The Alien C.W. was bent over my desk this morning looking much like a harried accountant. He looked up, raised his green visor, and stared at me. “Ah,” he said. “Just the person I wanted to see.” He stopped, took a pencil, and drew a line under a line of figures and returned to staring. “Did you find out?”
“About what?” I sipped my coffee with a great deal of deliberation. I like to mess with his three minds.
“About the census that your people take ever few weeks.”
“Ten years,” I said.
“Earth years,” he said. “When are you going to switch to Galaxy Time?”
“In ten seconds,” I said. He didn’t laugh.
“Well, was it accurate? Did you ask her?”
“She’s been retired for some time,” I said. “In Earth years. She said it was a bit different this time. Said the census was a good as the people and institutions that undertake it.”
“And it is important?”
“To orient government aid.”
“Your government does that?”
It used to. Now the main purpose of the census, according to the news, is to determine legislative power.”
“Oh,” I said, “And bragging rights.”
He leaned back and put his fingers over his eyes in the universal gesture of exasperation. I could tell he missed his other two sets of eyes and hands. He took a deep breath and spoke. “You Earthlings,” he said. “Bragging rights?”
“It’s like this: If your community, city, or state is growing in population, it is a good place.”
“And if it doesn’t?
I made a gesture of a knife being drawn across my throat.
“Do your people understand the principle of Skroodeep++,” he stopped. Thought and stared at the ceiling. I could tell his Galactic Universal Translator was speaking to him. He nodded and said, “The principle of ‘cause and effect’ at all?”
“A few do.”
“When they do, how do they assign a cause to population growth?”
“Most often they attribute it to what they call a ‘quality school system’ and leave it at that.”
“A quality school system?”
“That means you are correct.”
He stopped. A frown of thought contorted his face. Then he relaxed. “Wait one,” he said, turning to a note pad on his far side. He scribbled something and turned back. “Okay,” he said. “Where were we?”
Before I could speak, he said, “Just a second. I forgot something I was supposed to do for Mrs. Big Dope. I’ll be right back.” With that, he arose and left the room. He no longer takes promises to that individual lightly.
I couldn’t resist. Checking to make sure the wasn’t watching, I walked over and checked his note pad. On it he had written a brief note, which puzzled me.
“Falloonian Elders' Report,” it started. Then, “Dog whistles.”