You’re an Idiot
Circling the display of brightly coloured orchids and tulips, Danny ponders his options. His friend Thomas anxiously checks his watch and suggests the pink ones.
“I don’t know. Pink?” Danny picks up the flower and inspects it carefully before putting it back. “It’s not right. I need a colour that says: I’m happy you’ve moved on. Congrats on the new house but, I hope it’s haunted.”
“So, maybe yellow?” Thomas suggests impatiently. “Dude, I don’t get why you’re even going. Kathy only invited you out of social etiquette.”
“And I’m responding with social etiquette, which is why I’m buying a house-warming present.” Thomas picks up a succulent and examines the leaves. “We dated for years. We have the same friends. If I stop showing up because she’s with Neil, everyone will ditch me.” Danny adds haplessly. “Next thing you know, I’m the weird guy in the dark corner of the strip club. All alone and flaccid.”
Thomas sighs as Danny puts the succulent back on display. “You should have just picked up a bottle of wine like I did.” Thomas motions to the paper bag in his hand. “It’s simple and classy.”
“Sure, but Neil doesn’t drink.” Danny responds and picks up a small succulent with browning leaves. He pushes his fingers into the dry dirt and one of the leaves falls off. “This one’s pretty much dead. It’s perfect.”
While Danny and Thomas wait in line, Thomas pulls out the bottle of wine. “I totally forgot that Neil doesn’t drink. Maybe a bottle of wine was a bad choice.” Thomas grabs a pack of skittles from the impulse rack. “Maybe I’ll bring him some candy.”
“It’s weird he doesn’t drink, right?” Danny asks Thomas, hoping for support.
“Not really, man. Whatever, to each their own.”
“I guess.” Danny says as they step forward in line. “Or he could be an alien.”
“An alien?” Thomas scoffs. “That’s a bit of stretch.”
“He’s a bit of a stretch. All tall, lanky, and boney. Very alien-like.” Danny tosses the plant on the checkout counter. “Plus, I watched this documentary on Aliens and- “
“Documentary? Or random YouTube video?” Thomas asks cynically.
“Doesn’t really matter,” Danny replies brushing off Thomas’ skepticism. “And it said, alcohol could kill aliens. Their systems wouldn’t be able to handle it. So, it stands to reason that an Alien would avoid drinking alcohol.”
Thomas dismisses Danny’s conspiracy with a subtle chuckle. “An alien? Just because he doesn’t drink? I think you need more evidence, buddy.”
“Oh, I’ll find more evidence.”
After weaving their way through suburbia, Danny and Thomas arrive late at an ostentatious McMansion. “This house is ridiculous,” Danny says as they walk to the front door.
“I don’t know what Neil does, but that’s one of his cars,” Thomas adds, gawking at the Porsche parked in the driveway. “Apparently, he collects them.”
“Must be compensating for something,” Danny says half heartedly. “Or he’s an Alien. I mean, it would make sense. They’d be rich.”
“You’re an idiot,” Thomas responds while knocking on the door. “They’d want to keep a low profile.”
Neil’s imposing figure answers the door and energetically leads the pair inside. “Glad you guys made it! Everyone’s in the kitchen.,” Neil says as he puts his arm around Danny’s shoulder. Neil towers over both Danny and Thomas, but his slender frame is awkward, and Danny shakes him off easily when they enter the kitchen.
Danny places the succulent next to a gorgeous orchid on a small end table. He greets his friends who are gathered around the enormous kitchen island. He notices Kathy laughing as she pours a martini. After a moment Danny catches her eye and waves.
“I’m glad you came,” Kathy says genuinely and gives Danny a quick hug. “It doesn’t have to be weird. We’re adults.”
“Exactly, we can be mature,” Danny replies looking around the room. “It’s a gorgeous house.”
“It might be a bit big,” Kathy says slightly embarrassed. “I love the huge backyard though.”
Danny notices something by the sliding door to the backyard. “Is that a telescope?”
“Oh, yeah. It’s Neil’s. He says it reminds him of home.”
“His father was an astronomer,” Kathy adds. Danny looks suspiciously at Neil across the room. Neil is laughing deeply at something a friend said and takes a swing of dark liquid from a cocktail glass.
“I thought Neil doesn’t drink,” Danny mentions to Kathy.
“Oh, he doesn’t. That’s just Diet Dr. Pepper. He loves that stuff.”
“Really? Diet Dr. Pepper?” Danny asks curiously. “Why doesn’t he drink? Does he have some embarrassing, debasing past with alcohol?”
Kathy laughs. “No, nothing like that.” Kathy waves across the room to a friend and starts to inch away from Danny. “Anyway, we’ll catch up later. Enjoy yourself.”
