Space Girl Blues
by Bruce Pavalon
Chapter 13: Greensleeves
Aaron slept on the couch in his apartment with Bessie cuddled up to him. He was dreaming about the Green Giant when Tina and Martha burst through the front door with their instruments in hand. “Wake up!” they screamed.
Aaron jumped to his feet and screamed, “Green Giant!” Confused, Aaron looked at Tina and Martha.
“Are you okay?” asked Tina.
Aaron relaxed. “Yeah, I guess. I think so.” Aaron thought for a second. Actually, Aaron was better than he had been in a long time. He was in love, or at least he thought he was in love.
“We’re playing tonight,” said Martha. “Remember, Olsen Brothers’?”
“Of course, I remember,” replied Aaron.
“Well, we need to rehearse,” said Tina while setting up her monochord.
“Are you still seeing that space cadet?” asked Martha.
“You betcha I am,” he said, with love in his eyes.
Martha hit herself on the forehead. “Oy, it’s worse than before.”
“I thought you were going to confront her about the truth,” said Tina.
“I now know the truth,” replied Aaron.
Tina shook her head. “Let’s just focus on the gig.”
Martha took out her snake charmer’s flute. “Are we going try to play ‘Greensleeves’ this time?”
Tina plucked some notes on her monochord and sang out of key, “Greensleeves was all my joy.”
Everyone cringed and Bessie howled. “I think that settles that issue,” said Aaron, and that was that. They rehearsed, hung out, and then went to the gig.
* * *
Olsen Brothers’ Coffeehouse was packed. It was a small coffee house with local art hanging on the walls, pastries on display in a glass case, and the rich smell of coffee all around.
On a small corner stage, Aaron pounded a throbbing rhythm on the car door. Martha played a hypnotic snake charm, and Tina picked a drone-like chord on her monochord. Bud sat at a table in front of the stage, bobbing his head to the music.
Idiosyncratic customers filled the coffeehouse, drinking coffee and exchanging verbal paroxysms without notice of Pussy Teeth. Ed, the over-caffeinated bug-eyed owner of Olsen Brothers’, served coffee from behind a counter.
Anini entered the coffeehouse. An icy breeze followed her in. She shut the door. She wore the finished ski mask Aaron knitted for her with the tessellations of the alien triangle covering the mask. It was thin and fit like the hood of a superhero’s costume, nearly perfectly matching the contours of her face.
Aaron saw Anini and smiled. This was truly a high point in Aaron’s life. His life was starting to make sense, and Pussy Teeth had an audience for the first time.
Tina sang, “When the wind blows, you never know which way the pheromones will go.”
The door swung open. Snow and ice blew in, and Anini stepped away from the door. Carrying two large black cases, Nikoli entered. He placed the cases down and gazed at Anini. Anini looked away uncomfortably. Aaron gawked at Nikoli in disbelief. Nikoli unbuttoned his long black trench coat.
Tina sang the final line of the song. “Love is a chemical reaction.” The song ended with a fanfare. Anini and Nikoli clapped. Bud howled. Everyone else continued conversing without taking notice of the band.
“The name of the band is Pussy Teeth,” said Tina.
“Don’t feed the pussy,” Martha said on cue.
“It bites,” responded Tina.
“And so do all of you. Meow!” said Martha.
Martha and Tina packed up. Nikoli carried his cases to the stage. Dumbfounded by Nikoli, Aaron dropped the car door.
“Aaron, what a surprise!” said Nikoli.
Aaron walked past Nikoli without acknowledging him and greeted Anini, “I like your ski mask.”
Anini smiled. “You knitted it.”
Nikoli picked up Aaron’s car door and carried it to Aaron. Aaron leaned toward Anini to kiss her, but before their lips met, Nikoli interrupted, “Don’t mean to be rude, but I’ve gotta set up. Here’s your door, dude.” Nikoli handed the car door to Aaron. Irritated, Aaron took the door.
Nikoli looked at Anini and said, “That design, on your ski mask, it’s haunted me for years.”
“Really?” said Anini.
“I knitted the ski mask,” interjected Aaron.
Nikoli’s eyes swelled with insanity. “It’s a symbol of a lost science. It spans the centuries. It’s in the tarot.”
“The tarot!” said Anini, as if it meant something to her.
“Stick around after the show. We need to talk. Right now, I need to set up.” Nikoli returned to the stage, leaving Anini dumbfounded and Aaron annoyed.
