Space Girl Blues
by Bruce Pavalon
Chapter 21: Series of Dreams
Aaron and Anini slept beneath a blanket in the dark igloo. Bessie slept on top of the blanket, cuddled up to Aaron’s legs. Aaron’s eyes slowly opened. He rolled on his back and gazed through the ventilation hole at the Big Bear. Bessie lifted her head and looked at Aaron. Anini remained sound asleep.
Aaron thought about his dream. It was so vivid that it seemed real. He knew it was the last of a series of dreams, and he believed it was true. He had always wanted someone to blame for the fire, but he couldn’t blame Bessie. She was just a dog, and she was trying to help his mother. But there was no helping his mother. She was gone before the fire, and somehow, that made him feel better. She had died quietly rather than in flames.
Aaron looked at Bessie. Bessie wagged her tail, got up and went to Aaron. Aaron gave her a big hug. He loved her, and he loved his mother. A tear ran down Aaron’s cheek. Accidents will happen. People die everyday. He missed his mother more than anything in the world.
Deep inside he still had anger that needed to be vented. He was angry with the soulless corporation that screwed his mother over, the meat processing plant that was responsible for his mother’s disease. He was angry at the corporate mascots and the garbage they sold. He was angry at SHAM, McDonalds, Burger King, iPods, iPads, smartphones, technology in general, but most of all, he was angry at the Jolly Green Giant.
Aaron slid out from beneath the blankets and got dressed without waking Anini. He pulled Anini’s green laser out of his bag and crawled out of the igloo. Bessie followed him. Aaron angrily walked to the base of the Green Giant billboard. Bessie trailed him. He looked up at the billboard. With Sprout standing by his knee, the Green Giant watched over the distant dark freeway, welcoming cars and trucks to the mythical Green Valley. Bessie stood at Aaron’s side.
“It’s time for you to move on to greener pastures,” said Aaron. He pointed Anini’s laser at the Green Giant’s chest and pressed the button. A green laser beam shot out of the end of the cylinder, hitting the Green Giant’s chest. The Green Giant’s chest glowed then turned red from the heat of the laser. Sparks flew from the billboard, and it burst into flames. Aaron lowered the laser and watched the Green Giant and Sprout burn. It was magnificent. Delighted, Aaron laughed.
Wearing her snowmobile suit, backpack and carrying her umbrella, Anini ran to Aaron. “Aaron! What are you doing?”
“I’m not exactly sure, but it feels great.”
“You’re burning down the Green Giant.” Anini took her laser from Aaron’s hand. Sirens sounded in the distance.
Aaron smiled at the burning billboard. “Ho, ho, ho,” he said.
“We’ve got to get out of here before the fireman and police arrive,” said Anini.
Aaron snapped out of his glee and listened to the sirens, which were growing louder. “Follow me,” he said. He led Anini and Bessie to the ‘gravity fighting’ sheet of plastic stashed at the top of the service road. He spread out the plastic, picked up Bessie, and said, “Get on.” Aaron, Anini, and Bessie jumped onto the plastic and slid down the service road to Bud’s van.
They quickly got into the van and drove away, pulling to the side of the road to let the screaming fire trucks pass. They got onto the freeway as quickly as possible and drove toward the Cities, but instead of taking a direct route, they took a roundabout route, just in case the authorities were looking for them. Aaron kept an eye in the rearview mirror, looking for police cars that might be looking for Bud’s van. Anini sat shotgun, also watching the road for cops, but they didn’t see any.
“I think we’re safe,” said Anini. “Was there anything in the igloo that they can use to find you?”
“Just baskets, blankets and camping supplies. I feel better now.”
Anini smiled. “I’m glad to hear that. I guess there comes a time when the only thing to do is burn down the Green Giant.”
Aaron laughed. She was right. Although not much had actually changed, he felt better, and he felt like he could now move on with his life. Then a strange and suspicious thought occurred to Aaron. His dreams had been vivid, too vivid. They were beyond dreams. They were real. He skeptically looked at Anini, wondering what her role in all this was.
“Do you mind stopping at the next truck stop?” asked Anini. “I need to use the bathroom.”
“Sure,” said Aaron, suddenly unsure of what was going to happen next. “So you’re running?”
“Thanks to you,” she replied. “I don’t need to run anymore.”
Aaron steered the van off the highway and into the “Flying J” truck stop. He parked in a dark parking spot beneath the giant winged “J” where he could keep an eye out for police. Anini gathered up her stuff, including her backpack and opened the van door.
“Why are you taking your backpack?” asked Aaron.
“It’s a girl thing.”
Panicked, Aaron asked, “Will I see you again?”
Anini kissed Aaron on the lips and said, “Of course, you’ll see me again.” She got out of the van, closing the door behind her, and went into the truck stop.
Aaron waited for half an hour before going into the truck stop and looking for Anini. He knew she was gone, but he looked everywhere to make sure. He had let her go with the hope that someday they would meet again.
Aaron returned Bud’s van, and Bud told him that Tina and Martha had stopped by to tell him that Pussy Teeth had been booked to play the Triple Rock Social Club. Aaron was happy to hear that and headed toward work. He realized that now, he was the morning bagel baker. On his way to Schroeters’, he stopped at the minimart to say ‘hi’ to Bear.
Aaron entered the minimart. Bear sat behind the cash register, listening to the radio. “Investigators suspect the Jolly Green Giant fire was the work of a homeless man who had been living in an igloo beneath the Jolly Green Giant billboard,” said a newscaster on the radio.
“Can you believe that?” said Bear. “A homeless man lit the Green Giant on fire! Is nothing sacred anymore?”
“He must’ve been cold,” said Aaron.
“Minnesota is no place not to have a home,” said Bear.
“You’ve got that right,” replied Aaron.
“What can I do you for today, Tunes? Yesterday’s news? Today’s news? Tomorrow’s news?” Bear laughed.
“Now that would be interesting, but no news is good news today. I just stopped in to say hello.”
“You’re the baker now,” said Bear.
“You’ve got that right,” said Aaron surprised to hear it from Bear. “I’m the baker now.” Aaron left the minimart and walked to Schroeters’.
Aaron opened the front door and entered the bakery. He thought for a moment then posted the help wanted sign in the front window. They now needed counter help. He flipped on the lights, picked up the remote from behind the counter, and turned on the TV. He started to go to the back room to bake the morning bagels but a commercial on TV caught his eye. He stopped and watched it.
On TV, the Morton Salt Umbrella Girl walked through the rain. At the end of the commercial, she glanced back at the camera and winked at Aaron. It was Anini.
Copyright © 2015 by Bruce Pavalon