It is nearly apsis in Ephis, The City on a Rock, the City that Almost Never Entirely Sleeps. We have traveled as far as we ever get from our little sun.
The Bright Side is on mood lighting now, and soon the light-siders will be flitting on over to the Night Side to play.
“You sure you can fix her in time?” Samir asks me. He plays gently with the keys of his piano, not pressing hard enough even to make a tone.
I’m standing in front of him, fedora tucked under one arm, my small toolkit under the other. Most of my tools live in my head, but at times one must get physical in this trade.
I shrug. “I’ll do what can be done.”
“I swear that she’s star-struck or something. This happens every Apsie. Tuning just goes off for no reason.”
Samir looks tense. There’s already a few folks grabbing hors d’eouvres, including a pretty Cy in the front row making digital moon-calf eyes at him.
“You folks had to do something stupid and make them smart,” he says. “You’re putting aye-eye in every darn thing these days.”
I’m pretty sure he means The Elegant Piano Company, and not me personally. I don’t make ’em. I fix ’em. These pianos are smart though. That, indeed, they are.
I reach out, touch the piano with my mind, make contact.
Aha! So this, this is how the wind blows.
“I think that I know what the problem is,” I tell him.
“Do tell me, my friend,” he says.
“She’s jealous. You keep staring at that Cy over there. I would bet you a hundred satoshis that she has been here often, of late.”
He throws his hands up in the air, and exclaims, “They’re one and the same, my friend! One mind, two bodies! Two bodies, one solitary mind!”
“You bought her a cybernetic body?”
“Indeed, indeed! We’ve been married ten years now!”
“I never knew that you two were married! Felicitations, a marvel!” I reply. “However, I think perhaps there is, hrrmmm, how should I put it, a disphoria? She is jealous of herself! I can do no more. A doctor of the mind, not a humble fixer of musical instruments, is called for here.”
“I see,” he says. “Pianos. Can’t live with them…”
“Can’t play ‘As Time Goes By’ without them,” I finish for him.