by Grant Cochrane
“Oh-ho-ho,” exclaimed the red-haired football commentator.
“Just look at that mullet. A classic. All business at the front and a party out the back.”
He had heard somebody say this before. Many times. That is why he said it.
“He’s a ripping bloke too,” added the brown-haired football commentator.
He had also heard somebody say this before. Many times. That is why he said it.
The crew crossed down to the female reporter on the boundary line. She was trying to describe the condition of a footballer who was bleeding badly from a head wound. She almost forgot to call the blood “claret”. She was new.
When the game was over, the cameraman followed the victorious team down the race. He waited patiently while the players formed a circle. Then, just at the right moment, he slid between two players and placed himself in the middle of the circle. As the players sang their team song, he rotated his camera to provide a panorama of victorious footballer faces.
He had done this many times before. That is why he did it.
After the game, the red-haired football commentator and the brown-haired football commentator took off their blazers and removed their make-up. They had time for a quick chat.
“We’re having a barbeque tonight,” said the brown-haired football commentator, “You know, the usual mob – Ron and Cheryl, Jack and Jen, Pete and Maggie. Stop by if you like.”
The red-haired football commentator tsked. “Thanks mate but I’m going to be heading straight to The Oily with Smithy and Wortho. They twisted my arm.”
They both laughed at this because they both knew the red-haired football commentator went to The Oily with Smithy and Wortho every Saturday night and there was very little arm twisting involved.
Shortly afterwards, the red-haired football commentator was driving home in his Jeep. He would just have time to get spruced up before meeting with Smithy and Wortho. Suddenly a police vehicle drew alongside him and he was directed to pull over. A policeman emerged from the vehicle and proceeded to walk toward him. But as he did this, the officer’s head transformed from a round, familiar, pale pink human head to a slimy, green, shapeless protruberance with antennae instead of eyes. Then a second protruberance, similar to the first, popped up from beneath the now-strained police shirt collar. The police cap slid down the side of the first slimy protruberance and balanced precariously on his shoulder. Clearly this was not a police officer but a space alien.
“Would you get out of the car please, sir,” said the space alien.
The red-haired football commentator had been fumbling in his wallet for his licence, still struggling to process what he had just witnessed. He put his wallet away and followed the space alien to the police vehicle. The space alien opened the rear doors and gestured to the red-haired football commentator he should step inside.
“Mind your head,” he muttered.
After the space alien had taken his place in the front seat of the police vehicle, he switched on the ignition, hit the gas and joined the passing traffic. But before long the smooth purring of the engine gave way to an unearthly cacophony of buzzes, clangs and whirrs. Another minute and the vehicle had taken flight. Clearly this was not a police vehicle but an alien spaceship.
The flight was initially jerky and uncomfortable but eventually the pilot was able to switch the ship into hover mode. He then turned his attention to his passenger.
“I hope you are not too uncomfortable,” he ventured politely. Before waiting for an answer, he opened one of the many portals that now lined the spaceship wall and wheeled out a large trolley laden with an impressive array of strange instruments.
“Are you going to probe my anus?” asked the red-haired football commentator.
“Why do you ask that?” replied the space alien.
“Isn’t that what you guys always do?”
The space alien turned a slightly brighter shade of green. It looked down at the trolley then back at the red-haired football commentator.
“N-no,” it stammered defensively, “we do not always do that.” As it spoke it pretended to polish three or four of the instruments, then wheeled the trolley back into the portal.
An uneasy silence followed. Then, suddenly inspired, the space alien retrieved a pencil and pad from the shirt pocket of its police uniform and began to write some notes. It peered into the red-haired football commentator’s eyes, up his nose, then back into his eyes again.
“Hmmm,” it declared with an authoritative nod and scribbled more notes.
Seemingly satisfied with these observations, the space alien wasted no further time in beaming the red-haired football commentator back to earth. The red-haired football commentator found himself behind the wheel of his Jeep, just where he had parked it. Checking his watch and noting the lateness of the hour, he proceeded to drive straight to the Oily. It was only after he had manoeuvred his Jeep into its customary parking space that he paused to contemplate his bizarre experience.
What impressive creatures these space aliens are, he thought. So unpredictable. Not like us at all. Surely we can learn a thing or two from them. He remained fixed behind the wheel, feeling vaguely repulsed by the familiar bass rhythms emanating from the Oily and the intoxicated patrons that spilled from its exits in indecisive little knots. Maybe there is something else I could be doing.
And indeed there was. Later that evening, after returning home to change, he attended a late night performance of Verdi’s La Traviata. Slowly but surely, the course of his life altered. Before the year had ended, after several warnings, he was sacked from his job for inserting too many obscure literary references into his football commentary. Undeterred, he spent the following three years obtaining a doctorate in astronomy. His firm belief, which he passed on to all of his students, was that the earth was doomed unless it could find a way to draw upon the wisdom of extraterrestrial civilisations. When challenged, he would just look up at the stars and smile knowingly.
Grant Cochrane is a Queensland writer whose work has appeared in Southerly (forthcoming), Seizure and Bluepepper. His archaeological work has also been published in numerous international journals.