After months of living with Slippy the Wibble, the only known Extraterrestrial on earth, nothing he asked for seemed strange anymore. Still, I was surprised when he requested a ride-along with a policeman. I knew a cat in Carltonsville who worked the evening shift—guy by the name of John Randow. We met him at the police station at two forty-five.
“Holy cow, man!” John leaned back as he regarded Slippy. The alien had thinned his middle out so much, he looked like four feathery earthworms holding up one of those mini trampolines. “I mean, I’ve seen you on TV, but seeing you here… holy cow.”
I know this is usually where the space alien says something like, ‘I’m an alien, not a cow’ or ‘Are you Hindu? Why so much interest in sacred cows?’ But, you see, the Wibbles had been studying the earth for a long time, and Slippy—with the help of the translator strapped to one of his worms—new far more idioms than I did. So he just rolled with it.
“I hope I don’t frighten you,” Slippy said. “I must look very strange.”
“I’m more weirded out than scared,” said John. “A man has to give his mind time to adjust—seeing you on the news didn’t sink in entirely.”
He drove us out to his beat in a moderately poor neighborhood, small shops and a mix of ethnic groups, including whites. “So how many Wibbles are already here masquerading as humans?”
I couldn’t tell if officer Randow was serious or making fun, but Slippy’s slowly inflating middle and the curling of one of his tentacles seemed to indicate he was amused. “Three thousand four hundred eighty-one.”
“Ah, you’re yanking my chain.”
“You’ve been served by an ET,” I said.
“Fair’s fair.” John chuckled. “You guys know Captain Kirk, right? Now that we’re in my area, remember the Prime Objective, you hear?”
Slippy curled a worm. “It is a platitude serving for diplomacy filtered through ethics of a faulty philosophy for entertainment purposes.”
“Yeah, well—the thing is, don’t interfere. I’m the professional, and you two are only observers. Keep quiet and stay out of the way when I’m on a call. Dig?”
“I’ll take it under advisement,” said Slippy.
“What the hell does that mean?”
“It means he digs,” I said.
“Prime Objective, fellas.” He slowed next to a park to observed the people. “It is sacrosanct.”
The first call they went on was a domestic disturbance. A lady called, afraid for the safety of her next door neighbors, when she heard angry screaming and loud banging. When they arrived, a woman opened the door, still screaming at someone inside. Her face was bruised and a dab of blood hung under her nose. The husband came up behind her, also bruised with a small abrasion above his right eye.
John ascertained that neither were wounded enough to require medical attention, and the couple were of the mind that he should mind his own business, so he left them to navigate their marital bliss.
“These people have a lot of stress just trying to get by,” said John. “So they act out a bit more than most people, but as long as they keep within the law and don’t harm one another, we try to keep our hands off.” He waited as if expecting an answer from Slippy. “Can you relate to that?”
“It was informative,” said the Wibble.
“You know what you should do?” said John. “Take him to the water park.” For the next hour he described all the best rides.
The second call took them to a convenience store where a teenager had stolen a can of soup.
John escorted the boy to the back of the car, white kid with tangled black hair and a red and white striped shirt like ‘Where’s Waldo.’ He had Slippy and me wait outside while he spoke to the owner. They made emphatic gesticulations that finally eased, and they shook hands.
John came out with a bag and scratched the back of his head. He eyeballed Slippy. “Don’t judge this kid too harshly. When you steal soup, you’re not looking for trouble. You’re hungry.” He opened the door to let the boy out and handed him the grocery bag. “Go home, kid.” When he’d gone, John crossed his arms and set his feet in front of Slippy. “You understand what happened here, don’t you?”
“I endeavor to comprehend every relevant aspect,” said the alien.
“Good,” said John. “You know, if you really want to observe humanity in all it’s glory, you should check out our schools and our community centers. Hey! We should go bowling, you know?”
John spent the next half hour trying to explain bowling to Slippy.
The last call of the day reported a creepy man at Raspberry Park asking people for money. They found him high on something and as ripe as a wild dog. John took him in for everyone’s safety.
“There but by the grace of God go us,” said John. “I know this looks pretty bad, Mr. Slippy, but he needs help more than condemnation.” He tsked. “So many of them can be recovered. You’ve gotta believe that. You with me?”
Slippy wobbled in a way I’d come to take as deference. “I like your passion, officer.”
“So, whattaya think, Mr. Slippy? Is humanity worth preserving? You going to call off the extermination machine?”
“I’m extending the countdown another month.”
“Wha—?” He ran his hand through his bangs. “Oh! You got me again.” He still seemed troubled the way he looked at the ground and fiddled with his radio. “Seriously, though. Don’t you think there’s something redeemable about us human beings?”
Slippy flicked two worms and wriggled another. “I haven’t given it the slightest consideration today. I was studying your driving.”