The E-Lounge Memoirs: Alien Abduction
Pushing thick glasses up the nose, the long, greying-haired, sixty-something woman sitting across the table tapped a cigarette in the ashtray while engrossed in a novel. Not meaning to be ageist, but her age worried as she seemed out of place at the college during the day. The insane students haunting the E-Lounge often challenged identification since they neither looked nor acted insane until inescapable conversations of unstoppable crazy talk started. Still, the need for a lighter or match fought my fear of the possible lunatic lurking behind those thick glasses, and when the desire for nicotine finally won, madness immediately unleashed. “I don’t use lighters because they pollute the ozone so here’s a pack of matches you can have. I always carry an extra pack for other people because I’m trying to get people to stop creating an optimal environment for the Planet People.”
“Thanks.” A brief, abrupt gratitude failed to end further discussion.
“You know cigarettes don’t cause cancer, right?”
I nodded. “I have heard that before.” Agreeing with her crazy exposition also failed.
The Planet Lady’s book closed, foretelling the demented talk to be endured, but luckily, a girl sitting two seats away became a target. “Miss!” The woman tapped the table with her index finger. “You shouldn’t leave your solar calculator open on the desk. You’re wasting the sun.”
The girl frowned at the Planet Lady and me. “Thanks. I’ll watch for that.”
Luck didn’t hold; the girl removed herself as a diversion by gathering books and calculator to go sit outside which didn’t faze the Planet Lady who immediately returned attention to me. “Planet People are the reason they say cigarettes cause cancer…”
Watching the girl exit to sit on the bench outside the lounge, I wondered why these Planet Lady situations occurred. Sure, other people dealt with the nuts of the world, but this situation happened often and forced questioning of possible behaviors or cues that made these people feel comfortable spewing insanity. No matter, Mary Jane’s arrival would soon end the situation by providing an excuse to escape to another lounge to wait for class.
The Planet Lady pointed upward her cigarette. “…Planet People cause cancer when they invade your body. The government doesn’t want us to know this, so they blame cancer on cigarettes. That’s why the invaded government people try to bankrupt the tobacco companies…”
Nodding accompanied self-examination of an upbringing that instilled too much politeness which crazies detected and exploited. Perhaps the inability to be rude to the Planet Lady served as a greater disservice to her by keeping her unaware of her unacceptable behavior. How this woman walked through life with no one taking notice or doing anything to help her seemed inconceivable as I continued nodding in frustration.
“They live inside you, but you don’t know they’re there until you get cancer. The Planet People are just watching and waiting until they get enough of them inside us. Really, we should be thanking the cigarette companies because the Planet People hate smoke, specifically nicotine, and if you smoke, you don’t have to worry about having your body invaded.”
Looking out the window brought no joy for the arrival of Mary Jane who I met last semester while still dating someone. My commitment or lack thereof never fazed Mary Jane as sleeping together organically grew out of writing her essays and a shared appreciation for smoking weed. My relationship status didn’t faze her, before or after the breakup, as she seemed uninterested in anything beyond partying and sometimes having sex. Oddly uninterested in relationships of any form, she sometimes made me wonder if she ever acknowledged anyone she dated seriously, but not in a bad way, more like relationships didn’t fit into her world.
The Planet Lady pulled her long hair back. “…and the Planet People came here back in the forties, you know, Roswell and all that, but what people don’t know is that they’re slowly infiltrating the nonsmokers who are all Mormons which explains a lot because…”
A strange uncertainty for Mary Jane haunted, not in distrust but in confusion as we hung out often and had sex when she felt like it. This perturbed sometimes when she habitually walked around my apartment in her underwear which made her comfortable but caused an infinite wait for the mood for sex to strike her.
The Planet Lady pointed to a girl sitting a few seats away. “Miss! Miss! Do you mind not playing your Walkman around us, please? The sonic vibrations can cause a heart attack.”
The outburst returned focus to the Planet Lady and the new complications she presented. Would she leave when the classes changed? Doubtful. Would she continue talking when Mary Jane arrived? Most likely. Dammit, did she even attend classes or did she wander in off the street? It certainly happened before and more than once. Would she be here every day? God, I hope not.
The Planet Lady showed no signs of ever leaving as her question caught my attention. “You know why they invade our bodies?”
I shook my head.
The Planet Lady leaned forward. “You’re delicious!”
“Humans are like venison. You need to kill the deer quickly so it doesn’t get adrenaline pumping and ruin the taste of the meat. That’s why the Planet People wait until there’s enough of them in us and they all strike at once and eat us from the inside out.” She nodded with a lunatic’s grin as the door to the lounge burst open.
Strutting into the E-Lounge like a supermodel on the catwalk wearing dark sunglasses, a pencil skirt, and long hair flowing like dark silk, Mary Jane cocked her head seeing the Planet Lady, thrust her index finger in the air, and twirled it like a lasso while turning one-eighty signaling me to follow.
I looked at the Planet Lady. “Gotta go.”
Exiting the door in a rush, I stopped as Mary Jane turned to me pointing at the building. “Dude, that lady is nuts.”
I pointed my thumb back at the lounge. “Don’t I know it. She’s been talking my head off.”
Mary Jane dug through her purse pulling out a crumpled, quadruple folded paper and then adjusted her sunglasses. “I gotta drop this paper in my teacher’s box over by the cafeteria. Let’s turn this paper in and roll. I don’t feel like class.”
“Isn’t that the paper I wrote for you last week?”
