“PHONE!” Donna yelled. “It’s Jimmy! Hey, when are you going to make me a flower garden like his?”
I stopped hoeing the corn and dusted off my hands. “Never! It’s too much work!” I took the phone. My wife glared at me, then left for the store.
When I answered, the voice on the other end made an attempt at being cheery. “Hey, Buddy, get over here, quick!”
“Jimmy, I’m not coming over.”
“But DUDE!” he protested, “This guy is wacko! Crazy! Psychedelic! I talked to him this time and he won’t leave! He’s some alien scientist and he’s taking Gramma’s flowers!”
Dude, you’re the one who’s psychedelic. Wait— “You actually talked to him?” I set my drink on the counter and grabbed my keys.
“Yeah, dude. He’s okay, not a murder, I don’t think, but he won’t go.”
“Hang on Jimmy, I’ll be right there.” I put the phone down and hurried to my truck.
Jimmy’d been complaining of aliens—okay, one alien—in his backyard for the past week and each time, I’d seen nothing. Poor guy, I kept hoping he’d keep his promise to swear off grass, but it looked like he’d fallen back into the old pattern. And his Gramma thought she was doing him a favor, leaving him everything. The old gal hadn’t had a lot, but it was enough to enable Jimmy to make nothing of himself for a while.
When I pulled up, the first thing I noticed was that everything looked exactly the same. I’d really hoped to see a flying saucer hovering above the house, but nada.
My shoes crunched the sparse gravel as I headed up the walk. Jimmy’s face peered from the window by the dingy curtain, and the door opened a man-sized crack. “C’mere!” Jimmy waved frantically at me to come inside. Before I could step through the opening, he yanked me through, shut and deadbolted the door. “He’s there, man!”
“Who?” By the looks of him, Jimmy hadn’t slept for a week—or showered either, by the smell that threatened to knock me down.
He put his finger against my lips, I shoved it away, then whispered, “Who?”
Eyes bloodshot and crazy, he pointed at the kitchen, said, “Shhh,” and motioned me to follow.
Yep, has to be on something.
We went into the kitchen and Jimmy sneaked a peek through the ruffly curtains at the window, then he stepped aside. I couldn’t figure out how to get him to come with me if he thought I was taking him to rehab, so to humor him, for the fourth time this week I peeked through the window.
And saw an alien.
He glittered in the sun, green sparkly skin that shimmered colors like a holographic card. Countless waving ears stood out like trumpets on both sides of his three-eyed head. Decked out in a white, Elvis-inspired lab coat, the alien, or whatever it was, pranced around Jimmy’s yard, studying the flowers.
Jimmy must have noticed my eyes had gone huge because he shook me until my teeth rattled. “You see it, right Bob? Right? I’m not crazy!”
“Uh, yeah, I see it.” Then I opened the door and marched outside, Jimmy following and pleading with me not to go.
“Hey, you!” I called. “This is private property! No trespassing!”
“Groovy, dude!” the alien said. “Your friend doesn’t mind. This is research for the gnarly good of our Eustachian society! I’m doing no harm to these plant-creatures. See, they like it!” He held a Black-eyed Susan and blew gently. The yellow flower moved as if it were wriggling with pleasure, and deepened in color to rich gold.
“H-how did you get here?” I stuttered.
“Why, take a gander at my sweet love ship! I call her Willow, after my favorite Earth tree.” The green guy smiled, and I realized that besides his ears, third eye and green, color-shimmering skin, he looked a lot like us. Sounded more like Jimmy, but I was used to that.
The ship hid well among the huge flower garden. Willow had green moss trailing off her gleaming sides, which poked through here and there under all the flowers that grew on her. “Most impressive ship! Now, when will you be going?”
“Dude, I will leave your garden of flowers and love, man, when I get enough for the Head Mum’s wedding. Nothing but the best for her. See, we’ve been coming here from Eustachia for many years now, and we bring back stuff that we find totally groovy. Well, the Mum loves your green cabbage sprouts and beans, and wants to serve them at her wedding. Problem is, they do a number on our totally bogus digestive systems. So Mum needs some pretty radical flowers to help make her wedding dinner smell nice as a gnarly gardenia.”
“Makes sense, I guess.” I folded my arms while Jimmy quaked behind me. “But you can’t just steal things. Pick a third of the blossoms and pay my friend for them.”
The alien sighed. “Okay, dude. If we have to.”
“You have to,” I said.
He went back into the ship and came out with a sack, which he handed to Jimmy. “Will that be radical enough, dude?”
Jimmy opened the sack, which was full of gold coins. His mouth dropped open.
“Yeah,” I answered for him. “That’ll be fine.”
Jimmy and I went into the house and watched through the window as the alien carried piles of blossoms into his ship, then ship and alien disappeared in a flash of light.
“So,” I motioned to the pile of money, “are you going to party?”
He shook his head. “Nah. I think I’m gonna get me some gardener training. I don’t wanna sit here day after day and wonder if the aliens are coming back. But if they do,” he patted the sack, “I’ll be ready for ‘em.”
I left Jimmy burning with excitement. On the way home, I began planning my own flower garden.