The thing he was totally certain of is that if you skinned his mother and ripped the environmental suit off of Chingaloon, underneath both you’d find an egg-laying lizard. Oddly enough, he considered grabbing Chingaloon by her dry hips and laying into her like nobody’s business. She had that winning real girl shape, and even though she smelled like dried cardboard, it was nothing a few squirts of toilet water couldn’t cover, quite well too.
She knew this also. She spent her time trying to figure out how to seduce him without grossing herself out. While she generally found mammal’s repulsive creatures that came with vile habits, like having to cook their food, this obsession with hygiene practices that involved copious amounts of water (yich!) and hair, if you overlooked that, Vern wasn’t that bad. She like the fact he could open jars of dried candied beetles with his hands. In some of the real off color magazines she downloaded onto her personal computer, they made aids to attract mammals like Vern. She didn’t know if he’d go for it. What he needed to do is make his move it as it was his turn.
Vern stared at the chessboard wondering exactly what about Chingaloon turned him on. The lizard like comparison to his mother, or the fact she acted like his Aunt Lois. She had the reptilian personality. Circumspect, quiet, contemplative. If you skinned her, you’d find a real human being underneath; however, his Aunt Lois didn’t have this near maniacal lust for candied beetles. He stopped counting the number of jars he opened for his partner. He wondered whose move it was.
He treated her kindly. That’s what she really liked about Vern. He talked to her and seemed to listen when she’d ramble on about things he didn’t care much about. Like the fun she had back during her university days, or how wonderful her vacation to the sulfur pits was, or how she really likes to find a hot rock and soak up the sun. Most humans ignored her species when they were around. She found his full range of emotions, something she didn’t have, amusing and attractive.
At least she didn’t talk much, Vern told himself and made his move. This was probably a good thing since he didn’t know what to say most of the time. He thought himself as boring as a loaf of bread. He sat there watching her size up the situation on the board, and then she rooked him.
Typical female, he thought. Didn’t matter what species they were, that double X chromosome seemed to be universally annoying. He looked into her greenish brown eyes and tried to read her mind. Didn’t work.
Make your move she told herself. Now’s the time, he’s no stranger, you’ve known him for a year now. You lived with him. You let him dry clean you back. You do his laundry. He cooks for you…no assembles food for you. He cooks for himself and assembles food for you. He reads books on your species and tries to make nice. You read books on what makes human males go. Make your move girl say something.
“So Vern, how’d the solar panel replacement go?”
“Could’ve been worse,” Vern replied. He wondered where that came from. She watched him do it. “The micrometeorite just wiped out the corner and missed the mounts. Wasn’t bad.”
“You know,” she went on. She knew what she wanted to say but wondered how to broach the subject. “You could dip a larva in chocolate and we could like share a meal sort of.”
“We eat together all the time,” Vern replied.
“No like in the magazines…” she blurted. Almost. Her species didn’t blurt. They just told you what they thought, most of the time.
Vern sat back, took her rook with his knight, and asked about the magazines. She seemed to blush; he wasn’t sure if they did that, as she got up and scrambled off to her quarters. He assumed she read at night, her species only required four hours of sleep and much of what went on around the station was a two-person job.
She came back with a flex pad and handed him what passed for her as soft-core porn. For him it seemed a rendition of Lizard Lady’s Housekeeping Journal. He didn’t read their language. As hard as he tried to apply himself to it, it always in the end seemed to be a bunch of squiggly lines and dots. He forgot about trying to speak it, they made more sounds than people could so it was a lost cause. However, he could look at the pictures. A bunch of naked lizards on rocks. Not that they wore much in the way of clothing anyhow, most of the time she wore something like a skirt and sandals. And these things that covered her forearm dewclaws.
The picture she pointed out entailed a lizard wearing a pink bikini and something that remotely resembled a romantic dinner for humans. He wondered exactly what the flex pad was about, really.
She then sat down, and took his knight with her bishop.
He responded and took the piece with a pawn.
“So, you think we could do that?” and then took his pawn with her knight.
“Don’t see why not,” Vern shrugged.
She exhaled with relief. He got the message.
He looked back to the chess game and realized she’d have him in checkmate in three moves. As he studied the board, she asked him about his mother. It threw his game off.
“Because I learned that mammals imprint on their mothers when they are small and go looking for those qualities in a mate when they reach of age for such things. Subconsciously of course…”
“Of course,” Vern replied and wondered where she was going with it.
“Elu don’t really do that,” she went on. “We think differently.”
“I’ve noticed,” he replied and tried to fake her out by moving his bishop into striking range of her king.
“One thing is certain,” she continued and used her bishop to put him in check. “Opposites attract.”
“How’d you do that?” he asked her studying the chessboard.
Vern used his stylus to check off the last scheduled maintenance item for
Saturday 23 October 2336 on his flex pad before rolling it up and putting it into his tool belt. He cleaned the main telescope lens, adjusted the software for the cleaner surface, and fixed the cooling heating problem in storage unit eight. He considered taking out the ultra-sound wand and running it over the inner bladder hull and getting a jump on Monday. Instead, his collar com began to blink and immediately he remembered his dinner date with Chingaloon.
Tapping his collar, he answered. On the other end, she reminded him to wash up and about an E-mail from headquarters. Apparently, due to budget cutbacks the next supply shuttle would have twice as much cargo and come only half as often. She also mentioned they were considering extending the contract by eight months. She asked him if he would take the extension.
“Depends,” he replied as he took off his tool belt and hung it up in the machine shop. “What’s for dinner?”
