Never dreamed I'd be fishing with a tobacco-chewing alien but here I am. He hawks a cheek-load over the side of the boat then turns to me.
"You know what you need, Greg?"
"For shit's sake Albert! You say that every time we meet, what do you want me to do, walk to the farmer's market and punch one in the face?"
Albert tugs on his reel. "Nope, wouldn't want that. That wouldn't be very eloquent now, would it mate?"
This is typically how conversations between me and Albert go. He tells me what to do, I tell him it's not that simple, he responds in some ill conceived accent because he's an alien and doesn't know any better. The guy can't even catch a fish let alone linguistic subtlety. Though I must admit, for learning English by bootlegging satellite TV on-board his mothership, he's halfway decent at it... and a big fan of the X-Files.
Today I find myself floating rudder less and adrift in the middle of the ocean. When I say "find", that is to say that upon my awakening, in a strict sense of the word, I "found" myself sitting in a boat with my boxers on, holding a fishing pole, with an alien chewing tabacco next to me. It appears logistical hurdles mean less when your civilization is two billion years older than the human race. And once again, as always, Albert seems intent on bringing up my bachelor-hood.
"Greg," he says, "as an ambassador to my stah system, I'm gonna be honest. You seem rather lonely mate. Do you ever cry yahself to sleep?"
"Wait Albert, hold that thought." I pull out my cell phone, instruct Siri to record, then hold it to his mouth. "Okay Al, say that again, but this time, tell me how you really feel."
"You know I don't like repeating mahself but I'll say it again. Greg, as an am-"
"Shutup Albert, I heard you the first time."
Albert nods in acknowledgment, "I'm just saying mate, I picked you of all people to learn about humans. But you're not like others. You are withdrahhn. I'm just saying, you should put some bait on that pole my son."
Add some bait to my pole? My son? Did Albert just metaphorically criticize my pick-up game as if he were Jesus?
"So what are you saying Al? I'm throwing off your study? That I'm so different from others, I'm a statistical wrench in your perverted alien bell curve on the human species?"
Al hawks another side of chew overboard and responds, almost gloatingly, "A little bit - yeah mate - pretty much. We're friends but I still have a boss. Maybe if you found a nice woman to have a tussle with I'd have something good to repahht."
Albert's trying to be funny again but I point to my sealed lips. It should suffice to say that I want love. I wouldn't mind settling down. I temper that thought by suggesting everyone is batshit crazy. Just give me the word and I'm moving to the woods. I'll become Lord of the Squirrels, I don't care, because holy shit, what is wrong with you people?
Albert's planet is literally a utopia. No war, no poverty, no religion - just love. I imagine them plucking grapes from ornate golden bowls, fanning themselves with palms leaves, orgies, free planetary wi-fi, a real amore fest. Albert claims it's not so polygamous. But I imagine those things anyways. I wish I could be there. I asked him to take me once but he refused, claiming I had a mission to fulfill here - that I chose to be here as a soul before I was born. I didn't know about that. I thought I just popped out the womb begrudgingly, blinded by bloody provender, a beer and cigarette in each hand. Hello world. Please spank me.
"I guess I'm just aware Albert. People think about stupid things. Care about the wrong shit. I have white hairs Albert. Twenty-five percent of my scalp is white at the age of 32. "
Albert looks at his watch, to his reel, back to me, then says, "What does that have to do with you being a lonah?"
"I'm not a loner!" I object, "I just don't like people much. They turn my hair white. I think I need antidepressants. I'm thinking about getting on Zoloft. You know Mike Tyson took Zoloft. He swore by it. It takes a lot of concentration to fight... You think he'd be that good depressed? Moping around in the ring? He'd have no head movement, no footwork. He'd drop his hands-"
"Yeah but he bit a guy's ear off, mate. How do you explain that? Must not be all that splendid. A bit wicky-wacky, still - that man. Besides mate, you are all the anti-depressant you need."
"Awww, thanks Al. Nothing like spiritual mumbo jumbo to make me feel better. It's easy to say when you're eating grapes and getting blown all day. Life on earth ain't that easy."
