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FICTION: THUD BY ALLAN ROUNSLEY  

Posted by Scott Wilson

The storm was immense, thunder crashed in the cold wet dark; sheets of lightening ripped the night sky. All manners of creature’s rodent to human fled, hiding from the sky born terror. The Thud was loud, but barely audible in the driving wind and rain. The spaceships escaped pod made a horrific impact on the small shelter of wooden pallets and plastic. The deserted dead end street of Old Town was now almost void of life; void of all human life completely. The occupant of the shelter never heard a sound, squashed flat while he shivered in his fragile makeshift home. The life raft had skidded down the dank street almost a quarter of a mile before coming to rest against the old brick warehouse. Joe the wino’s once wood and plastic shelter was no more, including Joe. No trees grew, just tough little weeds, protruding through the old cobblestones. The once busy street deserted, like so much of Old Town. A stray cat was yowling in the distance to no avail; he couldn't be heard above the din. The river was near; blocks away, just as well have been miles. An invisible line was drawn between the old crumbling industrial district and the upscale river district, formerly known as the docks. New condos and upscale restaurants were slowly encroaching on the squalor. The old face of the town was resisting change; progress was slowly squeezing out the partially abandoned warehouse district along with the homeless.

The heavy spacecraft lay motionless, not affected by the torrent of wind and rain. The gray hatch blew open from a blast of an internal explosive. The sound of the explosion was eaten by the storm. A massive gloved hand grabbed the edge of the opening and slowly eased itself out. The squat figure rolled to the edge and fell the short distance to the ground. The figure lay still flat on the ground, listening. Searching for anything threatening; nothing revealed itself. The cracked cover opened on the face plate, revealing two dark eyes, set well back in a dark gray face. The visitor sat up, propping himself against his craft. Thankful the air was fit to breath; his broken face plate could have spelled his doom. Alone in a strange world, he knew it would be rough. The polluted air racked his lungs, he adjusted. His body would require time to acclimate to the atmosphere and gravity, his head was hurting. He pulled the helmet from his head, blood dripped from a gash on his forehead. The broken face plate had cut his forehead; rough landing he thought. He got too his feet easily, then paused, hit by a wave of nausea, dizziness followed, he had been worse. He held tight to his craft till he adjusted internally, then mentally, he already had a plan; survival. He picked up his helmet and moved he was extremely light, low gravity, good; some advantage. He put the helmet on the raft and pushed hard with both short heavy arms, it moved. He looked about the deserted city while being pelted by the wind. His gaze fastened on an old brick buildings standing across the cobblestone street. A large wooden door with rusted iron hinges shook from the wind. It stood just opposite him, close, offering concealment. Built he assumed for a wide large conveyance, he grabbed the thick metal chain holding the door shut and pulled, it broke easily; like string under his inhuman grip. He entered the dank building, flicking a small torch taken from his armored survival suit. Perfect! The old, dusty, apparently abandoned warehouse was full of debris; a hideaway. He saw an opening that looked like an ancient lift for going up and down levels. He manhandled his small craft into the antique elevator, thanking someone above for the easy hiding place and low gravity; he never could have moved it like this on his home world. After securing his vessel he went back and picked up the crushed corpse of the old wino; wrapping him in the clear plastic that moments earlier had been his roof. A brief prayer of remorse passed his lips for the accident victim, and then he continued his search for a hiding place for the dead man. He found it down the block on the other side of the vacant street, an empty square blue box with wheels. With little effort he picked up the dumpster flipped it, out came its contents the he deposited the dead man in the bottom, scooped up the fallen debris and hid Old Wino Joe. Back in the abandoned warehouse he piled old wooden crates and heavy iron plates against his gray craft, hoping the camouflage would survive detection in the light of day; he needn't have bothered. He grabbed the side of his craft lifted himself on board went through the open hatch, then gasped, as the whole contraption collapsed and crashed down two stories to the bottom of the elevator shaft; camouflage complete.

***

“The damn elevator collapsed,” said Chief building inspector Johnson, “Must have happened during the storm; even blew down the damn garage door.” Standing in the squalor of what was once a thriving warehouse, he looked down the shaft that had long ago ceased to be a functioning elevator. “Isn't these warehouses supposed to be condemned?” he asked his assistant. He turned his wide well-dressed bulk in order to look at his assistant in the face. The years of water damage, vandalism, and neglected repairs had just about finished the ancient brick building.

Coffee in hand, Junior Inspector Liteman replied with his normal deign over his bosses lack of action “Well yes, it should have been done weeks ago; the paper work has been sitting on your desk for over a month.” With his normal disposition he suggested, “Why don't we just back date the paperwork and put it in Herbert's out box; he's a little languid for my taste.” None of the last statement was true but that had no bearing on the Head Inspectors normal demur, all things considered; looking good to his superiors was the essence of his job. The city official with a proclivity for doing what was suggested agreed. Galvanized into action made he made a command decision, “Condemn the building, its only fit for rats.” Patting his expansive belly the Head inspector finished with, “It’s time for breakfast, been a grueling morning, its almost 9 am lets go to Rosie's for breakfast and a stiff one.”

Yellow tape went up immediately, Danger, Keep Out; Building Condemned. Later, plywood was put up, covering the entrances on the ground floor. Windows, doors, the garage entrance were sealed, now the building reflected the general condition of the rest of the neighborhood; oppressive and desolate.

***

The alien heard voices, he awoke in his life raft, covered in debris. Timbers, iron, thick cables, and remains of the elevator had been successful as camouflage. The ruined elevator lay upon his life raft; luckily the he had been inside. The gash in his head had reopened and was bleeding other than that he seemed OK. He lay still and waited patiently for the voices to dissipate. With streams of light fading from the shaft he knew it was late in the day, he heard nothing, time to move. Carefully and with as little noise as possible he lifted the wooden beam pinning him inside the hatch, and then pushed aside the thick metal cable lying on the raft. Reconsidering his position he slowly with as little noise as possible he added more debris to the outside of the space craft. Only then did he climb in and started a systems check. Communication was a priority, rescue being the upper most thought in his mind, and getting off this back water planet a priority. He drank, ate some rations, fixed the gash on his head then resealed the hatch. Sealed inside he took antibiotic's, turned power to minimal mode and went to sleep till after sunset.

He awoke, ate more rations drank some water then popped the hatch on his lifeboat, no daylight streamed into the elevator shaft. He heard noise-far away distant rumblings; they seemed to come from outside the building. Good! He needed to explore his new home and see what there was in the way of food and water, survival was his priority. He crawled out still wearing his ship suit, minus the helmet. It was almost indestructible, a reinforced flexible garment, self-contained for any emergency including decompression and crash landings. If he had fallen in water it could float and supply air for a time. The raft was concealed fairly well considering how most of the camouflaging had occurred. He deemed it sufficient so he left it where it was. Next he cleared a small path through the debris leading out of the shaft into the basement. The place seemed to be deserted, he flicked on his small torch and shown it around, the beam moving in a tight arc for a few seconds then turning it off. Nothing! He was alone, still the outside noise had faded with the darkness he was lucky to have avoided capture.

The warehouse was large and dirty, vacant for a long time, dust and cobwebs covered the wooden beams. He saw a narrow staircase against the far wall. His beam flicked up then down, up he saw a closed door at the top of the staircase. He guessed it was the street level from where he had fallen. He turned his light down, the staircase lead down to a sub-basement, no door was evident, he went down gingerly remembering his extreme weight wasn't made for old wooden stairs. Dark dank wet and smelling of mold, he heard rustling, he flicked on his beam and trained it on a hole in the wall, there stood a small creature of some kind, it ran from the light. Gingerly he went down the stairs; the air was bad, smelling of feces and garbage. Yes he was in a city he thought, some things didn't change. He shined his light and found an old cracked sewer pipe obviously still in use. A slight scent of dead fish was mixed in with the offensive odor. The sub-basement was deep, he knew he was near a river, likely prone to flooding during a torrent of rain. He confirmed his theory by stepping into six inches of water now draining slowly from the basement. The high mark from a previous flood rose maybe a couple inches higher. The small animal was some form of rodent he assumed; still it was a mammal, hopefully fit for food. He would kill one later, now he needed clean water, and a place near his life raft for safety, a defensible hidey hole in case of discovery; swallowing hard he accepted the fact that he could be here a long time. First secure the building then explore his new home; Old Town.

