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The Flying Cuspidors   By:

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A trumpet tooter in love can be a wonderful sight, if Local 802 will forgive our saying so; when extraterrestrials get involved too oh brother! V. R. Francis, who lives in California and has previously appeared in men's magazines, became 21 and sold to FANTASTIC UNIVERSE all in the same week.

the flying cuspidors

by ... V. R. Francis

This was love, and what could be done about it? It's been happening to guys for a long time, now.

Hotlips Grogan may not be as handsome and good looking like me or as brainy and intellectual, but in this fiscal year of 2056 he is the gonest trumpet tooter this side of Alpha Centauri. You would know what I mean right off if you ever hear him give out with "Stars Fell on Venus," or "Martian Love Song," or "Shine On, Harvest Luna." Believe me, it is out of this world. He is not only hot, he is radioactive. On a clear day he is playing notes you cannot hear without you are wearing special equipment.

That is for a fact.

Mostly he is a good man cool, solid, and in the warp. But one night he is playing strictly in three or four wrong keys.

I am the ivory man for this elite bunch of musicians, and I am scooping up my three dee music from the battered electronic eighty eight when he comes over looking plenty worried.

"Eddie," he says, "I got a problem."

"You got a problem, all right," I tell him. "You are not getting a job selling Venusian fish, the way you play today."

He frowns. "It is pretty bad, I suppose."

"Bad is not the word," I say, but I spare his feelings and do not say the word it is. "What gives?"

He looks around him, careful to see if anybody in the place is close enough to hear. But it is only afternoon rehearsal on the gambling ship Saturn , and the waiters are busy mopping up the floor and leaning on their long handled sterilizers, and the boys in the band are picking up their music to go down to Earth to get some shut eye or maybe an atomic beer or two before we open that night.

Hotlips Grogan leans over and whispers in my ear. "It is the thrush," he says.

"The thrush?" I say, loud, before he clamps one of his big hands over my kisser. "The thrush," I say, softer; "you mean the canary?"

He waves his arms like a bird. "Thrush, canary I mean Stella Starlight."

For a minute I stand with my mouth open and think of this. Then I rubber for the ninety seventh time at the female warbler, who is standing talking to Frankie, the band leader. She is a thrush new to the band and plenty cute a blonde, with everything where it is supposed to be, and maybe a little extra helping in a couple spots. I give her my usual approving once over, just in case I miss something the last ninety six approving once overs I give her.

"What about her?" I say.

"It is her fault I play like I do," Hotlips Grogan tells me sadly. "Come on. Leave us go guzzle a beer and I will tell you about it."

Just then Frankie comes over, looking nasty like as usual, and he says to Grogan, "You are not playing too well today, Hotlips. Maybe you hurt your lip on a beer bottle, huh?"

As usual also, his tone is pretty short on sweetness and light, and I do not see why Grogan, who looks something like a gorilla's mother in law, takes such guff from a beanpole like Frankie.

But Grogan only says, "I think something is wrong with my trumpet. I have it fixed before tonight."

Frankie smirks. "Do that," he says, looking like a grinning weasel. "We want you to play for dancing, not for calling in Martian moose."

Frankie walks away, and Hotlips shrugs.

"Leave us get our beer," he says simply, and we go to the ferry.

We pile into the space ferry with the other musicians and anyone else who is going down to dirty old terra firma, and when everybody who is going aboard is aboard, the doors close, and the ferry drifts into space. Hotlips and I find seats, and we look back at the gambling ship... Continue reading book >>

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