored umbrella through the blizzard,” said Aaron while pouring himself a cup of coffee.
“That would be the bagel woman. She’s the early morning baker at Schroeters’ Bagel Bakery. Her umbrella turns my radio to static.”
“The bagel woman?”
“She would be a good match for you.”
Bear laughed. “How should I know?”
Aaron sipped his coffee, and grimaced.
“That’s fresh. I just brewed it.”
Aaron dumped out the coffee. “I like my coffee cooked.”
“The bagel woman is probably cookin’ up some good coffee right now at Schroeters’. You should go there.”
Bear laughed. “Beats the heck out of me.”
Aaron tossed the coffee cup into the garbage can and took the newspaper off the counter. “Good idea, Bear.”
“Beware. The bagel woman is like no other woman you’ve ever met,” said Bear as Aaron left the minimart.
* * *
Holding his newspaper, Aaron walked through the blizzard and up to Schroeters’ Bagel Bakery. With his mitten-covered hand, he wiped frost off the window and looked into the bakery. The small dining area was dark. In the back behind the counter, light shone through the baker’s window.
Aaron was able to see Anini Odegarde, a fair-skinned twenty-year old wearing a white apron and baker’s hat. She was baking bagels. She worked like a machine, twirling between a rotating convection oven and an industrial boiler, flipping oven racks, and scooping boiled bagels from the boiler.
Aaron banged on the window. Anini stopped and looked toward the window. Aaron banged on the window again, and Anini disappeared into the back room. A moment later, she walked up to the front door. Aaron stood outside with his arms wrapped tightly together.
“We don’t open till six-thirty,” said Anini.
Aaron glanced at a clock on the wall of the bakery. “It is six-thirty.”
Anini checked her watch then took a long look at Aaron. “Who are you? What do you want?”
Aaron lifted his ski mask. “I’m Aaron Evinrude. I want a cup of coffee and a bagel.”
“Why haven’t I seen you before?”
Aaron folded his arms and shivered. “It’s cold out here. Can I order inside?”
“Step away from the door.”
Aaron backed away from the door. Anini opened the door, reached into her apron and pulled out a stun gun. She lunged at Aaron, zapping him on the chest. Aaron’s body reflexively tensed, and he fell backwards into a snowdrift, dropping his newspaper on the icy sidewalk.
“Sorry ’bout that. You can come in whenever you’re ready,” said Anini. She turned and went back into the bakery, flipped on the lights, picked up a television remote control off the counter and turned on a TV mounted to a stand hanging from the ceiling.
On TV, the Michelin Man fought an angry gas pump by throwing Michelin tires at it. Anini went behind the counter and stood beneath the “Orders” sign, ready for business.
Aaron lay on the snow bank. His body twitched several times then relaxed. He took a deep breath. His hazel eyes looked up at snow falling from the grey sky. He tried to figure out what had just happened. Then adrenaline rushed through his veins. He lifted himself from the snowdrift, grabbed his newspaper off the sidewalk and lurched toward the bakery, angrily swinging the bakery door open.
Hunched in pain with his newspaper in hand, Aaron staggered toward the front counter where Anini stood. “You bbbbbbb-b...” Aaron uncontrollably stuttered, an after effect of the electric shock.
“May I help you?” asked Anini, calmly.
Aaron arrived at the counter, and the second half of the word finally came out of his mouth, “...itch.”
Anini pulled out the stun gun and pointed it at Aaron. “That’s close enough. Now calm down.”
“Why did you shock me?”
“I thought you were someone else.”
“You said you hadn’t seen me before.”
“I had to be sure.”
“You had to be sure?” Aaron relaxed. He found himself attracted to this crazy woman. She was small. Her short dark hair was without style. Her dark eyes were intense and made him feel uneasy. This was an attraction that could only lead to more pain. He would have to try to resist it.
“Do you want a bagel, or do you want to leave?” asked Anini.
“Who did you think I was?” asked Aaron.
Anini pocketed her stun gun. “You can have a free coffee to make up for any neurological damage.” She poured a cup of coffee and placed it on the counter in front of Aaron. “It’s fresh.”
Aaron contemplated the paper cup of black coffee. This was not enough. He deserved more. “I’d also like a complimentary bagel.”
“A cup of coffee is all you get.”
“Then maybe I’ll call the police.”
“You attacked me first.”
“I did not.”
“It’s my word against your word.”
“So that’s how it’s going to be!” Aaron snatched his coffee off the counter and stomped out of the bakery. Another battle lost, and he didn’t even know why he was fighting. This was the story of his life.
Copyright © 2015 by Bruce Pavalon