He waded through the receding water found an iron ladder on the far side of the sub-basement, he went up it was strong and in good shape. Above the basement was a heavy metal door, he tried to push it no luck, a hole for some sort of lock was on the outside. With his normal stoic indifference to pain he slammed his shoulder into it; the door burst open. On other side of the door was a small room filled with piping, conduit, and service panels. A faint hum came from one wall where gray boxes hung. The piping and conduit ran up through an opening on the far side of the room. The iron ladder ran up to the roof, this being the service access for the whole building. Locked doors blocked each level maintenance corridor he figured. Perfect! He tried a pipe near the wall, opened the valve and water flowed it looked red and rusty, then turned clear. Then checked it by taste, no point going back to his ship for an analysis he was marooned here. A little taste of iron, from rusty pipes, oh well he had drank worse. What luck he spied a large black pipe, gas maybe? On the wall hummed heavy gray box's, he already knew what they were with conduits leading in and out. The locked panels open easily under his grip almost tearing off the cover. He found a small piece of metal and carefully touched a lead, it sparked, power! All the comforts of home, water, power, well concealed and it was dry. He went to the life raft retrieved a few tools and got to work.

He heard a loud pounding later on in the week; later as it grew dark he made his way up to the main floor and checked it out. The side doors and lower windows had been covered by flat wood, effectively blocking him from the outside prying world. The big door was secured with the same material from the outside. Good he smiled; he had more security now, he would have thanked them but decided maybe that wasn't a good idea. He had acclimated to his new world, bipeds like himself, taller and slimmer; due to the lower gravity, though not totally dissimilar. Exploring quietly on his forth night he had found a building under renovation, a locked iron container just inside a fence opened easily under his strength. He came out with a nice 20” stove and a small metal sink to add a little luxury to his apartment. They looked so nice in his new home he went back for more, the night watchman taking an unscheduled nap during the process, using extreme care he had lightly tapped him on the jaw. The appliances he had stolen were part of a renovation project near the waterfront. He went out late at night scavenging things he needed to survive and for comfort. The old warehouse district was under constant renovation, old warehouse to new upscale lofts. This pillaging provided much needed materials for survival, plus the short jaunts were akin to his dauntlessness nature-explorer.

He quit wearing his space suit, too bulky, he didn't need it. The weather was temperate, verging on hot. Standing barely 5 ft. tall and over 2 feet in diameter he was shaped like a barrel, no neck to speak of with powerful squat arms and legs. His home world boasted over two gravities; he figured this was about one. Hence the heavy build with a predominant backbone, definitely not necessary on this world, dense body tissues, his strength enormous. All things considered he didn't look that much different from the natives; somewhat shorter but with so much obesity present he could probably pass for a local in the dark. His eyes a tad too far apart, two ears one nose and a round chin. A little flattened maybe for the local taste, but no worse than some of the uglier obese specimens he had spied in the neighborhood. His hands were very different, overly large three fingered with two opposing thumbs. They were germane to a high gravity where you needed a good grip. He had large splayed feet, no arch to speak of, they worked fine even in low gravity, when his boots wore out it could be a problem.

The rodents known as rats to the locals were alright, they did OK in a pinch. After dark he roamed, occasionally stealing food. Not wanting to draw attention he dressed in a large gray overcoat cut off at the bottom. Sometimes robbing dumpsters or stealing an unattended delivery box outside one of the upscale restaurants on the waterfront. He came away with a box of fresh fish early one morning, perfect to put in his new but empty refrigerator. He had figured out the correct voltage and had electricity now, 110 and 220 circuits. He upgraded his living space by scavenging a sofa out of the back of an old trailer. A big mattress in the corner was his bed, a half wild stray cat had come to live, and it was home. The radio he had stolen from a bum living on the street, it took batteries but had a cord in back, he rigged an outlet in his room. Later an old Television, he learned the language.

He entered and exited at night from a rusty fire escape in the back alley. He fashioned a hook to pull it down and push it back up when he was out. A heavy metal chain secured his ladder when he was home. It was a tough neighborhood, just like any slum or industrial area on any planet. All the plywood covering on the windows and door were nailed from the outside, now they were also secured from the inside as well.

***

He came home early one morning carrying a box of groceries pilfered off a delivery truck. He put the box down, alarm registered on his face; the hook was gone! The fire escape was up. The hook was visible on the landing way out of his reach. His hook, his home, a slow burning rage was starting to ignite. Someone had taken his hook and secured the metal fire escape with his chain. He was wet, it had started raining early in the morning, not cold but uncomfortable. His ward robe consisted of old clothes he found or stolen mostly of cotton, none fitted well. He picked up his box and went down the alley to where the city had put a heavy chain fastening his metal door. The place was his, he lived there with his cat, he would have liked to have hung a shingle; Alien Residence Keep Out, just figured it might draw unwanted attention. Steaming with anger, he grabbed the massive door with his bare hands and pulled hard, the thick iron chain broke like string. The door slid open screeching on its rusted metal track. Putting his box down inside he slammed the door shut. Later he would secure it properly form the outside. He went straight for the elevator shaft the focal point of the dwelling. A scream echoed in the deserted warehouse, he hurried in his strange short bow legged gait. Three men were in the corner of the abandoned structure, they held a woman pinned down on her back. Her lip was bleeding and she was crying, the men were big, dirty, and smelly. One of them reached down and tore open her blouse, then ripped off her bra. She whimpered quietly fearing the men’s next move. She was pinned down firmly between the two gross men, then the man in front of her tore off her skirt and panties leaving her pinned and naked. They laughed and made crude remarks about her autonomy, and their immediate plans for her future.

“Please stop, leave me alone,” she pleaded. She was small skinny and terrified. The three were enjoying the show.

The men were savage, taller than him, though everyone was taller than him, large but then everyone was larger than him. Heavier not a chance, weighing close to 400 lbs. from a 2 plus gravity planet looks were deceiving. Livid, full of fury, they had defiled his property and now were going to rape a girl. He no longer relied on stealth; he walked up boldly and said with his strange husky unearthly voice, “Damn it! You’re in my house, let the woman go!”

They all jumped and stood up, one still holding the girl tight behind her back. They visibly relaxed seeing a short fat man in the dim shadows of the boarded up warehouse. “Fatty! Beat it,” said the biggest one who had moments before ripped open the girls blouse, his other friend had stepped to his side holding a long knife.

Throwing all caution to the wind he replied firmly; “Not a chance in hell!”

Two of the thugs came at him; the tall one carried a bat, the other a long knife. The third still held the girl by her arms. His coat and the dim light of the warehouse concealed his form, plus the combatants were half drunk. Being from a heavier planet had certain ramifications; he was short and stocky with a low center of gravity. An inscrutable advantage was that his body was dense and heavily muscled. He knew had to be four hundred pounds here, and much stronger that these fools. And the added surprise was he was fast in this low gravity. He knocked the swinging bat up with his left arm breaking the bat and the arm that held it. The man screamed and went down, the other man with the knife tried to stab down on him. He grabbed his lower arm in his vice like grip and squeezed, he felt bones break. Then returned to slam the first man hard into his gut; the punch carried through almost coming out his back, the spinal column broke with an audible crack. The third turned let go of the girl and ran; he picked up the fallen knife and threw it like a bullet; it traveled at a thunderous velocity, sinking to the hilt in the man’s back. He fell and lay still.

The girl stood there in shock, to dazed to run. A few inches taller than him,” he said in a kindly tone with his strange accent, “Cover yourself young lady, while I get rid of this garbage.” She picked up her coat and wrapped herself the best she could with all the buttons missing. The hoodlum with the severely broken arm was prone on the ground whimpering in pain. He didn't even have to bend down, just lightly popped him in the chin, he went quiet. Definitely an improvement he thought, the other two were beyond any scope of pain; dead. “Good riddance to bad rubbish,” he said, then grabbed all three by their trouser legs and unceremoniously dragged them over the rough concrete floor. Outside he put them in a large blue dumpster, appropriately Marked City Waste. He rolled it down the block past the corner and left it. Then he chained the door, wedging it shut with a large pipe and beat the pipe into place with a peace of concrete, it made a lot of racket so he hurried. It was still early, just before daylight cold and drizzling, no one was around.

