Nobody noticed them arrive, the shiny dark blue flying saucer glided effortlessly above the Hamra, the patrolling Syrian soldiers didn’t acknowledge them at all, as they strolled past the foreign couple by the Green line, we were arm in arm and heading for the Place Des Martyrs, a restaurant next to very ancient ruins, I did feel a bit dizzy at one point but that could have been the vodka gimlet or the luxurious heat or her, Jodie. “I don’t know whats happening to us, ” I didn’t either, everything was falling apart, and it was all my fault, my head would writhe agonisedly, and still we strolled. secure only with her, whilst my mind would unravel, almost paralleling the middle east peace process. Her eyes fixed upon mine, “Steve I really love you,” I still love her. The aliens shadowed us for a long time, whilst we drowned in each others inadequacies, they watched, when i fell and saw her and my sons faces getting smaller and smaller in a nightmare, they watched, when in another nightmare I saw her die, they were above me monitoring my mind, and I was oblivious of the scrutinising bat like little bastards right up until I trod on one by mistake.
That was the night I hid myself behind a sofa, we couldn’t speak without anger, I was as angry with myself as she was with me. Even now after all the brain surgery, I still cant believe it, a brain tumour, in combination with extreme events, and what moments they witnessed. Bats are dancing everywhere every night in Beirut, as the heat and dust of the day settle in that delicious lazy humidity of the night, all different kinds of fruit bats emerge, and they do resemble a bat in many ways, imagine a chimpanzee the size of your thumbs, then give it proper hands, and rubbery wings that stretch between their wrists and torso, they are almost bronze in colour, just like a bat. The immense resources and almost unbelievable technology, don’t help much. What really hurts is that technically they are not mammals, since they have no brain at all. Needless to say they rule most of the universe, needless to say they could crush our species like a bug. At least I crushed one of them, I was heart broken, I had accidentally squashed a bat, but somehow I linked that with my friend, Robert Kramer, I had deliberately killed him. Somehow the death of the small bat bothered me, as we lay pennilessly on the couch that evening watching Frasier on Lebanese cable, we still loved each other, Jodie was as unaware as I was that she was sleeping with an amnesiac murderer, I was oblivious to the fact that I loved a fantasist compulsive liar, even the aliens acknowledge that we were, and this is in their own words, “Quite a pair.” Going insane was quite effortless for me, almost natural, and for Jodie it was me and the rest of the world that was mad. The Battish leadership agrees with her too. The bastards!
For Jodie, all she knew was that a terminally ill friend of mine had spent over two months begging me to help him kill himself, as if it was my fault that HIV aids was retailing everywhere. finally after a major life upheaval, Falling in love leaving my son, the death of the man who was my father figure, I had had a very trippy weird night in Amsterdam, Bobby my victim, actually died the following monday, my incomplete memory didn’t acknowledge the fact that the police found him, on that day and oddly he died on the sunday I was visiting him, nothing of that night made sense, now however with a complete memory I can tell you that it still doesn’t, I just no longer care, and anyhow this is a story about how Jodie saved the planet from imminent invasion. I just wanted you to know that no relationship I ever heard of had such a string of bad luck attached to it, up to and including my as yet undiagnosed brain tumour, and having confessed that I am positive she is really jinxed up by Buddha or Allah, or any one of the spiteful little fuckers we call gods, why do I miss her so much.
So there I was sitting on our balcony, I was really getting into the swing of this nervous breakdown, it was my fourth one, practice does make perfect, I am in love, and when she isn’t talking utter bullshit or just exploding I am really unbelievably happy, this however is balanced by the worst isolation I have ever known, Jodie sleeps a lot, she was in our bedroom dreaming her dreams of me, you know that dream where your the fox and there are all these lovely people on horses who want to eat you, sometime I thought of her as my Bavarian atom bomb, she always had a hair trigger. This is something the aliens failed to appreciate. Listen before I write one more damned word I should tell you that the saviour of humanity wasn’t a big muscle bound hollywood type but a teeny weeny beautiful Bavarian jewish blonde, in heels. It wasn’t a glowing example of scientific sterile logic like the guy’s in Star Trek. In fact there is no movie in the whole world where the planet got saved by a self obsessed compulsive liar. Accompanied by a delirious shell shocked and wrecked newspaper photographer, not that I should underestimate my role in the aliens downfall either. Mostly I wish I could forget! and so as our life fell to bits, I was sat on the balcony of our unbelievably luxurious flat in Beirut, Lebanon.
