Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dolores Meets Pierce Brosnan (Er, Larry). A #fridayflash story.

By John McDonnell

Dolores stopped in her tracks at the sight of Pierce Brosnan in a tuxedo in her kitchen. He was leaning against the refrigerator, calmly smoking a cigarette.

Although Dolores appeared to be trying to form words, no sound came out.

“Pleased to meet you,” Pierce Brosnan said, taking her hand and kissing it.

Dolores’s eyes flickered, as if her grasp on consciousness was just a wee bit loose, so Murphy quickly maneuvered a kitchen chair in the right position to catch her if she fell backwards.

“Dolores?” Murphy said, but she was transfixed by the flashing white teeth and green eyes of Pierce Brosnan. Nothing short of a burst of small arms fire could have gotten her attention.

“Dolores!” Murphy shouted. “It’s not Pierce Brosnan. He’s an alien, remember? His name is Larry.”

There was no response, so Murphy did the only thing he could think of -- he pinched Dolores in the gluteal region of her anatomy.

“Ouch!” Dolores said, and turned to face Murphy.

“Hold on, dear,” Murphy said, shielding his face from her wrath. “I was just trying to get your attention. That’s not Pierce Brosnan, it’s an alien.”

Dolores’s face struggled with this information. “A what?” She seemed to be in a fog.

“Watch this,” Murphy said. “Larry, please stop being Pierce Brosnan.”

“Certainly,” Larry said, and transformed himself into a large black seal that bobbed its head back and forth and made a throaty “Oerk, oerk, oerk,” sound as it waddled past Dolores and through the swinging door, leaving Dolores staring intently at Murphy, the rosy bloom in her cheeks the only indication that her blood pressure was rising.

“Murphy,” she said.

“I know, dear,” Murphy said. “I know, I shouldn’t have brought him home. It’s just that I think he’s having a nervous breakdown, and he doesn’t seem to have a place to stay.”

“Perfect,” Dolores said. “An alien with a nervous breakdown. Just what I need.” She sat down at the kitchen table and absently pushed a stray hair out of her eyes. “He sure looked like Pierce Brosnan, though.” She narrowed her eyes. “He’s not going to pull any funny stuff, like abducting my mother, is he?”

Not a bad idea, Murphy thought, but he recovered and said, “Why no, dear. I don’t think he’s high up enough in the chain of command.”

“Okay, he can stay,” Dolores said. “I must be crazy, agreeing to this. Another drain on our finances.”

“Actually, I might have a bit more cash because of Larry,” Murphy said. “He zapped Boom Boom Putzinato, that gangster who was extorting money from me, into the Cretaceous Period.”

“That’s a useful skill,” Dolores said. “Except I don’t know anyone else who’s dumb enough to buy a bar in the worst neighborhood in the city, where they’re sure to have the local Mafia strongarming them.” She sighed. “What does he eat?”

Just then the swinging door opened, and Dolores’s mother Edna tottered in. “Do we have any halibut? That nice young man out there would like some fish.”

“I’ll handle it,” Murphy said. He went out into the living room and found Larry perched on the sofa watching a show on TV about bass fishing.

Murphy sat down in his leather easy chair, silently thankful that Larry wasn’t sitting in it, and said, “Larry, we need to talk. You can stay here for awhile, but you have to try to pull yourself together. This constantly changing shapes is not working. You have to choose one and stick to it.”

Larry let out a sob. “I can’t! I just can’t do it. I don’t know what’s the matter. I get these anxiety attacks, and I can’t seem to settle on one shape. I’m a failure. Do you know what else? I don’t understand metaphor. Not even a little bit. How can I infiltrate your civilization if I don’t understand metaphor? I have a literal mind, which is no good on this planet.” Now he was crying, making a hoarse, throaty sound that was so loud it was rattling the windows.

“Saints preserve us,” Murphy said, putting his hands over his ears. “Just quiet down, will you?”

Larry made a snuffling noise, and batted his long seal eyelashes, each one of them with a teardrop on the end of it. “Okay,” he said.

“Now, listen,” Murphy said. “Everything is going to be fine. You just need to rest, that’s all. And you need to do something to get on Dolores’s good side. She’s the boss here, and you’re not getting off to a very good start with her.”

