by Bruce Stirling
It all began back in senior year of high school. After the prom, me and Sherry drove over to Lover’s Lake and parked under a full moon. We was saying goodbye to virginity when a fireball suddenly streaked low over my pick-up and landed not fifty yards away. When it hit, the earth shook so hard I swore my Willy had been kicked by a mule. Sherry loved it and didn’t want to stop, but seeing that a UFO had just crashed, I figured we’d better pull up our pants and check it out.
That’s when we saw it, this smoldering, little gray Martian guy staggering around like he’d been on a bender. He looked at us and we looked at him, and just like that he keeled over and bit the dust.
Sherry wanted to give him a poke, but I said no.
“What if he’s got rabies?” I said, downing the last of the Southern Comfort.
“He doesn’t have rabies,” she replied. “So what do we do?”
“I don’t know,” I said, eyeing the spaceship. “Wanna go for a ride?”
Sherry wasn’t into stealing UFOs. Besides, by then every cop in Tucker County was on the scene along with the National Guard and some scary guys in black. They swung into action and before you could say “Stairway to Heaven,” they’d hauled Martian man and his flying machine away on a flatbed truck. The cops took our stories and that was that.
The next day, me and Sherry graduated from Tucker High and got hitched. We bought a cute little bungalow with no-money down and soon had a beautiful baby girl we named Xerfabyybs. No, that’s not a typo. That was her name, stamped clear-as-day in her right armpit in strange metallic letters. I wanted to call her Sally Jo, but Sherry insisted on Xerfabyybs or Xerf for short. So Xerf it was.
Now this is where the story gets a bit strange. When Xerf was born, she was stuck between my butt cheeks just above my bung hole. Doctor Lowenstein thought it was a boil but decided not to pop it. It was a good thing, for Xerf was growing big and strong on my hinie till one day her egg sack burst and she splashed onto the floor, a sticky, slimy, little pink…thing.
Doctor Lowenstein couldn’t explain it. The Mormons next door said it was a sign. The Jehovah’s Witnesses across the street agreed, but what kind of sign nobody could say.
News got around and soon Xerf was making headlines all over the world. She hated the attention. We barely got a moment’s peace. There was news trucks and reporters all over our yard. Whenever there was a knock on the door, Xerf would huddle close to me on the couch and secrete her sticky-slimy goo and coo-coo, “Cada cada fdad fdad.” I took that for “Daddy, make them go away,” but I was never sure. But they did go away. Eventually.
Then one day, when Xerf was sixteen, a UFO landed in our backyard. Once the thing had stopped steaming, a door folded open into a ramp and two slimy, little gray men with big balloon heads got out. They inspected the dog’s business dotting the lawn, then proceeded to speak to Xerf, who was tickled pink that someone could speak her tongue. She was so happy, she slimed all over the place. We invited our visitors in for coffee and donuts, but they were more interested in what the dog had left on the lawn, so we let them have at it.
As for the UFO, it finally tore off with our Xerf fogging up the porthole as she cried and waved goodbye. I wanted to call the cops, but Sherry said, “No. It’s for the best.”
She bawled her eyes out watching our baby go, but she was right. It was for the best. You see, every emotion Xerf ever had leaked out as this sticky yellow goo. When Ken at high school ditched her for Susie Smith, Xerf was so heartbroken, she slimed around the house for a whole month. I still can’t get it out of the carpet or the cat’s fur.
Of course, my story should end there, what with our little Xerfabyybs happily winding her way home with her slimy-gray friends. But it doesn’t, for like I said, when that UFO crashed on the shores of Lover’s Lake, I felt a great swelling between my legs. It wasn’t cancer or radiation poisoning. What it was was a second Willy growing right next to the other. I kid you not. Where New Willy came from, I have no idea. All I know is when that UFO crashed, the swelling hit me like I’d touched 5,000 volts.
To keep things straight, the Willy I was born with I called Ole Willy. The new one I called New Willy. Now, I know the good Lord works in mysterious ways, but I figured I’d hit the jackpot. True, it did feel a bit tight down in my Wranglers, but I figured I could live with it since two in the bush was better than one in…
Well, you get the picture. Not a day went by that Sherry wasn’t ripping my clothes off. Her girlfriends just had to have a look-see and, well, life couldn’t have been sweeter.
Then one day I finally got up the nerve and showed it to Doctor Lowenstein.
“Well,” he said. “If nothing else, you can become a Jew.”
“When did this happen?” he asked.
“I don’t know. A while ago.”
“And you feel no pain?”
“Nothing hurts anywhere else?”
“Just my bank account. So, doc, what do I do?”
“Enjoy it,” he said, snapping a pic. “Anything else?”
Heeding his advice, me and Sherry went at it like a couple of sex-crazed pole cats. I’d never heard her scream so much. It got so bad, the Jehovah’s Witnesses across the way started to complain.
Then one night, after banging our brains out, me and Sherry was sharing a cigarette when the Willies suddenly stood straight up on their own accord, like they was coming back for more whether I liked it or not. Once at attention, they parted into a V, just like an old TV antenna. Then, a spark of electricity danced between them followed by a fuzzy TV picture that turned into perfectly clear picture of our Xerf happily squirting slime. On her knee was a baby. Seeing it, Sherry choked up with tears.
