Saturday, August 29, 2009

Scenes 1 & 2

There are two guys, named Blinky and Myron. Myron is the older, more serious, less happy one. Myron has a lot of gravity happening. He’s solid and thick. Blinky flits like a bird. He collects enthusiasms, one after another. Exotic diets. UFO coverups. Crackpot Egyptology. Everything that Blinky has learned about the world, beyond what he’s gained from his own senses, he’s gotten from cable TV, silly pamphlets, and talk radio. Said sources routinely make ridiculous claims that Blinky repeats uncritically. For example, that finely ground dandelion leaves, if you take them orally, will cure any disease in the world.

Myron broods; Blinky exults. Myron is turgid and jowly. Blinky is nimble and gaunt. Myron cites authorities, and Blinky is all caprice.

For the purposes of the story, they’re friends.


Myron owns a house. It’s a small brick number with a steep scoopy roof and white metal awnings. The lot is tiny, the yard nicely kept. Myron puts out potted geraniums. He parks his car, a rust-colored 1986 Buick Century, out front.

So one day. Birds are chirping. Traffic is sliding by the house. Inside, Myron wakes from a difficult sleep. Groaning, he draws his first conclusion of the day.

“I’m ill,” he thinks. “I’m sick!”

Myron struggles to sit up and puts on his glasses. He exhales dramatically. He indexes the discomfort, rifling through a stack of potential causes. “I suffer,” Myron concludes, not for the first time, “from a blockage of some kind.” He declares out loud, “I’m stopped up like a pipe!” He can scarcely open his eyes.

Stooped and wincing, Myron dresses and hurries over to see Blinky.

Blinky lives in a complex of outbuildings on the grounds of a big old mansion. He performs various duties for the rich occupants, but mostly he’s like an engaging pet. He comes and goes as he pleases. (Except when it rains or snows a lot; then he mows and shovels like crazy.)

Myron trudges up to the mower shed where Blinky keeps the lawn machines. He bangs on the corrugated metal and calls out. “Blink!” He announces his illness. Nothing. Then: the sound of Blinky moving the mowers. Blinky’s slender head pops into view, followed by the rest of him. He’s got a finger stuck in an estate-sale copy of Flying Saucers Have Landed, circa 1953, holding his place.

“You’re not sick,” offers Blinky, “you’re just anxious.” He gestures with a hand green from lawn care. “If you suffer from anything, Myron—and I’ve told you this—it’s a lack of experience.”

“Haw,” answers Myron, straightening. “I have an excellent position–”

“Not work experience,” interrupts Blinky. “Experience experience.”

“Don’t give me–”

“Myron, what do you do? You like plink on a keyboard. You look at numbers. Whoop-O.”

Myron reddens. “I manage databases.”

“Whatever,” says Blinky. He ducks back in the shed and pulls out a metal bucket, which he overturns to make a seat. Still holding his book, he sits on the bucket. “What I mean,” says Blinky, flipping pages, “is are you ever out there.” He looks up at Myron.

“Do you experience physical danger?”

Myron pushes back on his glasses.

“Do you have paranormal experiences.”

A giant eyeroll.

“Do you like, violate company policy? Are you getting laid?”

Myron snorts.

“See?” pronounces Blinky, as if addressing a jury.

“See what?” demands Myron.

“I’m telling you, Myron!” Blinky sets the book down and gets up off the bucket. “You need to get out of that office and smell the tuna. Have an experience, or like five.”

Myron stuffs his hands in his pockets.

“You need,” summarizes Blinky, “a vacation.”

Hmph,” replies Myron.

“And not some cruise. Instead, like camping. Or travel to a bizarre international location. Turkey. Java.”

Myron has turned away. His arms are folded, and he’s peering down at the gravel.

“Look,” says Blinky, stepping forward. “I could stand to get out of town myself. Let’s go somewhere! Let’s walk crosslots for 200 miles, and get really thirsty, and strip to the waist, like Mohicans, or Mohawks, or whoever, and hide out in a National Forest.”

“Mohawks,” says Myron flatly, insultingly.

“I’ll tell you what,” adds Blinky, retreating. “the Indians know the score.”

“Whatever you say, Blink.” answers Myron. He gestures at the book. “Whatever the aliens tell you.”

“I’m just saying. Travel would do you good.”

The subject has been exhausted. And Blinky, like some decent hunk of bread in a bad bowl of soup, has absorbed Myron’s distress.

“I’ll tell you what would do me good. A raise,” corrects Myron, with real-world self-importance. “A promotion would do me good. I could use a little recognition of the role I play–”

“Myron,” interjects Blinky, nearly whining.

“I keep that place in order.”

“And what do you get? Chronic digestive whatever.”

Blinky bends down and picks up Flying Saucers Have Landed. He points the book at Myron ruefully. “You know, you laugh at me, but I am not the one living in like Ulcer City.”

“I don’t have an ulcer--”

“I have been thinking about this. I ask you: why is it that visitors from other worlds are going to totally mop up when they get here?” Blinky tucks the book up under his arm, holds out his hand and enumerates two points. “Not enough outdoor activity is one reason. And focus on all the wrong things is the other.”


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