“Can I give her a gift? Humans like gifts.”

“A gift? Yes, maybe that would work.”

“What does she like?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Flowers, I guess. She used to like it when I would bring her a bunch of flowers for no reason.”

“Good. Flowers it is. Go into the kitchen and bring Dolores out here.”

Murphy did as he was told.

When he brought Dolores back, however, he found that the entire living room had been transformed into a tropical rain forest, with flowers everywhere, but also snakes, huge insects, a family of howler monkeys engaged in heated debate, and macaws flying high up in the canopy.

“Oh, it’s lovely, Dolores,” Edna said. “Who does your decorating?” She pulled a mango off a tree and bit into it.

“Murphy!” Dolores said. “What happened to my house?”

“This is going to be harder than I thought,” Murphy said, under his breath.

Copyright John McDonnell, 2010. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dolores, Larry, And A Naked Kim Kardashian. A #fridayflash story.

By John McDonnell

Murphy awoke to the shock of cold water splashed on his face, and a very angry wife hovering over him.

“Cornelius Fergal Murphy,” she said, hands on hips. “I want to know what Kim Kardashian is doing, naked on my living room sofa.”

It took Murphy a few seconds to process this information, and he lay there blinking and moving his lips, but no sound came out. Finally, he remembered bringing the alien home last night.

“That’s just Larry,” he said. “No need to get upset, Dolores.”

“THAT is not a Larry,” Dolores said. “I don’t know what her name is, but it’s not Larry.”

“I can explain,” Murphy said.

“I can’t possibly imagine how,” Dolores said, “but I’ll listen.”

“Well, you see, he’s an alien. That’s not really his true form.”

“An alien. Now I’ve heard everything.”

“I swear, Dolores, it’s the truth. He came into the bar last night and had a little too much to drink--”

Dolores threw up her hands. “I should have known! Didn’t I tell you to stop bringing these lost souls here? I’m sick of taking care of these misfits from that hole-in-the-wall bar I told you not to buy.”

“This is different, Dolores. He’s feeling abandoned, and--”

“Let him see a psychiatrist then. I can’t afford to feed another mouth.”

“I don’t know if he has a mouth, actually. Although he likes pink fruity drinks.”

Dolores rolled her eyes. “I’m just glad my mother sleeps like a rock. If she had seen that naked woman on the couch--”

“Dolores, dear,” came a voice from downstairs. “We have a visitor. Come and see.”

Dolores cursed under her breath and ran out of the room, followed by Murphy, who ran downstairs in only his undershirt and boxer shorts.

Larry was sitting on the sofa, this time as a full grown silverback gorilla, watching a game show on TV with Dolores’ mother Edna, who was dressed in a turquoise off the shoulder gown, gloves, and a pillbox hat with a veil that would have looked chic in 1947.

“He’s got a perfect score in Jeopardy,” Edna said, grinning as Larry picked insects out of his chest hair.

“As long as they stay away from questions about particle physics I’m good,” Larry said.

“Dolores, this is Larry,” Murphy said.

Larry grunted, and Dolores stood there with her arms folded across her chest, sizing him up.

“You didn’t tell me we were having visitors, dear,” Edna said to Dolores. “I wasn’t properly dressed, so I went back and put on my dressy clothes.”

“I didn’t KNOW we were having visitors,” Dolores said.

“Larry, can I talk to you privately?” Murphy said. He pulled on Larry’s hairy arm and led him to the kitchen, where he closed the swinging door so Dolores wouldn’t hear.  

“Listen, Larry,” Murphy whispered. “Dolores doesn’t handle change very well, and if you’re going to stay with us you have to find a form that works for her.”

“Oh, sorry,” Larry said, and in a flash he was Kim Kardashian again. “Interesting body dynamics,” he said, moving unsteadily on his feet. “Balance has to be recalibrated, because of added weight in lower extremities.”

“No!” Murphy said. “Not that form! Dolores won’t like that one.”

“Oh, yes,” Larry said. “Territorial human females. Primitive response. What do you suggest?”