“What a poser,” declared Aaron.
“What’s he posing to be?” asked Anini.
“We’ll see about that.” Anini sat down at a table.
Bud walked up to Aaron and said, “I’m going to pull the van around.” Bud left the coffeehouse.
Aaron looked at Anini who was watching Nikoli set up vintage synthesizers and electronic gadgets. “I’ll be back,” he said. Aaron carried the car door out of the coffeehouse. Holding their instruments, Tina and Martha joined Aaron curbside.
“Your friend is wearing her ski mask indoors. That’s weird,” said Martha to Aaron.
“I knitted that ski mask for her. She likes it. It’s a symbol of a secret technology,” replied Aaron.
“It’s a symbol of your stupidity,” said Tina.
Bud pulled his van up to the curb and slid the side door open. Martha and Tina got into the van with their instruments, and Aaron placed the car door inside the van.
“Let’s blow this popsicle stand,” said Bud as he sat down in the driver’s seat.
“I’m staying,” said Aaron. “I’ll catch you guys later.”
“Don’t miss work again,” said Bud. Martha slid the side door shut, and the van and drove away.
Aaron went back inside the coffee shop and sat down with Anini. Nikoli finished setting up his conglomerate of electronic devices.
“You think this guy is for real?” said Aaron.
“He looks real,” replied Anini.
Feedback squealed from an amplifier. Nikoli frantically pressed buttons until the feedback stopped. He nervously laughed. All eyes were on him. “Sorry ’bout that,” he said. “I meant to press this button.” He pressed a button and a spacey synthesizer sound echoed through the room. “In the future all music will be played to a polka beat.” He flipped a switch, and a polka beat filled the room. “The future is now.”
Nikoli sang, “Alas, my love, you do me wrong, to cast me off discourteously. For I have loved you well and long, delighting in your company.”
Aaron’s jaw dropped open. The song Nikoli was singing was “Greensleeves.”
Nikoli sang the chorus in perfect pitch:
Greensleeves was all my joy.
Greensleeves was my delight.
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady Greensleeves.
Nikoli watched Anini as he nailed the hard notes. “Your vows you’ve broken, like my heart. Oh, why did you so enrapture me? Now I remain in a world apart, but my heart remains in captivity.”
Anini was in awe. Aaron was stunned. The audience raised their arms and waved them in unison to the music.
Greensleeves was all my joy.
Greensleeves was my delight.
Greensleeves was my heart of gold,
And who but my lady Greensleeves.
Nikoli played a wild keyboard solo, building to a dramatic crescendo. He pressed buttons and flipped switches, adding more and more sounds. His eyes gleamed with passion. The electronic gadgets crackled, and sparks burst from the keyboard. Nikoli’s body convulsed, and BANG! A burst of electricity threw Nikoli to the ground. Smoke rose from the keyboard. The fire alarms sounded.
Ed grabbed a fire extinguisher, ran to Nikoli’s homemade synthesizer, and discharged a cloud of carbon dioxide. Ed looked down at Nikoli who lay stunned on the ground. “Is there a doctor in the house?!” screamed Ed.
Aaron reflexively stood up and said, “I took CPR at the Y.” Aaron wasn’t lying. After the fire, he promised himself to be ready for emergencies, and this was his first opportunity.
Nikoli lifted himself off the floor. “That’s all right. I’m okay,” he said.
“Thank God,” said Ed, relieved. “I don’t have insurance.”
Nikoli looked at the partially melted keyboard, and Ed shut off the fire alarms one by one. Coughing customers filed out of the smoky coffeehouse.
“The show is over,” Ed announced as he shut off the final fire alarm.
Nikoli staggered out from behind the keyboard. “I need to sit down.” He sat down in Aaron’s chair and looked across the table at Anini’s dark eyes looking out from behind the ski mask. “Aaron, when are you going to properly introduce me to your friend?” asked Nikoli.
“You know him?” said Anini to Aaron.
“Not really,” replied Aaron while standing behind Nikoli.
“Who really knows anyone?” said Nikoli. “Live alone. Die alone.”
Aaron looked down at Nikoli. “Yeah, something like that.”
Anini introduced herself to Nikoli. “I’m Anini.”
“Nice to meet you, Anini,” replied Nikoli. “I’m Nikoli Walsh. Are you going to take off your ski mask so I can see the face that goes with those beautiful brown eyes?”