Danny finds Thomas and tells him about the telescope. “A lot of people have telescopes, man,” Thomas says taking a long swing of beer. “Just relax. It’s a party.”
“What about the Diet Dr. Pepper?” Danny asks. “No human would willingly drink that.”
The night continues with drinks, party games and reminiscing. Danny slowly loosens up and is drinking his fourth rum and coke when he feels Neil’s boney hands around his shoulder again. “Hey buddy, having a good time?” Neil asks sincerely.
“I guess,” Danny replies shaking off Neil’s hand. “It’s a beautiful house. I’ve been meaning to ask: what do you do for a living?”
“I should have guessed,” Danny mutters and takes a sip.
“Yeah, I-,” Neil gasps for air. “I-,” Neil’s breath is laboured as he tried to inhale. Neil slouches over and braces himself on Danny’s shoulder. Kathy notices Neil from across the room, rushes over and hands Neil an inhaler. Neil uses it in short bursts before regaining his breath. “Sorry about that. I get asthma attacks sometimes. Must be all the excitement.”
Danny pats Neil on the arm reassuringly and thinks to himself as he swirls his drink. “It’s just asthma,” Thomas whispered to Danny after smacking him on the chest. “It’s not because his home planet has a different atmosphere than us.”
“It’d would make sense though.” Danny replies with a wink.
Neil excuses himself and retreats to his office down the hall to recover. Kathy assures the party that there’s no reason to panic, this happens all the time. Someone suggests a round of Cards Against Humanity to break the tension.
After a couple rounds, Danny slinks off and down the hall to Neil’s office. Through the door he can hear Neil talking to someone. Danny creeps closer to the door and rests his ear against the wood.
“Take me home!” Danny hears through the door. “I’ve been here long enough. My mission is complete.” Danny takes his ear off the door in surprise but can hear Neil shout: “Juh Vijah Lodni!”
Neil starts walking towards the door and Danny scampers around a corner to hide. While Neil rejoins the party Danny lets himself into Neil’s office.
Danny judgmentally inspects Neil’s reading choices then notices a picture of Neil and Kathy on the desk. It’s of the two kissing on a beach. Danny has a nearly identical one at home.
“Hey!” Danny jumps at the sounds of Kathy’s voice. “What are you doing in here?”
Danny fumbles with the picture and it falls to the ground. “Nothing. I was just-just-.” Kathy takes a deep breath and sits down on the couch, inviting Danny to join here.
“I know it’s weird now that I’m with Neil,” Kathy starts as Danny joins her. “It’s tough when exes move on. Makes people crazy.” Kathy gently places her hand on Danny’s knee. “But Neil is not an alien.”
“What? Who said anything about an alien?” Danny says feigning surprise.
“Thomas told me.”
“Oh.” Danny pauses to think. “But I just heard him talking about going home. And then he spoke some alien language.” Danny says confused.
Kathy laughs. “That’s for some silly game he plays online. It’s kind of nerdy and they all speak Klingon.” Kathy stands up and pats Danny on the head. “You let your mind wander too much, Danny.”
Danny exhales and nods. “You’re right. I’m being ridiculous. He’s more successful and taller than me. And I’m jealous. But I need to be mature. And I’m happy for you, really. He’s a great guy.” Danny stands up and gives Kathy a quick hug. “But you have to admit drinking Diet Dr. Pepper is weird?”
“I guess,” Kathy replies as she turns to leave. “But he doesn’t have a lot of options. He’s diabetic. That’s why he doesn’t drink.”
“Uh-oh,” Danny blurts out.
“Well, when I thought he was an alien - as a precautionary measure - and remember, really it was for your protection, I- “
Suddenly, there’s a loud bang from the kitchen, the sounds of chairs tipping over and glasses dropping ring out while people gasp.
“I’ve been spiking his drinks all night,” Danny says sheepishly.
“You’re an idiot!” Kathy yells at Danny before rushing to the kitchen where Neil is passed out on the floor. Kathy falls to the ground, putting her arms around him.
“Call an ambulance!” Kathy yells.
Danny is starring at Neil in disbelief when Thomas slaps him cross the chest. “Did you have anything to do with this? Man, You’re an idiot.”
“I didn’t know he was diabetic. Someone should have- “
“Ah!” Kathy shrieks and jumps up off the floor. The room fills with screams and people start frantically scattering. On the floor, Neil’s body convulses as his skin boils and melts away revealing a green skeletal form with several tattoos in hieroglyphics. His jaw drops open and a blue light shoots out through the ceiling before his eyes close.
Everyone hysterically runs out of the house, screaming and yelling for help. Only Danny and Kathy remain, standing shocked, starring at the alien corpse. After a moment Danny puts a comforting arm around Kathy.
Kathy quickly shakes off his arm. “We are never ever getting back together.”