Back inside the girl was where he left her, “Do you want me to take you somewhere? The men are gone.” He knew it was taking a risk letting her go but saw no other honorable way to end the drama.

She didn't answer just looked at him, finally blurted out in a rush, “Your name?”

He hadn't been asked that question before or any questions at all since crashing on this backwater world, but replied dauntlessly, “Thud!”

She held her coat tightly then explained, “I’m homeless, I left the shelter last night because it was so crowded, I don't want to go back there ever! Those ugly men grabbed me off the street and were going too, her voice faded.” Then she added, “Thank you Thud, my name is Carol I would prefer to stay here with you, your brave and decent, my dark knight, you saved me from a fate worse than dying.”

He almost said Dirty Harry when asked his name, Harry being one of his favorite characters he had seen on his recently acquired television, might be just a smidgen too obvious. Thinking of the crash landing a name had popped into his head. He then continued with true chivalry, “I live here, this shabby building houses my home.” Now what he thought, what the hell, in for a penny, in for a pound, he was acquiring a lot of old quotes from the Television without realizing it. “Are you hungry Miss Carol?”

***

The two detectives stood in the alley of Old Town on a cold wet Monday morning. The rain had stopped, the wind was chill, the sun was trying to peak out. They both were staring at the injured man in the aide car; the man was able to talk, just not willing. Two other victims were there, both dead, all had been found in a blue dumpster by the garbage collector. Detective Clark being his sensitive caring self said,” Listen moron, you just said you three were attacked by a short fat man, an unarmed short fat man. How the hell could a fat man kill two and maim your sorry ass? Its bullshit what really happened? Also you were seen earlier with a young woman from the shelter, well? What happened, where's the girl?” When Detective Ed Clark stared into your face you tended to shake. Built on the order of a two legged hippopotamus you tended to pay attention.

Ed Jones his partner butted in, a foot taller weighing about the same, just darker, towered over the injured criminal. “Look stupid! Your arms broke and yours buddies are dead, what happened?”

Eying the injured man with absolutely no compassion Clark said, “Look we think you fought over the girl and killed your buddy's over there. Looks like a case of homicide to me, first or second, neither of your buddies will be waking up in the near future to contradict my analysis. It will be interesting to get their take on this; since they are both dead the dime drops on you.”

“Honest to God Detectives,” he pleaded nursing his broken arm, “It was a short fat man, a really powerful short strange guy.” The man arm was broken badly, crushed was more like it. His name was Nick, a despicable excuse for manhood, his arrest record long and ugly. The two Detectives had zero sympathy.

“Take his sorry ass away!” said Clark disgusted with the human waste.

His longtime partner Jones stood next to him shaking his head. “I wish the fat man in question had broken his head not just an arm,” he added with an inscrutable smile.

“I talked to the Para medics one said it looked as if his arm had been crushed by a large hand, takes one hell of a grip to do that. I don't know anyone with that kind of hand strength.”

“Where's the girl” said Jones changing the subject, “we know the fools took her, of course are only witness is a half drunk wino, with a questionable memory.” He looked around the old warehouse district, his tall dark frame pacing back and forth in thought. “Where is the girl? Is she alive?” He put his large black hand under his chin and continued to look around. “Who whacked these nut jobs? Somebody did, there was a ring of truth in the morons statement. Somebody hit these punks hard; it sounds like it was one tough fat guy.”

They continued to look around, Clark added, “This whole area is full of nothing but winos, junkies, and whacko’s. We couldn't get a straight answer from a Priest if he lived in this neighborhood. If anyone happened to witness something, they would never come forward. The only clean people around here are probably the police, and even that is a big maybe.”

Ed Jones was as tall as a telephone pole and built like one, sometimes refereed too as the Pole. His partner a foot shorter and yard wider was known around town as the Pollock. Together they were known as the Pollock’s, one tall as a Pole the other Polish, the name had stuck they didn't mind the notoriety, they had the reputation of walking through people not around them. “Let’s get some coffee, warm up and mull it over,” said Clark, “This is sounding really weird.”

Jones walking next to his partner towards there unmarked car answered solemnly, “Sounds like the prerequisite for a weird case in Old Town, is us!”

***

The girl thin and cold didn't mind his humble abode; she went with him down the stairs to the basement then up to his room. It was much better than the shelter she decided, and this weird short man who wasn't fat at all could take care of himself, hence her. She stayed the night then the next day, then the night, Thud had himself an Alien girlfriend, things could be worse.

She watched him shower; she found his naked body erotic, extremely different. The shower was set in the corner of the room no enclosure just a hot water tank, shower head and a drain. She stripped and joined him, she ran her hands up and down his rigid spine, his backbone stuck out like a dinosaurs. His legs bowed and shaped like short tree trunks, no neck, a heavy gray barrel for a body and arms like his legs short, thick, and strong. “Where are you from?” she asked, soaping his back. He turned around took a wash cloth and lathered her back. His hands overly large with double thumbs and three fingers didn't bother her, on the contrary she liked them. She was taller, maybe by a couple of inches, but he was four times her width, well-muscled, solid as granite, and weighed considerably more.

“I'm from another planet like the movie says far far away.” she looked at him hard, waiting for him to extrapolate on the subject, so he continued. “Alright the planet is a long way from here, I was in deep sleep for the voyage just a passenger, then something happened, next thing I know I was ejected in my life raft. It also doubles for my deep sleep chamber on the ship. I have no idea where I’m at or how to get home. As for rescue slim, contacting someone, it’s a possibility, a little remote, but maybe possible.”

She looked into his odd gray eyes and spoke, “I don't want you to leave, you’re the best man I have ever meant,” she said it lovingly stroking the hard muscles and bone that made up his chest. He liked her, she was small and dainty, slim and soft, and he could pick her up with one hand, her hair long and brown, only inches taller than him. She was worth the crash, so different from other women he had been with; they were mostly from 2 G planets, smaller versions of him. He personal thought this was what a woman should look like, soft and small. On the other hand she seemed smart and adaptable, fear of him was absent, why?

“This isn't where I would think you want to stay, it’s a dump, and you I know that. I'm a fugitive Alien; you can't get any more illegal.”

“It’s good enough for now, we will think of something.” she leaned down a little bit and tenderly kissed his tough leathery lips.



She went with him on his night run looking for supplies. It was dry, dark, cold, his night vision was excellent. The street lights that worked were few and far between. He helped her down from the fire escape carefully concealing the hook in a break in the wall. “Let’s go down to the docks and see if we can snag some fish,” he had money, now no idea how much the paper was worth. She on the other hand did, it wasn't much, he had taken it off the three morons.

“Sounds good,” she said fastening up her jacket, it was a cold, clear, and the moon was full. Thud wore a huge overcoat, she had cut a foot off the bottom, but still it was only inches from the ground and tight at the chest. She had never felt so safe in her life, a good strong man, so what if he wasn't from earth, and not quite normal. Some humans she had dealt with weren't even fit to be called people. They walked together hand in hand stopping by a burn barrel to talk to a wino named Tim. Tim took a dollar they offered and said thanks, he meant it, there weren't many people around he could trust. He was glad the girl Carol was alright, this guy Thud was a bit odd looking but OK, short but built like a cement mixer he liked having him near. He told them the cops asked about Thud, or to the point a short fat man. They hadn't really believed him because he was drunk, which turned out to be just fine.

They heard a scream down the alley towards the docks. Thud took off at a run in his weird bow legged gait. Carol followed at a run, Tim half-drunk as usual stood idly by-his lack o9f concern caused by the alcohol consuming his brain.

