by Don Urbanus
Zorg and Zak, two pale green aliens from the planet
Zuton, looked down on the western United States from their spaceship in orbit.
Zorg fumbled with his earth atlas trying to make sense of it all.
“Never mind the atlas,” complained Zak, “Don’t you have
a guide on places to eat? Look in that.”
“I would if I knew where we were,’ snapped Zorg.
“What about that place – Kaleefornya?” asked Zak,
pointing a wispy green tendril at a point on the map. Just then his stomach
gurgled and groaned in protest. He sighed. He was so sick of eating creamed
vegetables out of tubes. Surely a little visit to the planet couldn’t hurt,
“Wait! Here’s a place. It’s called Starbucks. Maybe
they have food for interstellar travelers?” Zorg looked up, hopefully. “We’ll
just make sure we stay away from any big cities. No sense attracting too much
attention. Say, here’s a little town called Valley Springs. I’ll just dial in
“Sounds good to me,” said Zak, pointing the craft down
toward the planet, “Anything will be better than that paste.”
At about a thousand feet off the ground, the ship
leveled off as Zorg peered down, trying to find the Starbucks. “There it is.
Hey, cool, they have a drive-up window!” Zak zoomed silently down and patiently
waited behind a car. The driver was reaching for a large Espresso from the
cashier when, looking back, suddenly dropped it. The top popped off and the
creamy liquid slowly gurgled out onto the street. The driver then gunned the
engine and peeled off in a blaze of burnt rubber.
“Bummer,” said Zak, “he dropped his cup.” He silently
glided forward and opened the hatch eager to place his order. The cashier was
looking down the street at the fleeing car, shaking her head, when she turned
around and saw the spacecraft. Zak gave his most charming smile showing numerous
rows of sharp black teeth. The cashier’s eyes went wide and her mouth hung open
stupidly. Suddenly she let loose with an ear piercing scream and went running
away with her hands waving in the air. Zak slammed the hatch and zoomed up into
the air. “Man, I forgot the stupid disguises.”
Zorg looked down again. “Wait a second. There’s a green
patch down there. Maybe they have some food we could eat? Let me look at the
atlas. Oh, that’s called Rising Sun Nursery. What do you suppose that means?”
“I don’t know and I don’t care,” answered Zak, “as long
as they have something we can eat. Go get the disguises. I’ll park the ship
behind that hill and we’ll just walk over to the store.”
Zorg quickly pulled out two trench coats, two
wide-brimmed hats, sunglasses, masks and gloves while Zak parked the ship
quietly in the back field of the nursery. They looked at each other as they
assembled their disguise. Satisfied, they opened the hatch and climbed out.
Don had just finished helping three customers. One had
a wilted leaf to show him and wanted to know what it was. Another one wanted to
know if her husband had killed their almond tree after he had painted the entire
trunk and branches with tar. And the last one wanted to know if rooting hormone
would help a graft heal quicker. He turned around to see two short
customers wearing trench coats and dark sunglasses. One held a pale-green sickly
vine of some sort in his gloved hand. Don grabbed it and looked closely. It was
slightly dry and sticky. It obviously needed water and some nutrients whatever
“You idiot,” Zak whispered, “you’re hand is showing.”
“I know that now,” answered Zorg, glaring at Zak as Don
To Don, it sounded like a strange foreign language, so
he did what every person does to someone who doesn’t understand English. He
talked slowly and loudly. “It looks like you need more water for your plant. You
“Why is he yelling at me?” asked Zorg.
“Maybe he is trying to tell us about food? He looks
very concerned about your hand. Now that I think about it, you do look a little
pale,” Zak said, shaking his head up and down as he looked at Don.
Sensing that the one shaking his head understood, Don
started talking to him. “You need to water every day when it gets hot in the
summer. Water every day,” Don repeated slowly, pointing at Zorg’s hand and
making a motion like he was drinking water. Zak shook his head up and down.
“What did he say?” asked Zorg.
Zak frowned as he listened. “I don’t have a clue. I think he’s talking about
Don waved for them to follow. They shuffled into the store and glanced around at
the high ceiling and numerous shelves of gifts.
“Cool store,” whispered Zorg, looking at the puppets
Don showed them the Best Fertilizer Pills on the counter and picked one up. “You
also need to fertilize. You know, fertilize?”
Zak held up his hands showing ten fingers.
“You have ten plants?” Don asked.
Zak shook his head up and down.
“What size are the plants?”
Zorg held up the glove that didn’t have his hand
“It’s a five gallon size? Well then, you need three
fertilizer tabs per plant. So you need thirty tablets.” Don grabbed a bag and
started filling it with tablets.
“Oh boy, oh boy,” said Zak, holding out his hands for
the bag. Don handed it him and walked around to the register to ring them up.
“You did bring some money, didn’t you?” asked Zak, looking over at Zorg.
“Me? I thought you brought it.”
They both looked at Don.
“Run for it!” yelled Zak as he dashed out the door.
Startled, Zorg ran after Zak, loosing his hat as he ran through the door.
“Hey,” yelled Don, “come back here!” By the time he got
around the counter and out the door, Zak and Zorg were already headed over the
hill running amazingly fast for two short people. As he got to the top of the
rise, he saw a flash of light. There was nothing there but an empty field.
Whoever they were, they were long gone. He went back to the store and picked up
the hat. Nice hat, he thought, noticing the unusual weave. He put it on his
head. It fit.
Already far out into space and heading away from earth,
Zak opened the bag and popped a fertilizer tab into his mouth and sighed
contentedly. “Man,” he said, handing the bag to Zorg, “what we have to go
through to get some decent food around here.”