Sunday, May 7, 2017

372. News

“Gone? For how long?”

“Don’t know. It depends on the punishment they mete out to me.”


“Punishment.” It was the Walter Cronkite—C.W., his most somber form, the one he takes when things are serious, very serious.

“By whom? What kind of punishment? For What?”

“The Falloonian Elders are punishing me for sending them fake news. The sentence will depend, of course, on my defense.”

“Fake news is punishable now?”

“In Falloonia, yes. We take information much more seriously than your species does.”

“So, have you just been making stuff up, like our …, uh, like some folks are doing?”

“Certainly not,” he said with an uncharacteristic vehemence. “Everything I’ve sent them is fact-checked and accurate.”

“So, what’s the problem?”

“They’re saying what I reported could never have happened.”

“Too complicated, or too controversial? Do the events not translate? Are they cynical, or too critical?”

“Oh,” he said, “it varies. Some are quite tragic.” He fumbled in a pile of papers and handed me a sheet. I recognized it at once. It involved an incident in our state that happened just last week. During a heavy flash flood, a woman in a mountainous community donned a helmet and life jacket and went “tubing” down a raging creek. They found her body later.

“This really happened,” I said. “I can vouch for you here.”

“Would you?” he said. He thought. “But you can’t help me with this one.” He retrieved another sheet and handed it over. It was another flooding incident, one of numerous similar stories published during the recent flooding. This one involved a man from a neighboring state who drove his pickup truck around a police barricade and was swept into the floodwaters.

“But,” I said. “Look where it happened. Won’t they make allowances for that?”

“No,” he said. “Unfortunately, it came on the heels of this national report.” He handed the next sheet over. It was an account of plans to market a cell phone shaped like a banana. Yes, really, a banana.

“I see. Well, these are easily proven.”

“Those aren’t the most serious,” he said. “Here’s the one that got me into the most trouble.” He handed over a sheet and I recognized it at once. It occurred just this week in our very city.

“But this happened,” I said. “It really happened.”

“Try convincing a bunch of aged creatures from a civilized planet of that.” He read from the sheet, Three drunken men steal a three-foot livealligator from a nature center.” He stopped, looked at a wall clock, and stared back at me, his voice breaking. “I’m doomed,” he said.
I call this, "Hold my beer
and watch this news." - C.W
He stiffened and his eyes turned metallic. This means one thing. He is getting a message from his home planet and responding. He listened, then nodded slightly. Then he did the strangest thing. He let out a soft laugh. Next, his face brightened with a smile. He nodded once more, relaxed and turned to me.

“It’s over,” he said. “They’ve received verification from the other resident aliens.”

“That’s great, but you almost laughed once,” I said. “What was so funny?”

“It seems,” he said, “that reading these reports has become a huge source of planetary merriment on Falloonia. They want more, and they want them fast. Do you think we can manage? I’d hate to be in another kind of trouble for not fulfilling their orders.”

“C.W.,” I said. “This is America. Don’t worry about a thing.”

See also:
Delta Dreaming
All Hat No Cattle
Or order Big Dope's Book at Wattensaw Press, Amazon, or other book sellers.

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