Chapter 9, "Aw, Poor Lou"
I was so pleased to have my alien back in my arms for kissin' and lovin' that I didn't mind him keeping me with him in his spaceship for a couple of days. It was kind of nice, hanging out with him, doing my damnedest to completely forget the answers to everything I'd made the mistake of asking him. It was like old times, almost, before he became an over protective freak. He even let me clean the interior of his ship for him.
But all good things must come to an end, and eventually Xlormp brought me back to my cardboard home. Everything seemed perfectly normal, including Lou, who was naked save for his underwear and a spaghetti strainer on his head, brandishing his wooden serving spoon. "They're here," he whispered ominously.
I didn't really know who "they" were, because there was every chance that Lou was hallucinating, given his rapidly declining mental state. I thought he must be talking about his band mates, but upon further inspection, I saw none of them. No Lamp. No Limbo. Not even Larry, his beloved parrot, the very first band member other than Lou.
"Lou," I mentioned casually, "Where are your friends?"
Lou stared at me intently, his forehead creased, clearly deep in thought. His wooden spoon quivered due to the intense brandishing it was enduring. I thought for a moment that Lou might explode from way too much thinking.
But no. He did not explode that day. Instead, his face crumbled and he dropped to his knees, lower lip shaking like a sad maraca. "I don't know," he stammered sobbingly.
My heart, or at least the part of my heart that cared about the well-being of others, went out to him. What was going on here? I'd gotten so used to seeing Larry and Limbo constantly perched on Lou's shoulders, with Lamp running amock causing mischief, that Lou looked positively naked without them. Or, you know, that could have been the fact that he was practically naked. But still.
I prodded Xlormp, who had stayed with me for my nightly visit. "Baby muffin cake," I said to him, "What do you think happened to Lou's animals?" I turned to face him and wait for his response.
But Xlormp did not respond with words. His features clouded over in a mask of unreadability. Even if I wanted to figure out what he was thinking by examining his face and making a hypothesis based on context clues, I couldn't. That's how unreadable his face was right now.
"Candy limbs?" I tried again.
Xlormp raised one flipper up, slowly, delicately, to silence my word mutterings. He placed the flipper across my lips, but it wasn't seductive this time, no matter how badly I wanted to nibble it off. I noticed his eyes doing a weird twisty thing that I'd never seen before.
I heard a thud behind me, and then a familiar voice said, "Looks like they're taking hostages now."
I turned. "Christopher, where did you come from?" I asked. Except since my mouth was covered with a flipper, it came out more like, "Shmmsphhh ffshhhhhhhblm rrrrmph?"
But Christopher managed to understand my communicative noises anyway. "I camped out in this tree waiting for you to get home. I have this walkie-talkie here so I can check with Hector, in case you stopped by our house for some reason."
The walkie-talkie buzzed, and a robotic "I love you, Frig," crackled through the speakers. I felt Xlormp's flipper tense at another creature's declaration of love for me.
"Anyway, Xlormp, things appear to be seriousifiying now," Christopher asserted.
Xlormp's face went through a few more weird contortions before he finally spoke, and when he spoke, it sounded as if he were forcing the word through a bucket of thick butterscotch pudding. He said, "Yes." And he dropped his flipper from my face. I couldn't help but attempt to bite at it as it fell away.
"Tallybonkers aren't usually organized or motivated enough to pull off something like a kidnapping. You and your boys weren't prepared for this, were you?" Christopher prodded, slinging her elbow up onto Xlormp's shoulder area as if they were the very best of friends.
I watched my alien carefully. I had no real clue what was going on. But he shook his head. "No." He looked like he wanted to vaporize someone so bad right now.
Lou jumped in the air suddenly, slinging the spoon around frantically. "Don't molest those corndogs!" He cried urgently, and ran across the lawn. He was truly at his wits end without his companions.
"You know what this means, don't you?" Christopher demanded of Xlormp.
Slime bubbles rose to the top of his flesh and burst. He seemed angry, but he couldn't be angry, because he'd be poisoning the crap out of Christopher's arm right now if that were the case. And Christopher's arm seemed pretty un-poisoned. But I could see the cogs of his space brain spinning and whirring like a thing that whirrs and spins. Thoughts were happening, and they were fierce, dangerous thoughts. When he finally spoke, I could hear the Earth exploding in his voice.
"You and I will have to combine our efforts to protect Frig." Man, if he had teeth to clench, they'd be clenched, buddy. I barely saw him move his lips at all.
"Correct answer!" Christopher shouted, raising her hand to high-five him. When he did not return the high-five, she gave up on him and turned to me. I obliged and reciprocated the high-five. "Yesssss!" She enthused. "Between you and me, Xlormp -"
"And me," Hector 2.0's voice roboticized from over the walkie-talkie.
"- and Hector, Frig's going to be the most safest human on the planet Earth."
Xlormp sighed. "Most safe," he corrected patronizingly. Oh, how tremendously I adored him.