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had cleared my throat three times and shifted twice in my chair without having said a single thing. On the other side of the desk – actually my boss Mike’s desk because I worked in a cubicle and this interview was Important – sat a slender being whose translucent skin had a faint greenish tinge.
stained glass, I thought, or sea foam. He smelled vaguely of chopped
zucchini.The alien responded to my silence by unrolling his ears horizontally
and asking in a high but more or less human voice, “You were saying?”
His statement took me by surprise. I said something like, “Yes, you were, I mean you are, uh, an alien.”
“An alien?” he replied, “Whatever gave you that idea.” His ears did that unrolling thing again. All six feet of his height were slender, including his arms and legs. His head was large in proportion, with big eyes and these ears that were so motile they seemed prehensile. I couldn’t identify a nose. A few wisps of grayish hair looked like the remains of a failed transplant attempt. His twiggy extremities were still; the reds and golds of his scarf-like clothing hung motionless.
The second human utterance of this ground-breaking moment of interspecies communication was: “Ha. You are… or I am, I suppose. Ha ha.”
I squeezed my eyes shut, opened them, and tried again.
“Could I ask why you showed up here, asking for me? An unknown arts critic on a small New England paper?”
His ears tightened and lifted up.
“Why not one of the other dance critics, you mean? Why a guy who writes for the Portland Sentinel and not for the Asahi Shimbun or Le Monde or the Frankfurter Allgemeine?
“I’ll tell you why; it’s because their writing is incomprehensible. Rather than discuss the recital in plain language, they open a bucket of multi-syllabic vocabulary and apply it with a spackling trowel. They write that drivel for each other, for their editors, and for a handful of dilettante observers. Not for the readers.”
Jeff Spock has been writing science fiction and fantasy ever since his arm was strong enough to hold a crayon and is now pursuing a writing career after inadvertently passing 20 years in the computer business.
His interest in dance stems from many years of theatre subscriptions, plus a secret jealousy of people who are at once great artists and great athletes.
Jeff attended the Clarion West Writers’ Workshop in 2004
His previously published stories are
The MCC Project – Cockroach Suckers anthology, David
Niall Wilson, Ed
The Perfect Parasite – Anotherealm
Fire and Ash – Writers’ Village University
For more information see his website