"I do not eat grapes and receive fellatio all day, mate. I told yah, its not like that. It's more about bonding with anothah. Like, simply laying in a stasis chambah during warp drive, knowing the one you love is in stasis next to yah."
Albert spits out some more chew, but this time a line of saliva clings to it, lassoing it back into the boat. It lands neatly onto his lap. "Shit mate, I didn't power up that one up enough. How bothahsome. Do you have a blanky?"
"Yeah man, I got you." I set down my pole and reach into the cooler for a napkin when, out of nowhere, a large fish leaps out the water and lands directly onto Alberts lap, profusely sucking up the brown tobacco liquids, rubbing its gills in it like a horny cat on a sofa.
"Holy shit Albert, you caught a fish dude!"
The fish continues to writhe around in delightful asphyxiation.
"Look at him, he's loving it! I think he's getting buzzed, he's wilding out mate!"
"I think that's more because he's dying..." I report, "but look at that! You just caught a fish without even trying!"
"Should I toss him back?" Albert asks, concerned.
"No man, that thing would cost like 80 bucks at the market. I'm keeping it. Give it to me I'll put it in the chest."
I grip the slimy fish in the mid throws of death, demanding it 'fucking relax'. At the same time Albert lets out a shriek and points behind me. I turn to see my pole in the air, flying towards the water. It lands with a splash and zooms off at the behest of a fish.
"My pole!" I shout.
"That buggah!" Albert exclaims, "He's hauling off with yah your pole like an 18-wheelah mate!"
We watch as a murky non-descript body wriggles away with my pole towards the sunset, the sound of my reel ticking faintly into the silence of the ocean. Albert and I stand shoulder to shoulder, filled with cosmic bemusement.
"Albert," I say, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but did you just catch a fish with tobacco?"
"I think Ah just did mate." he responds.
"And did another fish just run off with my pole?"
"Okay Albert, I suppose its time. Spit it out. Say something spiritual."
Albert rubs his chin, spits out some chew and says to me, "Well I suppose mate, life can be a bit bonkahs, yeh? And things happen when you least expect- but as an ambassador to my stah system, I must say, hold on to your fookin' pole mate!
Once again, Albert speaks in metaphor. So does the universe, according to him. "Sometimes it whispahs, sometimes it shahts, but there's always something to be heard", he says. So what does it all mean? I'm not too sure at the moment. Different dish for different fish, perhaps? The poor bugger who flung himself onto Albert's lap would certainly allude to such. He didn't like worms. He was hooked on tobacoo (pun intended). Even fish, like their human counterparts, are attracted to different things. What a lovely metaphor. Hey here's another one - you can fish for hours on end but the one time you let go of your pole, a damn fish swims bites and swims away with it. It's like Albert said, things happens when we least expect, just gotta hold on to your fookin' pole. Maybe I don't need Zoloft afterall.
"Oh by the way," Albert says, "I forgot to ask... how's the writing coming along mate?"
"It's alright. Been a bit short on ideas lately."
"I have an ideahh for yah mate. Why don't you write ah story where you go fishing with an alien. And yah both mates. The alien chews tobacco because, well... Who knows why. It's jahs funny to picture. And eeverything is a metaphah, mate. Being in a boat in the middle of the ocean, that represents isolation. And you mates are fishing, that represents attracting othaahs. Then at the end, you realize everything is topsy-turvy, bonkahs, wicky-wacky, but its okay, cuz it was all a dream in thah first place mate."
"A dream piece Al? That's so cliche. What kind of crap story-teller would I be if I ended my story on-"
The alarm clock goes off. I slam my hand on the snooze and grab my journal. I write:
Jan 15, 2018
Gotta be quick before I forget. Albert visited me again last night in my dreams. This time we fished. Last time was a theme park. Before that was a zoo. I'm beginning to think this guy is living a human life vicariously through my dreams. Said I needed a girlfriend. Wanted me to write a story about it. I'll think about it. The story, I mean. Dream stories are cliche. But what isn't? Still waiting for Albert to visit me in real life. Until then, dreams will do. Be patient. Hang on to your fookin pole mate. Until next time, Al.