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Friday, October 24, 2008

whale-man and the Emilians

This week was not a week. It was a series of hours strung together, a loose-knit thing full of holes I slumped into like a hammock. No work, no ideas, no conversation except Brendan’s odd outbursts on the state of the economy and my state of inactivity (you’re a friggin' sloth, Lui, he said working his dumbbells).

I did have one conversation. I went out for coffee around the corner on tuesday and a huge man – four hundred pounds of burgers and sweat – a whale of a man, an American with a big t-shirt - we are not alone, it read - struck up a conversation. What’s going on, how’ya doin’? Where ya from? and so on, but quickly he began in earnest:.. we're on an asteroid my friend, we’re on an asteroid barreling through space, a clump of sediment and water and plants and microbes and–

Ok, ok… we're barreling through space, go on…

that's right, and every couple of millennia, he said shifting his paunch from one knee to the other, a planet comes within our “reach” quoting with this fingers, an unknown, an unacknowledged planet nested in gravitational fields. That's right my friend, and this planet but then he stopped – what’s your name?

Lui.

Gluey?

No, LUI.

…this planet, Lui, this planet is not uninhabited, repeat, NOT uninhabited. A donut disappeared into his mouth as he waited for a reaction.

None came. This guy’s a nut, I thought. But he continued and every time he said Earth he poked my arm as if I was partly responsible for our asteroid's trajectory, always adding, barreling through space, keen to remind me that even though he could barely move himself, he was still “moving” on a galactic level.

Back in my hammock I couldn’t help but think of whale-man and his planet of humanoids. Millions, he kept saying, millions of ‘em. I thought of them so much that gave them a name. They're called Emilians, they’re about 4 feet tall and they’re a pesky, irascible bunch of backbiters. And I suspect they are walking among us as I speak. Emilians are avid collectors of EVERYTHING. They collect, they jar, they categorize and they store everything this side of the galaxy, and then they meet somewhere on vast open plains, hundreds of thousands of them, and they trade like a bunch interplanetary geeks gone awry.

You really have too much time on your hands, Lui, Goni said when I told her on the phone. Go do something, for God's sake, please go do something!.

... my hammock swayed.

I couldn't stop thinking about what I would collect if were Emilian. What would be my specialty, how would I stand out as a four-footer.