“Well, first I would suggest that you move your lips when you talk, instead of doing that thought transference thing,” Murphy said. “Second, what about something cute and cuddly, like a--”

Larry transformed into a six foot tall Emperor penguin. He waddled back and forth, smelling of salt water and fish, and said, “Penguins are cute, according to a recent survey of human affectional impulses.”

“Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph,” Murphy said. “No to the penguin! Something else.”

Larry turned himself into Jesus, complete with a long white robe and a halo. “Is this better? You mentioned Jesus.”

“Murphy, I don’t know what you’re doing in there, but I’m coming in,” Dolores said, from the hallway.

Murphy put his head in his hands. “Say your prayers, Murphy,” he muttered. “You’re going to die soon.”

He wasn’t sure what happened next, but when Dolores came through the door she was met by a dead ringer for Pierce Brosnan, in a tuxedo, and smelling of a minty cologne, showing his teeth in a blindingly white smile.

“Ah,” Dolores said, stopping in her tracks.

“Mmm?” Pierce Brosnan said.

“Oh, Lord,” Murphy said.


Friday, May 14, 2010

No Place Like Home, a #fridayflash story

By John McDonnell

Although Murphy was reluctant to try flagging the alien again and risk getting zapped back to the Cretaceous era, he knew the creature was getting more intoxicated because it was morphing into an array of different body sizes, genders, and species.

"So," he said. "What's your name?"

"Larry," the alien said.

"Larry? That's a funny name. I thought your name would be Zork, or Xargon Four, or something like that.”

The alien had changed from a giant yellow squidlike thing to a dead ringer for Mrs. Walsh, Murphy's first grade teacher, complete with a pencil tucked behind her ear, glasses, and a bun.

"It's not really Larry," Larry said. "There are too many glottal stops in my name for your larynx to handle. Larry is easier for you to say."

"Oh." Murphy mixed up another pink fruity drink and the alien sucked it down.

"By the way,” Murphy asked. “What are you doing here? You here to wipe out humanity from the planet, or maybe turn us all into your mindless slaves?"

Larry was now the size of a Clydesdale horse, chestnut brown, and he laughed ironically at that, showing his teeth and shaking his head. "That's hilarious," he said. "Me taking over your planet. Now I've heard everything. You have a great sense of humor." He stamped his feet, rattling the bottles on the wall behind the bar. "Another drink, please."

"What's so funny about that?" Murphy said. "I thought that's what you aliens did. Take over planets and all." He mixed the drink quickly and set it down on the bar.

Larry slurped it up and then turned into an adult male orangutan, upwards of 300 pounds, with a protruding lower lip and a melancholy expression on his droopy face. "It's not funny. It's sad. I'm a failure. Nobody is interested in conquering this penny ante planet. It's a back channel two bit dump that has no strategic importance, populated by a race of idiot primates who are rapidly turning it into a toxic wasteland. I was sent here to monitor you." He began scratching himself pensively. "There is no career advancement in this posting. I have been marooned here, because they don't think I can handle anything more important."

"I know the feeling," Murphy said. "I once had a job where--"

"It's enough to make you crazy," Larry said. "Can you put a banana in the next drink? But anyway, as I was saying, I'm so ashamed, and then I get angry, really angry.” In the blink of an eye he had turned into a scaly green dragon, with smoke coming out of his nostrils and a tail that was wagging back and forth and knocking tables and chairs over behind him.

"Calm down, Larry," Murphy said, not wanting the creature to start breathing fire in his bar. "Maybe you should think about going home and sleeping it off. What do you say? Sound like a good idea?"

Larry started crying, and big tears were dropping on the bar. He made a sniffling noise and his huge body shook with spasms of grief.

"I don't have a home," Larry said. "Oh, I have a place to stay on this miserable planet, sure. But that's not a home. I'm 12,000 light years from my planet, and I'm stuck here until somebody reassigns me. That will never happen, though, because I've dropped off the map. They've forgotten me."  He put his head on the bar and started sobbing.

"Now, now," Murphy said, patting his head gingerly. "Why don't you come home and stay with me and the missus? I have a spare bedroom, and I'm sure it will be all right with Dolores."

"Really?" Larry said. "That's so nice of you."

"Don't mention it," Murphy said. "It's the least I can do, seeing as how you got rid of that hood Boom Boom for me.”

