Cindy’s New Profession
by Bill Kowaleski
“Don’t shoot me, Sean!” She crawled out and stood, shaking with fear, brushing off the dust.
“Please, Sean, don’t hurt me! I was so curious. I couldn’t help it. It was all so strange with Jason.”
He stared at her, his face full of anger, but then he softened and finally broke into laughter. “You should see yourself. Dust bunnies hanging off of every part of you!”
“Hey, why don’t you sweep under the bed once in a while, for cryin’ out loud!”
He was silent a few seconds, then looked at the bed and noticed the masks. “I suppose you’ve seen those.”
“Yeah, so I guess you’re Jason AND Sean.”
“Very smart. I sensed there was a lot more to you than a simple waitress. You didn’t touch them did you?”
“Yeah, I did. Where is that place I saw? It’s so cool!”
He sighed, shook his head, said, “What am I going to do? They’ll send me back for sure. I was doing so well...”
“What are you talking about?”
“Come into the living room and I’ll explain.”
He poured her a glass of wine and settled into the cabin’s musty love seat while she sat erect on a tattered overstuffed chair that might have been gold at one time. She was still stiff with fear, fighting to keep from panicking, nervously picking dust balls from her hair. “Wow! This wine is amazing. I never tasted anything like it.”
“My people like the best of everything; fine wine, beautiful women...” He stopped. She stared at him, waiting, still shaking.
“Relax, I won’t hurt you. I’m just trying to decide where to start. There’s so much to explain. Why don’t I start with the tunnel. That’s the big pipe out back. Did you happen to see it in action?”
“There’s a hunting platform in a tree just beyond the clearing. People who rent this cabin use it a lot. Did you know it was there?”
He laughed. “I’m hardly a hunter. So you watched from there?”
“Yeah, those logs just disappeared into it, then you did too.”
“It transports things. Those logs and I went to my home, a beautiful place of magenta skies and flowers of every color your eyes can see. You caught just a glimpse of it when you touched the mask. I don’t get to spend much time there any more, and I cherish every minute.”
“I suppose that’s how you got rid of the Lexus, with one of those pipe things?”
“Not quite. The Lexus had a transport tunnel built into the trunk with a system set to send me automatically to a secure location in Chicago if anything happened. Once the police got far enough away, my partners transported the car back too. We couldn’t let anyone discover what was in that trunk.”
“Were you badly hurt?”
He looked away, silent for several seconds before saying, “I was dead. But our medical science is thousands of years beyond yours. It took months, but the doctors fully restored me.”
“Oh, my, I’m so sorry. I hope it didn’t hurt too much.”
“No, they kept me in a coma until everything was regenerated. We have very vulnerable heads and it slammed much too hard into the windshield.”
“So are you one of those weird-looking things I saw when I touched the mask? With the big eyes and the funny head?”
He laughed and laughed. “I suppose we’re weird-looking to you, and yes, under this mask, under this artificial skin, that is what I look like.”
“So just what are you? Where are you from? Why are you here?”
“All the relevant questions in one breath. I’m really not supposed to reveal myself to you people.”
“OK, I’ll just leave now and send over the Sheriff. He’s still really curious about what happened to Jason and that car.”
“Cindy, I wouldn’t do that. We’d like to blend in, not interfere with your lives, but we’ll do what we have to do to protect our interests. You don’t know what you’re dealing with. The stakes are way to high for us to give up this operation. Your planet has the finest wood in the galaxy, and the best oak on Earth is right here in your forest. It’s making me and my partners unimaginably rich!”
“You come all the way from another planet just to buy... oak?”
He nodded, then looked away, silent for what seemed like forever, but she said nothing, knowing well that men loved to confess their secrets. Perhaps this very different man was the same.
Finally he sighed again. “All right, I can do one of two things. I can drug you and erase your memory of today. We’re not experts on your anatomy but the drug we use on ourselves does work, somewhat imperfectly, on you humans. Eventually the memories would return. So I’d have to keep you close, observe you, give you another dose eventually. It’s risky for us, but it buys me time.”
“I don’t like that idea one bit. What’s plan B?”
“You could join me, become a partner. It would mean absolute discretion, though I doubt anyone would believe you if you said you were in the employ of extraterrestrial oak dealers.”
“Well, you may not know this, but I’ve slept with half the politicians in this county. A girl has to be able to keep her mouth shut when she’s doing that.”
She liked his laugh. It had a musical quality, and it came easily. Her words had set off a torrent of laughter. It took him a few seconds to calm down. “Oh, that’s rich! I should have known. The cute waitress in the country diner. I’ve seen that movie!”
“So you know that she doesn’t go telling everyone what she’s doing. Some wives suspect, but sometimes it’s better not to ask.”
“Right,” he said. “I believe it. I believe you can be discreet.”
“Tell me what I would have to do.”
“Every time I’m up here, you’d report on any new people that might have shown up. Let me know whether they’re buying oak logs like I do. Tell me where they’re staying, that sort of thing.”
“And what would you do to them?”
“You don’t want to know that. Remember, I said the stakes are high, your oak is making us very rich. We’d stop at nothing.”
“Well, what if they found out I was snitching...”