Down the deserted alley across the street, they came to the waterfront district, restaurants and shops were abundant but at this late hour things were closed or in the process of closing. It was after two in the morning, the few people out were in a hurry to go home, the others about were malignant. A woman was in a door way just off the main street of the waterfront, she didn't belong there. Drunk, well-dressed she was definitely in the wrong place. Four low lifes in need of fumigating had corned her in the alley. Her smell of sweet perfume, perspiration, and brandy tickled Thuds nostrils, it smelled odd. Her justifiable fear permeated the dark alley-Thud could smell it. One of the men he immediately identified as Nick, in a cast and leading a degenerate pack of wharf rats, restraining the woman by her arms. One behind her had clasped a dirty hand over her mouth stifling further screams. Nick broken arm in a sling was groping her breasts. She viciously slammed a spiked heel down onto the man’s foot holding her, he screamed. She pushed her self-free; her heel broke and she fell roughly to the cobblestones.

“Damn it screamed the man she pierced my boot with her heel, hell I'm bleeding!”

“Shut up, Steve and pin her to the ground, and get her panties off. “

An odd coarse voice from the shadows thundered with authority, “Hey cripple, you didn't learn, I'm gonna break your neck this time, never done that before, where I from no one has a neck!” They stopped quickly and stiffened. A short barrel chested man in a gray overcoat was challenging them.

The man with the cast said to his mates, “Get that fat guy, before he calls the police, there's only one of him probably has some money on him too.”

The fat man wasn't fat and wasn't slow. The first took a vicious right to his body, an audible thud filled the air, the next he hit straight in the chest; his spine broke, dead. The third, Nick, took a desperate swing with his good arm hitting Thud square in his face. Thud didn't even blink just gripped Nick's throat in his massive hands with opposing thumbs and squeezed, his neck snapped like a twig. The last with better sense than his fellows ran. Impressive in fear, he moved out like an athlete. The drunk woman forgotten on the wet pavement He rounded the alley onto main street, running straight into a bat swung with extreme tenacity by slim sweet little Carol. “Gotcha ya-you son of a bitch!”

Thud examined the woman on the cobblestones, “She OK, a little dazed, worse for wear but no major damage,” said Thud, “We had better beat it somebody must have heard you nail that son of bitch with that timber from blocks away, very impressive!” They left, Thud smiling, his earthly girlfriend was certainly not faint of heart, and she was cute too.



The Two Ed's or when you happened to be within their earshot Detective Jones and Detective Clark got the early call. They arrived on the scene in the dawn of the day, damp and overcast. Blue lights versus red light lights argued with each other in the predawn. Two corpses and a badly injured man were the focal point of the call.. They walked up to the first officers responding to the call and got a quick briefing. A drunken woman had been mugged in the early morning hours. Well dressed, a little dirty, smelling bad, and definitely out of her element. She was OK, just a bad scare a few bruises with a headache. One dead mugger was immediately identified as their old friend Nick, his neck was crushed, eyes bulging out. Detective Jones commented dryly, “With all due respect for the dead, the bulging eyes look good on him!” Clark couldn't help but snicker. The next obviously dead man had deep indentations in his chest stopping at the backbone. The two sets of paramedics stood around staring at the bodies, while the last team attended a despicable filthy low life with broken ribs and a fractured skull.

Thinking out loud Clark said, “Why the bat? The fat man doesn't need it? He can kill with his hands?” He answered his own question with, “An accomplice, ya think? It appears our vigilante posse has grown to two.”

They had one eyewitness an illegal dish washer with limited English. The best they could get out of him was a short fat man with a young woman; it had a ring of truth. The drunken woman had said with just a minimal amount of slurred speech, she was saved by Good Samaritan’s then promptly refused to extrapolate. Bingo both statements were close. Now where were they? Why were they here? And the million dollar question; who were they? They watched the medics load up the unconscious man and the dead men including Nick into the meat wagons. “A fitting end for the scum,” said Clark with little emotion.

Jones looked at his partner with a knowing look, the white Styrofoam coffee cup contrasting with his dark hands, “We have a vigilante.” Clark sipping his warm coffee simply nodded.



Back at their desks, both men leaned back. Clark barely fit in his oversize wooden swivel chair both side rubbing against his wide frame. He looked over at Jones who was working on the report. They had bought a dozen donuts down the street at the Chinese Donut shop. It wasn't really Chinese; it was run by a little Asian guy from Vietnam, who knew how to make big soft yummy donuts. Clark sat up, leaned forward grabbed another donut and took a bite, then said, “So what’s the problem? A few low life’s dead, what’s the problem?”

“Well” said Jones looking up from his report, he turned and stretched his long legs sideways. He grabbed a maple bar from the box, and took a large bite. He swallowed and washed it down with bad office coffee. “I would have loved the privilege of killing Nick myself; too bad,” his look was one of real disappointment. “But taking down bad guys is our job.”

“Well it’s not a perfect world,” said Clark with real compassion. “That last hit with the bat sounds personal, repeatedly hit in the head and chest. Must have been the woman, the little guy would have destroyed the arm and broke the bat with his strength,” said Clark “Why is the woman with this guy? Where are they? No witness's, something is going on. A little snitch I have said there was a stranger in the neighborhood, short and odd looking, the bad people were scared of him”

“Sounds like he can take care of himself; so why haven't we heard of him? Definitely not a gang banger or crazy man with a big gun; this man isn’t motivated by profit. No he doing this with his fists, and that's tough,” finished Jones, the donuts calling to him from the box.

***



Back in there quaint secure home Thud said, “That was real brave taking on that ass with a stick singled handed, you could have been hurt.” he held her close looking into her eyes.

She looked down into his eyes, “You would have hurt him.”

“Wrong Carol, I would have squeezed his head off with my bare hands. Still your swing was great.” His first impression of these people had been way off. This race of people known as humans were tall and light, but give them a weapon of any sort and they could be as brutal as any of his people, maybe even a little more vicious than most rational life forms. He felt his head, there was a bump. “That one guy landed a good shot right to my face, it a little swollen.”

She continued, “I have a cold steak for your face for the swelling. And it’s a woman prerogative to do what she will; besides he tried to rape me and that other lady, they had it coming.” She finished let go of him and said, “Want some dinner, the little man from the restaurant gave us a case of New York's, and he seemed very impressed by your performance.”

“No he was impressed with you, Bat Lady.”

“If you say so; you big Thud.” Thud and Carol were in love.

***

The next few months he worked on his space craft, improved their living quarters and settled down to life on earth. First he manhandled the space craft from the bottom of the elevator shaft. With care Thud gracefully disassembled a part of the brick wall. Next he moved his ship and reassembled the wall. After finishing the bricking he piled rubble against his new wall effectively camouflaging it. Next he worked on communications, it wasn't his specialty but it was basic technology covered in school; akin to basic interstellar communications 101, or ship repair for dummies. Carol helped out where she could; the cat and her were buddies. After a few months of testing, jury rigging, reinventing, and scrounging parts, he made his first complete transmission. “Just never know who's snooping around,” he said. “There's a lot of room out there, still once in a full moon someone may be listening.”

“Can anyone here pick up your transmission?” she asked petting the cat she had named Tiger.

“Doubt it, the technology doesn't exist here to primitive a planet, but you never know.” He flexed his big muscles and scooped her up still holding the cat. He sat down on his new sofa he had borrowed from a delivery van. He had just taken a few items they needed. Washer dryer, new bedroom set, and so on, Carol said it was alright because the company would be insurance. He figured her planet; when in Rome do as the Romans do. Maybe he should quit watching that square box they call a TV, it was addicting.

***

Winter turned to spring crime on the rise except in Old Town, the crime rate dwindled; sort of. Violent crime was up among criminals down among the decent folk. Ordinary citizens found the old mostly abandoned industrial district by the river peaceful and quiet during the day. At night some said an inscrutable vigilante was active, others whispered it was the work of a nefarious presence.

This morning the district was deserted except for the Police presence, it was in force. An old derelict ten story brick buildings dominated the street in this particular block. It was the largest and the most dilapidated. Its most noticeable feature were the dumpsters lined up in its back alley, a few were labeled for recycle only in bold block letters. The teamster driving the recycle truck found material not meant for recycle. He found two bodies in a blue dumpster, both dead, both needing attention, but not by him.

