Zog could not respond except in his native dialect. Eliot lit a match and opened a window.
“Come with me, my friend,” said Eliot, wheeling himself towards the door and pulling his hand in an arc, inviting the creature from outer space to join him. Zog danced past the old man, shuffled and hopped into the hallway.
Eliot motored through his doorway, spun in his seat, closed and locked the door to his apartment. Then, with a very loud voice, speaking slowly and precisely, Eliot attempted to inform Zog that the two of them should go outside together. Zog cocked his giant ant-like head. The alien’s body looked to Eliot much like a wooden marionette whose operator had fallen asleep at the controls. It seemed to collapse into itself. Zog could not figure out what Eliot was trying to say.
Eliot fiddled with the joystick on his scooter and approached the front door of the apartment building. Zog was suddenly animated and, boing, tappity-tap, clickity-click, fa-rump, tappity-tap, twirl, he bounced past Eliot and opened the door for them. Eliot followed Zog out into the sunshine and, with a great exhalation and a twist of his decrepit body, he closed the door behind them.
As he started to wheel himself down the ramp that had been added to the building back in1991, the year that the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, Eliot came to the realization that his non-Earthling friend would soon draw attention, even in this run-down neighborhood. In fact, at the foot of the ramp, one of the drug dealers was sliding over as if to strike up a conversation. He was a black teenager, eighteen years old, wearing a ragged t-shirt with a torn lightweight sweatshirt over it. There was a hood on the sweatshirt and he wore that up over his head.
“Psst. Old dude. Little guy. Weed,” said the young man.
Eliot was embarrassed for his planet and tried to explain to Zog what the proper etiquette was in this situation. He fumbled for words and, recalling that slow, loudly spoken English didn’t cut through the language barrier, he whispered hopelessly, “Ignore him.”
The young dope dealer smiled his widest smile, showing off his gold tooth. “Little man,” he said, gripping Zog’s shoulder with a painfully strong hand, “Whuffo you run off, man? I got the stuff.”
Zog shuddered, recalling all too well the incident inConnecticutwhen he attempted to warn the people at the country club about the brush fire. Why his otherwise-advanced culture never learned Earth languages is a mystery that will never be solved. You may recall how that bit of Good Samaritanship had gotten his brains bashed in by a golf club decades ago. Thank God for modern Margolinian medicine. But, I digress.
A wiser, more cautious, Zog now tried to shrink from the boy’s grasp. He bent his knees until they touched the sidewalk. When that didn’t work, he pulled out a ray gun and vaporized his assailant.
All that remained of the boy, Martin Luther Mogombo Jefferson, a direct descendent of a past President of theUnited States, was a cloud of smoke that smelled strongly of marijuana.
“Jesus,” said Eliot.
“Phoot, buppa-buppa, thrrrr-rumf, floob, Ba-roop, pop, vavoom, rip,” said Zog’s lively intestines.