The Aliens of the Wild West
The Boss and Jimmy are inseparable, but it wasn’t always like that. A mere ten years prior, the two were on opposite sides in the great Civil War that ravaged the land and tore friends and families apart. Their like-personalities and needs, however, overcame any previous political differences. Now, the two steadfast friends face an even greater danger: giant aliens with the real possibility of abduction and experimentation on a strange planet far away.
This is a whimsical short story (2,600 words) I started years ago. I re-discovered it this morning and finished it. If you have time to read it, please let me know what you think.
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The Aliens of the Wild West
Regarding an Event
in a Desert Wasteland
the Twentieth of July,
back in ’69.
“What’cha see, Boss?” asked Jimmy as he bent to pat his horse’s neck and shoo away an invisible fly.
“Illegal aliens,” said the boss man as he lowered his binoculars and spat out a clump of juicy tobacco. After wiping his mouth with his dirty hand and then wiping that on his even dirtier shirt sleeve, he finished the thought. “And they’re big, too.”
“What’s the plan? We could circle round them and use the natural echo in them hills to create the illusion we have a larger number.”
“Last time we tried that, you ended up running home thinking the red skins had caught up to us.”
“That’s why you’re the boss, Boss. Won’t do it again, I swear,” Jimmy said and looked away in shame. The moment of reflection over, Jimmy’s head popped back up. “What do you reckon that big shiny thing is, anyhow?” he said pointing to a large metallic object in the middle of the valley.
“Donno. But from looking through these here binoculars, it appears they came out of an opening on the side there. They must’ve used it to smuggle themselves here.” Then with a touch of mystery, the boss added, “I may be seeing things due to the heat, but it sure looks like we are dealing with giants. Let’s get down the hill and have a closer look-see.”
The two tied their rock-like horses to a boulder and headed down with their canteens and rifles in hand. A few minutes later, they had closed a third of the distance between them and the giants.
That these two would become such good friends is a curious story itself.
Animosity was still running sky high so soon after the cessation of hostilities. They had fought on opposite sides during the great Civil War, but with such complimentary personalities, the past made no difference at all.
You see, Jimmy was from the Dark Side and the Boss was from the Light Side. Neither of them had a political bone in their bodies; they had simply woken up one morning to find their country at war with itself. Truth be told, not even the Boss was smart enough to figure out the why behind it all. And if the Boss couldn’t figure it out, you can be sure Jimmy was flying blind.
After the war, Jimmy wandered throughout the Dark Side in search of work. His home town had been destroyed and the surrounding industry devastated. Having no home or family there, Jimmy moved on. He picked up the odd job here and there, but it never felt right until he came across the Boss’ advert in a local rag.
The newspaper, from a border town due east of where Jimmy was drifting, serviced both the Light and Dark Sides, a rarity in those early days. Despite the political reconciliation, emotions still made sure the old borders meant something. Somehow—fate perhaps—the paper found its way into Jimmy’s hands and Jimmy and the Boss’ friendship began.
Jimmy went to the address mentioned in the ad and the Boss sat him down for an interview.
“State your name, son,” the Boss said to Jimmy upon meeting him.
“Ain’t you got no family name?”
“Well, sir, you see, I don’t rightly know. I never knew my parents, see, and the orphanage that raised me never saw fit to give me an official name.”
Jimmy knew the Boss could tell that he was from the Dark Side the minute he opened his mouth, but if it bothered the Boss, Jimmy couldn’t tell one lick. Jimmy, as a result, took a liking to the Boss right away.
“I see. No matter. What kind of learnin’ do you have?”
Jimmy thought long and hard. “Don’t have no Ph.D., if that is what you mean. But I’ve been to the schoolhouse a time or two.”
Jimmy told the truth. He had been to the schoolhouse a time or two, but not much more.
“Are you willing to follow instructions to the ‘T’ no matter how bitter things may get?”
Jimmy nodded with enthusiasm. “I prefer it sweet, though.”
“Son, this job can get a mite dirty. Do you suppose you can stand some awful stench? A smell that might drive buzzards from a fresh road kill just south of the perfume factory on the corner of Sunshine and Flowers?”
“I’m immune. Haven’t seen fit to take a bath in these here fifty days. I’ll prove it to you,” Jimmy said as he got up and headed toward the Boss with his armpit in the air.
It turned out the Boss was immune as well.
“That’s fine, son, just fine. This is the part where I instruct you in the particulars of the job.”