Jones and his partner Clark were inspecting the dumpster, plastic recycle with two dead men on the top. Jones leaned over and looked in and said, “That’s fast Eddie with his neck out of joint”

Clark standing under him said, “The other fool is Little Tom a nasty peace of work, his head is flat as a pancake.”

“Yep,” said Jones the standing to the side for the police photographer, “the Fat man strikes again.”

He continued with his observation. “We will find no fingerprints, no weapons, only indentations made by a solid humongous fist, or strangulation marks with too many thumbs.”

Clark added with a smile, “You know I think Little Tom never looked better! Think of all the times we have busted him only for him to get right back on the street. He murdered that old man last year, we just couldn't prove it. No witnesses ever came forward.”

“Ya, taken out little Tom says a lot.” Little Tom being close to seven feet tall, over three hundred pounds he wasn't any ones push over. Jones forgetting himself in a melancholy moment offered,” I don't think the fat man is a bad guy, he's doing what I have wanted to do for years; giving the scumbag’s a taste of their own medicine!”

Clark yawned then stretched his mammoth frame, Jones followed suit, arms reaching far into the sky. A uniformed officer observing their actions said to his partner, “Those two challenge the load limit of this street. Ever see those two in action?”

“All I have heard is stories, and they were impressive”

“A couple of years ago,” said the older officer to his younger partner, “I responded to a call for backup. The bar was Krazies not too far from here, a gang rape in progress. First thing we saw on arrival was an unmarked in front of the bar, doors wide open and running. The next thing we saw was a naked man flying out a window. We went in batons out, the bar was decimated. Clark held two men by their throats and slammed their heads together like John Wayne. Jones was in the process of removing teeth from another couple of brutes with his fists. We waded in to the melee but the destruction was almost complete. Mostly we applied hand cuffs or helped load the aid cars and paddy wagons. Three patrons with the bartender were behind the bar trying to survive the current event. They made good witnesses, two bruised and bleeding middle aged women trying to stop a rape. The bartender head was bleeding from a broken bottle; he was the one who dialed 911. A tall skinny kid just turned 21 wasn't able to stand. The victim was his aunt he had taken the fight to heart and gave his all to no avail. Half-conscious on the floor the bartender grabbed the kids by his bloody shirt and hauled him to safety, using his bar bat with positive affect. As for Clark and Jones they were livid, torn suits, bloody fists, it took us over an hour to calm the two warriors down.”

“Wow!” The young officer mulled it over and asked, “Did anyone complain about excessive force? You know how it is!”

“Everyone! Participants, the DA, defense lawyers, that all came to a dead stop. The video camera in the bar put a kibosh to all objections.” He smiled broadly, “I saw it, very very, impressive, right out of the Wild West.”

***

Back at the precinct Jones sat quietly in reflection, feet on his desk, chair slid back, blocking the aisle. All persons of semi intelligence knew that was a sign to leave the big man alone. Fingers intertwined behind his balding head he said quietly to Clark, “Sometimes playing by the rules just ain't enough; Ya Know!”

Clark followed suit, leaned back in his oversize wooden chair, extended his thick legs onto his desk effectively scattering his paperwork. He loosened his neck tie and unbuttoned the top of his shirt. Took a deep breath and said, “Sometimes I wish I could do what the fat man is doing; bust there damn heads with my fists,” he sighed deeply lost in thought.

Jones gaze shifted to his partner a smile starting to form and said, “We did do that at Krazies Bar?” His grin had widened showing even white teeth.

Clark laughed out loud,” We sure did I was sore for weeks after that brawl, Damn it felt good.”

Jones uttered with incredible glee, “My knuckles were raw from the beating I gave those low lifes. Remember you through that naked guy through the bar window, he landed in broken glass on his bare ass, what seen!” Dull-drums gone, totally animated, the joy of mayhem in the air, the pair reminisced.

***

Much later in the morning still working their case, “Bob over in Juvenile said a street gang came over the bridge into Old Town last weekend and caused some trouble. Maybe a dozen, roughed up a wino, and intimidated a few tourists,” said Jones. His tone became grave, “This could be a problem with a vigilante around.”

Clark stood up shaking his head and said, “Let’s cross our fingers and pray, I think we are going to be busy for a while.”

***

Federal Building in Old Town.

“We can't figure out what the signal is, or what it is, or where it’s originating from, said Herbert a semi efficient low level investigator for Federal Communications.

His boss, Director Johnson said “How can we tax it if we can't figure out if it’s illegal or even licensed. Plus we don't know the what, where or how? This is very frustrating?”

The skinny technician, complete with white short sleeved shirt and bow tie answered, “I don't have a clue, except I know its close by. I found it by accident, I've have never encountered a signal like this, it’s very odd. I think its directed into outer space.”

“Well done son, all communication stations must be licensed!” Said his boss, “We need more revenue, the government has to be supported,” he was very serious about. Director Johnson took himself very seriously, which was hard for anyone else since he was vastly overweight and considered meals his top priority. Taxes and everything else were a close second. “Find that illegal signal, this is America, everyone has to pay their fair share.”

The skinny technician sitting at his communication desk, in his small cubicle, in the huge federal complex started doing just that. He made phone calls and extensive e-mails, office communication machinery was bubbling, and finally after weeks of intense group effort he called his boss and said, “I give up.” His boss knowing the likely result was ready, he made a very private phone call on a very secure line.

***

A sign in a quiet middle class neighbor in Old Town read; Joe's Detective Agency. Nothing fancy, just a two story brick building in good shape surrounded by well frequented shops. On his left an Italian Deli ran by a Jewish family. On his right, a Pub, claiming to be Irish, though the clientele was mostly Heinz 57, meaning a melting pot. A phone rang in the Detective Agency, “Joe Flynn here, “the broad man with graying hair talked with a cigar permanently attached to his lip. Large damaged knuckles spoke of his time in the ring, before the sport got tame he claimed. Fifty medium built with massive upper body, he looked like a bowling ball walking on two chop sticks, his bagger trousers helped hide the fact. “OK Director what do you need?” Joe was wise and street smart, solving governmental problems was his specialty, he didn't need the notoriety just the check.

“I need you to find an illegal operation for us?” said Director Johnson sitting in his towering glass office overlooking the golf course. “We have an illegal communication network in the city and we can’t pinpoint where it’s originating from. Neither taxed nor licensed it has to be stopped,” he said that between munches of his strawberry cheese cake.

No kidding thought Joe those over educated nit wits couldn't find the prize in a box of Cracker Jacks. “OK so you want me to find it for you and let you bust them, right? You get the glory I get the dough!” Sitting in his office at his worn wooden desk he thought, damn I love the government.

“Absolutely!” said Director Johnson visibly relaxing, “when can you start?”

Joe had been through this before, “Fed X me a retainer for say $10,000 dollars and I'll start today.” The line went quiet for a minute, and then a voice came back on. Joe knew he was trying to figure out how to hide this expenditure, he couldn't say he had to hire a private detective with all of the Feds resources available to him. But that was what he was doing, money up front was the key, they were always late paying their bills.

“Alright that's steep but you are a specialist and this is a national security issue.” he called in his secretary who wrote the check and Fed X's it to Joe. Then got back to the important job at hand , finishing the cheese cake.

***

Thud burst into their apartment one morning and blurted out, “I received a reply from my transmission Carol.” Her look wasn't one of excitement, surprise yes, culminating into dread. Momentarily oblivious to her reaction he continued “Its an automatic confirmation that it was received from a passing ship they will relay it home. Aren't you a little excited honey?” He was confused; he thought she would be excited for him.

“No Thud, I should have destroyed that transmitter somehow,” she picked up the cat and sat down almost ready to cry. “You’re going to leave,” she broke down in tears bawling loudly. Small petite and sobbing his heart was melting too, Uh Oh realizing in an instance this earth woman loved him totally without reservation.

Damn thought Thud I never figured anyone would every give a hoot about me. My family rarely contacted me, my friends are scattered all over the universe, I haven't been home in twenty years, this is a big surprise; she loves me. He sat down next to her on the couch, it strained under the weight, and if the couched could have talked it would have said ouch! “No one ever has cared about me, I'm just a valuable commodity to my organization, I do my job, and they pay me, I was satisfied in my work; until now” He put his arms around her and held her tight.

