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 6: The Cat Came Back
Pussy Teeth rocked out on a small corner stage at the Leatherneck Lounge. Aaron created an industrial wall of sound by violently pounding rubber mallets on the car door. Tina played a primitive psychedelic jam on the monochord, and Martha played a frantic screeching of notes on her snake charmer’s flute.
Bud jerked back and forth on the linoleum dance floor, and Loretta, a middle-aged buxom blonde, stood behind a small bar with a disgusted look on her face. Beside that, the small dimly-lit Midwestern bar was empty.
Together, Martha and Tina sang, “Testosterone, it gives the boys a bone, corrosive hormone, testosterone. Testosterone, it makes the men fight, thinking they’re right, chauvinistic plight.”
Martha turned to Aaron and played a snake charm toward his crotch. Feedback squealed from the PA. Bud stopped jerking back and forth and covered his ears. Tina hit the microphone, causing a loud pop. Electricity shot through Tina’s arm. She jerked backwards and almost fell over.
“Turn off the PA!” yelled Loretta.
Martha switched off the PA, and the feedback stopped.
“Damn my vagina dentata! That hurt!” Tina said while rubbing her elbow.
“Show’s over. No one’s here anyway,” declared Loretta.
“We don’t need a PA,” said Tina. “We can finish our set without it.”
“Doesn’t matter. Show’s still over,” said Loretta. “I’m closing shop and going home. Open mic night is officially cancelled. Pack up your stuff.”
“I knew we shouldn’t have used the PA,” said Aaron. “This is what we get for going against our values and using modern technology: feedback.”
The source of the feedback suddenly occurred to Aaron. He jumped to his feet and ran out of the club, stopping on the frozen sidewalk. He looked left then right. The streets were empty. There was no one around.
Then he looked across the street and caught a flash from Anini’s mirrored umbrella as she turned the corner. He smiled. She had almost come to the show. She was interested in him.
* * *
The next morning, Aaron showed up to work before Anini arrived. He stood by the front door, reading his horoscope from an old newspaper. He was a Sagittarius, born November 26th. Yesterday’s horoscope read, “Today’s astral configuration means that if you have been trying to lift the veil of enigma that surrounds one particular person, you may soon discover an important clue that helps you understand their motives.” That was good news, but did it happen? It must’ve been referring to the fact that Anini walked past the club. He wondered what today might have in store for him, but he dared not read today’s horoscope. He preferred experiencing it first and reading about it later.
Wearing her snowmobile suit and carrying her mirrored umbrella, Anini walked up to the bakery. She rolled her eyes when she saw Aaron. “Your shift doesn’t start until six-fifteen.”
“But what about my bagel-baking apprenticeship?” Aaron smiled, trying to look charming.
“There is no bagel-baking apprenticeship.”
“I know where you were last night.”
“You passed by the Leatherneck Lounge. You were going to see Pussy Teeth, but you’re umbrella caused the PA to feedback, so you didn’t come in.”
“Is that what you think?”
“Bear says that your umbrella causes his radio to feedback. That must’ve been what happened.”
“Who is Bear?”
“He’s a friend of mine. He works at the minimart down the street. Just admit it. You were going to our show. Why else would you be passing by the Leatherneck Lounge at ten o’clock at night? You should’ve come in. We would’ve turned off the PA for you.”
“Just because I passed by the Leatherneck Lounge last night doesn’t mean I’m interested in your kitty-cat band.”
“Pussy Teeth is the name of the band.”
“You can’t deny it. I saw you. There is something between us, an attraction.”
“No, Aaron...” Anini reached into her pocket as if reaching for her stun gun.
Aaron fearfully raised his hands and said, “Please... not again.”
Instead of the stun gun, Anini pulled out the keys to Schroeters’, causing Aaron to flinch backwards and fall on his ass in the same pile of snow he had landed in twice before. Anini quickly opened the door and entered the bagel bakery, locking the door behind her. “The only thing between you and me is this door. You aren’t coming in early today.” Anini turned and went to the back room.