“Yeah, it’s risky for both of us. But there’d be two ways I could reward you. First, I could pay you, say, a hundred thousand dollars a year.”
She gasped, put her hand to her mouth. “Are you serious?”
“You have no idea what an insignificant amount of money that is to me.”
“OK then, how about two hundred thousand?”
“I knew I was right about you! You’re no fool! Two hundred thousand it is.”
She couldn’t know whether what he’d been telling her was true, but she’d only find out by playing along. Besides, it sounded exciting, a welcome change from her dreary, sordid life, and the money was more than good.
“OK, this is sounding pretty interesting. But you said two ways. What’s the other one?”
“That I need to demonstrate. Come over here and sit beside me.”
She stood and cautiously approached him, peering into his face then studying his arms. “You look so totally natural. I can’t see a line, anything to make me think you’re wearing a mask or bodysuit.”
“Yes, our technology is far, far ahead of yours. And there’s more. Touch my chest.” He pulled off his tee shirt revealing a tight muscular body.
“Am I gonna see those visions again?”
“No, those only happen when the bodysuit or mask is fitting itself to the wearer. But now I’m the wearer, so I control what it does. Go ahead, touch me.”
“Wow, you sure look real.” She touched his skin. “ It feels real too. I felt the same way when I touched Jason. But then, you are Jason.”
Suddenly she pulled her hand back. “But this is creepy. You’re using some chemical to turn me on so I’ll have sex with a disgusting space alien.”
He nodded. “Right again. But do I really seem that disgusting to you? When you think about it, what does any human being look like under its skin? None too attractive, I can assure you of that! Just think of this as my skin. Feel it again.”
She did. Sensations flowed into her, a sense of calm, a desire to connect, to experience the ecstasy of sex. Her fear melted away and she found herself staring into his artificial eyes, breathing heavily.
“Well, I guess you’re right. And you really look great and feel great. I suppose I could try it. Can you get me pregnant?”
“No, that’s completely impossible. Just keep letting your feelings flow. You’ll never regret it.”
* * *
When Sean opened the door of the Tall Timber he saw Cindy talking to... no, flirting, with a young, handsome man at a corner table. Sean waited politely until she looked up, slowly walked over, handed him a menu and said, “Would you like a booth or a table, sir?”
Then in the lowest whisper she added, “We need to talk!”
As soon as the young man’s car, a new BMW Seven Series with Minnesota plates, had squealed out of the parking lot, she rushed over and grabbed Sean’s arm, leading him behind the restaurant.
They stood beside the dumpster where she embraced him, placing her mouth directly into his ear. “He’s buying oak logs at the Andersson Sawmill. He’s staying at the Rustic Inn on the state highway, room 14.”
Sean stepped back, concern on his face. “I need to contact my partners.”
He pulled something that looked like a cell phone from his pocket and placed it close to his mouth. Again Cindy heard the chirps and whistles he’d produced when transporting the logs. Within seconds, the device was back in his pocket.
“You space people sure do talk funny!”
He chuckled and said, “All in the ear of the beholder. You may have noticed that my phone, if you want to call it that, was a model you’ll never get from any carrier on this planet. Completely secure for our purposes.”
He broke into a smile and then surprised her, wrapping both arms around her and hugging her tightly.
“I’m sure about you now,” he whispered into her ear. “Congratulations, Cindy, you’re officially one of us, in a manner of speaking of course.”
She beamed, feeling a sense of belonging, of excitement, of her life moving again. But now she wanted to know everything.
She pulled away and said, “Sean, you really have to tell me, just where are you from and what do you do with those logs?”
“Yes, it is time. You deserve an honest answer. Let’s go out in the field so nobody can hear us.”
They walked to a creek shaded by low trees, and as Cindy slapped mosquitos he said, “We come from a planet that circles the star Sirius. It’s not that far from here in galactic terms, though those tunnels sure do eliminate what could be a very long trip. As for the logs, well, it’s kind of awkward...”
“Hey, you know all about me. Come on!”
“On my planet, oak is a euphoric. It transports us into a temporary state of ecstasy. Our people will pay just about anything for the best oak resins from Earth.”
Her questioning stare told him that she didn’t understand.
“Cindy, oak resin is for us like, say heroin, or cocaine is for you, and just as dangerous and illegal.”
“Illegal? Hey, you never told me that! I thought I was just helping with your export business.”
“I told you we were getting rich, I told you we’d do anything to protect our territory! Anyway, oak is not illegal here on Earth. You’ve got nothing to worry about.”
“Yeah, but you’re a criminal, aren’t you? And what does that make me? An accomplice, that’s what I am!”
“Yeah, I admit it, I’m a drug dealer. But as long as you stay away from my planet, you’re not doing anything wrong. And don’t forget the money, and the other advantages of working with me.”
“But I don’t want to be a criminal!”
“Uh, sorry to bring this up, but that second profession of yours...”
“Oh, yeah, that.” She smiled, wrapped her arm around him, turned, and led him back toward the Tall Timber. “I suppose you’re right. Helping you means I don’t have to do that no more, and there’s nothing wrong with keeping an eye on the strangers that pass through here. You know, Sean, you got a way of persuading a girl. I think this just might be the beginning of an awesome relationship!”
Copyright © 2012 by Bill Kowaleski