Her small thin face a mask of tears, “You’re going to leave and I'll be alone, I love you, you will even take Tiger,” this was too much, the damn broke completely, bawling turned into a flood.

He his huge short arms still holding her, “No I'm not leaving I just want to get in touch with my people, they must be worried about me. Plus my job needs to know where I went, I don't even know if the rest of the passengers were rescued or still floating around out in space.

“You promise you won't leave?” she said drying the flood from her red bloated eyes with his shirt.

“Promise I have never been so happy in all my life,” he realized he meant it, he was going to stay with her. He knew he had to figure out how to upgrade his life here, he was tired of camping. He didn't even have an air car, no decent communicator, or a sonic shower. TV was OK, the holographic experience was so much better. What he really missed was his freeze gun, nothing like shooting a large monster then going over and tapping on it, and then watching it fall into a pile of ice cubes, civilization had some cool toys. But it didn't have a Carol!

***

Joe investigated; he had it narrowed to the river area within a week. It didn't take him long to find out there was something funny going on in the old industrial district by the water front. Crime was down; suicides were up, mugging and murder down, suicides up. Late Saturday afternoon, fairly deserted, nice spring day, he took a stroll down into the industrial area. He talked to a few homeless people and winos, handing out dollar bills freely. He found out about the fat man and the young girl, they were becoming a street legend here. He seemed to be the local superman and her heroine. That was OK with Joe, his job was to find source of the signal. Why on earth was anyone transmitting an illegal unlicensed signal from Old Town was beyond him. Just write detailed written instructions for the Feds to follow, like X marks the spot, including color glossy 8 x 10 photos of the desperado's. Gee Whiz, what a case, they seem like their doing a good job here, keeping down crime. He went out late at night now seeking the dangerous duo in person, on the third night of staking out the district it happened.

Nothing and no one around, old brick warehouses, decades out of date were the mainstay of the district. Winos and derelicts homesteaded empty buildings, dead end alleys housed plastic and wood shelters. Monday through Friday there was some old business survived. Construction projects thrived, turning old warehouses into new condos on the river. Here at nights, only the disparate homeless occupied this desolate wasteland. They were poor and unable to leave.

Joe stood by a burn barrel, just past midnight waiting, something to happen? He stood talking with a young wino named Jim who was aging fast. The man said;” Its better now but when the punks from over the bridge come here its ugly. There bad news, never any cops around, not this time of night. Occasionally they beat and rob homeless people just for kicks. Mainly with clubs or fists, but a few are packing. He shivered and hit his bottle he offered some to Joe who politely refused. Probably had more germs than a dog, hell Jim could probably give a dog a good cause of flea bite, he stepped back a tad. Joe looked at his watch close to 2 am maybe time to pack it in and call it a night.

Trouble rounded the corner, not one not two but a gang of twenty. This was a trouble alright, a large contingent of gang bangers. Uh oh, he felt the adequacy of his short barreled 38 tucked under his shoulder. The thought struck him they probably wouldn't give must credence to his little revolver. Better move back and make a quick withdrawal, discretion being the better part of valor. He turned and told the Jim the wino,” Follow me I have a car down the on the next block.” He turned and found another party of gangsters coming at them from the opposite direction they had prisoners. He stood frozen this wasn't good.

The gang had corralled a few of the local folk, including a man by the name of Marvin Mayfield well-known local restaurateur. They were being pushed and shoved ahead of the gang, the word herded pushed into Joe's mind. A young hot woman much younger than Mr. Mayfield clung to his side. There was the reason for his late night, she definitely wasn't the Mrs. There were three other men with them two middle age Hispanics, and a young drug addict called Toothless. He was shoved in the back fell to the cobblestone, then kicked by a gang banger they all laughed at his misery. Dressed all in black with gold and silver chains they wore a kind of uniform. “We are in big trouble Jim,” he knew that his Private Detective license along with his gun didn’t mean squat. Still just as well be shot for a lion as a lamb; the result was the same. Joe did what Joe had done in the ring, sucked it up and gave his best.

He said loudly as tough as he could, “Back off we aren't bothering you!” He turned and faced them he felt a bit over whelmed, his hand rested on the butt of his pistol concealed in his coat.

A big heavyset man, the leader by appearance said, “Hey rich guy, give us your wallet and your coat and every else in this world you own and we might let you live.” That brought a laugh from the gang who now numbered around thirty. They closed ranks and were very intimidating standing in front of him. They pushed their captives to the front, leaving a small space next to Jim, him, and the burn barrel.

“Let them go and get out of here before I call the police.” He stood firm looking the leader in the eye.

He pulled his gun and pointed at the leader, “I'll shoot you first, I promise.” Joe figured if you are going to go down, go down hard, in the war he never gave an inch.

A voice sounded from behind him, booming and gravelly with an odd inflection “Let the people go assholes this is my neighborhood, get the hell out of here.”

He turned and looked down on a short fat man, then looked again his eyes registering details. The man wasn't small, he was almost as wide as he was tall, his hands were immense built along the lines of twin pile drivers, the arms in the baggy coat were about to burst from his shear bulk.

No one moved then the gang leader yelled, “Get the fat guy, we heard about his bull shit, get him.”

The gang surged forward, the fat man moved forward, the gang dropped like flies. Thud waded into them; bodies actually flew over his head. Not wanting to be left out, Joe moved to the short man’s right and started swinging. Jim picked up a wooden stick and joined in, the wine having given him liquid courage. He was old but the last thing to leave a fighter was his punch, he was proved it that night. He dropped the first two punks he connected with, his adrenalin was flowing. Over six feet and once a contender he let his fists fly, who needed footwork in a fight like this. A gun shot was heard, he glanced over his shoulder and saw a petite young woman drop a gang banger holding a pistol. Good shot he thought, I found the heroine, he kept swinging. Their small band of defenders onslaught horrific, the gang broke and ran. Joe was too tired to run after them, breathing hard he surveyed the damage there must have been ten bodies on the ground. Two Hispanics had joined the fight and made a good showing for themselves. The middle aged restaurateur had stood his ground also and was bleeding from the mouth. He had a grin on his face, the young woman with him definitely impressed by his dauntless defense of her.

He yelled to the Fat man, “Wow you are really something, you saved my life! Thank you.”

One of the Hispanic who knew Thud yelled, “Hell! Thud is the man here; he saved our sorry butts, thanks!”

The short wide man turned around looking up at Joe and said, “You didn't do too badly yourself, I have to go before the cops get here. His hat was gone having been knocked off in the melee, Joe did a quick examination, his face was very flat and wide, ears close to his head, his skin gray, no neck, and no hair to speak of.

Joe with spoke authority to the rescued people, “Leave him out if possible and the girl too,” pointing at the two, “They don't need the hassle, plus they just saved our collective ass's!”

The restaurateur replied evenly, “He's right,!” agreeing with Joe, “ Thanks again for the rescue things were looking grim. “You two,” turning to Thud and Carol better go, “I think the Cops are looking for both of you.” He made a slight bow of his head in respect then turned and deliberately with malice kicked a fallen gang banger. The young drug addict called Toothless and Wino Jim got the drift and joined in. The two Hispanics still peeved at their short incarceration laid in with heavy work boots. The young girl, her dander up spiked a few with her high heels. Things got quiet; none were moving or at least not trying to get up. Sirens could be heard heading in their direction.

Thud said, “Were going home would you care to join us for a beer?”

Joe thought for a second, beer or cops? Easy decision! “Love too,” he answered and walked with them into the dark desolate alley, slowly disappearing into the gloom. They left the survivors behind to deal with the cops.

***

At Thud's and Carol's place they introduced each other, “my names Joe I run a detective agency and I was hired to find you. “He sat back in a comfortable leather armchair and drank his bottle of ice cold beer.

“Well you found us, my name is Carol and this is my man Thud!” she took his rough big double thumbed hand in hers and held it, they sat on the couch with a tiger stripped alley cat. The couch visibly sank when Thud seated himself.

