by Peter Friend
Three days later it happened again -- knock, knock, knock at Tom's front door,
just as he was brushing glue over a papier-mâché hill.
Probably that bloody social services woman again, wanting to drag him along to a
Seniors' Sing-Along or some such witless nonsense. Couldn't she get it into her
thick head that people came to a retirement village for a bit of peace and quiet?
He yanked his door open, ready to give her a good earful.
And stopped. It wasn't her at all; it was one of them alien interviewers, looking
twice as ugly in real life as they did on the television. Still, he'd seen worse. He
wasn't scared at all, not like some folks.
"Morning," he said, because Ruth had always insisted on being polite to strangers.
"We may talk please, random human," it said, each word in a different voice.
He snorted. "Me? I've never done anything you fellas would be interested in.
And I'm busy. This place is chockfull of silly old fools with nothing better to do
than gossip all day -- go interview one of them."
That got a reaction, not from the alien but from the other residents, watching
through their half-open doors and lace curtains. Served them right.
"You are random," the alien told Tom in three voices, and waved a hundred dollar
note at him.
"Well, why didn't you say so before?" he said, because he was always happy to
help out folks with more money than brains, no matter what planet they came
from. "But I've got glue drying in here, so we'll have to talk while I work."
The alien waddled inside on three stumpy legs. Tom poked his tongue out at his
neighbours and closed the door just to spoil their view.