Alfia was in the kitchen preparing breakfast, a little annoyed that her mother had not come out of her bedroom yet. Alfia thought she may still be mad about last night and was giving her the cold shoulder. Nonetheless, Marsha had never been late for work a day in her life, and it was beginning to worry Alfia a little.
A gentle rapping came from the patio door in the kitchen. It was Janet, her backyard neighbor. Alfia thought it was odd but opened the patio door anyway. “Hi, Janet. What’s up?”
“Is he here?” She tried to peek around Alfia and into the house. “The man from Earth.”
“Um, no.” Alfia instinctively maneuvered to block her view.
“Are you sure?” Janet countered Alfia’s movements.
“Yes,” she answered. Alfia heard the garage door operate and immediately became suspicious. She closed the patio door rudely on Janet, just short of forcibly pushing her out of the house. Janet stayed at the door, peering in through the glass.
Alfia grabbed a frying pan to arm herself and approached the door to the garage. Marsha entered, and Alfia gave a short-lived sigh that ended the moment Joe came through the door.
Alfia was on guard again. “Didn’t you drop him off at his hotel last night?”
“We never made it there,” Marsha informed her.
“What do you mean you never made it? It’s just downtown.”
“Well…I was a little upset with you last night,” Marsha admitted. “So, I decided to take Joe out on the town. On your dime.” Marsha put her pocketbook and keys away. “He is, after all, a guest on our planet. I took him sightseeing.”
“It was very interesting,” Joe added. Alfia glared at him.
“Anyway, one thing led to another. We had some drinks, hit some clubs, danced, and here we are.”
“You? Danced?” Alfia swung the pan dangerously close to Joe’s head. “What did you do to my mother?”
“Nothing!” Joe cringed.
“Chill out!” Marsha put one hand on Alfia’s shoulder and moved the pan slowly away from Joe with the other. “We went on a dinner cruise. Things got a little wacky. The night got away from us, and then I thought he might like one of your infamous breakfasts.” She noticed the stove, the set table, and Janet peering through the patio door. “How fortunate, you actually are making one. And mimosas and tomato juice — you must really be apologizing for something.”
“But aren’t you going to be late for work?” Alfia asked, concerned.
“I called in sick.” She paused, thinking. “You know… I’ve never called in sick before.
“You fiend!” Alfia swung the frying pan menacingly close to Joe’s brain. “You fried her brain, didn’t you?” She turned to Marsha. “It’s okay, Mom. I’ll get you a specialist. He’s obviously wiped your brain with his telekinesis or something.”
Marsha went on to explain, “But it didn’t work. They saw me on TV, so I only get the morning off. I have to report in at noon.” She shrugged with an exhausted sigh.
The doorbell rang, and Alfia walked over hesitantly, frying pan in hand, still coming to terms with her mother’s nocturnal activities. She opened the door only to be met with an explosion of flash photography and gnats. Janet stood front and center, holding Alfia’s newspaper, hoping to be invited in. Alfia assessed the situation, grabbed the newspaper, thanked Janet, and slammed the door in her face.
“Hmmm, they weren’t there when we drove in,” Marsha commented, as she took the newspaper from Alfia. She rolled off the rubber band, unfurled the paper, and displayed the front page to her disbelieving daughter.
Alfia read the headline, “Joe Defies Gorgon, Saves Little Timmy!” which was followed by a full-page picture of the gorgon attacking the helicopter and Joe with the child on his shoulders in the corner. Alfia’s eyes bulged, and she grabbed the paper, letting the frying pan hit the floor. Joe jumped out of the way of the clanging cookware.
Marsha turned to him. “You’ve got a souvenir, Joe.” She gently removed the newspaper from Alfia’s hands and presented it to Joe.
“And you’re just getting home now?” Alfia asked.
“After he saved little Timmy, the whole town went bonkers over him. Mayor Nehru and his constituents danced with us at Club 42. The A-list of society came out as if someone had them on speed dial. We’ve been hob-knobbing with the rich and famous all night. Stores opened just for us and let us shop for free! You should see the stuff I got.” Marsha walked over to the television and turned on the local morning news show.
A news report came on, complete with video of Joe and Marsha, the announcer narrating, “The Earthling, Joe, made quite a splash last night at Club Tar Jei.” Marsha switched channels. “Making a death-defying 15-meter dive into Lake Protivin, Joe saved this young boy from certain death as he defied peptides and even the gorgon.” A different channel: “Joe, the man from Earth, and his companion Marsha danced the night away at Club Vlad.” She switched again. “Gorgons don’t frighten him, but Ulurues do,” showing the video of Joe startled by the stuffed Uluru in the toy store window.
Joe shoulders slumped, “Really?”
Marsha consoled him, “It’s cute. They’ll love you for that.” She turned to Alfia. “Joe is quite the gentleman. He wouldn’t let anyone give him anything unless I was equally remunerated.”
“Gee, I wish I could read this,” Joe said, looking at the paper. “I can’t believe we fit all that into one night.”