The place wasn't bad he thought very nice furniture, nice carpets, new appliances, fixed up very nice considering the outside of building said Condemned. So he said, “Is this what you do for fun or is there another side of you?”

Thud cleared his throat ignoring his question and said, “What are your plans for us? Going to turn us in to your employers? I imagine you could get a lot of money for us.” He sipped his beer put it down, accidently crushing the can. “I’m a tad bit clumsy, all thumbs.”

Joe drank his beer and chuckled.

Thud added, “I better stick to pop, my coordination in this light gravity is at times severely tested.”

He studied Thud, two thumbs three fingers, gray tough skin, flat face, no fat, the new couch sank where he was sitting. Carol brought him some ice wrapped in a cloth to put on his head; he had taken a couple of good shots. He considered his answer, this man could kill him and no one would know. He was a good judge of people and knew without a doubt that Thud wasn't a murderer.

But this wasn't a man,”Thud you not from around here, I mean the planet. You’re definitely not of earthly origin. Outside you saved my life, I value friendship and I choose sides. Joe stood up put out his hand Thud stood up and took it, they shook. Joe then said, “Thud you are my friend; I'm on your side.”

Thud a well-traveled creature of the universe listened waited and understood. Joe was a man after his own heart, he liked what he saw, and it gave credence to his first impression of Joe. Hands still intertwined Thud said, “Friends for life.” They both sat down Carol smiled and the work began.

“I was hired by the government to find an illegal communication site, I found it. But you not communicating with anyone on earth are you?” He continued before Thud could answer back, “No I'm not turning you over to the government, they are slow and plodding, and won't let go. Eventually they will catch you, let me think about this for a bit, we need some help.”

They talked for a long time, Joe took their offer and took a nap on the couch till the cops left and quit buzzing around. At noon he had formed a plan at least an idea of who to call, and it wasn't the Feds. “I have an idea, I know a couple of men who owe me a favor, will you trust me on this? “asked Joe.

Carol answered, “Yes.” Thud nodded slightly having virtually no neck.

***

He called his old army body Ed Clark and said he had a very delicate matter that he couldn't discuss over the phone; it concerned a problem in the industrial district. Ed's resistance to the meeting verging on obstinacy melted with the mention of the industrial district. He asked Ed to him to come to his office, and bring Jones if he wanted too; he figured he'd tell him anyway. They arrived within the hour.

***



Joe sat in his office, behind his well-worn wood desk. Coffee ready with two dozen assorted donuts and pastries. The detective's arrived and sat across from him on over stuffed extra-large leather chairs. More suited to a country club than a private detective’s office. The old buildings exposed brick walls, gave it an air of Phillip Marlowe circa 1935. The Pollock’s relaxed and helped themselves to coffee and donuts. It was late afternoon, but they were cops.

Clark spoke up with a mouth full of pastry, “OK enough pleasantries, thanks for the donuts and coffee. Then he tasted the coffee and exclaimed, “This coffee is really good!”

Jones leaned back his long legs touching the desk. “Who are those for?” he asked pointing to the right of Joe's desk,” One small sofa sat in the open space next to his desk.

Clark and Jones both had deduced that Joe had company. Joe got up and closed the curtains, Clark and Jones hands instinctively went slowly towards their pistols.

“Relax gentlemen I have two guests, one was a missing person the other- well you have to meet? Thud! Carol! Meet my two friends Detectives Clark and Jones affectionately known as the Pollock’s.” Carol came in from the back room followed by Thud, the detectives waited a second exchanged looks then stood in unison towering over the pair.

“Carol there is a missing person bulletin out on you for months, I'm glad you’re alright!” said Jones. His eyes were focused on Thud, while he spoke to Carol.

“Wow,” said Clark, “Excuse me for being blunt but you don't seem to be human, “his gaze examining Thud like a surgeon. Thud stood in baggie pants, suspenders, and an overlarge shirt, all built for a circus clown, which it had been.

Without moving his neck, which he didn't have, his eyeballs traveled to their peripheral limits exceeding those of a man, then up to gazed into Clark's own. Thud smiled broadly and replied, “Bingo-give the man a cigar, I'm an illegal Alien that is unregistered undocumented and from another planet!” He stood motionless and waited, the ball was in there corner.

Clark took a deep breath exhaled and meant the Aliens eyes. “Thud you do good work,” he paused then said, “Welcome to earth, “and stuck out his hand. They shook and Thud smiled, Clark looked at his hand in Thuds, the extra thumb felt weird but seemed practical. “First time I ever shook hands with an extraterrestrial.”

Jones said nothing just carefully shook hands with the Alien; still in his grip he offered, “Killing here is illegal, but in the case of Little Tom and few others we have made exceptions,” then added, “the son of a bitch deserved it!”

They sat down; the detectives listened to Thud’s recount of his unexpected arrival here. Temporally appeased by the explanations offered by Thud, they soon they relinquished any thought of arrest. Discussing the case, through another dozen pastries washed down by black coffee; Thud won them over by his veracious manner and his appetite for donuts. Later Jones summarized the facts, “So you’re an extra-terrestrial, crashed landed and stranded on this planet; in particular; right here in Old Town. The Government is looking for your transmission because it's unlicensed which means unregistered which means untaxed. Also, we the police are looking for you because of the high number of, let’s say; assisted suicides and assorted mayhem.”

Thud answered for himself, “Guilty as charged, new world, new rules, same bad men where ever I go.”

Clark added, “You have adjusted very well, some of your television quotes are a bit passé' but tried and true,” he said. “Thud, I like your name, I doubt you were you born with that handle, but it fits!”

“Yep, I made it up, reminded me of my crash landing in the storm. That’s pretty my story in a nutshell,” said Thud. “I plan to stay here and marry Carol as I understand it that is your custom to mate for life.” He held her small hand in his.

Jones choked on his coffee and said, “Don't tell that to my sister she has been married four times.” Clark broke into a grin knowing Jones little sister’s permissive habits.

Thud didn't quite get the joke but everyone else did.

Clark looked at Jones and said to the group, “We can put the murders and associated atrocities down on the street gang from last night; that leaves the Feds, they are tougher.”

“My idea is,” said Joe “is for you or somebody who knows how, to put together a dummy communication site, sending low level transmissions so even the Feds could find it?” Joe went on after watching Thud devour a giant apple fritter in one bite, “Of course I would tell them approximately where it was located and let them have the glory.”

Jones added, “The mayhem would have to be stop, no matter how much good it does. The main point will be keeping you from being locked up, stay free and registered as a legal Alien. This is going to be complicated.”

“I wonder if he could get a job?” broke in Carol, wouldn't hurt him to find a way to support us without stealing and fighting, seeing I'm pregnant!”

Talk about a show stopper, mouths dropped, no bugs flew in, then they recovered. “Congratulations Carol!” beamed Joe like and expecting uncle, Thud’s mouth was wide open, waiting for a fly to move in.

Clark got up and patted Thud hard on the back, “Congratulations Thud you will make a great father,” he felt like he had thumped a rock. After the congratulations were made they got down to business again.

“What was your job in your world?” asked Joe remembering he had said he was an explorer. That covered a lot of territory; Joe swiveled in his chair looking at Thud intently.

Thud took a deep breath and answered, “Your equivalent to a private Marshal, maybe Private Dick for an Agency. Our company is contracted to keep order on backward worlds for an intergalactic firm, specializing in mining. Miners can be rough; I pick up prisoners, hire and fire, I’m work on sight security, and give added fire power to tough situations. Our company has a few hundred operatives or specialists like me, plus our regular security officers. Our civilization encompasses five different intelligent species all humanoid. My branch has representatives from all of them; one race is actually darker and taller than you Jones. Nine foot stick men with a very distinguished walk, they measure there strides in your yards not feet.”

Clark broke in leaning forward hands on knees, “I knew you were a cop or military, definitely in enforcement.”

Jones shrugged, dug into his wallet and handed over a twenty, “Don't say another word Clark!” Clark’s grin said it all.

Thud smiled his wicked wide smile and said, “Since we established you aren't arresting me, now what?”

