I arrived late for the party.
Slightly embarrassed, I lingered on the front porch a minute preparing my defense/excuse. (For ‘flat tire‘ I usually ‘oil and soot’ my hands a bit on the car’s undercarriage; works every time; plausible veracity.)
Though distracted, I none-the-less clearly heard a group of my acquaintances inside asking each other: ‘Where’s Solberg?’
And as luck (or fiction) would have it, I wuz ready!
“Here”, I declaimed, pulling out Map One.
After a quick pass-around, the gang was divided:
“Germany?”, one fellow ventured.
“No, asshole, it’s Austria”, ‘Bucky’ corrected him.
“Zoom out, an’ I’ll tell you if I wuz right..”, was the quiet challenge from ‘Asher, something of a world-traveler by local standards.
My next ‘Exhibit’ proved him right. “I knew it was Switzerland!” he almost yelled triumphantly.
A few of the other guests approached, smelling an interesting debate.
“So where the fuck is Switzerland?”, asked ‘Bob’, an American tourist just in from Omaha, dressed so perfectly in ‘period-accurate’ that central-casting couldn’t have out-done his costume.
“It’s, like, ‘over there’, Bucky, feeling somewhat re-invigorated taunted him.
“It’s like ‘not in Kansas'” he added, feeling his oats.
“Omaha’s in Nebraska!”, the tourist retorted, defending his honor.
“Europe, the ‘Eastern Hemisphere” I said calmly, feeling like the ‘student teacher’ who hadn’t been warned that his class was ‘problem-cases’.
I ‘solved’ Bob’s ‘East of what? ‘question with my next Map Three:
“Nice picture.” Asher asserted, “Who took it?”
“I don’t know, to tell the truth,” I replied, “maybe Buzz Aldrin?”
At that mention, everything changed!
I hadn’t known that this was to be a ‘costume party’!
The guests, those with recognizable arms and legs oozed in my direction, eyes (stalked or otherwise) focused on my sheaf of maps.
“Aha, finally, that one looks familiar!” a synthesized voice poured from the chest-mounted implanted speaker of a creature who tested my ‘nerves-of-steel upon meeting aliens. At least he was green. Somehow comforting, in the absence of other re-assuring familiar signs, like, oh, a ‘Lee Cooper’ tee-shirt.
“I watched you-uns guys with my Predecessor, on the beach, back when I was just a Naiad“. He mused out loud. “Never had the ‘constituents’ to afford a better-resolution See-er. The long-delayed thrill here cause me almost to urinate in my suit.” he shared, and I learned on the spot, blindingly, that some emotions are galactic-universal.
OK, I saw the tentacles slithering toward us from the dining room. Unbelievably, I felt no fear. The host, walking right behind ‘him’/ ‘her’/ ‘it‘, in jeans and cut-offs, hand-signaled me that ‘It’s OK’.
Shaking, I managed to pull out the next map:
“So where’s Solberg?” the creature asked, in a voice which entered my brain clearly, just not precisely through my ears.
“Kinda right ‘here’!” I said, and felt, before I finished the sentence, that the sentient being had already ‘groked’ me.
“ Why, you-uns guys is right next door” his speech-creator came up with the perfect colloquialism. “Back in Andromeda we’ve been watching you spin for fucking zoubles!” he joked (?).
Seeing me somewhat mystified by the terminology, he tentacled a button on his right ‘shoulder; that’s what they’re called?‘ and explained, suddenly a bit emotion-less:
“A ‘zouble’ is 10 to the 90th power Hydrogen transitions.”
Well, that cleared ‘that’ up!, I thought. Jezuz, I wonder what they call Pi?
Ok, brave as I am, I left before the‘Dust’ on the floor reached my shoes . The host, proud of my sturdy demeanor in the face of truly WTF? exposure, gave me a small salute as he saw me inch carefully, backward, out the door.
Bucky and Asher were almost finished puking on the lawn as I ran to my car.
Ever the masochist, I did have a fleeting chance to ask the host, waving good-bye at the door: ‘What’s with the Dust, bro?”
Looking ‘cosmically sad’ for once, he waved me off: “You don’t wanna know.. “ and added, as I started the Subaru: ‘It’s not on your maps!”
So there, (whew!).
Any Reader who wanted to know ‘Where’s Solberg?’ Hope this answers your question.