She nodded and started walking. “Yeah, I forgot to turn it in, so I told him I forgot because of my Pronoun Disorder which wasn’t a total lie because it was acting up that day. I told him, ‘I would’ve turned it in on time but I got confused and depressed because of all the hes, shes, and its.’” She shook her head and curled her lip in a frown. “It’s surprising how many people, especially teachers, never heard of Pronoun Disorder. For Christ’s sake, it’s like dyslexia, you know what I mean?”
“Yeah.” I nodded as we arrived, pushed the paper in the teacher’s box, and headed to the cafeteria where she sauntered through the lunch crowd. Seeing a guy at a table of people wave, Mary Jane pointed to the table and smiled. “Dude.”
A guy’s voice came from the left. “Wassup, Mary Jane.”
She kept walking, turning that smile, pointing left. “Dude”
A table of nerds waved. “Hey, Mary Jane.”
Still walking, nodding, smiling, and pointing right. “Dudes!”
“Hi, Mary Jane.” Three girls entered the cafeteria, as Mary Jane pointed both forefingers. “Babes!”
Exiting the building, she walked fast, turned, and threw me the keys as we approached the car. “Dude, you need to drive.”
I unlocked and opened the passenger door for her and walked around the vehicle as she rolled her fingernails on the car’s top while pulling flats off with the other hand tossing them into the backseat. “Man, I quit smoking yesterday. I’m using the only smoke weed method which seemed like it was working until this morning when I really wanted a cigarette, so I waked and baked, and now I’m so high I feel like I’m tripping. I need some alcohol to take the edge off.”
Driving away from the school to the liquor store, Mary Jane rummaged a shirt from the back seat and pulled it over her head and did that thing women do when they take off one piece of clothing while putting on another to cover themselves. This served no purpose as she rolled her skirt off her legs, leaving her in underwear and a t-shirt as she dug through the backseat with her ass facing the windshield. “Where the fuck are my shorts?”
Finding her shorts and getting dressed as I pulled into the liquor store, she grabbed my arm as eyebrows lifted high above her sunglasses’ rims. “Dude, get me a cold box of wine and some Doritos.”
I nodded and exited looking back as she flipped the rearview mirror to check her hair. I shook my head smiling as Mary Jane appeared a Prada-wearing Cinderella delivered to a Grateful Dead show instead of the royal ball. Most people didn’t notice this duality, knowing her only superficially because of her traumatic inability to remember names and faces. Watching her toss things around inside the car in a search for something evoked joy as I exited the liquor store. Perhaps Mary Jane held more promise than partying, occasional sex, and getting stoned.
“Let’s go to Centennial Park.” She grabbed the Doritos from the bag as I slipped into the driver’s seat.
“Cool.” I started driving.
She lit a joint. “Dude, you got to get to my level.” She inhaled then held the joint to my lips while she spoke, “This shit’s going to rock your world.”
I nodded coughing and gripping the wheel.
She toked and coughed smoke out the window. “Did I tell you about the meeting with my counselor?”
I shook my head still coughing.
“Yeah, so she’s like telling me that I need to focus more on an area of education for a career, and I tried to explain how degrees are too specific and limiting. I’m into that classic education approach, you know, like the well-rounded person who has a little understanding of everything.” She pointed the bag of Doritos to the road to turn into the park. “Like, the only thing you’re going to do with a chemistry major is be a chemist, right?”
I nodded. “Right.”
“Right. So, not wanting to limit myself, I told her my degree is way too focused already. You know what I mean?”
I glanced her way. “You’re a General Studies major.” I pulled into a parking space.
“Exactly!” She exited the car running towards the lake with the Doritos as I grabbed the box of wine, and the bag containing cups and booze. “Dude it’s so nice out.” Appearing like Daphne, except for the bag of Doritos, Mary Jane whirled in the sunlight as if frolicking by the river Styx. Setting the booze on a picnic table, I opened and poured some wine in a cup, and cracked a beer for myself as a bevy of swans floated past on the water. Appearing to have no depth like wood ducks in a carnival game, the swans swam away as I sat on the tabletop watching Mary Jane kneel, point, and talk to them like little children. “Where are you going? Don’t you swim away from me?”
Watching her, everything started making sense. We shared ancestry in the American way of having Italian last names while not being able to speak the language and possessing no knowledge of the culture. We also shared affection for partying and having fun, and all these similarities signaled a blossoming relationship. It was all so clear as she turned and pursed her lips walking towards me in the sun’s radiance that followed her. Perching her sunglasses on her head, Mary Jane squeezed between my knees. “Dude, I wanted to talk to you.”
I nodded. This lovely Italian, pothead princess is going to take this relationship to the next level.
She took a sip of wine. “Look, I think we’ve been getting kind of tight, and I feel like I can trust you.”
I nodded. “You can.” Right there all that time, the girl I’d been waiting to meet.
“Promise you won’t tell anyone.” She raised eyebrows and tilted her head.
“You’re cool. I promise.” Here comes the parting of some deep, personal secret that constructs the bridge of trust to the place of love.
She sipped wine and turned her form placing her head against mine as we stared at the lake. “One night when I was little, I woke from a strange noise and opening my eyes a bright light filled the bedroom. I couldn’t move or say anything, and as I laid there paralyzed by some unseen force, an alien entered my room by walking right through the wall and window like they were made of water. He held a blue light over me and waved it back and forth…”
Thoughts churned listening to Mary Jane tell of the strange, grey alien whose intrusive blue light examined her nude form — thoroughly. She turned resting her hands on my shoulders. “…and sometimes I fear they’ll return, but dude, what wigs me out the most is why? Why did they examine me? What did they want?”
I sat the beer down and gripped Mary Jane’s waist and looked that beautiful girl in the eye. “You’re delicious.”