“Surprise dear,” Chingaloon chirped.
She’s been reading Lizard Lady again, Vern thought as he exhaled and walked toward the living area of the Astronomy Lab. As he walked toward the common area, he considered the contract extension. The money and benefits were great, he told himself, even though working deep space really sucked.
For him anyhow. For her, she could take the runner down to Gilbert 6 find a rock by a tar pit and be in heaven. He went with her once and watched her entertain herself for hours chasing bugs around just for a snack. Said it wasn’t any different than human’s assaulting a blackberry bush.
Chingaloon looked at the table and compared it to her flex pad. Fork, knife, spoon for him, tongs for her. Fortunately, the food processor came with a prepackaged freeze-dried menu for him, which of course left the plastic tray and found itself on a plastic plate. For her, a bowl of jelly bugs artfully swimming around in sauce. She didn’t understand the significance of the candles. They seemed to be a fire hazard, but then again, her human, like all humans, was a pyromaniac.
Vern knew something was up the moment he entered the common area. The candles were a dead give away. He looked at Chingaloon in the face and she seemed to be smiling. No, smiling more than usual. The funny thing about Elu is that like most iguanas, they seemed to have a permanent polyester smile smeared across their face no matter what. In either case, Vern considered the fact that the flex pad of Lizard Lady’s Housekeeping Journal had nothing to do with the human equivalent.
Not that there wasn’t a human equitant. The mistake fell on his shoulders, the error in perception. While he thought, it to be something likes Good Housekeeping, it seemed now to be something along the lines of kinky sex that would otherwise be illegal if one partner couldn’t talk, or walk upright. Or both.
West Virginia here I come,” Vern muttered conceptualizing the after dinner festivities. It seemed to Vern every culture had a place like
West Virginia. With the Elu, it was more than likely every place on earth. In any cultural context, at this point, he just gave up and realized that before the night was over, he’d have The Experience. What further cemented the impression happened with two karmic convergences.
One, after dinner she took the funky covers off her forearm dewclaws. Two, her selection of background music included Dueling Banjos. Needless to say, The Experience proved awkward, almost disappointing, but after several false starts, wonderful.
He decided to extend the contract.
“There, all done,” Dr. Schmidt, said as she took the bio-medical halo off of Vern’s head. He sat there on the marriage counselor’s couch with a brain dead look on his face. He wife snapped her fingers in front of his glassy eyes that didn’t focus on anything but stared off into the next dimension.
“Sure he’s okay?” his wife asked.
“Take him home and put him to bed,” the good doctor recommended. “In the morning he’ll be better than new. And just so you know I’ve put in a subliminal suggestion not to leave the toilet seat up.”
“Oh good that was such an annoying habit!” Mrs. Vern’s Wife clapped her hands.
“Bring him back in six months for a check up,” Dr. Schmidt suggested and turned the halo off as she put it on her desk. “Good luck with saving your marriage, you did the right thing.”
Later as Dr. Schmidt left her office and walked to her hovercraft, she questioned her motives. The ethics of it. She darkened the front windscreen and let the autopilot fly home. As the internal guidance system did its thing, she peeled her face off and enjoyed not having to wear the human suit face. It was too sticky and didn’t let her natural scales breath right. Cleaning the clammy film off her eyes with her tongue, she dismissed any notions of impropriety.
As she peeled off her legs and arms and throwing them in the backseat the car phone on the dash rang. Fortunately, it came from her husband’s private number. Answering, with the video monitor on another lizard looked at her.
“Just concerned,” he replied. “I have dinner ready for you and I got the cat spayed.”
“Good,” she hissed and pulled off the human suit top. “Busy day programming a bunch of eunuchs. I just don’t understand why can’t they just accept each other and then get married. Frankly, these people as they say put the horse in front of the cart in everything they do.”
“Well that’s because you have a bunch of people that never grew up emotionally. They get it from their mother,” he shrugged. “Oh, and thanks for taking your face off I like you better when you look the way god made you.”
“Thanks sweetie,” she replied. “See you in a few minutes.”
The hovercraft automatically pulled into the garage and she stayed in the compartment until the door closed. The problem was if the neighbors saw her without her human suit on, they might get suspicious. Not that they actually had the abstract capacities to understand what they saw. They’d think her husband was cheating on her and that would be a good laugh but would make her life a bit difficult.
She found her husband hovering about the kitchen finishing off the preparations. Something was wrong, after a moment, she knew. The notion grew from the seed he planted in her mind during the phone conversation. She walked over to him and told him to hold still.
She then ripped the lizard suit off him.
“I like you better the way god made you,” she chirped.
They embraced and he pulled the chair out from the table for her.
“Why can’t all human’s be like you?” she mused as she eyed up the buttered larva wrap on her plate.
“Because if they were, we wouldn’t have anybody to conquer and enslave,” he smiled and poured the wine.
“So how did the Elu Delegation to Earth receive your report?”
“No problem,” he smiled as he sat down. “We’ll have them all playing video games and ignoring each other in a few years.”
“To success?” she asked and toasted him.
“To success,” he rejoined her.
The author has professionally published ‘He Came From Earth’ this year. It’s available at Amazon.com, Borders.UK, or Barnes and Noble.
His second novel, ‘The Hunters, The Killers, The Madmen’ is tentatively schedule for debut in 2010.
Todos los derechos pertenecen a su autor. Ha sido publicado en e-Stories.org a solicitud de Scott Wahrenberger.
Publicado en e-Stories.org el 02.12.2009.