Down Under and Over There
by Bill Kowaleski
Table of Contents|
parts 1, 2, 3 4
“I’m telling you, Cindy, going to that there planet and seeing what oak resin does to those folks, well, it opened my eyes.” Sheriff Ollie Gustafson was sitting across from Cindy at the small, round, roughly-hewn kitchen table in her rental cabin. His huge stomach forced him to sit at some distance from the table; he leaned far forward, his bushy moustache, and grey, thinning hair hanging a little too close for comfort.
Cindy leaned back. “Whaddya mean?”
“It really messes them up. It takes years off of their lives. It makes them have wild sex orgies. It...”
“That last one sounds okay to me!” she laughed.
“But it’s not funny, Cindy. Your boyfriend is hurting his own people. And you’re in on it, too.”
“No!” She stood and paced the tiny kitchen, all of three steps from one end to the other. “Yeah. So I did help him at one time, but when we moved to Hawaii I told him it had to stop. And then we came back here to visit and while I was off seeing my family, what was he doing? Shipping logs to Sirius Prime!”
“Right! He’s not gonna stop. It’s in his blood. It’s like he never grew up.”
“And he’s two hundred and sixty years old too.”
“What?” Gustafson sat erect, his jowly face showing his shock. “I mean I saw that video where they said how those folks live five hundred years and all, but still...”
“Yeah, Ollie, he ain’t never gonna grow up.” Cindy sighed. “I don’t know what to do. All I can tell you is that I can’t wait to get back to Hawaii and see him again. I guess you could say my heart and my head are in two different places.”
“Well, here’s some more for you to chew on.” Gustafson turned the tiny chair and tried to cross one leg over the other, but he couldn’t quite get the leg high enough. Cindy watched, fearful that the chair would collapse at any second.
“Goldarn it,” Gustafson muttered. “I just got to lose some weight. How do you keep so slim, Cindy? You’re still the best-looking woman in three counties!”
“You gotta be aware of everything you eat, Ollie. But, hey, you said you had more for me to chew on?”
“Yeah, when I was on Sirius Prime, I met up with that Commander Inmohotep who led the raid on Wolf’s place last winter. He told me he was gonna raise up a posse and come over here and hunt down whoever was shipping those logs. And he wants my co-operation.”
“So what are you gonna do, Sheriff?”
“I gave it a lot of thought, a lot of thought. Sorry about this, Cindy, but I’m gonna tell him that Sean’s his perp.”
“You’d turn Sean in? I can’t believe it! You scum! You—”
“Cindy, slow down. My advice to you is this: Get out now. Your hands are clean. The Sirians don’t care about us Earth people, they just want to catch their own bad guys. Don’t go back to Hawaii. Stay here. Help me with this new donut thing I’ve got to get started.”
Gustafson’s recent trip to Sirius Prime had all been a big mistake. He’d accidentally fallen into an interplanetary transporter. But once he was there, he and the corrupt agents of Sirian Drug Enforcement who had been colluding with Sean to ship oak logs from Earth had had to concoct some kind of story to explain Gustafson’s presence. Knowing their Commander’s predilection for earthly donuts, they’d told him that Gustafson was there to start up a donut exporting business. But now Commander Inmohotep was eagerly anticipating a regular supply of raspberry-filled, and Gustafson had to get the process started soon.
Cindy stared out the window, looking at the bits of blue sky peeking through the thick forest. It was a beautiful place, this little town in northern Wisconsin, but it was so isolated, so little happened here, the winters were so long.
Since she’d been a little girl, she’d dreamed of living in Hawaii, read every book in the tiny library about the islands. And now she was going to give that all up to help Ollie Gustafson make donuts? She could only imagine what she’d look like after a few years of that!
But even worse, she could not imagine just walking out on Sean. Yes, he was not even human, but she loved him, and more than that, he was a hundred times more exciting than any real man she’d met.
“Cindy!” Gustafson waived his hand in front of her eyes. “You’d think they were showing a movie through that window. What’s going on?”
“Ollie, I can’t just call Sean and say I’m not coming back. I gotta try one more time to reform him. Give him another chance. Don’t turn him in yet.”
“I’ve already cut him plenty of slack. I can’t do it again. We all want you stay, but go back if you have to.”
Gustafson stood and took a step toward the door. “I gotta go see Brad Olsen now and get this donut business moving. You know, when I think about it, Brad’s a handsome young guy, twenty-five, still single. You ought to give him a chance. How could he turn down the hottest girl around?”
“He runs a convenience store! He makes donuts in the back and sells them around the county! Are you saying that ought to be my life?”
“It don’t sound too bad to me.”
She sat again and said, “Okay, Ollie. I know you want only the best for me. Go see Brad. I’ve already got my ticket to Hawaii and I’m using it. How much time do we have before the Commander and his posse get here?”
