An Afternoon With Tycho's
By R. D. Flavin
unconsciousness, Craig didn't pay much attention to the landlady's
ugly live-in and his awkward stacking of garbage-bags near the
The weight inside was uneven and some of the bags couldn't stand
by themselves. Usually people in the neighborhood were
with the trash and recyclables, except for the occasional kitchen sink
or worn arm-chair. Craig had been out drinking with friends from
work, which helped him ignore signs of movement from inside the bags,
he barely managed a moist grunt of acknowledgement to the live-in.
"You pay ME
rent from now on. You know the door--you knock and slip the money
under the door like always, okay? Understand?" The live-in
kicked one of the dark-green garbage-bags that was falling over.
the clockwork and cash I have like ...always," Craig mumbled, aiming
the front doors of the eight-flat.
the double-doors, one hand furiously searching his pants-pocket for his
apartment keys, and the other scooping snoo from his sleepy eyes, he
almost caught offguard by the kiss to his cheek. Just before her
black lipsticked lips touched his unshaved skin, he smelled bubblegum
wine-coolers. Karen! Of course, if he wouldn't have been so
drunk, he'd have heard the heavy step of her artificial leg as she
she purred. "You've got great timing, lover! I just got
to snap from his gin and tonic stupor. He smiled at the tall redhead and asked, "Can you keys upstairs
to the door for me?"
Karen put a
arm around her inebriated boyfriend and, using her set of keys, helped
him into the building. The landlady's live-in stomped up the
stairs around them, as they were
time ascending, and disappeared into the
landlady's second-floor apartment
a loud slamming of the door. Craig might have said something as
live-in passed, but Karen thought the chances were just as good that
noise resulted from stomach indigestion.
smelled faintly of monkey-shit, as usual, and Karen hurried up the
to the fourth floor studio, guiding her boyfriend with a skill gained
Craig's several recent evenings "with the boys." Though he'd been
at his present job for almost a year now, Craig still used his fellow
as an excuse to get drunk. And, Karen was comfortable with this,
as long as Craig kept his job and maintained minimal vomiting, she'd
not to call him on his lame reason for getting smashed.
"In we go,"
encouraged, opening Craig's door to his apartment and guiding him
"Home safe and sound-proof," Craig said, pulling out and collapsing on
his futon couch.
She closed the apartment door behind her, smiling at the sight of her
lover just a few deep breaths away from unconsciousness. When he
was totally out of it, she'd undress him, slowly. It was one of
benefits of being with a sexy drunk--the other two being the peace 'and
quiet' she enjoyed after he passed out.
Tossing her leather jacket on the kitchen table, Karen sat down and
her knee-high boots. She kicked the left boot off, but had to pry
the right carefully off her artificial leg. Opening the
Karen hoped to find a couple of wine-coolers, but had to settle for
ginger-ale. As it was the weekend, the hour being late, and her
Craig canceled out of most equations, she reached on top of the
to Craig's stash of hard-stuff, and poured a little of his ten year old
scotch in her ginger-ale. Stirring the mix with one long,
fingernail, she took a sip and felt a moment of relaxing calm.
then the scratching at the front door started...
Karen set her glass down, walked to the apartment door, and looked
the peep-hole. The hallway was dark, and no one was visible, but
still the scratching continued. It was all too familiar, as she'd
been through the same situation a couple of times before.
Opening the door, she asked, "What do you want, monkey?"
The mangy chimp brushed past Karen and sat itself at Craig's kitchen
an unlighted cigarette between its lips. It was the usual reason
for the monkey to come upstairs, as the lack of an opposable thumb made
the working of a Bic lighter extremely difficult, and striking matches
also were way high on the tough-list.
"You shouldn't smoke," Karen said sincerely. The chimp didn't
to hear it and slammed a hairy fist down on the kitchen table.
had given it a light a couple of months back and it must have
"He won't listen to you. You should know males are self-centered
and ignore females except during feeding or mating..." The voice
was sun-warmed honey dripping on an outstretched tongue. Each
was pronounced a little sweeter than the one before it, and Karen
her eyes and beheld the smallest, most lovely woman she'd ever
Desperately wanting to light-up, the chimp bolted past Karen towards
asleep on the futon couch. The little woman moved so fast to
the primate, Karen was unable to see the white lace of her
so much as flutter. A tiny finger on its nose stopped the chimp a
couple of feet before reaching Craig.