When a teeny weeny flying saucer materialised in front of me, I think I blinked cos it wasn’t there when I closed my eyes, and I spotted loads of eyes watching me, it wasn’t long before a ramp came out of the ship, it was rusty and kind of made a screeching noise that managed to get our crippled and terminally ill kitten crawling pathetically for cover. I know that I wasn’t surprised by its arrival, lets face it if I was going to describe my brain at this point I would say, “Just like the Titanic, to many brain cells for the lifeboats.” So I just sat there, waiting, I think I smiled. finally and without ceremony a bat walked out of the ship, it wasn’t a quick and graceful bat, but a geriatric one. Hunchbacked almost, as it limped down the ramp, it had a bodyguard with it, 6 tough looking little customers with spears, and a 7th one carrying a chair. Also Beirut appeared to have a daylight bat situation going on, zillions of them were flocking to our balcony. My cameras were in our bedroom and i didn’t want to risk waking Jodie up yet, that would have been real trouble. I mean what would you have done, when it wasn’t women’s oppression it was politics, or some fantastical calamity, because the world was picking on her, we both ate a lot of chocolate and food was a good subject, in between all of this we had a lot of fun. But would you have woken her up.
It took the old one about fifteen minutes to walk the two and half foot to my cushion, I had Mtv playing on the TV, it was Moulin Rouge, Yipee Yipee I I Yaaah, and two more of them came down the ramp struggling with a PA system. Our kitten was called Raushia, she was looking at me wild eyed from under the coffee table, she had two broken legs, and her expression was just like Jodie’s, her thoughts were to, “Do Something,” Idid, I lit a cigarette, and watched them. By now the sky was black with them, as they swarmed around our apartment. The old one was out of breath when he sat down in front of me, but even though he couldn’t speak or breathe properly, I knew he was their leader, I thought of just squashing him, maybe they were like red indians and would surrender, but then I thought about it, I wouldn’t have surrendered, why would they. The two finally got the PA set up and it wined tooth shatteringly into life, one of the bodyguards passed the old one a microphone, he being to out of breath waved it away looking at me, I think he tried to smile but its so hard to tell with aliens nowadays it could have been an insult, but I did smile back encouragingly to him. he was coughing and hacking away for a while, and it was obvious that he wasn’t very well, he lit an itty bitty little pipe and puffed smoke all over the place, finally he drank a glass of liquid, dark and black and hot liquid, and my mind had a strange thought, “I like this guy”.
A small crowd of the bats had been gathering in a huddle near this scene, they had fedora hats and trench coats on, I looked really closely, there were minuscule Press Cards in each hat band, and all kinds of microscopic camera’s, I was about to speak, actually talk to an alien news photographer, I had picked it up very gently by the trench coat collar and popped him in the palm of my hand, It pointed a Nikon at me, I smiled, a flash popped and and I watched as he threw the bulb away and very quickly replaced it, it was about the sixth or seventh photo, that something that sounded a bit Prodigy erupted from the spaceship,
they all leapt to attention with their wings outstretched, as it played on and on, The old one just sat there, he winked at me. Finally the music stopped and everyone relaxed, they were obviously pleased, but i was wondering what the point was, Mtv decided to musically reply, JLO burst in with her love not costing a thing, the old one looked at me, I Spoke, finally man spoke to an alien species, the words that came from my mouth were, “I’ll just turn the TV down.” the old one nodded to me, “I’ll calm the kitten down as well.”
The Little Crippledy Kitty Cat.
Putting aside the agonising pain of her broken hip, Raushia was actually quite a happy kitten, regular food helped, and she was going to live another day because the vets was shut. When I first met her she was wailing from under a car, sort of squashed, sort of oil stained, sort of ideal for Jodie, the perfect subject for a Bavarian rescue mission, a bedraggled flea infested little ginger kitten, a terminal case that was doomed by the cosmos before we had stumbled upon her. I am not wanting to come across as some cynical shyster here but sometimes it is what it is, and in my case Jodie was in denial. At least Raushia was in agreement with me about the bat invasion. In fact her little high pitched mewing added up to one feline thought aimed at her human, “Get shot of these guys now Boss!” I meanwhile picked her up very gently and strolled back onto the balcony, noticing that U2 were where the streets have no name. It summed up beirut perfectly and begged the quicker question I wanted to ask my new bat like friends. “How did you find me, I have enough difficulty living on a nameless street?”
The older bat waved to a younger bat in a white coat, this little guy had a stutter, “wee ho h ho ho homed in o on your bra br br brains al alph al alpha waves and th the re rest was easy!” He nodded to the older bat who then stood up shakily.
After a briefer coughing fit he grasped the load speaker and finally spoke to me. “We have traversed eight parsecs to find you, many dangers have been overcome on our journey here, to rescue you!”