Aaron felt like a chump. He had revealed his feelings to Anini and wound up sitting in the snow one more time. He thought about his horoscope and wondered how long it would take to “lift the veil of enigma.” He looked up into the dark grey sky and saw large snowflakes starting to fall. It was his kind of morning. He could wait, and wait he did.
Anini left him outside for over forty-five minutes before she opened the door. “You can come in now,” she said, now dressed as a baker. “Get changed and prep the front counter for the morning rush.”
Aaron lifted himself from the snow bank while saying, “So I guess the cat is out of the bag.”
“I’d like to get to know you better, Anini.”
“Aaron, the only cat I’m interested in is Schrödinger’s cat.”
“Schrödinger? Who is Schrödinger?”
“Who do you think?”
Panic shot through Aaron’s veins. “You have a boyfriend?”
“Maybe, maybe not,” she smugly replied. “Now get to work.” Anini turned and went back to work.
Somehow, Aaron found hope in Anini’s ambiguity. He entered the bakery, got changed, and prepped the front. His feelings were on the table, but he would have to wait for an opening. He did everything she told him to do for the rest of his shift, and she gave him little opportunity to do anything but comply.
She dismissed him as soon as the morning rush was over, and that was it. There was nothing said. Nothing he could say.
Aaron went to his and Bud’s apartment right after work and looked up Schrödinger’s cat on Bud’s computer. “I get it,” he said. “She’s testing me. Until the box is open, all bets are off. There’s still hope, Bud.”
Bud sat on the couch, watching Days of Our Lives on TV. Bessie sat on the couch next to Bud with her nose down half-asleep.
“Imagine a cat in a closed box.” Bessie’s head popped up when Aaron said “cat.” Aaron continued, “Next to the cat is a bottle of poison with a hammer hanging over it. If the hammer falls, the bottle breaks, and the poison is released, killing the cat. But a quantum device triggers the hammer, and on the quantum level events are probabilistic. So there is a fifty percent chance the hammer falls and a fifty percent chance the hammer doesn’t fall.”
Aaron laughed. “Until you look inside the box, the cat is one hundred percent alive and one hundred percent dead.” Aaron looked at Bud. “You know what that means?”
Bud was watching TV.
“Bud!?” said Aaron loudly.
“Huh?” replied Bud, oblivious to what Aaron had been saying.
“Did you listen to anything I just said?”
“Bessie did.” Bessie tilted her head at Aaron. “What are you talking about?”
“I was talking about Schrödinger’s cat.”
“Cats? I hate cats, and so does Bessie.” Bessie snorted.
“It doesn’t matter what animal is in the box. It could be Bessie.”
“Don’t say that.”
“The point is that the box on me and Anini is still shut. There’s still hope. There’s still a chance.”
“That’s the spirit. Just don’t lose that job trying to get into the space cadet’s pants.” Bud refocused his attention on the TV.
There was no use trying to explain this to Bud. It was much too esoteric. Bud was about practical stuff, like business, and that was okay by Aaron. Talking helped him anyway, even if Bessie was the only one who was listening.
Aaron felt reinvigorated and hopeful when he went to work the following morning. He knew to hang back and follow orders until the morning rush had ended and Anini had dismissed him for the day. On his way out, Aaron approached Anini. She was restocking the front counter.
“When does your shift end?” asked Aaron.
“What does it matter to you?”
“There’s a craftster fair at Ragshack in Minneapolis at four this afternoon. I’ll be showing my baskets, hats and mittens.”
“Your baskets, hats and mittens?”
“Yeah, I basket weave and knit. I’ve been doing it for quite a while. Each one is unique.”
“You’re quite unique.”
Aaron took this as interest. “Great, so I’ll see you later?”
“Anything is possible.”
“The box is still closed.”
Anini smiled. She got the Schrödinger reference. Aaron smiled back at her and left the bakery. He felt as though he had passed her test.
Copyright © 2015 by Bruce Pavalon