Junelle was usually chill af, but her Latina crazy could rear its head at any moment. Today was one of those days.
These bitches start looking twenty and they start acting twenty, Sir Sweet thought to himself.
He didn’t know what he’d done. She’d gone utterly cold. Ever since he’d shown up that morning.
He’d come right to the Theatrium, no CPT. They were supposed to go to see Michael Jackson and Queen share a stage and then do some windsailing over the Andes, but all she wanted to do now was sit at the bar and mope with her Mod standing over them and her otter companion Horacio curled around her feet.
To make matters worse, she’d insisted on staying public, so they were surrounded by orbiters, all manners of them, including some fucking chinkbois trying to serenade her with 90s pop hits. The chodes were presently singing Slide by the Goo Goo Dolls really nasally and boy bandy and it was driving him insane. Junelle was ignoring the orbiters but doing nothing to stop the noise.
He had no choice but to wait it out.
“Could set the temp a few degrees warmer today, you know,” he said over the orbiters’ affected caterwauling. “Kinda chilly.”
Junelle narrowed her eyes at him and refused to respond, absent-mindedly pushing her straw around in her drink.
The orbiters were about five feet away down the bar. One played guitar and the other sang. They were infuriating. Two Asian hipsters with fucking sweaters and blow-dried black hair sticking out from under tight wool skullcaps. Sir Sweet could never tell who was who — Korean, Chinese, Japanese what the fuck ever— as everyone sounded American to him.
“All right,” he said after another verse had gone by. “Look, I got two other Allegiants I could be hanging with right now, and you’re the one who can prism. So you can either tell me what’s going on or I can be on my way and we’ll do this some other time.”
“Then go,” said Junelle.
She sipped her drink — a cosmo — forlornly. Sir Sweet had no idea what her fucking problem was. Fucking women.
It wasn’t shark week, that much he knew. Shark week was obvious, because every Anodyne in the palace was the same kind of crazy. Some Suitors referred to shark week as vacation because they avoided the Palace entirely.
“K, I’m going to go see Michael and Freddie by my own self then,” he said. “You can sit here with all your boys until you wanna act like a grown-ass woman.”
Junelle grabbed his hand.
“I’m gonna stop you there,” she said. “How many fucking times do I have to go over this with you?”
“Go over what?”
The Slide singers were really getting into it. They’d seen him standing up, saw the opening, trying to Tribute her.
What you feel is what you are and what you are is beautifaaa-ulll
“OK, you can stop doing that now,” Junelle snapped at them.
The two abruptly stopped playing and got the fuck out of there, dejected and defeated.
“I already told you and you didn’t even register it,” Junelle said, in the same tone she always used when she was pissed he wasn’t capable of reading her mind.
Unlimited technology, post-scarcity, travel at the speed of the nearest door, but men and women still couldn’t read each other’s minds, thought Sir Sweet.
“Let’s go for a walk,” he said, hoping it would distract her.
He tugged her hand and she finally relented.
“Don’t worry,” Sir Sweet said to Dave and Horacio. “I’ll have her back soon.”
They headed for the pier.
They hadn’t made it ten feet from the bar before another orbiter — this one bronze-skinned, either Middle Eastern or Mexican — popped up and started doing a slow, melancholy version of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. He carried a small piano, slung around his neck.
“For your slow walk, my princess,” he said before starting.
Junelle ignored him.
“You really don’t know why I’m mad?” she said to Sir Sweet.
Came home in the middle of the night
Father says when you gonna live your life right
“Take a wild guess.”
Well daddy dear, we’re not the one
“I don’t fucking know. I was all ready to go to Michael and Freddie but you just shut me down and wanted to drink your cosmo.”
oh girls, they wanna have fun
“No, thank you,” Junelle snapped at the piano-holder, who walked away with his shoulders slumped.
“We could just phase private,” said Sir Sweet.
“These fucks all want something for nothing,” Junelle complained. “They can request a prism for Trial by Combat whenever they fucking want but they want me to love them for them.”
They walked down the wooden stairs to the beach. Their bare feet sank into the cool sand.
They hadn’t made it more than half a click down the beach before another band of tenacious Asian orbiters appeared and started up a rendition of The Boys of Summer by Don Henley.
I can see you, your brown skin shining in the sun, they all sang, harmonizing and playing an array of intstruments.
“Let’s just turn around,” said Junelle through gritted teeth. “Cause apparently I can’t get one fucking minute alone today!”
“Again,” said Sir Sweet. “We could just phase private and we’d be alone.”
“Shut up. I want to be in public right now but I want to be LEFT THE FUCK ALONE!”
She screeched the last few words at the orbiter Tribute band, who stopped and gave expressions like hurt puppies.
