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 3: Career Opportunities
In the two years Aaron had lived in Saint Paul, he had established himself in the craftster scene as a master craftster and was one of the founding members of the acoustic band, Pussy Teeth.
Pussy Teeth was a trio. Aaron played percussion, which consisted of an old car door and two rubber mallets. Martha Hairdye, a nineteen-year-old henna-tattooed bleached blonde, played a Moroccan snake charmer’s flute and sang. Tina Garfunkel, a twenty-year-old earth-toned nature girl, sang and played a monochord she had made herself.
Martha, Tina and Aaron had met on the craftster scene. Martha’s thing was organic tattoos and tie-dyes, and Tina’s thing was homemade instruments. They were inspired to form Pussy Teeth based on their mutual interests in repurposing and primitive technologies. They practiced in Bud and Aaron’s apartment, and they were preparing for their first gig at the Leatherneck Lounge.
The Leatherneck Lounge was having trouble getting customers to come in on Tuesday nights, so they were trying an open mic night. Aaron, Tina and Martha were determined to be the first band to play open mic at the Leatherneck Lounge with the hope of becoming the open mic house band.
Tina wanted to cover/repurpose the traditional English folk song Greensleeves. They had set a CD player to repeat a folk singer singing, “Greensleeves was all my joy,” over and over again.
Tina sat on a chair with her monochord on a stand in front of her. She plucked the wrong notes on her monochord while singing out of key with the folk singer, “Greensleeves was all my joy.”
Aaron sat on the floor in front of the car door, pounding out a clumsy rhythm with rubber mallets. He sang out of key with the folk singer, “Greensleeves was all my joy.”
Martha played a cacophonous stream of notes on her flute, and they all sang together with the folk singer, “Greensleeves was all my joy.” Their voices combined to create a terrible skull-fracturing dissonance.
Ordinarily, Bud had an incredible tolerance to noise, but this was utterly ridiculous. His eyes crossed, and he ground his teeth. He slammed his economics textbook shut and screamed, “STOP!” Tina, Martha and Aaron all stopped and looked at Bud. “Why don’t you guys just do a noise jam and scream the lyrics?” asked Bud.
“We must respect Lady Greensleeves,” said Aaron, incredulously.
The phone rang, and Bud hit the stop button on the CD player, killing the music. Everyone stared at Bud as he answered the phone. “Hello... Yes... This is... Sounds great. I’ll see you at nine tomorrow morning.” Bud hung up the phone and looked at Aaron. “You have a job interview at Schroeters’ tomorrow morning at nine.”
“You’re getting a job?” asked Tina, surprised.
“It’s just an interview,” replied Aaron. “The baker is a little crazy.”
“Sounds perfect for you,” said Martha.
“Perfectly painful,” said Aaron.
“Just show up on time for the interview and use your leverage,” said Bud.
“What’s your leverage?” asked Martha.
“She’s a sadist,” replied Aaron.
“And you’re a masochist,” added Tina.
“It’s a match made in Heaven,” said Martha.
“Or Hell,” added Aaron.
“Are we ready for the Leatherneck Lounge tomorrow night?” asked Tina.
“Do we need to be?” responded Aaron.
“I guess we’re ready enough,” said Tina, and on that note, Pussy Teeth’s practice ended.
* * *
The next morning, Aaron showed up right on time for his interview. A few people sat in the dining section of Schroeters’, which made Aaron feel relatively safe. At least if she zapped him with her stun gun again, there would be witnesses.
Aaron walked up to Anini who stood behind the counter. “I’m here for my interview.”
“I’m surprised you showed up,” said Anini.
Aaron felt intimidated. “Me, too.”
“You have more guts than I originally thought. Sit down over there. I’ll be with you in a second. Do you want coffee?”
“Yeah, and a bagel.”
Anini went to the office, and Aaron sat down at a table. He looked up at a Cap’n Crunch commercial on TV. Cap’n Crunch held a mini Magic Eight Ball and said, “It will answer your questions.”
Anini came out of the office with a manila folder then poured a cup of coffee. She placed the paper cup of coffee down in front of Aaron and sat across from him.
Expecting more, Aaron looked at the paper cup of coffee. “This is it?”
Anini opened the manila folder, glanced at his application then looked him in the eyes. “Why do you want to work here?”
Aaron was prepared for this question. “I want to understand the inner workings of the bagel,” he said with a smirk.
“You mean the hole?” replied Anini, smirking back at him.
Aaron liked this. She had a playful side. “Exactly. I want to understand the void.”
“Of a bagel?”
“Gotta start somewhere.”
With a slight smile, Anini shook her head. Then her face went straight. She looked at Aaron’s application then back at Aaron. “So you went to elementary school in Bellevue, Nebraska?”
“That wasn’t on my application.”
“Schroeters’ does a routine background check on all applicants. It’s been their policy since 9/11. Why did your family live in Bellevue?”
“What does Bellevue have to do with bagel baking?”
“We need counter help, not a baker. Now answer the question.”
“My father was in the Air Force.”
“Ah-ha... Your father works for the government!”
“This is ridiculous. What does my father have to do with this job?”
“I’ll ask the questions. Are you familiar with Strategic Air Command?”
“Strategic Air Command? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Ah ha... They claim it was shut down in 1992, but my informants say differently.”
“Why are you asking me about Strategic Air Command?”
“Are you familiar with the location of Strategic Air Command?”
“Let me guess: Bellevue, Nebraska.”
“Exactly, the town that your father lives in.”
Aaron’s body tensed with anger. “I haven’t seen my father for years. He divorced my mother and remarried long ago. He could care less about me, and I can care less about him. I didn’t even know he still lived in Bellevue until you just told me.”
Anini jotted down a note. “Okay, let’s get serious.”
“I’d like that.”
“You don’t have much work experience. Your references are your friends. Why should I hire you?”
“You owe me.”
“I owe you?”
“You shocked me with a stun gun for no good reason.”
“I had a very good reason.”
“And what was that?”
“I’ll ask the questions.”
“Then stick to the topic.”
“Okay,” said Anini while closing the manila folder. “Why do you really want to work here, honestly?”
“The truth is, I really don’t want to work anywhere, but I need money. I figure if I work in a bagel bakery, at least I’ll learn to bake bagels.”
“We need counter help. Not a baker.”
“I’m looking at the bigger picture. Counter help today, bagel baker tomorrow. Baking is an artisanal craft, and that’s what I’m interested in pursuing.”
Anini stood up.
“Is that it?” asked Aaron, slightly panicked. He found himself wanting the job more than ever, and he also found himself wanting to know more about Anini.
Anini placed her hands down flat on the table and leaned toward Aaron. “Listen Aaron, my life isn’t just about avoiding the grind and watching YouTubers.”
“Neither is mine. I basket-weave. I knit...”
“Just beware of my boundaries.”
“And I’m in a band.”
“Be here tomorrow morning at six-fifteen.” Anini went back to work, leaving Aaron stunned. He had a job. He looked up at a Pillsbury Doughboy commercial playing on the TV. A finger poked the Doughboy in the belly, causing the Doughboy to laugh.
To be continued...
Copyright © 2015 by Bruce Pavalon