The Call to Nicolas
“What the hell kinda freakshow did you send us into, Nicolas?” Johnny said into the phone, barely subduing his irritation.
“I assure you young Johnny, this is a good event for you… and a good place for Ivan’s talents. So, please, check your tone and listen.” Nicolas’s voice tined through the phone’s speaker.
“Johnny,” Ivan cooed as he calmy tried to interrupt the phone conversation. “Please, give me the phone.”
“Ivan’s talents?! What the fuck does that mean? We all play here, we’re all dealing with this fuckfest of fucktards. This place is like the God damned village people!”
Ivan scrunched up his face quizzically at Johnny and mouthed the question, “The Village People?” while making a little mustache on his upper lip with his index finger.
“The god damned people in that village. The white kids… with the eyes?” Johnny ranted, still holding the phone. “You know the damned village people, the Villiage of the Damned. They’re god damn Village of the Damned people!”
Ivan raised his eyebrows and looked at Johnny.
Johnny stopped for a minute and then spoke to Ivan, “Okay, I get it. Yes, it’s funny.” Then continued to Nicolas in a more polite apologetic tone, “And Nicolas, I’m sorry, but this librarian lady chassed me through the back halls and she wasn’t telling me to return a book or about the fucking Dewey… I’m sorry, she wasn’t telling me about the freakin’ Dewey Decimal System. I am fairly certain that she wanted to eat me.”
“Maybe she was a fan?” Nicolas asked through the phone with hope in his voice.
“No Nicolas, she wasn’t a fan,” Johnny said still holding his now-cooling irritation. “She wanted to like, papercut me to death or something. It was fucking scary.”
“I know, Johnny and I assure that when I said ‘Ivan’s Talents’ I was referring to his effect on people just like that,” Nicolas responded with a dead-serious tone.
“Oh Christ, man, this better pay off,” Johnny sighed in irritated defeat, dropping the phone in his limp wrist to his lap, then looking at Ivan and handing him the phone. “Make sure this pays off and make sure that I don’t die please?” Johnny said to Ivan.
“I assure you, young man, it will pay off,” Nicolas said to the air as the phone was passed across.
“Nicolas?” Ivan said into the phone.
“Ahhh, Ivan.” Nicolas said, obviously changing gears, “this is all very fine, normal, and safe. I assure you that Johnny must have just had a scare.”
“Yeah, alright. Just make sure that their bank accounts are good, please.” Ivan asked Nicolas.
“Done,” Nicolas said followed by chimes from the band member’s cell phones around the RV. Nicolas continued’ “I know that this show is not ideal. But this is my school.”
“Where I went as a boy. Not only that, but they are paying us all the money we need to get this situation off the ground.” Nicolas answered. “To get the band where it needs to be. Where you’re talents can help people.”
“Altre Deorum Catholic? Isn’t it a girl’s school, Nicolas?”
Nicolas clarified. “Altre Deorum Catholic is the girls’ side. Down the road, a little further is the boy’s equivalent, Servi Deorum Catholic, my school. This will pay off Ivan. Not just in money.”
Ivan could tell when he was being bought. The whole band could, but to the other members it was a band and a positive life, to Ivan it was a matter of light and darkness, and he was starting to question just how “light” Nicolas was. “Nicolas, I want to help people, but these people already have a belief. I’ve no interest in challenging people’s beliefs. I want to help people but our music is in no way an answer to every problem, and it is especially nothing to be followed as a religion.”
“Their beliefs are not a deep as you may think, Ivan.” Nicolas said with a slight level of discredit and flippancy.”
“What does that mean?”
“You will not be giving them a new belief, you will be helping them find their own again. They once believed a lie, then they found the truth, then they were indoctrinated with dangerous new lies. Yours is to cure them, Ivan, as you have always done. Just look for the blackness Ivan. There is so much of it there that you can’t see it. How do you see blackness hidden in shadow? And before you go rolling your eyes, if you need something a little more concrete to believe in, Johnny or anybody else, this is where the money is coming from. No play? No money. No money? No more shows. Do you got that?” The end of the statement was no longer nice, but ominous as if to imply that this was the final moment to decide.
