𝗙𝗿𝗼𝗺 𝗮 𝗦𝗵𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘁𝗼 𝗮 𝗣𝘀𝗶
𝘣𝘺 𝘙𝘢𝘭𝘱𝘩 𝘎𝘳𝘦𝘤𝘰 𝘑𝘳.
Even my grandma was wiggling.
Bringing a theater of a thousand women to orgasm (in unison) and just as they crest the wave make them wail for another (some were screaming actually), spoke volumes to the psi's ability (not to mention our profits).
Beginning his 'performance' with moments of slow-building, Eril earned the audience's confidence and comfort, unleashing inhibitions by rolling them through un-parallel joy, shared deep sadness, and round back again. At the climax (so to speak), Eril teased and teetered the urges of the assembled, riding their belly-clutched hunger like a master surfer, his eyes fixed in concentration as he touched, tickled and taunted every libido in the room. Each woman, from eighteen to eighty (my grandma is seventy-seven), reached her own pinnacle, climaxing en masse. I've toured with most of the popular 'hair-bands' back in the day; this guy was as good at getting women hot and bothered as any spandex-wearing pretty-boy.
"Every person has a talent Aaron," Eril said to me. We managed a brief post-show chat almost every night of this two-month tour, just before exhaustion took him and he fell into the big bucket seat.
I tried not to stare too hard and long at the little guy, but this far into our relationship, he still filled me with awe. Four decades younger than me, Eril was a skinny twenty-two-year-old man sporting the prematurely gray hair all psi had. And though he was human to the core, he happened to possess an empathic ability the likes of which our science had yet to fully comprehend. He was one of a thousand young men (so far only men seemed to have the mutation) now reaching adulthood with these powers, though no one else was on the road making women climax nightly in crowded theaters, that was for sure.
“I guess you're right, man, every person does have a talent,” I agreed. The psi smiled at me… then fell asleep.
Yes, they were indeed brief, post-show catch-ups.
"I really hate when he does that," Ronald whispered, though he needn't, as Eril was pretty much down for the count and wouldn’t be woken until his internal clock buzzed his inner brain alarm in the morning.
Eril slept all crunched-in on himself, like the pose my great-uncle Joe had that week before he died ('posing' it's called… how apropos) and it was creepy to witness even after seeing it night after night. But I had learned a psi needs more sleep than most people, they tax much more brain activity. Luckily for Eril, he did sleep like this; the only way anybody got any sleep on these old tour buses was either in a drug-induced coma or…
Well, there was no other way, really.
Although things had changed so much in how any live event—what there was left of them—were presented these days, still in '25, we still couldn't get anybody to make a bus that actually didn't shimmy and sidle as you drove it through a New Jersey countryside, no matter if there were only four people aboard and no real equipment to speak of.
"If anybody ever sees all this cash…" Ronald continued, shuffling through the receipts in front of him. "There has got to be a way we can keep this from the IRS."
"They got their own psi," I said, and Ronald nodded to what he knew was the truth.
Though you could never sneak up on a psi, nor convince him to do anything underhanded, there were stories of various agents of nefarious governments, including rumors of our own, that had tried. About the worst employer any psi could boast presently was the IRS.
"I just think if we can find a way to present the back-end and tak…"
Ronald's considerations were muffled by Bruce downshifting to a sudden stop through groaning gears.
"Fu…" our driver's expletive was lost in the churning "staff fit fitkaat" of the bus lurching to a rickety halt.
Bruce was nothing but articulate when trying to settle us to a forced landing.
He was a hard-working old-timer, like me, having seen enough to be forever ready to mow down a back-stage sawhorse or roll past (or over) pirate T-shirt sellers. Whatever it was that had made the greasy-haired bear-of-guy slow down now, shuttering us to a final engine-coughing stop in under a minute, had to be serious. I could see by the clench of his broad back and recognize from the steam coming out his ears that Bruce was already considering escape options to what he had come to face and I had yet to pick myself off the floor to see. But when I finally did come to stand and look out the window, I realized mowing down this particular group of two minivans, and twenty people would be the very worst thing Bruce could have done.
Well, maybe not the very worst.
"I'll handle them," I said, moving up the tight, middle aisle.
Unfortunately, I wasn't surprised that this particular group of fascists was blocking our path. Whether we were racing through the backwoods of Iowa, cruising up 101 in California, or here on a deserted two-lane blacktop in South Jersey, the Reverend Donald Ullman and his right-freaky frock, the "PCC," or People's Concerned Community had so far dogged our every step this tour. That they had even come this far had me perplexed, but even as I made my descent, I saw Bruce tapping his ear chip to light.
Our righty-right Reverend here couldn't even begin to imagine what kind of opposition Bruce was preparing with that phone connection.
"I got to give you a great big 'T' for tenacity Donny," I called out the minute my Vans hit the blacktop.
"Steven," the bald man with the chubby good looks said as he walked right to me. "You know this has got to stop here and now. We can't let you complete the last of your dates."
