Yesterday was “National No Texting Day.” In what bubble in whose mind did that make sense? Makes me wonder how many people yesterday texted the info to their friends. That’s the thing about mind bubbles. They hold ideas that make sense when you think about them but burst when exposed to the real world.
Bob vs the Aliens
To read Writing DaysZ 1-6, go to ROFLtimes.com/BvA.pdf
They slipped out of the homeless camp before dawn. Piper left a note thanking Andy, “And all the good folk of New Haven,” for their hospitality. “That was nice of you, Piper.” Bob offered her a hand up onto the rail car, admiring her form as it filled his vision. Spice was already aboard. He had removed a floor plate and sat quietly working on something attached to the undercarriage. “You can see in the dark?” he asked him.
“OKAY if we get moving?” The answer was a laconic Western drawl. “Yup.” The little Alien had been withdrawn since yesterday when the two humans had goaded him into revealing some painful personal background.
Piper patted his head on her way to the hand pump. She faced forward and looking over Bob’s shoulder, apologized to the Alien, “Spice, I’m sorry that we pried. Your personal life is your own business. Isn’t it Bob?”
“Sure. Any creature could anger their father’s mistress and get stuck on a solo mission to a backward planet.”
“Bob! Spice, don’t let him sour you into giving Earth a negative report. We should not be prevented from leaving our solar system because one human is like Bob.” She frowned fiercely at him and stuck out her tongue.
He winked at Piper’s tongue as they started pumping the little rail car westward through the Alabama countryside. “Humans will surprise you, Spice, we’re more than we seem.”
“Oh, yes, Spice. Our better side doesn’t always show but really, we’re full of good ideas and intentions.”
“Ideas and intentions?” Spice looked up at her with an expression somewhere between dismissive and amused. “Like that prison you made just to keep the accused away from your criminal justice system?”
“It’s on an island.”
“Gitmo?” Bob guessed.
It was one of those moments with more to see than Bob could process in the moment. He glanced over his shoulder to see the Alien returning his attention to the mysterious darkness below the floor and then at Piper who looked at him from across the hand pump with dismay. Behind her, the sun rose above the horizon and silhouetted her body. He watched her pump up and down in the rising sun to the rhythm of the handle, flexing towards him, then away, then towards-.
“Well,” Piper said hastily, “We make mistakes but the government is trying to move those prisoners out of Guantanamo. And I just read an article about turning the whole place into a peace park and ecological research center. See what I mean?”
“Is that an idea or intention?”
“It’s a mind bubble,” Bob said. “It’ll never survive reality.” Piper’s dismay turned to a glare as they rounded a curve and then she exclaimed at something ahead, “I’m famished!” He looked to see a small diner with a sign as big as the building on its roof that said, “EAT!”
“I’ve been on planets where I’d never put that sign on my building,” the Alien noted.
They braked to a stop where the tracks passed the rear of the diner. Stepping around discarded pallets and a garbage dumpster, Bob sniffed the fresh morning air. He thought it odd that the dumpster didn’t stink. In front, a two lane country road wound through open fields covered in weeds. A sign pointed to an Interstate ramp a mile away.
“I’m famished,” Piper repeated. “I hope this place is open.”
It wasn’t and it was. The sign on the door said “CLOSED” but as Piper peered through the front window around the name, “Tiny’s Diner,” a buzzer sounded and the door opened to them. “Come in, come in,” yelled a squeaky voice.
There were no tables or booths, just a sparkling clean counter. On the wall behind the counter were two hand written signs. One, tacked along its bottom and starting to curl over said, “Welcome! State your order.” Below that, another sign with an arrow pointing down to the floor read, “Don’t Stare!” They sat at the counter and pointedly did not look down behind the counter at the bald head.
“I’m Tiny,” squeaked the bald head. “Breakfast is bread with the moldy parts torn off, cheese with some mold but that’s normal for cheese, you can bite around it. And coffee. Gotta have coffee, so ignore the smoke coming from the kitchen. I had to burn the menus to heat the coffee. It’s safe. I built the fire in the sink and the sprinklers never did work. I’ll be right back with your coffee.” The head scooted through an opening in the wall behind the counter.
“Nice place,” Piper said, deliberately looking around. Bob followed her gaze. Pastel earth colors with splashes of brighter greens and yellows gave the room a warm and cheery feel, from the height of the two signs and down. Above the signs, the walls and ceiling were unpainted and dusty. “We each have our view,” came the squeaky voice from the kitchen.
“Been here long?” She asked conversationally.
“Since I retired from the ventriloquist dummy factory,” came the answer. “I always wanted my own diner.” He returned with a tray bearing three cups of coffee. “Lizbeth and I saved up our money so we could convert our home. Lizbeth is English and a real sweetheart. She supports me in everything.”