“I wasn’t planning on it,” replied Anini.
Nikoli laughed. “That’s all right. I like looking at the design. You’ve got to see my tarot deck. I’ll be right back.” Nikoli got up and got his tarot cards out of one of his black boxes.
Aaron quickly sat down in Nikoli’s chair.
Nikoli returned to the table with his tarot deck. He pulled up a chair and took out the tarot cards. He pulled a card out of the deck and showed it to Aaron and Anini. It was a picture of the alien triangle, except the circles were wheels, and each wheel had a symbol inside it. “Painted by Frieda Harris from the design of Aleister Crowley in 1944, a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional tetrahedral pyramid. The points of the base are grounded to the Earth by the symbols for mercury, sulfur, and salt, and the apex is in the heavens where pi intersects phi.”
“Phi, fi, fo, fum...” said Aaron sarcastically.
“Not exactly,” replied Nikoli. “Phi is the Golden ratio. When something is divided in a way that the smaller part is to the larger part as the larger part is to the whole.”
Nikoli’s eyes gleamed with inspiration. “Plato believed the phi proportion to be the key to the physics of the cosmos. Ramses the Second worshipped the proportion. It’s considered to be the male action of sperm — the logos of the gospel of John.”
Nikoli reached out and touched one of the circumscribed pentagrams on Anini’s ski mask, causing Anini to jerk away.
Aaron shot a nasty look at Nikoli.
Nikoli was unfazed and continued. “A circumscribed pentagram is an expression of how pi relates to phi.” He placed the card back in the deck and placed the deck down in front of Anini. “I’d like to read your cards,” he said to Anini.
“I bet you would,” said Aaron.
“Why?” asked Anini.
“Because you’re wearing the symbol,” replied Nikoli. “All you have to do is shuffle. I’ll do the rest.”
Anini cautiously picked up the deck. She shuffled it and placed it in front of Nikoli. Nikoli cleared the center of the table, laid out the cards and studied them. He pointed to the Princess of Wands. “This is you, Anini: individualistic, intelligent, and daring, yet sudden and violent in love and anger.”
“You’ve got the sudden and violent part right,” added Aaron.
Nikoli pointed to the XVI of Trumps. It was a picture of an eye looking down upon a falling tower. “You feel imprisoned, and you seek freedom.”
Anini listened intently. Nikoli pointed to the Prince of Cups. It was a picture of a blue man seated in a chariot surrounded by vapor and drawn by an eagle. “The Prince of Cups is a young artist. He is one of your possible futures, but unfortunately, the pleasure he offers leads to lethargy. The other possible future is much more desirable.”
Nikoli pointed to the Knight of Swords and said, “The knight of swords is clever and courageous. He offers the universe.”
Aaron pointed to the Ten of Wands and said, “And servitude.” “Oppression” was printed at the bottom of the card.
“Everything has its price,” said Nikoli. “I would prefer to understand the universe rather than be trapped by the banal.”
Anini wasn’t impressed with either of them. “This is ridiculous,” she said. “I don’t need a prince or a knight to rescue me. I can rescue myself.”
“I admire your vigor,” said Nikoli. “The choice is ultimately yours.”
Anini stood up. “I have to go.”
Nikoli quickly stood up. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“You didn’t offend me,” said Anini. “I just have to be at work early tomorrow, so I want to get to some sleep.”
Aaron stood up. “I’ll walk you home.”
“That won’t be necessary tonight,” said Anini.
Nikoli pulled a business card out of his pocket and handed it to Anini. “Here’s my card. I have a holography and laser display shop at the Mall of America. I think you would enjoy stopping by sometime.”
Anini took Nikoli’s card. “Sounds interesting. Maybe I’ll check it out sometime.”
Aaron glanced at the card, and Nikoli pulled another card out of his pocket. “And here’s a card for you, too, Aaron.”
Aaron took the card and looked at it. The words “The Laser Emporium at Mall of America” were printed above an alien triangle. Aaron looked up from the card and suspiciously eyed Nikoli.
“I enjoyed both your shows, but I got to run,” said Anini. She turned and left the coffeehouse, leaving the two men facing each other.
“She’s something else,” said Nikoli.
“You’re something else,” replied Aaron.
Nikoli smiled at Aaron without replying.
Aaron left the coffeehouse, wondering who this guy Nikoli was and where he came from.
Copyright © 2015 by Bruce Pavalon