Grupler and Marlene, crouching behind a resiny-smelling creosote bush at the foot of the hill, had watched the big green luminous beret-shaped thing land and then the door sliding open and the ramp sliding down and the little sailor gliding lightly down the ramp and going over to the Quonset hut. He had entered the hut without bothering to knock, and a minute or so later the door seemed to close of its own volition behind him.
Somewhere a coyote howled, a dog barked shyly, a bobcat cried like a human infant with colic. The cool dry breeze smelled of electricity.
“So,” whispered Grupler. “The US Navy has a part in this as well.”
“That was the strangest-looking sailor I have ever seen,” whispered Marlene.
“Probably the victim of nuclear experimentation,” said Grupler.
“No matter,” said Marlene.
They looked at the beautiful glowing green thing in the yard, surrounded by junked automobiles and mechanical parts, baby carriages, 1930s iceboxes, and an old Dr Pepper vending machine lying on its side, this vision of industrial detritus made somehow beautiful and serene and whole by the soft emerald glow emanating from the thing.
“Let’s take that sucker,” said Marlene in English.
“Right on, baby,” said Hans, and they cocked the hammers of their pistols simultaneously.
“Bang bang,” said Hans, his eyes full of the green light.
“Shoot shoot,” said Marlene.****
Dick braced himself to land with a thud if not a splat -- he had after all just been whooshing in, just sailing in at way, oh, way beyond the speed of light -- but then after all here he still stood in Paco’s hut, shaking hands with this expressionless little sailorman.
“Dick, I think you can stop shaking his hand now,” said Daphne.
“Oh.” He withdrew his hand. It felt like someone else’s hand. “Sorry, fella,” he said.
“Don’t mention it,” said the little being, through the transistor.
Dick glanced around at the others, who were all looking alternately at him and at the creature.
“Do, uh, do you want us to come with you?” asked Dick.
“That’s why I’m here, fella,” said the little guy.
Daphne had picked up the talking transistor radio.
“Go where?” she asked, speaking directly at the radio.
“Ha ha,” said the radio.
Dick held out his hand for the transistor, and she handed it to him.
“I believe he’s got a craft of some sort.” Dick sighed. “Out there.”
“You mean like a flying saucer?” she asked.
“Well, yes, actually.”
Dick slipped the little radio into his shirt pocket.
“Oh my God, we have to go up in it, Dick! I’ve always wanted to go up in one.”
“Now wait a bleedin’ minute,” said Derek.
“Yeah,” said Harvey. “Let’s just hold the fuck on.”
“We have to go,” said Daphne.
“Oh my fucking God,” said Enid, lighting a cigarette.
Paco said nothing. He had never before seen Peyotito behave in such a fashion. Well, this is what you might expect if you introduced white people to Peyotito.
“Mister,” said Daphne. “Mister sailor?”
“Yes, sweety,” said the sailor.
“Dick and I would just love to go up in your saucer.”
“Fabulous,” said the little guy.
Oh, boy, thought Dick. Here we go again.
“And the young fella, too,” said the sailor. “We can swing by the ranch and pick Hope up on the way.”
“Hope?” said Dick.
“Yeah,” said the sailor. “By the way, how come she’s not here?”
“Well,” said Dick, “we’re hardly going to take an emotionally-disturbed seventeen-year-old to a peyote ceremony.”
“Why not? That girl was born tripping.”
“Look,” said the little guy, “it’s really no problem. Like I said, we’ll swoop by the ranch, hover by her window, I slide through. Boom --”
“Excuse me, sir?” Daphne raised her finger. “Um, why are we picking Hope up?”
“Frank said to bring her too. I just do what I’m told.”
“Frank,” said Daphne. “And who is Frank?”
“Frank’s the boss. And he said to bring you and Mr. Ridpath and Hope and Harvey. I’m just following orders --”
“Now wait just a minute,” said Harvey.
The little guy stood there, staring at Harvey, waiting.
“Okay, look,” said Harvey. “I ain’t goin’.”
“But it’s your karma, fella.”
“Fuck that,” said Harvey. “No way. No fucking way in the world.
The little sailor just stood there.****
(Please click here to go to our next mind-bending chapter. And kindly turn to the right hand side of this page for an allegedly up-to-date listing of links to any and all other episodes of Larry Winchester’s Miller High Life Award-winning A Town Called Disdain™, all contents inspected and passed by the Commissariat of Homeland Insecurity.)
A word from Jack Nicholson: