My close encounter of the hard boiled kind

It had to be 1 April, of course. Naturally. On a dark country back-road with no other witnesses, the sort of place with permanent rain that private detectives in Borsalino fedoras and trench coats haunt for no better reason than that it looks good to be there.

It felt like a Friday night, the sort of Friday night when you’ve been betrayed once too often and know you’ll be betrayed again next morning, and it’s raining, that sort of a Friday. You know the kind, and if you don’t, well, you’ve been lucky. My problem was that it wasn’t Friday. It was Monday, which meant the week wasn’t shaping up too well. I was heading home. I’d just picked up a pizza – Acme Super Hawaiian, cheese, ham and pineapple, with extra lashings of Acme Atomic Death Chili Sauce, which is pure Red Cubanelle peppers. It was the sort of pizza that hits infinity on that scale – what is it? Scoville? And the sort of pizza the rain doesn’t cool off, not really.

“We are from ZONTAR. Give us your women and your water!” Public domain.

That was when my car quit. Just died, pretty much like any one-night stand two mornings and a dozen unanswered phone calls after, only this was my car, you know? And it died. Engine, headlights, everything except the CD player which carried on churning out whatever it was I’d poked into it, I think it was Thomas Dolby’s ‘Aliens Ate My Buick’ or some such. Anyhow, then a spaceship landed right there in the road in front of me, with a whoosh and an ‘ee-ooo-eee-ooo’, like you’d expect from a flying saucer or some other piece of aerial crockery. Only this one looked more like an egg. Hard-boiled, you know what I mean?

I got out of the car and into the rain and, for some reason, picked up the pizza. Yeah, you guessed it, the pizza was gonna come in handy maybe, or maybe I didn’t want to let it get too cold. But hey, just then I didn’t know anything except the rain was dripping down my collar and the pizza box was getting soaked, and that was my dinner going down the drain.

Out of the spaceship stepped some Bruno dressed head to foot in black, wearing the sort of cloak you’d use as a spinnaker on some tin-pot yacht race, topped with a black helmet and mask. I could hear the breathing, which made me think the guy didn’t want to chin. But he did.

‘[Hoof] Earthling, take me to your leader or your world will suffer the consequences.’

‘I ain’t no snitch,’ I said, which was true, but I somehow knew it wouldn’t do. The alien huffed again and pointed at a cow I could just see through the rain in a field. I winced at the light, and even through my trench coat I could feel the heat. Medium rare. I mean, how else do you finger steak?

‘Do not underestimate the power of our force [hoof]. Your leader. Now.’

‘Let’s just take this step by step,’ I said. ‘I ain’t got no heater. Pizza?’

I opened the box. I don’t know why, it only got my dinner soggier and pawed by an alien. But I didn’t care by then.

‘[Hoof hoof] The sauce is strong in this one.’

‘You’ve eaten pizza before?’

‘Earth pizza is pathetic despite that condiment which seems to be… mysteriously… building…. [hoof] I blame the pineapple. Who puts pineapple on pizza? Martian pizza [hoof hoof] is the only pizza worth eating in this miserable solar system. Mushrooms, anchovies, sand… [hoof hoof hoof ] Now…. Your… lead….urk – ‘

The alien turned and splashed through the puddles right back to its spaceship, or whatever it was. The door slammed and the spaceship vanished into the sky. Yah, the alien did the run-out. Lammed off like some newspaper-boy caught with his fingers in the doughnut store till.

My car started first crank, and I drove home. What the hell had happened? Really, I didn’t care. It was raining, I was wet, and I still had seven slices of that pizza with its Acme Atomic Death Chili Sauce.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2019

6 thoughts on “My close encounter of the hard boiled kind

    1. I kind of had that voice in my head when I was writing! I have to admit, I never knew why it was always raining in those noir films – the fact that Warner Brothers had a really good rain machine in their studio and felt obliged to use it might have been part of it.


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