Sex, Oak and Rock ’n Roll
by Bill Kowaleski
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3
Cindy sat in the Tahoe with Walsh, waiting, worrying. Every five minutes, Walsh texted a question mark and Gustafson quickly responded, “AOK”.
“So don’t worry, Cindy,” said Walsh. “Long as it’s AOK, we just sit and relax.”
From the front seat, she could see the resort up the hill to her left, her view partially obscured by Walsh’s blocky, uniformed frame. Straight ahead, Highway DK stretched ahead to a curve in the middle distance, its salt-encrusted surface framed by thick evergreen forest on both sides. She stared at the road, then rubbed her eyes. The road was melting, swirling. A hole opened in the air just above it, she felt a tingling all over her body, and then she screamed.
Walsh turned his head from the resort, looking at Cindy, who pointed toward the road. In front of them was an impossible scene. From a swirling hole just above the road surface ran three, no four, no six aliens, all wearing clear helmets, all in identical clothing that looked to him like the uniforms of law enforcement: black with bright white stripes on their slender arms, a prominent, glowing red, curly symbol on their chests.
Each alien held a blue stunner in one hand and a clear shield that stretched the length of his body in the other. They ran directly toward the resort in unison, their steps perfectly synchronized, their two-by-three formation tight and unchanging.
Walsh fumbled for his phone. “Ollie, aliens incoming!”
Inside the musty basement, Gustafson tried to make sense of his deputy’s message. He heard clomping on the floor above him, then the shout of a State Patrolman. “Ollie! Get up here right now!”
The resort’s massive, dark wood double doors were open and in the entryway stood four bulky state patrol officers, guns drawn. As Gustafson approached the door the most bizarre scene he’d ever witnessed unfolded: six uniformed Sirian agents, inches from his patrol officers, blue stunners pulled. Gustafson pushed his way to the entrance and said, “Any of you speak our language?”
All but one of the Sirians displayed two stripes. The one with four stripes on his sleeve waved his hand, causing an immediate retreat of ten synchronized steps by the other five. He then turned and faced Gustafson.
“Commander Inmohotep of Sirian Drug Enforcement, Interplanetary Force.”
“Ollie Gustafson, local Sheriff. What’s all this about, Commander?”
“We’ve received reliable intelligence that a wanted fugitive is at this location. He’s known to us as Inkohatum, though we believe his Earth name is Sean.”
Gustafson scratched his moustache, sighed, then said, “Look, Commander, I think you need to get filled in on what’s going on here. Would you like to take a tour with me? I think you may be surprised.”
The Commander chirped and whistled to his team. They retreated to the road.
“Uh, Commander,” said Gustafson. “We don’t really want to have the locals seeing your folks. Gonna cause the Department a lot of trouble if that happens. Could you guys hide somewhere? Maybe behind the resort?”
As his team redeployed, Commander Inmohotep followed Gustafson to the basement. There he saw the resin packaging operation while Gustafson, Gerry, and Sean told him about the resort.
After the tour, Gustafson and the Commander sat down in Wolf’s office, the door locked behind them. “Now, Commander, I know you got a job to do, but Sean’s been helping me out. He’s a valuable member of our team. I can’t deal with all of your kind runnin’ around my jurisdiction without I get some help from someone knows how to deal with these aliens. You take him away, what am I gonna do? And besides, isn’t Wolf the real criminal here? He’s the one packaging drugs and smuggling them back to your planet.”
The Commander had taken off his helmet. His huge eyes unnerved Gustafson who struggled mightily to meet the soulless black stare of the creature across the table from him.
The Commander was silent for a very long minute, then said, “Sirian law states that if a citizen is engaged in meaningful, legal employment on another planet, we are not allowed to deport him. Meaningful, legal employment requires payment. Is Inkohatum engaged in such activity for you?”
“Absolutely. Now he’s just started, so I haven’t given him his first paycheck, but I’ll be paying him end of the week.”
“I see,” said the Commander. “Your intent to pay is sufficient. It would seem that the Sirian you call Wolf and the two packagers have been observed by SDE personnel, meaning my team, in illegal activities, thus providing us cause to arrest and deport them. But, because we have made contact with local authorities, I must ask your permission to do this. Do I have your permission?”
“You do.” They sat silently for another long minute, then Gustafson added, “There’s another thing, Commander. One of your kind killed one of us a few weeks ago. Witness saw the whole thing. But we can’t tell one of you from the other. It had to be someone from this resort.”
The Commander’s face wrinkled into something that Gustafson assumed must be a smile. “You have not yet developed mind probes on this planet, I see. How unfortunate to live with such uncertainty. Give me your suspects and I’ll let you know who did it in a few minutes.”
The Commander paused. An indecipherable expression crossed his alien face. “If I could ask a small favor, Sheriff Gustafson?”
“Before I return, perhaps you could direct me to a place where I could purchase an Earth delicacy known as donuts.”
* * *
Sean, Cindy, Gustafson, and Walsh crowded around a table in one corner of the Mini-Mart. Brad had put in a little coffee shop after a visit to the Twin Cities and it had quickly become the town’s meeting place. A big cardboard box of donuts dominated most of the table.
“So I gave him Wolf first,” said Gustafson. “He put this little black thing on Wolf’s head, and ten seconds later he says, ‘Here’s your perp.’ It was that simple.”
“He said ‘Here’s your perp’?” asked Cindy.
“OK, no, not quite like that. The Commander is a formal kinda guy. So it was a lot longer and more flowery.”
“Speaking of formalities,” said Sean. “Aren’t you supposed to be paying me for services rendered?”
Gustafson smiled. “Yeah, but there isn’t much in the budget for consultants.”
Cindy took a Bavarian crème from the box. “You know what I think? You pay for this box of donuts, Sheriff, and that’s Sean’s fee.”
Sean nodded. “Seems fair. After all, on our planet, this box of donuts would probably be worth about a pound of gold.”
“I believe it,” said Gustafson. “After that Sirian Commander’s troopers took their prisoners back, he insisted on getting donuts. Got a mixed dozen and he ate all but two of them himself. Said he especially liked the raspberry-filled. Brad’s been carrying around that gold ingot the Commander used to pay him ever since.”
Brad Olsen had wandered by their table. His face lit up when he heard what Sean and Gustafson had said. “I’m thinking about opening up a franchise over there. What do you think, Sean, could I do it?”
“Sure, long as you don’t mind being paid in gold.”
Jim Walsh had been sitting silently. Now he shifted in his seat and said, “I know we’re all happy this is resolved, and that Sean can stay with us and all, but what about Josiah’s parents? Where’s the justice for them? Those aliens took Wolf back with them. We’ll never know if they punish him.”
“They will,” said Sean. “He’ll be a slave on a faraway planet, beaten regularly, worked until he passes out with exhaustion. It’s cruel punishment by your standards, but it’s our way for serious crimes.”
“But we can’t tell his parents that,” said Walsh. “What can we tell them?”
Copyright © 2014 by Bill Kowaleski