By John McDonnell
“I hate the winter,” Dolores said one day. “I need a vacation at the beach, but we have no money.” Larry had gone into hibernation mode and he was asleep in the corner of the TV room in the form of an 800 pound male grizzly bear.
“I remember when Father used to take us to our winter home in Florida,” Edna said. She was watching a game show in a sequined pink tulle gown, bedecked with jewelry. “We’d spend our winters playing in the sand and watching the alligators maul deer that wandered too close to the lake. I missed a lot of schoolwork those years, but Father said with a mind like mine it wouldn’t matter.”
“You never had a house in Florida,” Dolores said.
“Didn’t I?” Edna said. “Oh, well, it must have happened to somebody else.”
Then there was a knock at the front door and when Dolores opened it a TV announcer smiled at her, temporarily blinding her with the glare from his teeth.
“Is this the home of Larry the Alien?” the man said, shoving a microphone in her face. He was smiling so hard it looked like his face might crack, and his eyes were bulging with manic energy.
“Who wants to know?” Dolores said.
“I want to tell him that he won the ‘You Can Be Fabulously Wealthy Marketing Sweepstakes’, and he’s won a million dollars!!!” the man shouted. Dolores had the sensation that the oxygen was being sucked out of the neighborhood every time he opened his mouth.
“Oh, that’s lovely,” Edna said, from the couch. “But you’ll have to come back in several months. Larry is taking his winter nap.”
“That’s not possible!” the man said, whipping a poster-sized check out of a briefcase. “He needs to take his check today! I have TV cameras waiting!” He pointed to a group of people behind him, and they did indeed have a battery of cameras pointed at the house.
Before Dolores knew what was happening the group had brushed her aside and were inside the house.
The announcer found Larry in his corner, and said, “Here he is, boys! Make sure you get a good angle on my teeth!”
He started shoving Larry, prodding him to wake him up. Larry snorted once and tried to keep on sleeping.
“Come on, Mr. Larry,” the man said. “Wake up to the wonderful fact that you’re a winner! Did you hear me? You’re a winner!”
Larry growled once, but did not open his eyes.
“I’ll bet he’s dreaming about salmon,” Edna said. “It’s a lovely dream for a bear.”
The announcer picked up a pepper shaker from the kitchen table and poured some into his palm, then threw the handful at Larry’s big wet bear nose. Larry scrunched up his nose, snuffled, and then sneezed loud enough to rattle the windows. He opened his eyes blearily and looked at the announcer.
“There’s the sleepyhead!” the announcer said. He turned to the camera, grinning even more broadly. “Folks, we’re here at the home of an average Joe extra-terrestrial who just happened to sign up for the ‘You Can Be Fabulously Wealthy Marketing Sweepstakes’, and he won! How are you feeling right now, Larry?”
He shoved the microphone in Larry’s face, there was a pregnant pause, and then there was a blur of activity involving Larry, the announcer, and the camera crew, who abandoned their equipment and ran like a herd of stampeding buffalo through Dolores’s house and out to their van, where they drove off without saying goodbye. Larry roared and chased the announcer through the house, cornering him as he tried to climb a crystal chandelier in the entryway, and the man’s sobs and shrieks could be heard in the next ZIP code.
Dolores finally got Larry away from the announcer by offering him several pounds of salmon steaks from the freezer, and Larry went sleepily back to his corner in the TV room and curled up with his snack, after emitting several more thunderous roars.
“I’m so sorry,” Edna said, helping the announcer down from the chandelier. “He’s not very pleasant until he gets his coffee. Would you like to stay for some tea?”
The announcer seemed to have lost the ability to speak, and he simply picked up his microphone and hightailed it for the door, where he made a run for the high ground.
“Well, dear,” Edna said, picking up the check and handing it to Dolores. “I guess we can take that Florida trip now. I can't wait to see those alligators again."