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The Holes and John Smith   By:

The Holes and John Smith by Edward W. Ludwig

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Transcriber's Note:

This etext was produced from IF Worlds of Science Fiction June 1954. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.

He was something out of a nightmare but his music was straight from heaven. He was a ragged little man out of a hole but he was money in the bank to Stanley's four piece combo. He was whoops!...


By Edward W. Ludwig

Illustration by Kelly Freas


It all began on a Saturday night at The Space Room . If you've seen any recent Martian travel folders, you know the place: "A picturesque oasis of old Martian charm, situated on the beauteous Grand Canal in the heart of Marsport. Only half a mile from historic Chandler Field, landing site of the first Martian expedition nearly fifty years ago in 1990. A visitor to the hotel, lunch room or cocktail lounge will thrill at the sight of hardy space pioneers mingling side by side with colorful Martian tribesmen. An evening at The Space Room is an amazing, unforgettable experience."

Of course, the folders neglect to add that the most amazing aspect is the scent of the Canal's stagnant water and that the most unforgettable experience is seeing the "root of all evil" evaporate from your pocketbook like snow from the Great Red Desert.

We were sitting on the bandstand of the candle lit cocktail lounge. Me Jimmie Stanley and my four piece combo. Maybe you've seen our motto back on Earth: "The Hottest Music This Side of Mercury."

But there weren't four of us tonight. Only three. Ziggy, our bass fiddle man, had nearly sliced off two fingers while opening a can of Saturnian ice fish, thus decreasing the number of our personnel by a tragic twenty five per cent.

Which was why Ke teeli, our boss, was descending upon us with all the grace of an enraged Venusian vinosaur.

"Where ees museek?" he shrilled in his nasal tenor. He was almost skeleton thin, like most Martians, and so tall that if he fell down he'd be half way home.

I gulped. "Our bass man can't be here, but we've called the Marsport local for another. He'll be here any minute."

Ke teeli, sometimes referred to as Goon Face and The Eye, leered coldly down at me from his eight foot three. His eyes were like black needle points set deep in a mask of dry, ancient, reddish leather.

"Ees no feedle man, ees no job," he squeaked.

I sighed. This was the week our contract ended. Goon Face had displayed little enough enthusiasm for our music as it was. His comments were either, "Ees too loud, too fast," or "Ees too slow, too soft." The real cause of his concern being, I suspected, the infrequency with which his cash register tinkled.

"But," I added, "even if the new man doesn't come, we're still here. We'll play for you." I glanced at the conglomeration of uniformed spacemen, white suited tourists, and loin clothed natives who sat at ancient stone tables. "You wouldn't want to disappoint your customers, would you?"

Ke teeli snorted. "Maybe ees better dey be deesappointed. Ees better no museek den bad museek."

Fat Boy, our clarinetist who doubles on Martian horn harp, made a feeble attempt at optimism. "Don't worry, Mr. Ke teeli. That new bass man will be here."

"Sure," said Hammer Head, our red haired vibro drummer. "I think I hear him coming now."

Suspiciously, Ke teeli eyed the entrance. There was only silence. His naked, parchment like chest swelled as if it were an expanding balloon.

"Five meenutes!" he shrieked. "Eef no feedle, den you go!" And he whirled away.

We waited.

Fat Boy's two hundred and eighty odd pounds were drooped over his chair like the blubber of an exhausted, beach stranded whale.

"Well," he muttered, "there's always the uranium pits of Neptune. Course, you don't live more than five years there "

"Maybe we could make it back to Lunar City," suggested Hammer Head.

"Using what for fare?" I asked... Continue reading book >>

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