Friday, June 4, 2010

Larry Goes Ape -- a #fridayflash story

By John McDonnell

Even though Larry turned her living room into a rain forest and had an annoying habit of changing into naked starlets and sea animals without warning, Dolores slowly grew to like him. For one thing, he was good company for her mother Edna. The two of them became fast friends, and Dolores would often find Larry talking to Edna about black holes, subatomic physics and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle while she nodded her head in agreement and then chimed in with, “Things are just bad all over these days.” They watched Jeopardy together, with Edna giving Larry the Pop Culture answers.

“I think it’s wonderful that you brought this nice young man to live with us,” Edna said to Dolores one day.

“He’s not a nice young man,” Dolores said. “He’s an alien.”

“Oh, that’s marvelous,” Edna said, clapping her hands. “That insufferable Florence Canavan down the street had an alien once, and she loved to lord it over me. ‘My alien does mind probes,’ she’d say, as if that was such a big deal. Well, I’m sure Larry can do mind probes.”

Actually, Larry had already tried to do a mind probe of Edna, but it gave him a severe headache and he’d had to stop.

Every afternoon at 5:00 Edna liked to have a finger or two of single malt whiskey, and Larry asked Dolores to mix him a pink fruity drink. In return for Dolores’ hospitality, Larry made himself useful. For one thing, he was a whiz at opening jars that were stuck. He simply transformed his arm into an octopus limb, gripped the jar with his suction cups, gave it a twist, and voila! the deed was done.

He was an interesting conversationalist, as long as you didn’t bring up anything about his home planet. If that subject came up he’d get agitated and start bawling that he was a failure, they’d all forgotten about him, he would never get promoted, etc. He would fall to pieces at times like this, literally ending up in a pile on the floor.

“Pull yourself together, Larry,” Dolores said after one of these episodes. “You’re not a failure. Actually, you’re a roaring success compared to most people I know.”

“Really?” Larry said.

“You’re a piker compared to Murphy,” she said. “He wrote the book on failure.”

“I don’t think I have that book in my database,” Larry said. “I had to memorize every human book ever written before I came here.”

“Murphy hasn’t gotten around to publishing it,” Dolores said. “Probably afraid it would be a success and bring in some money.”

“Is that the rhetorical device known as sarcasm?” Larry said. “I have trouble recognizing that.”

It was at this point that Dolores and Murphy’s only child, their daughter Willow, arrived with her current boyfriend Horst, a hulking, tattooed motorcyclist who spoke in the language of grunts. Willow was living in sin with him, and arrived periodically to raid the refrigerator whenever money ran low, which was several times a week.

“Hey, Mom, who’s the freak?” Willow said, opening the refrigerator and poking her purple mane of hair in it. Horst sat at the kitchen table next to Larry and popped open a beer that he produced from his denim jacket.

Larry had made himself presentable, appearing as a mild-mannered accountant in a gray suit.

“He’s not a freak, he’s an alien,” Dolores said. “Can you please at least say hi? And get your slacker boyfriend to shake his hand?”

“Mom, he’s not a slacker. Horst is a tattoo artiste, specializing in tramp stamps, and he’s having a show of his work next week at Benny’s Pool Room.”

Horst grunted and belched.

“And, Mom, I wish you would stop trying to run my life,” Willow said. “You’re so negative, like all parents.”

“Negative?” Dolores said. “Is it negative to want your daughter to have decent manners, and to have a boyfriend who trims his hair and knows how to shake hands? God, he looks like he should be swinging from the trees in some rain forest 10 million years ago. . .”

There was a shimmering in the air, and all of a sudden Horst was gone.

“What just happened?” Willow said.

Dolores looked at Larry.

Larry shrugged his shoulders. “He is hairy enough to fit in the with the apes of the Miocene period, but he will have to learn proper tree climbing technique.”

COPYRIGHT John McDonnell 2010. All rights reserved.