The Boss took a second to prepare himself, hoping Jimmy wouldn’t run away as had so many other applicants at this point in the interview.
“You see, the people of this here town have turned green. They also want to help the environment. The cattle the good town people rustled last season have deposited a great deal of excrement in the city hall. The people, as a result, turned green. They want it out and recycled into some renewable bio fuel that improves horse-mileage. I think it is all a lot of crock myself, but the pay is good.”
The Boss looked up and Jimmy was still there—smiling even.
“Sounds fun! I love excrement,” Jimmy said not quite knowing what “excrement” was.
“Well,” the Boss said after pausing for a deep swallow—the kind one might hear across a large room. “I reckon the job is yours if you’ll have it.”
“Really! Gee, that’s swell, Boss.” Jimmy wore a smile from ear to ear. “When do we start?”
They got started on the manure that very hour. When Jimmy learned the meaning of “excrement”—a word he has since never forgotten, he still pretended to enjoy the work—every single shovelful. He didn’t want to show his new boss he was unlearned or stupid or ungrateful or anything. Deep inside, however, Jimmy soon came to regret not being more forthright regarding his lexiconical shortcomings.
The job lasted six years. With all the excrement removed and recycled, everyone was happy. Jimmy and the Boss had amassed a fortune for their work, and the now non-green people were proud just how green they were—on the inside.
Jimmy and the Boss bought horses and equipment and rode together in search of a lady needing a handkerchief placed over a mud puddle, or some girl named Pauline tied to a railroad track, or a random damsel in general distress—no job would be too difficult or lowly as long as the lady had cash in her purse.
Mud puddles, fire-breathing dragons, and railroads abounded, but the Boss and Jimmy’s body odor made it hard to find ladies who wouldn’t rather jump in the mud, be burnt, or remain tied to the train track.
There was something about that last job that made these two bachelors utterly repellant to the ladies—this problem was exacerbated by their serious aversion to water and soap.
But that was all old history now.
A mere ten years back, they would have been enemies intent on facilitating the other’s death. But now, Jimmy and the Boss were standing together—tall and proud—against a potential threat greater than either of them had ever imagined.
The giant aliens and their shiny space ship.
The Boss held up his right arm in a ninety-degree angle signaling that Jimmy should stop and await further instructions. Jimmy wondered what the odd-shaped arm meant, but stopped and awaited further instructions. A moment later, two fingers flicked twice toward a rock covering on their right. Jimmy blinked. The boss flicked the fingers again. Jimmy blinked once more. “Go thata way,” whispered the Boss. Jimmy understood and, keeping low to the ground, he rolled away in that direction. After a few seconds, the Boss followed, feeling hopeful the giant aliens had not seen their stealthy movement.
The Boss took a moment to catch his breath and formulate a plan. While churning over great schemes in that little brain of his, he heard a loud crunching sound. He turned to discover the sound was coming from none other than Jimmy’s mouth. He was chomping on rock candy.
“Will you cut it out?!” the Boss said, sounding cross to Jimmy’s ears.
Jimmy sank within himself realizing his lack of self-control could have spelled doom for the both of them.
“Sorry… I was hungry.” Thinking of a better excuse, he offered, “I figured the risk of the rumbling in my tummy outweighed the risk of my munching sounds.”
The Boss gave Jimmy one of those looks that makes him look down and want to fall back to his usual plan of changing the subject. And he did just that.
“So, what now, Boss?”
“Shh,” was the only response.
The Boss was deep in thought and required total concentration. Jimmy understood and thought some soda would go well with the rock candy he had just had. Moments later, the Boss pointed to a hole in the rock above them.
“Jimmy,” the Boss whispered, “come here and give me a boost.” He needed a mere inch more to see through that hole and get his first good look at the mysterious visitors from outer space.
“Sure thing, Boss,” Jimmy said, rolling over so the Boss could step up.
“Little more, Jimmy boy. A little more.”
Jimmy tried his best to arch his back so the Boss could get higher.
“Ah, yes. It’s a pin-hole, but enough to see,” he whispered to Jimmy below.
What the Boss saw through that pin-hole was a terrifying sight. They weren’t just giants; they were monsters. Monsters in monstrously big white monster suits.
“We got two of ‘em coming out of a space ship,” the Boss explained to Jimmy.
Something right out of one of them dime novels, Jimmy thought. Right outta them dime novels.
