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.