“That’s wonderful, Tiny.” Piper smiled at the hand handing her coffee.
“Where did you say you worked?” Bob asked.
“Bergen Manufacturing. We made the best ventriloquist dummies. And I know because I tested every single one before it shipped.” He shook his head. “It wasn’t easy, not being a ventriloquist myself, but someone had to do it.”
“What do you mean,” Spice wondered. “How did you test a ventriloquist dummy?”
“Well, you could see my mouth move, I know that. But every dummy had to say the test phrase, ‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog,’ just to be sure they could and I made sure they did.”
Spice looked baffled.
“Did you run out of food?” Bob raised his voice to follow Tiny into the kitchen.
“Out of food, out of gas, out of hope. I’m going to shoot myself after you leave.”
His matter of fact tone carried an edge that startled Piper. “No!” She said to the kitchen opening as the bald head, flanked by two serving trays, came back out. Hairy arms stretched up to place the trays on the counter. “Be right back with the Alien’s order.”
“Alien?” Spice puzzled. “How did you know?”
“I’ve developed a keen sense of smell. Saves on neck strain. You don’t smell like any human or animal I’ve known. You must be one of those Aliens. I thought you all left. What are you still doing here?” He slid a tray under Spice’s nose.
“It’s a long story. That, and the food situation, makes me want to stay and shoot myself with you.”
He smiled at Piper. “But I can’t. We’re on a mission. Tiny, will you be OKAY, dying here today?”
“Stop that!” She told them. “There is no reason for that kind of talk!”
Spice said quietly, “Did you hear what the man said? There is no food. There is no gas. There is no hope of food being delivered.”
“He’s right,” squeaked the head. “All those people with no gas up there on the Interstate, they’re getting out of their cars this morning. Most will walk up and down the highway because that’s directions they’re used to going but some will wander in all directions. They’ll see my sign. I don’t want to be stuck here watching families starve to death.”
“Bob?” Piper implored.
He stood, pocketing his bread and cheese. “Stop eating.” He told her. “Save what food you have left. You’ll need it before we find more.”
“I’m afraid they’re right, Piper. The size of your population is sustained by cheap and plentiful oil that is no longer plentiful or cheap. Your civilization is collapsing, fast.”
“This is so horrible!”
The Alien clasped his hands firmly around hers, “Brace yourself. How you feel now is nothing compared to how you will feel about the experience. We will see dead families between here and Colorado. We must scavenge for any food we can get and the living, some at least, will try to kill us for it. The worst is yet to come.”
“The good news,” piped up Tiny, “Is fewer people will mean a better earth.” He tossed a book up onto the counter. “Killing off some might even save the planet.”
“Half-Earth,” Bob read aloud from the cover, “By Edward O. Wilson, Harvard professor. He wants to commit half the world’s surface to conservation to stave off biological apocalypse.”
“No need now,” said Tiny.
“Good thing. It’d never happen. It’s like that idea to turn Guantanamo into a park. It only makes sense when you think about it.” With a distressed smile, Bob added, “Goodbye Tiny. Make it quick.”
“Got it covered,” Tiny replied over the jarring sound of a handgun slide being racked back and released.
At the door, Spice turned to ask, “Would you have any extra food at all that you won’t be needing?”
For the first time, anguish over what he was about to do crept into Tiny’s voice. “One favor. Will you take Lizbeth with you?”
“Of course!” Piper quickly answered. “Where is she, Tiny?”
A set of keys sailed over the counter to land on the floor at their feet. “She’s tending the pantry. The delivery door is outside. Help yourself.”
Lizbeth was there, a thirty-inch-tall ventriloquist dummy in full regal dress on a shelf with canned beans, soups and condiments. She had the face of a young Queen Elizabeth, as seen on British coins. They took her and everything eatable from the pantry. Quickly, because there was not much and because no one spoke of it but no one wanted to be around to hear the gunshot.
Footnote: For the record, the two works cited herein are a Science magazine article, (March 2016) proposing that we “Transform Gitmo into a peace park & ecological research center,” and Edward O. Wilson’s book, Half-Earth, (Liveright 2016) in which he seriously argues that we commit half the world’s surface to conservation to stave off the coming biological apocalypse. I couldn’t make this stuff up.
Ever wonder why billions of dollars have been spent to help Haitians and they still live in three-sided hovels? It’s because the Haitians never got the billions of dollars. And no, their president didn’t siphon it all off. It was mostly kept by the companies, charities, NGOs and international agencies that provide disaster relief. The people they help are helped at a high cost. That’s some scam, that disaster relief.
The Haiti Scam
… to be continued
(Follow Writing DaysZ to read Bob Vs The Aliens as it is being written. To read Writing DaysZ 1-6, go to ROFLtimes.com/BvA.pdf)