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“New in town?” Bart the bartender asked, wondering if she heard him over whatever was playing in her headphones. He had to try. She was so cute with her blue-green skin and orange tipped antennae, just typing away without a seeming care in the world. He’d dated a Venusian over in Tinsletown and considered it a once in a lifetime opportunity. Now he may have another (he dreamed). But… no answer. Headphones must be blocking. And she hadn’t taken them off yet so no chance of non-filtered chit chat. Been sitting here playing on her notebook, jeez, I guess going on 2 hours. Slow night, Bart the bartender thought. Wish I could get *something* out of it… no tips coming in. He again studied the orange tips of the antennae. She glanced up with those big orange eyes to match, sensing the stare, but then quickly down again, absorbed in whatever she was typing. He could say he’s closing up, but in reality he had an hour left on his shift, before the bar shut down when the musical group started playing. The Rolling Joints tonight, fresh from a gig at the Progressive Rock Museum’s place over on Roost Peninsula, or so he’d heard. Yeah, you’d have to be smoking some joints to believe they were progressive, he thought humorously. Another one of those 3 chords and the truth sort of bands to his ears, what he knew about them.

It was a club that catered mainly to colored people, but “aliens” of all kind were welcomed. “Bigots not allowed,” read a big sign outside the establishment. Northern Nautilus, as a whole, was progressive in that way. Take the Rolling Joints, whose music was kind of foreign to the complex rockers over on the peninsula but invited anyway. Takes a tapestry to know the world, he was always taught by his forward looking mamas and papas in Donutland just off the west end of Highway 12. He’d heard differently about other parts of the mainland, especially Jeogeot and southern Maebaleia. And, of course, Lower Austra, but not quite the same way. Bigots only to the northern parts of the continent and their ways. Tolerance in other parts of the metaverse was acceptable. Strange folks those Lowers, he thinks here. And the Uppers have their own peculiarities. But us *Northerners*. us non-Austrans — we’re the best (!). Can’t be beat. If only we’d stop building and then tearing down all those castles we’re peculiarly attached to.

The band’s entourage started moseying in the front door, preparing to set up all their needed gear. The Rolling Joints, he thought, marveling at the sight. Maybe pretty soon we can attract The Beetles themselves, or at least a John Lemon solo act. The door has been opened with this lot, bless their at least progressive hearts. More can come in.

Then lead guitarist George Timebomber arrived and the game was *really* on. The Venusian immediately shut her notebook, appearing to sense his entrance without turning. She removed her headphones and walked over. They kissed. Darnit!

—–

“I’ve been listening to your new album all night, waiting for you,” she said to him in her dry, Venusian way, as if her mouth had been filled with cotton. “I *love* it. I’ll print my review tomorrow in the ‘Daily Castle’. I think we’re looking at an…” She hesitated saying “escape pod”, thinking of her own way of getting here. Now she can help another with a kind of parallel problem. Three chords and the truth, pheh, she could have thought here. She’s counted at least six on track one alone! He belongs here, not touring the metaverse that is our world, Our Second Lyfe. He needs to turn local, which is every big rocker’s dream after all. In olden days (she’s heard), it use to be the opposite. Queer times! she thought here. Who would want to acquire *fame* and all the attached trappings?? Popularity waning fast, The Rolling Joints were ripe for a successful disbandment.

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Filed under **VIRTUAL, 0030, 0310, Nautilus^^, Rooster's Peninsula, Upper Austra^

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