“What me. Listen Jodie’s a nut job but she’s not that bad.” I have been aware since the day I was born that I am to good for planet Earth but hell this was a development that shocked me and staring at the little bat fella’s, I was struck by their seriousness in this matter, also I suddenly had a massive doubt and gulped deeply. “Is she?” I mean she wouldn’t want to kill me would she?
Exhausted by this huge effort the older bat fell back wheezing into the chair. Coughing a lot he looked apologetically at me then said. “In your calender it was in 1973 that you screamed for help, it took us ten of your years to build the ships to mount the rescue, then another 30 years to reach your backwater of a planet!” Suddenly he stood up. “We have journeyed countless amounts of your Earth miles, to get here to rescue you.”
I was aware zillions of pairs of eyes watching me as I remembered 73, looking around I was glad to have the broken kitten to cuddle. I remembered Saigon and the relief of the explosion and the deafness that followed and thought of that crazed colonel for the first time in many years. “Oh right that scream.” Suppressing memories could be considered a specialty of mine. “Yes that day.” It was odd to be squirming inside of myself as I remembered that day. “Much like today it all started out so normally.” Then came that brief and difficult journey back into reality, the present had yet again been interrupted by the past. Which resulted in a question. “How could you know about that?” I paused and looked almost theatrically at my massive audience. “I was seven and a half, how could you know about that?”
My asthmatic friend waved to the scientist who stumbled his way through an explanation, luckily I had kept up with my physics or none of this would have made any sense at all. I discovered also that the leaders name was Uther, and that his son Arthur was the new king of their planet called Avalon, putting aside the cosmic irregularities of Arthurian legend it seemed nothing more than a bleak and mathematically disharmonious coincidence. Raushia chose this moment to start mewing in that squeaky kitten way and I could have sworn that the tough looking customers with the spears went ahhhh. None of which explains to you why we were about to be invaded by minuscule bat like aliens. Its all to do with foam, quantum foam to be exact, it surrounds our quantum universe. Ok two facts that will help you understand what I am trying to recall here, The relativistic side of the universe is very very BIG! Planets, nebulas supernovas all that jazz is massive, meanwhile the quantum universe is very very small, yet in its totality I reckon the quantum world is even bigger than the relativistic.
So that foam is in the smallest measurable region of space, that is called by scientific types the Quantum Foam. Now that particular environment is pretty stable-unstable, everything from micro worm holes to massively tiny storms happens there, even time itself appears to have nervous breakdown in there. It is a wild and often unpredictable space, so when I screamed back in 73 my voice was carried through a micro wormhole, a distance of 734 light years to Avalon where due to the absence of logical time in the quantum foam, the Avalonians experienced eighteen years of earth quakes and other massive upheavals. Since I am the only person on Earth with this somewhat ludicrous super power, Uther and Arthur felt that I definitely needed rescuing and set off building a small fleet to save me and their own planet. It took them 29 years to actually make the journey, 29 years to get here to save me or so I initially thought. It was at that point that Jodie stumbled from the bedroom and hugged me, oblivious to our audience. After quite a passionate kiss I watched as she headed to the kitchen. Now one amusing fact about my beloved is that the girl is as blind as a bat without her contacts or glasses on, seriously I watched her flag down a red fire engine at a London bus stop once, I was to in love to stop her, so awestruck was I that all I could do was watch my angel looking at the firemen and blinking and squinting at them, as she elegantly gripped her bus pass. Minuscule aliens wouldn’t have stood a chance of being seen. I turned to the chief scientist who’s name was Merlin and said. “She’s not being rude she has really bad eyesight.” He knew this already and nodded, in fact if Jodie had had decent eye sight she wouldn’t have gone near my ugly mug in a million years.
Fortunately I have just re-read all of this and if I don’t up the pace you will probably fall asleep, so heres the point after 29 years of planning and travelling the Avalonians had misjudged one part of their pseudo rescue mission, I being a massive mammal would never fit in their largest ships. It was then that the Uther muttered “We need the weapon!” Which startled me more than you would think. I mean one minute I am talking pleasantries with an alien race then they use the word weapon.
“What weapon, why use a weapon? You don’t need a weapon guys.”
He stared at me with steely bat eye balls and said in a voice like ice. “You are the weapon you fool.”