The guy didn't mince words, but I wasn't about to give ground.
I had come to see Donny and my battle is a 'last stand' kind of thing between the factions of society who felt it their business to get into everybody's business versus us, the great unwashed, who basically didn't give enough of a rat's ass about even our own business that we got hard for anybody else's. I realized it was a holdover from the puritan ethics that this country was built on; every generation contends with this BS, the Rev.'s mania was nothing new. Even with all the current vetting of zealot factions, we had recently seen some dark dunky's dingus as far as political, cultural maneuvering was concerned (or was that cultural, political maneuvering?) with this guy's worldview spreading like wildfire across social media feeds. I had to give them their due though, this group of super-do-gooders was devoted in their high moral posturing.
As far as I saw it, Eril performed a service for the women who cared to pay to see and experience it. Nobody under eighteen was getting in with my knowledge, and he wasn't forcing a damn thing on anybody. Though an argument could be made that he should be using his power for a greater good (and every scientist worth his Janus Salt right then was trying to figure out what the greater good that might be), it still was Eril's business to choose just what that good was.
Not Donny’s or his flocks’.
"We can't let this go on," the man continued, and I searched his eyes for threat. I imagined I could hear the rumbling of motorcycles in the adjacent farmland.
An 's'-storm of biblical proportions was about to begin, and I felt I at least owed Donny a warning.
"Donny, in the next few minutes, you're gonna be face-to-face with about twenty Mother's Little Helpers,” I explained. "And believe me, they are such good friends with my bus driver that they would think nothing of escorting you and your people out of the path of our tour bus."
"Now, let's all get back in our respective vehicles, and we'll meet you at the next town," I finished. "I'll even send out for donuts and coffee for you guys while you park the vans."
"We can't let this continue," the Rev. pressed, not a hint of worry in his face.
I had to give it to him. Donald was either ridiculously brave or ridiculously stupid. He could have been a little of both. Living in the continental US, you couldn't help but be acquainted with the tales of the heinous crimes of various Mothers’ chapters… like Donny, the bikers did love their social media. I wasn't for hurting the guy and his dickless wonders, but if it came to it, technically, I wouldn't be doing the hurting. The bad ass mother cycle club had been at our beck and call (actually Bruce's, seeing as he was a member), a good number of them keeping a watchful eye on us from a date a week ago when we played Washington DC. That there could be such a quickly amassing chapter, only a phone call away cemented my belief in low friends in high places.
Or, at least, in Jersey.
"What do you want me to say, Donny?" I said. "Come on; I think maybe it's time you…"
The side door of Donny's van opened and out stepped a young man with silver hair and deep set, black eyes. I looked at the guy—who was smiling—and then turned back to the front windshield of my bus. Bruce saw what I saw, of course, and I could see him turning even then, obviously alerting Ronald to this very unexpected of showdowns.
"This is Bilt," Reverend Donny said, and the psi advanced across the crunchy gravel road to shake my hand. I took it, of course, staring wild-eyed and bug-mouthed at what I could have never imagined.
Talk about a psi working for a nefarious employer!
I heard the bus doors sigh open and looked over my shoulder (still holding Bilt's hand actually) as Ronald and Eril came off the bus and ’round front of it.
"Hello brother," Eril said as he came to stand next to me. His eyes never left Bilt’s.
I guess a psi can be woken up if the occasion warrants it.
"Brother," Bilt acknowledged the greeting.
"He woke up even before Bruce came back to get me," Ronald whispered, stepping to me. "I think these guys can smell each other.”
I had to give it to these dudes, what with the one syllable, unusual name changes, and the 'brother' greeting, they made us all feel like we ‘normal’ humans were the odd ones out. But just as I thought things couldn't get any stranger, the dastardly rumble sound of dangerous motorcycles reached my ears.
Bruce's buddies were quick, but then again, what the hell else have violent bikers to do in the ass-end of New Jersey?
"We need to be on our way," Eril said, his low voice as calm and even as ever.
"We need to stop you," Bilt countered, his voice just as unemotional.
I sensed more than I heard—I certainly couldn't see them from where I was standing in front of the bus—the members of Mother's entered the area. Remember that Doctor Seuss story about the "Star-Belly Sneeches"? Well, this was like that only with two-hundred-fifty-pound bikers ready to descend on a skewed Dr. S. landscape. Nobody was speaking, nobody was moving, except the bikers, who would simply walk into this mess, assess as best they could, get the nod from Bruce and start removing the PCC.
But the guys from Mother's would only get so far.
If Bilt had even half the power Eril did—and from what I knew, these psi dudes had about the same degree of 'whammy jammy'—then Donny's psi would be very capable of short circuiting the emotions of anyone who threatened him or his goal. And while I knew psis were not of the mind (if you will pardon the pun) to hurt anyone, Bilt would have no problem felling any one of us—in any great number—just by tickling our minds until an incapacitating wash of emotions overcame us. I could easily be witness to the extremely embarrassing scene of all these biker dudes on the ground, overcome with laughter or tears, and the showdown would be at a standstill.