"Fine catch, my Fay," came a low voice from the doorway.
Karen turned to the door, as did the little woman and the monkey.
third-floor tenant, and owner of the chimp (and perhaps the little
well) was a square-jawed, handsome, and uniquely flawed man. As
Craig learned from another tenant, the fellow had lost the tip of his
in an attempted mugging, and because he'd no insurance to cover
surgery, had fashioned a gold toe-guard from a boot into a shining
of the tip of a nose.
"Tycho!" Craig called out drunkenly from the couch. "And two
and a monkey...," he added, before passing back out.
"It's Melvin, not Tycho'," the third-floor tenant corrected. His
indefectible capped teeth caught the light of Craig's studio nearly as
perfectly as the highly polished fake-nose. The brilliant smile
all for Karen, and it gave her a cold blush. Creepy, but
His hand rose signaling the little woman and the monkey with a maneuver
reminiscent of Francois
Truffaut in Spielberg's Close
Encounters Of The Third
Kind. The deft manipulation of fingers
and the flip of his palm must have been some private version of
but it seemed to work quite well. She walked straight to the
of Craig's apartment and out into the hall, with the primate following
Neither gave Karen so much as a glance.
"I regret the disturbance," the downstairs tenant apologized.
hosting a small get-together tomorrow afternoon and would be pleased if
Karen felt his gaze upon her body like clumsy hands; no soft, gentle
but rather a crude heaviness on her bare, white thighs, the slope of
hip, her breasts, and her long, red hair. As she moved to disrupt
his visual inspections, he added, "And Craig is also invited, providing
his hangover doesn't prevent him..."
Taking two steps backwards into the hallway, he showed more capped
and pulled the apartment door closed. Karen quickly reached for
bottle of Craig's ten year old scotch, another glass, sat at the
table, and poured herself a few inches, ignoring the ginger-ale mix
"Well, that was different," Karen commented to herself, as she took a
"Monkey...," Craig moaned in a semi-conscious daze.
She set the glass down, walked over to the couch, and began to undress
her boyfriend. Normally, Karen would turn the act into a long, slow
but tonight she ripped his clothes off and had him naked in only a
Removing her artificial leg and pulling her dress over her head, she
both fall to the floor beside the couch, joined Craig, and was soon
"I'm not going," Craig said the next morning upon hearing of Melvin's
"The freak scares me and you should have woken me when the monkey
Craig really liked the chimp.
Karen was at the stove frying bacon and gave Craig a playful glance
her shoulder. "Lover," she sassed, "Pam Anderson, Elvira, and
Scully could have been balancing beer-nuts on each others' noses last
and you would have slept through it!"
"Are you making any eggs to go with that burnt pig-fat?" Craig asked,
placing his hands on her hips.
"No!" It was the voice of the Goddess; one of authority and
"We're having toast and bacon and THAT'S IT! We have to save room
in case they set out any food this afternoon..."
"I really don't want to go," Craig protested.
"Have you ever seen that little woman that's with him -- Fay, I think
called her... She's a doll!"
"I imagine Tycho does play with toys... Do you think he dresses
"You're going this afternoon and you'll behave!" Karen commanded.
The brief debate ended with Craig silently acquiescing. During
it occurred to him that there was
possibility he might actually have a good time. And, at the very
least, he'd have a chance to play with the chimp.
From Craig's meager collection of wines, Karen chose a bottle of
California Cabernet Sauvignon,
scrapped off the $5.99
price-sticker, and told Craig not to stare at the fake nose as he presented
it to the host.
They knocked on the third-floor apartment door at the respectable hour
of three in the afternoon. The chimp answered wearing a velvet
and ascot. Recognizing Craig, the chimp removed an unlighted
from its jacket, and moist, large, brown eyes looked up at Craig,
begging for a light.
"Sorry, buddy," Craig said to the chimp, handing over the wine, "I
"And neither should he," came the uncommonly deep baritone voice of the
host from behind the monkey.