Now Larry had morphed into a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman who looked like a Playboy centerfold. In fact, she was dressed like a centerfold.

"Uh, Larry," Murphy said, imagining the look on Dolores' face when he introduced Larry to her, "could you focus a bit better? I liked the UPS driver look you had before. I think that suits you better."

"Sure," Larry said, and in an instant he was the balding, pot-bellied guy who'd come in the bar several hours ago. Every once in awhile he'd hiccup, though, and for a second or two he'd transform into the orangutan, the centerfold, or some other creature, then immediately morph back into the middle aged man.

This is going to be interesting, Murphy thought, wondering how he was going to explain this to Dolores.

Copyright John McDonnell, 2010.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Your Mother Is An Alien, a #fridayflash story

Murphy didn’t realize the guy at the end of the bar was an alien until he tried to flag him. The guy had been drinking for hours and was pretty scuppered at this point, but when Murphy said, “You’ve had enough, pal,” he suddenly found himself standing knee deep in a Cretaceous swamp, with the largest crocodile he’d ever seen staring at him from 50 feet away. He took a step back, then heard a thunderous roar behind him and turned to see a Tyrannosaurus Rex’s head above the treetops, heading this way fast. He probably would have been the T. Rex’s breakfast if the alien hadn’t zapped him back to the bar just in time.

“Bloody hell!” Murphy said, holding on to the bar for dear life.

“Is that what I have to do to get another drink?” the alien said.

“N-no,” Murphy said. “Not at all. Coming right up.” He mixed another one of those fruity drinks the alien was drinking, put a little pink umbrella in it, and gave it to him.

It was almost closing time, and the only people left in the bar were the alien and Sal “Boom Boom” Putzinato, who’d come to break Murphy’s kneecaps for not paying the weekly protection fee the Marsala Family imposed on all the businesses in the neighborhood. Boom Boom was not as big as a T. Rex, but he was just as scary. Right now he was sitting at a table cracking his very large knuckles and staring at Murphy.

The alien wasn’t slurring its words or anything -- actually, it wasn’t speaking at all, it was doing some kind of thought transference -- but the way Murphy knew it had had too much to drink was that it was losing its ability to cloak its true form. When it came in the bar it had looked like a middle-aged UPS driver with a potbelly. Now it looked more like a giant yellow squid with a pink mouth and green eyes. The mouth functioned like a straw, so the alien was able to drain its drink in seconds and demand another one. It had run up a huge bar tab, but at this point Murphy didn’t care about collecting the money.

“My mother was a saint,” the alien said. “I haven’t seen her in ten thousand of your years. I was a terrible reproductive unit for her.”

“Don’t beat yourself up about it,” Murphy said. “Everybody disappoints their mother.”

“You’re a good Earth person,” the alien said. “You made me feel better.”

“Don’t mention it,” Murphy said. “Here’s another drink, on the house. Why don’t you call home? I’m sure your Mom would love to hear from you.”

“Do you think so? I haven’t done a mind meld in centuries. I don’t think my maternal unit  would remember me.”

“Of course she would,” Murphy said. “Mothers never forget their children.”

“She had four thousand of us.”

“Oh.” Murphy reflected on that for a second. “Well, do it anyway. I’m sure she’ll be able to form at least a vague picture of who you are.”

“Okay.” The alien went into a sort of suspended animation for several minutes, during which it was so still it seemed to be in a coma.

When it came to, it said: “She was glad to hear from me. And she did remember me! Thank you, Earth person, for making me do that. I feel better. What can I do to repay you?”

“Nothing,” Murphy said.

“No, really.”


“I insist! It is part of our culture that we must pay back every good deed. If we are not allowed to do that, we must kill the creature who befriended us.”

“Well, under those circumstances,” Murphy said. He didn’t want to go back to the Cretaceous. “You know that thing you did to me before? Where I went back in time?”


“Could you do that to someone else?” he nodded in the direction of Boom Boom.

“Of course. It is no problem at all.”

And that was how Boom Boom Putzinato, and later the entire Marsala crime family, disappeared, never to be seen again.

Murphy wondered how fast they could run from a T. Rex in those expensive leather shoes they favored.


Copyright John McDonnell 2010. All rights reserved.