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 15: Song of the Baker
It was a little before 5:30 in the morning, and Aaron once again found himself standing outside of Schroeters’, waiting for Anini.
Carrying her umbrella and wearing her snowmobile suit, Anini walked up to the front door and pulled out the keys.
“What happened to you yesterday at the Mall of America?” asked Aaron.
“I sensed a sword fight, so I took off.”
“A sword fight?! That’s all you sensed?”
Anini opened the door. “The testosterone was flowing, and you and Nikoli were starting to act like jerks. I guess I should be flattered, but it all seemed kind of stupid to me.” Anini entered the bakery, and Aaron followed.
“After everything you told me about us being abducted and the aliens reading our minds, you don’t think it’s a little suspicious that this guy Nikoli shows me a statue of the Jolly Green Giant?”
Anini stopped and faced Aaron. “Sometimes a statue of the Jolly Green Giant is just a statue of the Jolly Green Giant. You can’t see it because you’re lost in your own demons, and until you confront your own demons, you can’t help me with my demons.”
“But he knew the Jolly Green Giant meant something to me.”
“St. Urho meant something to you. You find meaning in everything. The Jolly Green Giant is just a statue in Blue Earth, Minnesota.”
“Why would a Green Giant be in a town called Blue Earth?”
“You don’t have any more time to waste. It’s day two of your bagel-baking apprenticeship, and you did such a good job yesterday that I’m going to let you ride solo today. You’re in charged of baking the bagels, and I’ll set up the front.”
“Really?” Aaron was genuinely surprised.
“Get to work.”
They went to the back room, took off their jackets, and put on their aprons and hats. Anini went to the front room and prepped the dining area and front counter, and Aaron fired up the oven and boiler and started baking the morning bagels.
Aaron was now more confused about his mother, the fire, Nikoli, Anini, and why Anini was training him to be the baker. He dared not bring that up with her, especially since he feared the reason was that she was going to leave. He just baked the morning bagels, occasionally glancing through the baker’s window to watch Anini help a customer. She was really cute, and he was really in love. Perhaps that was the real demon he needed to face.
As the morning rush was slowing down, Nikoli walked into the bakery and up to Anini at the front counter. Aaron watched.
“At last, I get to see the face behind the mask,” said Nikoli. “And it is every bit as beautiful as I had imagined it to be.”
“What are you doing here, Nikoli?” asked Anini.
“I came to get a bagel and some coffee.”
“What do you want?”
“I want to get to know you better.”
“That’s not on the menu.”
“In that case, I’ll have to settle for a medium cup of coffee and a cinnamon raisin bagel with olive pimento cream cheese and lots of sprouts.”
“Whatever you want.” Anini shook her head and rang up on the order on the cash register. “Four dollars and fifty-nine cents.”
Nikoli looked at Aaron who was watching him through the baker’s window and winked. Aaron scowled. Everything about Nikoli was suspicious, even his bagel order.
Nikoli pulled a fifty-dollar bill out of his pocket and asked Anini, “Can you break a fifty?”
“No,” replied Anini sternly.
“That’s all right. I guess I’ll have to break it myself.” Nikoli took the fifty-dollar bill, tore it into small pieces, and stuffed the pieces into his fist. He blew on his fist then opened it, revealing a wad of small bills. Nikoli pulled a five-dollar bill from the wad and placed it on the counter.
“That’s good,” said Anini as she picked up the bill and put it in the register. “But I might be more impressed if you could just relax for a minute.” Anini took fifty-one cents out of the register and placed it on the counter for Nikoli.
“Thanks, that’s good advice.” Nikoli picked up his change and dropped it in the tip jar. Anini turned and grabbed a cinnamon bagel. She took it to the counter and made Nikoli’s sandwich.
Aaron returned to baking. The last batch of morning bagels was done. He flipped the switch on the oven, opened it, and took the final racks of bagels out of the oven, dumping each one into a basket. He took the basket into the front room and dumped them into the final bin. The bins were all filled.
“Thanks, Aaron, you did a great job,” said Anini as she finished making Nikoli’s bagel. She put Nikoli’s bagel and coffee on the counter.
Nikoli took his bagel sandwich and coffee. “Thank you,” he said and took the coffee and sat down at a table. He took out a scientific notebook, opened it, and gazed into it while he ate.
“Clean up the baking area, and you can go for the day,” said Anini to Aaron. Aaron glanced at Nikoli then looked back at Anini. “Is there something you want to say?” asked Anini.
“No,” replied Aaron. He went to the back room and started straightening up the baking area, but he found himself watching Anini and Nikoli through the baker’s window.
Nikoli got up and walked up to Anini. “Where’s the men’s room?” he asked.
“It’s in the back, and it’s unisex,” replied Anini.
“Aren’t we all?” said Nikoli with a wink.
Anini rolled her eyes, and Nikoli went to the bathroom, leaving his open notebook on the table with his bagel and coffee. Anini glanced back at the bathroom. The door was closed, so she walked up to Nikoli’s table and looked at his notebook.
Aaron came out of the backroom, walked up to Anini and looked into Nikoli’s notebook. In his notebook, numbers, calculations, and mathematical symbols surrounded a sketch of the Alien Triangle.
Irritated, Anini looked at Aaron. “Did you finish cleaning the baker’s area?”
“Not exactly,” replied Aaron.
“Then go do it,” said Anini.
The bathroom door opened, and Nikoli exited. Anini quickly returned to washing tables.
Aaron went to the backroom. He pretended to be straightening up the baker’s area, but he was really spying on Nikoli and Anini through the baker’s window.
“Can I have a bag?” Nikoli asked Anini.
Anini went to the counter, grabbed a bag and brought it to Nikoli at his table. Nikoli bagged his bagel and grabbed his notebook and coffee. He turned to Anini and said, “It’s the irrationals. That’s where the holes are.”
Anini stopped wiping down a table and looked at Nikoli. “What?”
“The void. That’s what the symbol is all about, pi and phi, reiterated ratios reaching out into other dimensions, free energy, alternative technologies. I’m going to figure it out and apply it to laser engineering. It could change the world.”
“How do you know so much?”
“I have a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Cal Tech. If you really want to get to know me, then let’s have dinner tonight.”
“I don’t know about that.”
“I’ll drop the show, and we can just talk.”
“I don’t go to restaurants.”
“We can have a picnic by the river.”
“A picnic in the middle of winter?”
“I’ll meet you at the park at the end of Summit Avenue at... What time is good for you?”
“Let’s wait until it gets really cold,” Anini said sarcastically. “How ’bout ten?”
“Then ten it is. I’ll bring the food. I know the best place for Russian take-out.”
“Piroshky and borscht?”
“And vodka to keep us warm.”
“You betcha. I told ya, I’m dropping the act and getting real. We can talk about the triangle or whatever you want. I’ll be in the park at the end of Summit Avenue at ten tonight. See ya.” Nikoli left the bakery.
Aaron entered the dining area and walked up to Anini “What a jerk!”
“Why are you still here?” asked Anini.
Disheartened, Aaron folded his arms, turned away from Anini, and left the bakery without a word.
Copyright © 2015 by Bruce Pavalon