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It’s nine o’clock on a Saturday as the regular crowd shuffles in. No, I’m not singing the lyrics to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man,” it’s just an awkward coincidence that today happened to start out exactly the same way. I may also have the song stuck in my head and am humming it softly to myself. I am a piano man, after all.
Pull up a chair, friend, let me play you a song. If you’ll indulge an old man, I’ll also tell you a story. It is a tale about a dame who came in here not too long ago, sat in that very spot, and stole this old fool’s heart. I remember it like it was yesterday—for all I know it could have been; time is a funny thing. The carnival had come to town amidst controversy that those who worked this travelling attraction were not treated fairly. This was, unfortunately, an all-too common subject among all who lived and worked on Saturn’s busiest moon, Titan, but that is neither here nor there.
I had just completed a beautiful rendition of “Breya ba Shaheed Azam,” by Rakhshan composer Neezan Heishaw when a young klaxion female came into the bar. She wore an apple-red gown that seemed to twirl about her entire petite frame. She was a gorgeous credit to her race despite the oxidation masks her people were required to wear to survive off their home planet. She sat down and waited patiently for me to acknowledge her. I gave her a smile and a nod as I flipped my book to the next piece. Her eyes twinkled in the ambient light as her cheekbones rose in that unmistakable klaxion smile.
“Would you be the Tychus of Tychus’ Pub?” she asked as she propped her elbow on the piano and rested her chin in her palm.
My fingers flew across the keys in a complicated scale. “The one and the same,” I confirmed with a confident smirk, “What can this humble firouz do for you, Miss...?”
“Sh’nah,” she rose from her seat and walked around the piano to sit beside me on my bench. “I hope you don’t think me juvenile for asking, but I’d like the honor of a duel. Loser buys dinner?”
Perhaps I was distracted by her alluring scent of sassafras, or maybe I was hypnotized by the way her thin, delicate fingers danced across the ebony and ivory. Whatever the case, I found myself unable to turn down the challenge. I only hoped she was as familiar with human classics as I was becoming with her figure. As I adjusted the microphone between us, I led into:
“Just a small town girl, livin’ in a lonely world! She took the midnight train goin’ anywhere...”
And my heart skipped a beat when she joined me: “Just a city boy, born and raised in south Detroit! He took the midnight train goin’ anywhere!”
I doubt anyone in the bar that night had ever witnessed such a rendition of “Don’t Stop Believing” as Sh’nah and I kicked the piano bench away and attacked the keys with fervor. The audience erupted in cheers and applause as we hit the tempo change and joined us as we went on.
“Don’t stop believin’! Hold on to that feelin’! Streetlight, people, oh-ohh-ohhhh!”
Never before had an event moved the patrons of Tychus’ Pub. I ended the night with a sprained wrist, sore throat, and the love of the most beautiful klaxion woman, and I couldn’t be happier.
This is a companion piece to what is planned to be an epic sci-fi adventure. It is about one of many interesting side characters from the main story that I just won't have time to delve into, so, please enjoy, and when the full story is finally released, be on the look out for Tychus the barman of Titan, Saturn.