My Favorite Aveldian
(A Demeter’s Bar Story)
By Jeff Baker
The man nursing a whiskey and soda at Demeter’s Bar caught my attention. Mainly because of his suit. I didn’t usually see somebody in a suit in this bar except after the summer musicals let out downtown. But this wasn’t summer and it was late afternoon. And the suit looked like something out of the garish 1970s: plaid pants, shirt with wide lapels; suit jacket a pale brown with big pockets and what looked like white stitching around the edges.
I’d asked stranger questions, so I asked the man about the suit. I said it reminded me of pictures I’d seen of my Dad from around the Bicentennial when he’d been my age and asked if he was in a show.
The man smiled and had me sit down next to him at the bar, and passed me the bowl of pretzels.
“I’m Ahntreas,” he said. “Ahntreas D’Icha. I’m waiting for someone.”
“Oh.” I said, wondering what they’d be wearing.
“I know the suit is odd but I got comfortable wearing them. And with the royalties I can afford to be a little eccentric,” D’Icha said. “Did you ever see a television show called ‘The Man Upstairs?’”
“Sure,” I said, munching a pretzel. “After school in reruns. The guy inherits a restaurant and a house in this town and finds the guy living in the upstairs apartment of the house is a two-hundred-something year old alien researching a book. The Wichita Eagle made a big deal about the show because it was set here in Kansas.” I grabbed another pretzel. “Syndicated about 1974, I think. What’s this about royalties?”
“I created the show,” D’Icha said. “Or, more accurately, I inspired it. You see, it was about me.”
Okay, a nut, I thought. He went on.
I was born (D’Icha said) not too far from here, just about one hundred-and-six light years away on a world called Aveldia. We’re further out toward the edge of the Galaxy than Earth, but that isn’t as isolated as it makes us seem. It’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the major spaceways but my people have never been that motivated or really that bright in a lot of ways. That’s how I wound up here; doing some scouting to see how likely you people were to colonize your Moon. (We wanted a way station on the dark side, mainly because we’re really lazy and like to rest up on long trips.) But after they decided not to use the Moon, they forgot and left me here! That was about 1967, two years before Earthmen walked on their Moon.
(D’Icha paused for a minute and sipped his drink. The young bartender stared and said “We walked on the moon?” D’Icha ignored him and went on.)
So I was on Earth, but I didn’t have my radio or any other way of communicating with Aveldia. Fortunately I had resources. And a small supply of gold. I was able to get to Los Angeles and get in to see a Hollywood producer. I revealed who I was and told him my situation. And my plan; a weekly television series where Aveldia and other Aveldian concepts would be prominently used. One hundred eight light-years isn’t that far and eventually my world would intercept the series from television signals from Earth, realize they’d left me behind and return to pick me up.
“Of course, it didn’t quite go as planned,” he said.
“The show ran back in the seventies, didn’t it?” I asked.
“1974 to 1976,” he said. “Within a few years, an Aveldian freighter did pick up the signals, but…” He sighed again.
“Look, this is interesting,” I said, “but I really have to…”
“You don’t believe me, do you?” D’Icha gave a slight smile. Then he scowled at a point just past me on the bar. There was another plastic bowl of pretzels at the edge of the bar. In another moment, the bowl scooted over by itself, swerving past my elbow and stopping in front of D’Icha. He closed his eyes and several of the pretzels in the bowl vanished, one right after the other. D’Icha sat there placidly chewing. “Of course, I can’t do anything like the character on the show could, but this is pretty impressive.”
I just stared. I think I was believing.
“So,” I said. “Why didn’t that freighter pick you up from Earth? From some landing strip or something?”
“Why do you think?” he said. “I told you they weren’t that bright. They saw ‘The Man Upstairs,’ found the actor who played me and took HIM back to Aveldia!”