In perfect high-strung synchronization, Craig and Karen blurted
at the same time.
"Good of you to make it, Craig -- we don't see enough of each
And, I've not properly introduced
your lovely friend... Melvin Abbot Donnant, gentleman and
to HBO since 1979, at your service..." The subsequent foppish bow
revealed the relentless advances of his male-pattern baldness and
a timely smile to Karen's face.
"Karen of the Clan Paterson," she countered, adding a bit of a
"Well, Craig and Karen, come in... Come in, and join my
The host stood back from the door, and Craig pushed Karen through
as he later explained it, in case someone had to run for help as
artificial leg prevented any really rapid response from her.
The third-floor apartment was decorated in a style similar to American
Southwest, yet not of any American Southwest known in this
The several steer-skulls scattered about the apartment had been turned
into monstrous Chia-Pets, with spiky green growth jutting from
and other openings. On the walls were sand-paintings, after a
which seemed upon examination to be posterboard, glue, and the spilled
contents of a couple of ashtrays. There was a single potted
near the front windows with all of its needles removed and replaced
brightly colored Christmas lights. At the decor, Craig and Karen
felt the first serious tremors of misgiving, and even more when they
about the room at the other attendees of Melvin's "get-together."
"This is Joey, a student of Houdini," the host introduced an Asian
bound securely in a straight-jacket.
"A student, yes," Joey admitted, awkwardly standing, "but, not a very
one, I must confess..."
"And, this glamorous creature is Marilyn Dean-Wartenbaur, the secret
of the legendary heterosexual actor, James Dean, and Wanda Wartenbaur,
a coffee-shop waitress from Cleveland," Melvin said, pointing towards
sofa where a three-hundred pound woman sat eating chocolate-flavored
wafers. The "creature" waved, her mouth too stuffed with cookies to say
"Pleased to meet you -- I loved your Dad's movies!" Karen said,
suppressing a giggle.
"Ditto," Craig added, with a wide grin, not quite as successful as his
"Now, if he can stop surfing The Net for ... A MOMENT," Melvin raised
voice, getting the attention of a well-dressed, young black man using a
laptop computer. "This is Mr. Emil Hamilton of Long Branch, New Jersey
-- our resident cybergeek... Don't send them an e-mail, Emil--use
your voice to say hello!"
"Hello," the young man said, his voice dry and lifeless, as if he was
to using it.
"And, last and least," a woman's voice, sensuous and sure, called out
the kitchen, "the domestic slave and amateur ethnomycologist gets
Craig had been prepared, or so he thought, to met a good looking woman
about four and a half feet in height, but the actual sight of her
beauty nearly killed him. She entered the living room carrying
of hors d'oeuvre, stood before Craig and said, "Hi, my name's Fay
and if you don't want to see me cry, you'll eat my stuffed
"I, for one, certainly don't wish to see you cry," Karen said, helping
herself to an appetizer. "I'm Karen. From last night?"
"It's nice to name you, Karen," Fay answered. "Does your
say anything or have you just got him trained nicely?"
"Craig, take two of the mushrooms, honey," Karen instructed. "Eat
give the other to Joey, over there in the straight-jacket. He's
"Hi. Sure. Thanks. Okay," Craig replied, helping
himself. He was
but grateful to be alive. She was gorgeous! And, he felt
old again and just as challenged.
"Well met, all!" Melvin said, struggling to wrest the bottle of wine
the chimp's grasp. "Our number is whole and prime, and nothing
US," he pledged, gaining possession of the wine, at last.
It took several minutes to prepare a toast, as Emil had to log-off,
was forced to give up her cookies, and a straw needed to be found for
Soon, a toast was made and the "get-together" was officially under
Fortunately, for Craig, all the guests had also brought wine and he sat
in a director's chair between the chimp and Joey and proceeded to get
dinner, Craig was relieved. He'd lost ten dollars and change to
playing nickel-dime-quarter poker and blackjack, but it was his own fault. Melvin had warned him the
chimp was expelled from a university study because of "influences"
by the after-hours maintenance crew. During the day, the study
him sign-language and problem solving, while at night, he'd smoke,
and play cards with the janitors. That behavior, if limited, may
him to stay in the program, but there was a troublesome incident with
of the young, female lab-assistants, which forced the university to let
"I didn't hear the buzzer, so we're not having pizza or Chinese
delivered...," Craig joked.
