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.