Then I found out about another clan of bats that were lead by some creep called Morgana Le Faye, “Are you shitting me?” They denied it, and I discovered that she was an evil mad scientist who was hell bent on taking over the whole universe. She was also winning the war and had taken Arthurs city of Camelot by storm and siege. After a huge space battle near the planet Camlan. Putting aside the fact that some guy in the 17th century had foretold all of this in a book called La Morte D’Arthur I quickly ascertained that I was to be terrorised into unleashing my super power upon her forces. “So let me get this straight Uther. You want to torture me for an indefinite period so that I can attack Morgana Le Fayes forces with my scream power?” Uther nodded. “Great and when she is finished off who else is there?” It was an alarmingly long list, as the Avalonians have a lot of enemies. Also the honour guards feet were tapping in tune with MTV’s latest choice, Warda’s Harramt Ahebbak, which always got jodie dancing which is where the troubles really started. Holding a steaming coffee and wearing her heels and favourite skirt she stepped onto the balcony with a towel on her wet hair.
“Who are you talking to?”
“Put your glasses on now.”
Imagine a pair of beautiful green eyes, then sit back and watch them expand in shock, she looked at me then at the bats then sprang for the kitchen. Now anyone who knows Lebanon has to be in love with something called Piff Paff, seriously this will knock the toughest cockroach down with one spray, it has more toxins than any other insecticide I can think of and is probably banned in Europe. Jodie stood fiercely framed in the balconies sliding doors. Her heels dug into the ground and I stood slowly then pulled her into the living room for a private chat, once I felt incorrectly that we were out of earshot of the Avalonians, then I spoke and filled her in on the situation. Now when Jodie gets angry her nose gives her away, I was watching as her nostrils got redder than when I had gotten us lost in a local refugee camp. She glowed with rage and stepped out onto the balcony and picked up Uther, then put him in her hand bag next to her Marlboro Lights, without any warning she pulled out the Piff Paff and screamed at the honor guards. “This is Piff Paff, its probably the most dangerous insecticide on the planet, I used it a lot last night, (which was true as we had had an airborne cockroach attack) and in all of the excitement I don’t know if I used fifty or sixty squirts, so what you punks have got to ask yourselves punks, is do you feel lucky!” Now having been trained as a dancer she turned gracefully and looked at me with utter feminine contempt. “I leave you alone for five minutes and aliens invade, I mean what kind of man are you?” I knew certainly that I was a photojournalist so my skill base with alien invasions was of course to photograph them, but Jodie then took over as she was a highly trained socialist revolutionary. “Keep them all covered with the Piff Paff whilst I have a private chat with their boss.” I had of course been taking pictures of the whole thing so I had to change tracks pretty quickly and pointed the Piff Paff at them. It was quite deadly stuff and I felt bad that I was making my new friends squirm with it, but how could I become there dream weapon. I am clumsy and trip over anything in my way and that is on a good day. Today was not a good day at all. So I could have fallen of our 7th story balcony.
Muffled shouting and swearing was coming from our bedroom and all of us relaxed a bit, in fact the guards sat in a circle playing with a tiny deck of cards and some dice and as Jodie negotiated I learned how to play a very difficult card game called haemorrhage, The two were at it for more than a few hours and during that time the conscripts from the Lebanese army showed up. Once they worked out it was an alien invasion and not the Israelis again they also learned the card game. Whilst Uther was having the argument of his life with Frau Jodie in the bedroom.
I could bore you with more irrelevant details including a very confusing chat with the Hezbollah and the local rep of the United Nations but lets be honest you want to know what was going down in the bedroom. Jodie has obviously filled me in since then and I will tell you what she told me. Whilst our neighbors son went and brought more Piff Paff for me she was negotiating with Uther. Just in case you have forgotten because sometimes I can just waffle with the keyboard as much as I can with my mouth. Uther is the former king of his people and the father of their new king. I turned out that he was asking for permission to remove my brain and nervous system to take me back to Avalon in his ship. I wouldn’t have fit in any of them otherwise. Now she had insisted that Uther head home and make bigger ships or that he could give her the plans to one and we could come for a holiday sometime after we had built them. Now Jodie was a s mercurial as she was radical, she knew we could have retired with alien tech to sell so she pitched him her idea. He turned her down but informed her that his race could live for several thousand of our years, it also turned out that a space war is a very slow thing so he had three hundred years to play with before Morgan could invade.
It was decided in a flash the two of them agreed that the Avalonians would build a bigger ship and return it would take them 29 years for their new ship to reach Earth. So Jodie had put off a great personal disaster and stopped us all from being involved albeit remotely in an inter galactic war. Then with that sorted all of the bats left in quite a rush, leaving the two of us happily alone in our flat. Needless to say we inevitably split up, Raushia was put down and then the Israelis bombed the heck out of the neighborhood again, but for that one night we were oblivious to all of our future turmoils, and at least we did love each other. So with relief we watched the real bats swooping around outside of our bedroom and then slept.
For twenty nine years at least.
Copyright Steve Merrick 2012