"So, what are we
"Hasenpfeffer!" Karen said, helping to carry out dishes of rabbit stew
Melvin handed Craig a bottle of wheat-bock, saying, "We owe this fine
not only to the talented Fay, but to our gracious landlady! This
coney arrives courtesy of those second-floor warrens you must smell
time you're walking up the stairs!"
Karen and Craig exchanged perplexed looks. It was true they'd
the stale, musty aroma of animal feces, though they'd assumed it
from Melvin's chimp. An outsider would have deemed it "dueling
as Karen and Craig each raised a single eyebrow to one another.
realized that Melvin's apartment, though odd to extreme, did not reek
"The landlady runs a bunny-farm out of her apartment?" Craig
"Until her recent accident, yes," Melvin answered, implementing his
smile, and claiming the attentions of everyone in the room.
Dinner was suspended while Melvin described the landlady's peculiar
with rabbits. It was a PETA nightmare. The landlady had
in a spare bedroom for years, utilizing most for personal food
though in all fairness, giving many away as gifts throughout the
And, as Melvin retold from an EMS-driver's description, she'd recently
grown lonely and bored with her live-in's 3-11 shift at work, and after
a shower one evening, covered with a layer of Neutrogena light sesame
had let the rabbits out of their cages to ...frolic on her bare skin.
resulting bites were not life-threatening or noticeably disfiguring,
the incident, when the live-in found out, brought an end to the
Marilyn was first to put down her plate of rabbit stew, followed by
Joey was still in his straight-jacket, but didn't seem particularly
Craig and Karen, on the other hand, knew with certainty they'd lost
appetites for "hasenpfeffer." Craig had bought Karen rabbit-lined
gloves the previous Christmas and neither felt comfortable admitting
too had experimented with the luxurious sensations of fur on
"So, you're saying this crazy rabbit I was just about to eat attacked
your landlady?" Karen asked, her
an uncontrolled turn towards hysteria.
Fay stepped forward and put a hand carefully on Karen's shoulder,
"It's not like it came from the backyard and we have to worry about
"It's arrogant!" Karen yelled. "I've got nothing against eating
it's SICK to tell people such a story and EVEN imagine they'd not
"No one talks to her like that except me!" Melvin menaced with his loud
Craig moved between his girlfriend and the enraged host, placing his
a fraction of an inch away from
fake-nose. "So much for the afternoon, Tycho," he said
ended the party..."
"Oh, the party will go on without you!" Melvin shot back.
Karen pulled Craig to the door before he had a chance to smack
Turning back towards the host, she said, "It's a shame my boyfriend
calling you Tycho, after all, Brahe was a famous Danish astronomer who
kept great notes and you're just a jerk!"
"What she said!" Craig added, as Karen pushed him out of the
The door slammed behind them, leaving Craig and Karen in the hallway
free, and still hungry. "Thai?" Craig suggested.
"Green curry and Pad-Thai with shrimp?" she asked in turn.
Walking down the stairs, holding hands and comfortable in their
both relaxed in the surety of each others' company. Karen was
of her boyfriend's behavior--though he did stare at the little woman's
not-so-little breasts a bit too much, he passed the afternoon without
anything stupid AND kind of came to her rescue. Craig was
chicken-on-a-stick with spicy peanut sauce.
As they neared the front-door, the landlady's live-in raced down the
and clumsily passed them. The garbage-bags he was carrying were
and ready to burst. Karen faced her boyfriend and began to
"What's so funny?" he asked.
"I can't believe I'm actually weighing what's more important right
I should call the local SPCA, I've always wanted a fur-coat, and I'm
He kissed her, lightly, yet with much affection. "Let's go to a
make a call, have some Thai-food, and we'll see if your coat is still
when we get back. Okay?" Craig offered.
Winter was near, Karen loved extra-hot green curry, and agreed to his
Craig couldn't believe how fast she finished dinner.
c. 2002, 2006 by R. D.
to Flavin's Fictions