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.
“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.