But he wasn’t sure on account of not being able to read.
The monsters were indeed large, and it was a good thing Jimmy couldn’t see nothing from under the Boss’ feet. It was said Jimmy was afeard of his own shadow. This was surely true considering he was from the Dark Side and the Dark Siders considered shadows an urban legend.
One of the creatures held a rock in its gloved hand. Deep in inspection of that rock, the monsters had their backs—or what the Boss thought were their backs—away from their spaceship. A plan stirred deep within the Boss’ small brain.
“Obviously, them aliens needed the silvery thingamajig to get here,” he whispered to Jimmy as he shifted his feet atop his friend’s soft head. “They’ll need it to leave too.”
After the Boss jumped down, Jimmy took a moment to rub his sore neck before asking, “So, Boss, what’s the plan?”
“Them two monsters, er… unidentified personages are busy looking at some rock over there,” he said pointing away from the ship. “We might just commandeer their ship, turn its guns on ‘em, and sell its parts on an online auction site all while they ain’t looking,” he said while pointing toward the ship.
Jimmy grinned. “We’ll be heroes, Boss.”
The Boss looked at his simple friend and frowned. Hands on Jimmy’s shoulders, he said, “Yes, son, but I can’t lie to ya. This may be the most dangerous mission I’ve ever led. Don’t let ’em touch you. Them gloves may have acid or something on it. Might kill ya.”
Before Jimmy could verbalize his sudden desire to exit the mission, the Boss grabbed him and together, they left the safety of the rocks, moving irrevocably toward the alien spacecraft. As they did so, one monster turned toward them and spotted them.
They had nowhere to run.
In their tiny, little brains, both the Boss and Jimmy thought of running back to the rocks. They thought of it, but their feet couldn’t move. There they stood: paralyzed with abject terror.
“Neil—you’ve got to see this,” the first giant said as he approached the Boss and Jimmy.
“Ah, isn’t that just adorable,” the foul creature said as he picked up the Boss.
The Boss pitched a mighty fit, shouting obscenities and objections about being manhandled. Jimmy, looking up at his friend held high by a monster, marveling at the Boss’ extensive and colorful vocabulary.
Neil bounced up next to the giant who had first spoken. “Well, whadya know?” he said with surprise.
“I bet he could fit in my suit pocket and NASA will never be the wiser. The wife’s been wanting a pet and I despise cats. Dogs are too loud. This little critter has no claws and is simply a cute little fluff of stuff,” said the first giant monster with a giggle. “Buzz, turn on your outer mic. You’ve gotta hear this.”
“Unhand me you dirty alien! Don’t make me call my posse!” shouted the Boss. “Jimmy!”
“Yeah, Neil, I think you are on to something. They make the cutest squeaks.” The monster turned toward Jimmy. “I might just do the same with this one,” said the other giant. He picked up Jimmy.
“Look how furry and plump they are.” The giant named Neil poked Jimmy’s belly. Jimmy laughed with glee.
“Yeah. Aren’t they the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?” said Buzz as he stroked the Boss’ fur.
“Yeah, kind of like a hamster, but they don’t seem to bite.”
In reality, the Boss had his mouth wide open and was doing his best to find flesh to clamp down on. However, his mouth being so tiny in comparison to the monsters, his teeth were invisible to the human eye.
“What do you think, Buzz, should we film this for posterity? I mean, it’s the first contact with an alien life-form!”
“Yeah, get it ready. What a sec…” said Buzz as he brought the Boss up for a closer look. “If we report this, what do you think will happen?”
“Tests,” the monster said after a pause. “Lots of tests on the poor creatures.”
“Yeah, definitely the full Area 51 treatment. And you know they won’t let us keep them as pets.”
“All right. Mums the word with me if it is with you?”
The two astronauts agreed to keep the two cute little pets a secret. They hid them in the pockets of their suits and bounced toward the space ship.
Entering the pressurized cabin of their ship, the astronauts pulled out their pets. The men were excited for their discovery until the moment the astronauts removed their helmets. An overpowering and sudden smell violated their olfactory senses and induced a fit of uncontrollable retching.
The Boss and Jimmy were soon evicted from the ship. That did little, however, to reduce the rancid odor that filled the entire spacecraft. Buzz and Neil used self-contained oxygen tanks during the entirety of their journey home. This, thankfully, shielded them from their would-be pet’s putridity. That is, until the splash down site where the crew of the USS Hornet opened the hatch and…