My friend from outer space, KB-11.2, was worried and out of sorts the other evening as he and I had a soft drink together at a dingy roadhouse north of here. The Enchantment is the kind of joint a college town like Letongaloosa must have to keep its academic accreditation.
My friend Kaybe isn’t one of those scary bug-eyed, green-skinned aliens that you read about.Kaybe looks like a giant tuna fish can. Erector Set® arms sprout from the curved sides of his body.
Three spindly metal legs drop from the flat underside of his stainless steel torso. He has ball bearing wheels for feet, and three sensor-eyes wave at you from the ends of floppy antennae on the top of his lid.
Customers at The Enchantment don’t even raise an eyebrow when Kaybe rolls in and joins me at one of the back booths. They’re accustomed to seeing unusual folks around the place–people like Harry the Hulk and his diminutive pal Miniature Mike, and Four-Finger Fannie and Dogface McGee. It’s a down home kind of place, and the alien KB-11.2 and I fit right in.
Kaybe wasn’t himself the other night. He was distracted and preoccupied. When I was a young man, Kaybe saved my engagement and marriage by teaching me Mujerspeak, the language of women. Kaybe has always been cool, kind, and methodical. Now he seemed feverish, and that’s difficult for someone who has a tin can for a body. I put my hand on his rounded stainless steel torso. It was warm.
“Kaybe, you’re feverish,” I said.
“I know. I’m so worried that I’ve overloaded my diodes,” he said. “I’ve fallen into the clutches of the Galactic Boinks. They’re fiscally flagellating me.”
“What are Galactic Boinks?” I asked.
“I don’t know how to describe boinks,” said Kaybe. “There’s nothing here on earth to compare them to. Boinks are galactic institutions that serve as financial intermediaries. Originally boink operations were simple and straightforward. You deposited your financial resources in a boink and drew them out as needed to pay bills, mortgages and for other living expenses,” saidKaybe.
Then he described how a bunch of executive goons had taken over the galactic boinks. “These thugs added all kinds of products and complicated services that had very little to do with the boinking business,” said Kaybe. Boinks3
He said they also devised complicated and draconian systems of fees that preyed on
depositors. If their computers said your account was overdrawn the boinks began to
manufacture penalty fees. Within microseconds they added nonpayment of penalty fees to the regular penalty fees. Your debt mounted hourly. Boinks didn’t care that your records showed your account was solvent. The boink worker bees just said, “The Boink isn’t responsible for keeping your account solvent, you are. We have no idea what has happened, but computers don’t make mistakes, so this is YOUR error.” That was it, end of story, and the penalty fees just kept mounting.
“My account was in the black. I’d never been overdrawn. Now I owe penalty fees on top of
penalty fees, and I’m in trouble with creditors and galactic merchants from here to Alpha
Centauri,” said Kaybe.
“You’re right, Kaybe,” I said. “There’s nothing like that here. Stuff like that just doesn’t happen on Earth. Is there anything I can do to help you? I’d be happy to lend you a few bucks.”
“Thanks, but I’ll just have to straighten this out by myself,” he said. “When I get solvent again I’m going to hide all my resources in a cave on some derelict asteroid out beyond in Orion’s Belt. I’ll never trust a boink again.”
Just then someone sidled up to our booth. It was Four Finger Fannie. She gazed at Kaybe in
silence. Kaybe moved his three-eyed sensors toward her. They communicated telepathically.
Then Kaybe gave a little bounce.
“Is it all right if I let my friend in on this conversation?” said Kaybe. The words came to me
telepathically. There was no sound.
“Go ahead,” said Fannie.
“Thanks,” said Kaybe. “Say on, mademoiselle, this is great news.”
Fannie’s words flowed silently into my head.
“Like I just told you, the Associated Galactic Press is reporting that the Supreme Governing Council has launched a full scale investigation of the boinking industry. The council has apparently had it with complaints from all over the galaxies about people getting ripped off. The council has forced the boinks to cancel all overdraft charges, and has ordered them to refund all the other phony fees they’ve been charging.” said Fannie.
Kaybe’s telepathic “Whoopee,” was so loud it gave me a headache.
Larry Day is a retired J-School professor turned humor columnist and author. His book of humor columns, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available on Amazon.