Oh hell. “About what?” We were taking advantage of a break in the cold weather to walk along the riverside park in Little Rock. The air was crisp, the leaves on the maple trees a flaming red, and the paths clear of his enemies, the bicyclists. He often takes on a shape much like that of Johnny Depp in times like this, a joke that causes many stares and an occasional stalking. He, of course, was smoking, blowing the smoke my way to irritate me.
“I’ve been thinking I might stay here,” he said. “I mean after my assignment is finished.”
Oh hell. “And what makes you think you might do that?” I said.
“I’ve grown accustomed to your face,” he said. I turned quickly to see if he was kidding. He was.
“And aside from that?”
“Your species needs help,” he said. “Maybe I could be a pundit, or columnist, or run for office.”
Oh hell. “Why do you think we need help?”
“Oh please,” he said. “You have people elected to your national congress who think the universe is 6,000 years old.” He took a puff and blew the smoke toward the distant skyscrapers. “And they are allowed to breed children, drive cars, and operate TV remotes. Scary.”
“You’ve got a point,” I said.
“And you’ve got some really ignorant ones at the state level,” he said.
He was making me despondent. “So,” I said, “will they let you stay, the Falloonian Elders?”
“I have to make application,” he said. “And I have to choose a permanent shape and personality. And, I have to have sponsors who will vouch for me. You and Mrs. Big Dope will, won’t you?”
Oh hell. “Have you thought about your permanent shape?” I said.
“Some,” he said. “I, of course would be male, earning power and all that.”
“Caucasian. That opens a lot of doors,” he said, “and removes any limitations.”
“A degree from Harvard would help.”
“You’ll have to ask them about that,” I said.
“I have,” he said. “I just have to send the check.”
“Good for you,” I said. “Is that all you need? Any physical specifications?”
“Yes, I think it would help if I were tall.”
“Hmm,” I said, “probably. Anything else?”
“A big pe …”
“Look,” I said. “A speedboat was pulling a water skier in a wetsuit down the river. “That’s something you don’t see often, this time of year. But what were you saying?”
He thought. “A trust fund,” he said, “I will need a trust fund.”
“Don’t look to me for that,” I said.
“Oh the Elders would arrange that. They seemed anxious to grant me permanency here.”
“I can imagine,” I said. “So that about does it then?”
“If I plan to run for office, I need a stint in the military.”
Oh hell. “And?”
“That presents a bit of a problem,” he said.
“We don’t have violence in Falloonia. I’m not sure how I would respond.”
“Well you won’t know until you try.” I was thinking of four years of freedom.
“Maybe I could just become an avid hunter instead,” he said. “That seems to work as a proxy.”
Everyone is crazy about
a self-made man. - C.W.
“That involves violence,” I said.
“Yes, but it is unilateral violence. That is the best kind.”
“Say,” I said. “You’ve thought this thing out pretty carefully.”
“I’m prepared to pull myself up by my own bootstraps, as George W. Bush used to say. Only two decisions to go,” he said.
“Yes, finding a wife and choosing a church home,” he said, “appearances, you know.”
“That shouldn’t be hard,” I said.
“I don’t know, he said. “Those Baptist women are awfully pretty, but you know how much I like to dance.”
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