Beer Buddy Blues

by on July 1, 2023 :: 0 comments

photo "Upwards But Always Down" by Tyler Malone

It was fortunate when Peter Williams chose our newspaper, and specifically me, to tell his story. Now I was visiting him on death row, one day before his scheduled execution.

A guard led me through a series of locked doors to a ten-by-ten room, painted battleship gray, with two olive folding chairs and a chipped steel table bolted to the floor. Two guards escorted Peter, shackled and cuffed, through the prisoners’ door. The bags under his eyes made him look like a zombie. They had shaved his head.

The senior guard, a big man with the gray RAF mustache said, “You sure you want to be locked in with this guy?”

I looked at Peter and saw a man with a story to tell. “I’m sure.”

The guard shrugged. “We’ll be outside if you need us. Take your time. I’d rather be here than breaking up fights in the yard.” They locked us in with a rattle of keys.

I took out a yellow legal pad and a Bic pen, and when I looked up, Peter’s eyes narrowed, studying me.

His voice was flat. “Stand so that I can see your profile.”

I stood and turned sideways. “Why?”

“I want to make sure you’re not one of them. What’re those scars on your face?”

Usually, it’s my boobs men are interested in. “Plastic surgery scars. I was in a fire as a child. Who are them?”

“That’s my story. I’ll tell you what happened if you guarantee your newspaper will publish it.”

I picked up my pen and lied. “They promised me as much space as I needed in the Saturday edition.”

He leaned forward and took a big breath. “Okay, here’s how it happened — God’s honest truth. I got no reason to lie. It was Friday night, and bored out of my skull, so I headed to Hank’s Sports Bar on Ninth. I grabbed a stool beside a funny-looking little guy, and we struck up a conversation.”

“Funny, in what way?”

“His nose drooped almost to his lips and ended in a sharp point, and his ears were wrong, oval-shaped, and no lobes. He was short, not much over five feet tall.”

“What did you talk about?”

“Sports at first. The Patriots were playing the Packers on the bar TV. During halftime, we ordered another round, and he said to me. What do you think of aliens? Because we were having an influx of immigrants, I thought he meant refugees, and I said I was okay with folks fleeing a terrible situation. He said, I mean space aliens, as in War of the Worlds. I told him aliens probably exist somewhere in the universe. He smiled at that, and that’s when I noticed his teeth. They were flat and stubby, like a cow or a horse. I asked him if he’d ever seen any aliens, thinking he might be one of those Area 51 conspiracy types. You know, to keep the conversation going.”

I scribbled notes on my pad. “What did he say?”

“I’m getting to that. Make sure you write this down as I tell it.”

I scratched the scars on my ears and nodded for him to continue.

“The little guy leaned close and asked what I’d say if he told me he was a space alien? I thought he was joking, and I told him so. He brought out this weird device covered in triangles and squiggles. It was about four inches long, an inch thick, and it hummed. At first glance, it resembled a TV remote, and I thought he was going to fool with the bar’s TV.”

“I asked him what it did, thinking he made it in his basement. He looked around the bar, and everyone’s attention was on the fourth quarter. He pressed a blue circle, and a hologram of a spaceship floated in the air between us. It was like something out of a bad sci-fi movie. That’s when I took him seriously. I asked if I could hold the device, but he turned it off and shoved it back in his pocket. I ordered another round and asked why he was telling me this. He said he was lonely and wanted to talk to someone, and when I suggested I could turn him in, he grunted and told me no one would believe me.”

“And how did you feel about that?”

“I didn’t know what to make of him at first. Then I got to thinking, if he really is an alien, he probably has other cool stuff in his pockets. The government would give me a million bucks for that device alone. We sipped our beer, and I noticed he was wobbling on the stool. I suggested we go for a walk to clear our heads. I looked around, and no one was paying attention to us when we slipped out of the bar.”

I wanted this in his own words. “What happened next?”

“As soon as we got out of sight behind the building, I snapped open my flick knife and stabbed him in the back. You know, to save earth from an invasion. When I frisked him, I grabbed the device the wrong way, and it disappeared in a green mist. The cook was taking a smoke break and saw me stab the guy. So here I am.”

I stopped writing when he stopped talking. “That’s quite a story. Why didn’t they pick up the physical differences in the autopsy?”

“There wasn’t an autopsy. My lawyer told me two guys from the government took the body away.”

I smiled. “I see.”

His jaw dropped, and I realized my mistake. He saw my teeth.

He strained against his shackles and tried to leap over the table.

I yelled for the guards.

They wrestled him back to his cell as he screamed, “She’s one of them.”

editors note:

Welcome to Earth, where we’re all one and at one with keeping others out. ~ Tyler Malone

Leave a Reply