“They’ll be here any time, but he’s got to get them all fitted up with disguises. They’ll draw too much attention looking like a gang of little green men running around everywhere. Gerry Andersson told me he’s already been contracted to make their artificial faces and skin. He’s working on them now. So I’d guess two, maybe three weeks tops.”
Cindy sighed. “I do appreciate the advice, and I am going to think hard about it. I’ll be back, sooner or later.”
* * *
The hula band was playing as usual in Kailua-Kona airport when Cindy walked into the open-air concourse. Sean was standing just behind security, a huge grin on his perfect, artificial face, snug jeans and a flowered aloha shirt covering his trim body. Her heart leapt. She suppressed a yelp of joy. They hugged for minutes, blocking annoyed passengers trying to get past them, oblivious to everything but each other.
After he’d dragged her two gigantic suitcases off the belt and rolled them to their waiting Lexus SUV, Sean asked, “So why was Gustafson so insistent that you stay two extra days?”
“Because he wanted to tell me that Commander Inmohotep is coming to Earth any day now, and Ollie’s decided he’s gonna give you up to him!”
Sean sat silently, his head pointed grimly at the road. She could see his fear, but said nothing, knowing he needed to think it through. They turned off of Queen K highway onto a black lava road and then into the parking lot of their resort. He parked the car but continued to sit. She stayed beside him.
Finally he said, “They’ll find me here. Gustafson knows we’re on the Big Island. Well, they call it big, but it’s plenty small enough to hunt me down. We’re gonna have to move on.”
Cindy nodded. He was right of course. But if she left Hawaii, there would go her dream.
“Get this, Sean: Gustafson thinks I ought to dump you. He thinks Brad Olsen would be a great catch for me. I could spend the rest of my life making donuts with him.”
Sean looked into her eyes, his face stern at first, but then a smile grew and finally he broke into a long, loud laugh.
“Oh, that’s a good one - Cindy the donut lady. I can just see you, all porked up to three hundred pounds, in an apron and white hat!”
“Hey, Brad’s a nice-looking guy, you know. Maybe the Sheriff’s right. Maybe I need to get a normal life.”
“Normal as in boring? Normal as in passionless?”
“Yeah,” she sighed. “It’s complicated, isn’t it? Let’s get inside and decide where in the world you can hide.”
* * *
Sheriff Gustafson stood at the Mini-Mart cash register waiting for Brad to ring up some customers. Once everyone had left, he said, “So Brad, how many dozen can you make if you go all out?”
Brad leaned back against the cigarette display, put his hand on his chin and said, “Hmmm” but nothing more.
Gustafson let him think, taking a closer look at Brad’s young, handsome, symmetrical face, his long, blond hair, and his trim body. He knew Brad was every bit as athletic as Cindy, that he ran marathons and skied the Birkie every winter. He wondered why Brad was still single but was glad he was. He’d be a perfect mate for Cindy.
“You say they’ll take everything we can make, right?” said Brad.
“Yeah, but they mentioned a figure of one thousand dozen a day.”
Brad laughed. “In this place? I could maybe crank out fifty dozen a day more than I’m making now. If we work twenty-four by seven.”
“Oh my, we’re gonna have to build a bigger facility then,” said Gustafson.
“Yeah, and just what is my business plan gonna say, Ollie? Sell one thousand dozen per day to space aliens from the planet Sirius Prime? Yeah, the bank will go for that, no problem.”
Gustafson nodded, thought a minute, then said, “We’ll just have to get some alternative financing. I wonder whether those SDE agents would be willing to front us a few bags of gold.”
Brad smiled and shook his head, but said nothing more. Gustafson leaned in and said in his softest voice, “Brad, what do you think of Cindy? Do you like her?”
“You mean Cindy Johanssen, the town hooker?”
“Hey, she hasn’t done that in a couple of years now. I’m trying to convince her to dump that interplanetary criminal she’s involved with and move back here. You’re the county’s most eligible bachelor, you know.”
Brad laughed so loudly that Gustafson looked around the store hoping no one was there to hear. “Cindy is one hot lady, Ollie. But I don’t think she’s my type.”
“What is your type Brad?”
Brad locked his bright blue eyes onto Gustafson’s. “I’m not going to spend the rest of my life making donuts in the north woods. I want to see what else is out there. And now that I know about these Sirians... Well, the real reason I agreed to try this donut venture is that I want to talk them into letting me travel on their transporters to other planets. I want to see the whole Galaxy! So my type of woman would be someone who wants to do that with me.”
“That’s perfect!” said Gustafson. “Cindy’s exactly who you’re looking for!”
* * *
Copyright © 2016 by Bill Kowaleski