I suddenly flashed on a ludicrous, yet I feared, very possible foreshadow of Bilt now coming to all our shows, investing our audiences with a potent dose of counteracting emotion. Jesus, what a mess! And to tell the truth, I wasn't sure if Eril would stop Bilt, even if he could. Would my psi be traipsing across some unwritten psi commandment if he did? What the hell did I know? I was just a morally-bankrupt, sixty-eight-year-old tour manager for God's sake.
‘Give me a stoned trio of self-absorbed musicians, please, right this instant,’ I wanted to shout.
And all this, because we brought a few ladies some fun over the span of a month-and-half.
I took a step back so I was more or less behind my psi, and the Reverend Ullman did the same. Just that one step afforded me a new range to my peripheral vision, and unfortunately, I could see the chrome and menace of ten bikers sitting like cats eyeing a ring of caught mice. Bruce was waiting on my say-so to unleash his buds; Bilt was waiting for his ok from the Rev., and God only knew what Eril was waiting on. Ironic as it was, with all this brawn not more than ten feet from me now, the PCC even then falling about to circle their prize psi and our big groupie crushing bus behind me, I began to sense that what would happen here in the next few minutes would be unusual in the extreme.
What I didn't know was, who was going to make the first move?
• • •
Smoke hung in the air so much that the air was smoke and nothing else. Music was blaring, and for the first time, Eril seemed to be really enjoying himself, not staring out the window in contemplation or playing chess with Ronald. It was full party mode, only a half-hour after what I would come to call the Showdown near the New Jersey Turnpike Exit 6, Corral.
If you consider the PCC as being on one end of the moral spectrum, and an exclusionary perverted one at that, there has to be another end. For the longest time, I figured us touring with Eril was the other end, using this guy's powers (although at his suggestion mind you, the dude had come to Ronald and me a year ago… such is our rep. Come to think of it, maybe Ronald and I are at the other end of the moral spectrum). But this night I had learned there were other psis out there, one I had just met this night, using their power to another moral end. And while I disagreed with the Reverend Ullman's claim on my business, I couldn't argue the guy's conviction.
As we bounced into Delaware, the four guys we had picked up from Mother's began another round of hearts, and I looked through the window to see Ronald flash me a peace sign as he rode next to us as the passenger on the lead biker. Someplace behind us, camped at the side of the road back there, maybe a mile from where the showdown had occurred, the PCC slept snug in self-imposed, self-righteous slumber.
Riding upfront with me were the two odd humans, Bilt and Eril, who had managed to make this all happen.
Just before the "fit had hit the shan" back on that deserted NJ blacktop, Eril had cleared his throat and suggested he and Bilt take a walk. In that still, sticky night air, as we all waited; Mother's men and women (I was surprised to learn later there were a few 'biker babes' amongst the dudes); Bruce in the bus; the PCC spilling out of their two campers; Donald facing Ronald and me minutes later, each one of us got exactly what we had come for, and what's more, what we needed:
Mother's is a notorious motorcycle gang. In this age of social togetherness, the worldwide motorcycle chapter is truly the last of our outlaws. And while I wouldn't ever want to hang with them, I did admire their code and their stoking-the-fire of time-honored, albeit, dangerous traditions. Because of this, the gang had a reputation to not only protect but strengthen their brawn at every possible opportunity. But in another time-honored tradition, bark is louder than the bite; it was more important to the bike troupe that it was assumed they consistently bashed more heads than they actually did.
The Reverend Ullman didn't want to stop us as much as make noise and headlines looking like he was trying. If he succeeded and we did close shop, he'd have to find a new enemy. We were old brothers in this rat race, and it is always better to know your enemy than to march into the unknown, keeping yourself on the road, oiling the wheels while bringing in those much-needed contributions.
The détente worked for Ronald, Bruce, and me, and I had to assume Eril liked the money we’d keep making. He might be a mutant, but he wasn't so evolved that he'd want to see this tour stopped. By having the Mother's confront the PCC, right there on that rural New Jersey country road, in whatever form that 'confronting' actually was—with no witnesses to counter what the 'survivors' of the PCC. would report on the morrow—the motorcycle gang kept their badass rep., the PCC could take their martyrdom to a new level and we could be seen fighting for sexual freedom, a psi's rights, and the God-given gift of almighty commerce.
It had all worked perfectly from Eril and Bilt's suggestion.
But as we sped down the roadway, I looked over to the two silver-haired young men and once again realized that we all were in the presence of a power stronger than any of us could ever realize. We all needed, quickly and efficiently, the most mutually beneficial solution to our particular problem, and as has been true too many times in human history, almost every problem can be solved by considering a flat-out increase in commerce.
Human, mutant, or alien, this was the simplest fact of life I have ever learned. ✦