“Our baby has a baby!” she cried.
“Well, I’ll be,” I said, wiping tears. “I’m a grand…What exactly am I now?”
“You’re a grandfather. I knew Xerf wouldn’t forget us. Hi, baby. Love you. Miss you.”
“So that’s why I got two Willies,” I said, seeing through to the matter at last. “Xerf’s using me as a TV.”
Of course, she could’ve just texted or called. But what did it matter? Our baby was back. And she was a mother.
“Billy Bob!” Sherry yelled down the hall at our boy. “Come quick. Take a look!”
“Mom, I don’t wanna look at dad’s dicks. I seen them a million times already.”
Billy Bob came racing in and saw Xerf holding up her baby for us to see on my Willy TV.
Then, just when our hearts were busting with joy, the signal fizzled out and New Willy turned to ash and was gone.
“Well,” I said, sweeping up. “Looks like the party’s over. Better call your girlfriends, Sherry, and cancel Friday night.”
Done sweeping, I inspected the damage down below. I was expecting the worst, yet there was no scar, no bleeding, nothing. Everything was just as normal as could be.
As for Sherry, she was all broke up over losing Xerf once again.
“She’s gone!” she cried. “My baby’s gone.”
“I got an idea,” I said.
I handed Sherry a box of Kleenex, then drove her over to Lover’s Lake where we sat on the hood of my pick-up and looked up at the stars like we used to.
“What’re you thinking?” she asked, snuggling close.
“About all that’s happened,” I said. “It’s insane. A UFO crashes and suddenly I get a second Willy that turns into a TV for receiving alien messages from our ET daughter on Planet Slime.”
“Every family has a secret,” Sherry said.
I took the bottle of Southern Comfort she was offering. As I did, I felt a sticky slime on the bottle. My heart nearly stopped.
“Sherry?” I said.
“You slimed this bottle. Are you…?”
“Yes, George, I am.”
She raised her right arm and there, in her hairy armpit, was her own metallic letters spelling out her name. The bottle fell from my hand.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” I said.
“Now you know. There’s something else you should know too. I’m going home. It’s time. I need to be with my own kind.”
“What?” I cried. “And just leave? Just like that?”
“If you love me, you’ll understand,” she said.
It was hard to argue with that.
I bit back my tears as I looked up at the stars.
“Which one is yours?” I asked.
“Limoidad Andnaa,” she said. “You can’t see it. It’s behind Alluoh Joya.”
“Right,” I replied. “So why did you come here in the first place?”
“It was my gap year,” she explained. “Where I come from, kids do the same thing. They take a year off after high school to figure out what they want to do with their lives. All my friends went to Zssak. It’s a remolian in the Qwadrillian System of Emmer Teqquikals. The Zssakjians make the best akdja. It’s kinda like spaghetti only the spaghetti is spicy nomo worms.”
“So I decided to be different. I decided to check out Earth instead. I dialed back my slime function and fit right in.”
“Slime helps us control our emotions. Yet I can’t keep mine in anymore. I miss Xerf so much. Look at me. Leaking all over the place.”
I handed her the Kleenex box.
“Gap year, huh?” I thought, as the pieces finally fell together. “So that’s why you suddenly arrived in senior year. You wanted to fit in so nobody would suspect.”
“That’s right. All my friends told me to do my gap year on Zssak. They said Earth was a shithole run by dumb-ass apes, but I took a chance. I wanted to be different. And you know what? I liked it here so much I decided to stay. Of course, my parents weren’t happy. Oh, no. Remember the UFO that crashed when we first made love here? It was an inter-stellar limo. My parents sent it to bring me back.”
“And all those UFOs that used to hover over the house?”
“My parents. But I kept putting them off. But having seen Xerf and her baby…Oh, George. I miss them so much. My parents too.”
I held her as she cried.
“You know,” she went on, “you and Billy Bob could always come with me. Billy Bob is about to graduate from high school. He could do a gap year. Why not? You could meet my folks.”
“Meet your folks? Sure. Love to. Why not?”
“I’m not mad. Look, Sherry, we had some good times, but I always knew your heart was somewhere else.”
“I’m sorry. I never meant to hurt you. Honest.”
“Did you love me?”
“Yes, George. I still do. You’ve made me so happy. It’s just that we come from different worlds and…”
“So this is goodbye,” I sighed. “Before you go, do you think you could, you know, down below? For old time’s sake?”
“No. George. You do just fine with one.”
We kissed and hugged, like it would last forever. But it never does, for a UFO had landed down the road a-ways. Sherry hurried up the ramp, waved goodbye, then blasted off into the stars.
If I said I didn’t cry, I’d be lying. The fact is I bawled my eyes out. Sherry was the love of my life and now she was gone.
I guess there is a moral to this story, but I’ve yet to find one. But this I do know: Whenever I clean up the dog’s business in the backyard, I look to the sky and say “Hi” to all those I love and miss so much.