The Amazing Adventures of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey

Close Encounter

      Wow! I actually met a Cryptoalien the other day.
      I've known for some time that they're hanging around the planet here and there. Not many, I don't think, 'cause this is not exactly a good duty assignment. They had a convention one year in Albuquerque that a band I was in played for, but I wasn't paying attention to that kind of stuff back then. Anyway, there weren't enough of them to fill up the Four Seasons ballroom.
      So I was pumping gas at this Chevron down the street when he pulls in on his Harley. He looked normal enough — burly, full red beard, a lot of leather — but I could tell right away. Real humans are ususally either right-handed or left-handed. Cryptos have this bizarre symmetry to their movements that's a dead giveaway, if you know what to look for.
      He noticed me staring at him, so he turned to me and said, "What the fuck are you looking at, asshole?"
      At least he was trying to stay in character. I played along. "What's it to you, motherfucker?"
      He finished gassing up, hung up the hose, then came over to where I was standing and got right in my face. "You some kinda motherfuckin' faggot?" he inquired.
      I replied, "Fuck no. I'm just wondering what one of you motherfuckers is doing in my neighborhood."
      "You think you fuckin' own this fuckin' neighborhood?" he asked.
      "At least I fuckin' belong here." I looked at him carefully. He appeared to be sizing me up as well. Before he could say anything else, though, I ventured a guess as to his origin. "Orion?"
      He looked startled. "How the fuck did you know?"
      I shrugged, "That's where they make the Protectors for this part of the galaxy."
      "Huh?" he said, making a pretense of not knowing what I was referring to.
      "I took the tour. In virtual reality, of course. I figure that's where most of you come from."
      He shook his head. "You are some kinda sick motherfucker, aren't you?"
      I grinned, "It's probably a prerequisite for the job."
      "What the fuck are you talking about?"
      "Oh," I said apologetically. "I just assumed you knew. I'm Toomey."
      He looked puzzled. "You're what to you?"
      "You know," I said, "Susan."
      He looked suspicious. "Yeah, I know Susan. She's my sister."
      I was surprised. They must have been part of the same batch. "Your sister…?"
      "Yeah," he said. "Susan O'Ryan. You know her?"
      "Intimately," I told him.
      "Oh," he said. "You must be that musician."
      I knew he'd admit it eventually. "That's me."
      "Well, then I've got a message for you," he told me. "You better fuckin' do right by her. You unnerstand?"
      "Certainly," I said reassuringly. "I'm giving her everything I've got. I spend a couple of hours every morning on her, and sometimes before I go to work in the afternoon. And, certainly every night before I go to bed."
      He glared at me. "Jesus fucking Christ. What are you, some kind of fucking animal?"
      "Of course." Hmm… Maybe he was prejudiced against humans, or even organic creatures in general. "I have no more control over my nature than you do over yours."
      "You sonofabitch," he growled.
      "It's not like it's my idea," I said. "I hate to complain, but it's really something of a compulsion. Of course, you wouldn't know anything about that, now, would you?" I added, sarcastically. After all, it was their brain wave transmissions.
      He looked defensive for some reason. "Goddamnit. She swore she'd never tell anybody."
      "Well, I'm not the only one writing a book about Our Favorite Flying Blonde."
      "Holy Shit!" he swore. "You think they all know about me?"
      "Don't worry," I reassured him, "Your secret's safe with me. If I write anything about this close encounter at all, it'll be so ambiguous that nobody would ever think it really happened."
      He looked mollified. "Well, uh… OK, thanks, I guess."
      "No problem. Hell, if I ever really told the truth, everybody would think I was crazy."
      "You got that right, bro," he said. "Look, as far as Susan's concerned, you just do the best you can — or you'll hear from me. Got it?"
      I smiled at him. "I'm positively looking forward to it."
      He jumped back on his motorcycle and blasted off.
      Nice guy, I thought.

Proper Waffles
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© Patrick Hill, 2000