Despite Nicolas’s best efforts, Ivan was unphased. “Oh, we’ll play. I just wanted to make sure we both knew where the other stood.”
“I understand, Ivan, and I thank you again for what you are doing here. I don’t mean to be the pushy manager only, this really does mean a lot to me,” and with that, Nicolas hung up the phone.
“Okay, fine. So, we’re playing,” Johnny said from across the RV. He beat his fist on the wall and yelled, “Oi! We’re playing.”
The door opened and the other band members stepped in. They each had their own scares, Johnny’s the most intense, but the others were left with less fear and more irritation for the venue.
“What do we want to do about this?” Johnny asked the group holding up the flyer he had received from Gladys and Mary.
Varistor took the flyer and read the bold print aloud, “Pyram?”
“Yeah, it’s like a Bonfire party tonight after the dance performance,” Johnny said. “Part of some event situation.”
“Part of the Canticum Dea, a singing competition they have here,” Varistor added. “Creepy in its own right. Canticum Dea means Singing Goddess. Put that together with a dance performance, Johnny’s crazy librarian, a bonfire party, and the crazy spaceship they have in the theater, and we have ourselves a real Plan Nine situation.”
“There’s a crazy spaceship in the theater?” BeBe asked, lone eyebrow raised.
“Yeah, part of the singing competition. Some sort of mix with the science department,” Toggles added.
“Jesus, weren’t they expecting us?” Bebe asked. “Nicolas didn’t say anything about playing this bonfire did he?”
“No,” Ivan said.
“Well if he didn’t and there’s a spaceship to navigate on the stage I’m not really dying to drag my drums out to some field by an inferno.” After Bebe’s run-in with the strange coach and the team of girls, she was just about over this school as well. “I would just assume get the hell out of this rich kid daycare.”
“Listen,” Ivan said taking charge of the situation, “nobody is obligated to play. I do think we should make an appearance. You know, be somewhat involved.”
“We should play,” Varistor added. “They put us up.”
“Not that I mind, but they didn’t really put us up, they let us sleep in our motorhome in the parking lot,” Toggle said.
Varistor suggested a few of their songs they could play in a bonfire environment, “Surely we can play Little Child or a tamed down Copper Ledge? Or, how about Baby Come Back?”
“Fine!” Johnny sighed out. “If I’m gonna be murdered I might as well go out like a rockstar… drunk at a bonfire surrounded by young girls.”
Ivan corrected him, “I told you, man, you are like the same age.”
“Maybe it’s the little uniforms?” Johnny said trying to figure out why he couldn’t wrap his brain around their ages.
“Can you do that Bebe?” Ivan asked her.
“Go out like a rockstar, drunk and surrounded by underage girls?” She asked.
Johnny took offense. “Woah, Beebs! I never said underage. That’s nasty. You’re nasty for saying it.”
Bebe laughed a little, “I’ll think about it. It’s getting late and the track looked dead. Let me go run a few and meet you at the dance.”
“Right on,” Ivan said.
“I said I’d think about it,” Bebe corrected him.
“Of course,” Ivan agreed with a smirk, both of them fairly certain that she would agree eventually.
Bebe started getting her exercise gear into her duffle bag as Ivan turned to the rest and asked, “What about you guys? What are we doing ‘till then.”
“Varistor and I are gonna get the programs ready for tonight and tomorrow,” Toggles said confidently, then turned to Varistor, “at least, I assume that’s what we’re doing?”
“It is.” Varistor replied.
Ivan turned to Johnny, “And you, man. Wanna go hang with me and Peggy?”
“Are you really hanging with the lunch lady?” Johnny asked.
“Yeah,” Ivan responded sheepishly. “She’s cool.”
“She’s old, dude.”
Ivan was saved from the conversation by a knock on the thin plastic RV window. He walked over and opened the door. When he opened it he saw the two girls from earlier that morning, Gladys and Mary.
“Can Johnny come out and play,” Gladys asked.
Next on Of Eons and Stars: The Mid-Century Modern Annexe
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