“What the fuck is up with everyone today?” said Sir Sweet. “This is overkill. They’re usually all up on you but not like this.”
Junelle glared at him.
“You really don’t know?”
Sir Sweet was serious.
“NO. I really don’t!”
Junelle rolled her eyes and tried her best to stomp away, though the sand impeded her stomping.
He’d have to keep guessing.
They walked back up onto the pier and down the boardwalk towards the fair rides.
Near the Ferris wheel another orbiter — this one a hipster-looking brother — busted out a turntable and started doing Passion Pit’s Sleepyhead.
They were all mating calls. Hoping she’d sing back.
“FUCKING A,” Junelle screeched in frustration before the poor kid could even start. “NO TRIBUTES. AUDIENCE REQUESTS ONLY.”
The young brother slinked away with a quiet, “Forgiveness, my princess.”
Sir Sweet was beginning to think this issue of hers had nothing to do with him, at least not originally. She was pissed at him now for not being able to guess what we pissing her off, but that was it.
“Junelle,” he said. “You gonna have to break protocol and communite with your Allegiant overtly. I can’t pick up on it.”
“It’s my heavyspace birthday,” she finally said, eyes flashing at him in disgust. “I didn’t expect you to get me anything, but it would’ve been nice if you had at least said something.”
Oh, Jesus Christ. Sir Sweet had to stop himself from yelling.
“I did know it was your birthday, girl,” he said.
“And then you didn’t know why I was mad.”
“I did know. Last heavyspace birthday you said you didn’t want me to do anything! You didn’t want to be reminded of it.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Yeah, you did.”
I wanna run through your wicked garden, for that’s the place to find you, sang another orbiter, this one appearing from a ski-ball booth and singing a cappella, a healthy baritone coming from a mustached Filipino-looking motherfucker.
Sir Sweet had had enough. He went over, put a hand against the dude’s forehead and shoved him away.
“You need a real song,” he told her. “If we gotta do this Repentant shit, then let’s at least do something smooth.”
He pulled out his Tag and let the music start without waiting. He beatboxed over the intro a little. Junelle pouted.
“Here’s your gift,” he said.
He grabbed her and danced with her.
It’s the time of the season
when the love runs high
His voice was a chilled tenor, elastic and durable, cool like the air above a cocktail glass filled with ice.
It’s the time, give it to me easy
and let me try with pleasured hands
Junelle danced limply with him, insisting on being pissy and showing him how unhappy she was.
He remembered her distinctly saying last year not to get her anything or to even mention it.
“I don’t need to be reminded I’m actually 48,” she’d said loudly.
The chorus ascended and all the orbiters joined in with Sir Sweet. They all sang to Junelle, a Tribute together.
to take you in the sun to promised lands
to show you everyone
Sir Sweet let her go, spun her into the center of admiration. They all struck a pose around her, festival lights flashing.
it’s the time of the season for lovin’
“I’m still not fucking you today,” she said, arms crossed.
“You remember how I got my name?” he asked her, dancing away.
“I gave it to you,” said Junelle. “Duh.”
“Cause of my gifts,” he said. “My Tributes. You said I’m the only one who can make you feel this special. I see you feeling it now.”
Junelle’s left dimple flashed. She tried to hide it, but that dimple was always a giveaway. He was cracking her.
He kept singing. He made everything into a tie-dyed watercolor, the world going psychedelic. The orbiters joined in, happy to be part of the performance. More and more joined. Instruments were added — keyboards and heavy drums and handclaps. The Sleepyhead brother busted out a bass an struck a smooth-as-fuck line for Sir Sweet to lay in.
What’s your name? sang Sir Sweet
(What’s your name) sang the ring of orbiters.
Who’s your daddy?
(Who’s your daddy?)
Is he rich? sang the baritone Filipino.
Is he rich like me? sang Sir Sweet.
Has he taken
(Has he taken)
to show, sang the golden baritone Filipino.
to show you what you need to live?
Everyone danced in a flower of hands, a shower of male admiration, Sir Sweet leading, kneeling to take Junelle’s hand. Her dimple was now permenantly affixed into her left cheek.
To take you in the sun to promised lands
To show you everyone
It’s the time for the season for lovin’
The cool chorus of voices died off, the orbiters all celebrating with cries of “Excelsior!” and “a-LAH, a-LAH!”
Both of Junelle’s whisper-dimples appeared in her cheeks. The tantrum was over.
Sir Sweet grinned at her.
All women could be easily swayed — they wanted attention or they didn’t want it. It was a simple code.
“Happy heavyspace birthday, boo,” he said. “You don’t look a day over twenty.”
Junelle kissed him.
“Let’s go windsurfing,” she said.