***

The next morning back at headquarters, the Pollock’s started brainstorming. Armed with almost decent coffee and fat donuts from the Chinese bakery they went to work. First they loosened their ties, Jones stretched out his long legs, while Clark leaned back and put up his feet on his desk. The chief hated that, but rarely said anything to them. Clark played with his thumb imagining he had two; on reflection he thought it would be cool. They worked on a plan.

“Let’s get rolling, first he needs a green card, an occupation and a job,” said Clark fingering his imaginary extra thumb. “And probably a neck but that's not going to happen.”

Jones picked up where his partner thought had ended, “Phase one; we need to move them out of the district, get a decent place to live, we can't have him found there were guilty by association. Phase two; we set up a phony transmitter station then Joe tells the Feds. Guns ablaze they burst into the place, no one home but the crime is solved.”

“Also in Phase one, “continued Clark, “we relocate them to a house near us, we need to keep them on a tight leash for a while. Then move his spaceship to new location, we need to move them as soon as possible. Joe can handle Phase two; he sat there and waited for input.

“What about funds, this will cost cash up front,” said Jones picking up another big fat maple bar.

“I know a venerable man of questionable ethics,“ replied Clark, “let’s talk to Tony, I think he might be interested. Something in an interstellar craft must be worth a bundle. Hell it came from outer space.” Jones smiled and nodded.

“That means we will have to tell Tony the truth, nothing but the truth, the whole story! He will never swallow this bullshit illegal Alien crap,” said Jones with his mouth full of Maple bar.

“True,” said Clark, “but Tony can keep his trap shut. Besides Tony has a proclivity for smart investments, “then added, “If your bacon was hanging over the fire who would trust to hold the fork; Tony or the Feds?”

“Without hesitation or a break in chewing Jones said, “Tony!” the man has principals.”

Putting down there cups they grabbed their jackets and went out. It was time to cross the tracks and visit a congenial old gentleman of Old Town, with principals.

***



They didn't call Tony, he was always there. The there was Mario's Italian Restaurant. They pulled up in the asphalt parking lot on the north side of the building. An elderly man sat in the bar window sipping a dark libation watching the vintage Cadillac’s in the parking lot. The neighborhood was old and dilapidated. Night time brought out a bad element, the same as any decaying inner city. The goods days were long past, those who could had long since left for the suburbs. The block surrounding Mario's was safe night or day. His Italian restaurant sat in the middle of the block, paved lighted parking lots flanked both sides of the restaurant. On the south side in the dining room sat another older gentleman, sipping coffee carefully observing the world outside. A block out of Tony's domain things gradually went from OK to worse. This small patch of Old Town was Tony's. The block occupied by Mario's and had a unique disparity to other sections of Town. Tony had Carte Blanche in this block; guns and muscle were his ticket. Mug an elderly old pensioner in this block you usually wound up dead. Usually by one of the old men who worked for Tony. Maybe a little frail, a little bent, definitely elderly, they all shot straight, carried big automatics favoring the colt 45, and didn't take shit. A stupid man had tried to go in the back door through the kitchen to rob the bar. The police arrived finding the man deceased with a twelve inch French knife sticking out of his chest. Compliments of Chef Giorgio, all he had to say was the man wasn't on the menu, old men laughed. Giorgio was 70 the perpetrator 30, no charges were brought. The detectives Jones and Clark thought it was suicide and just plain stupid.

The two Pollock’s pulled their unmarked cruiser into the parking lot. They got out not bothering to lock the car. They left the keys in the ignition, secretly hoping some moron would try to boost it, they both loved watching the old men work.

They went in through the side door, ancient white paint graced the brick wall, clean large windows brought daylight into the establishment. An old man sat at the bar nursing a drink, wrinkled paper skin, liver spots dotted on his hands, his eyes were open and alert. The waiter greeted them and said affectionately, “Detectives Jones and Clark, Tony is expecting, you follow me.”

Jones whispered quietly to Clark, “How did he know we were coming?”

Clark answered simply, “With money.”



Tony sat in the back corner near a wall observing them quietly; a small smile graced his elegant face. A large elderly man in a suit sat at a table near the front door. Next to Tony sat a skinny gentleman with a noticeable bulge in his suit coat. The dining room was of medium size and tastefully decorated, the waiters wore white jackets and slicked back hair; very appropriate. Music was low and subdued; Tony Bennett flowed through the speakers. They were shown to a small table next to Tony's. “Gentleman sit and relax you are among friends.” Jones started to speak Tony held up a diamond studded hand firmly stopping the detective; Coffee and some lunch.” That ended all discussion of business for the moment. When in Rome do as the Romans do thought Clark, they relaxed and ate keeping to small talk. There was absolutely no point in arguing with a near deity in his own world. Trouble wouldn't dare rear its ugly head here. Not a doubt in either Detectives mind that everyone from old gangster's to the dishwasher was armed with something more lethal, than just attitude.

Tony was a crime boss, silver haired of medium height, his children grown and gone legit. He on the other hand was retired and semi active. He had tried Florida it didn't fit him so had moved back to his old neighborhood and reclaimed one block over tough opposition. A few dead bodies later Tony owned a small diminutive empire in the heart of Old Town. A baron among thieves, he shrank with age and planned to die gracefully and in the company of friends.

He waited patiently for them to eat. Alfredo had sat them at the next table, not blocking his view of the doors. A white linen table cloth and fresh cut flowers decorated the table. Without being asked the waiter brought fresh garlic bread, butter, olive oil, and hot Italian coffee in small cups. Tony being an extremely good host waited in till they had drank some coffee, ate bread and finished their entree. Then politely asked, I hope you “Did you enjoyed your lunch? My chef is a magnificent man from the old country!” They nodded back with rich full stomachs. Satisfied Tony asked, “What brings my good friends to grace my humble establishment” then added, “Relax gentleman, you are among friends.”

Jones and Clark looked at each other and grinned, they unbuttoned their jackets revealing shoulder holsters holding large pistols. Jones stuck out his long legs, Clark leaned back in his chair, and both quietly sipped coffee.

Clark started, “Want the bull shit or the truth? The truth is weird-very weird, but there may be some money in it down the road for you.” He leaned back and waited for Tony to ponder his words, at almost eighty, he was still inscrutable and dangerous.

“OK gentleman,” he picked up his coffee and sipped, gracefully putting it back on the table. “You need money since your honest cops it has to be something different, no games no graft. And since you wouldn't be dumb enough to borrow money from me it has to be very secret but straight. Alright I'm hooked, what’s up?” He folded his arms leaned back and waited, his men were poised, all ears open.

Jones had been chomping at the bit, his mind had been on fire with possibilities, one thing in this world was true, Tony was a straight shooter. Here goes he thought,” We have an Alien we need to relocate; we need some money to get him and his girl a safe place to live, soon. The Feds are interested, and they have no idea how big this is, yet!”

Tony quick as lightening said slowly, “I take it this not just any illegal Alien, not from let’s say Mexico, possibly not from Earth. And you don't want to go through normal channels because he is staying in the old industrial district and has caused let’s say, a few problems?”

Clark and Jones exchanged glances, “You hit the nail on the head, “said Clark respectively, never underestimate Tony. He began again, “The money part would come from research, maybe development, we have to move a craft, a very small life raft actually, it brought Thud here from outer space.” his voice trailed off. Then he added, “The technology is way beyond us.”

Tony's mouth opened revealing excellent dental work, his open mouth turned into a grin, “Thud? You two detectives never fail to surprise me, who else would come to me with such an obvious bullshit story. This whole fairy tale is such a provocative issue it has as to be true. Now we knew something odd was going down in the old industrial district but this is a surprise. Money is not a problem; there are a lot of angles here to work. I have a property in your own neighborhood; a three bedroom house with a large garage, Lenny will show you.”

Clark and Jones thought to themselves, Tony knows where we both live, nothing gets by him. Then Tony added not expecting a reply, “I take it Joe Flynn the Private Detective is in on this too?”

As they left Jones muttered to Clark, “We have a snitch in our office.”





As usually Tony refused to take their money. Then they left following Lenny's vintage 59 Cadillac to a conservative two story house not far from their own neighborhood. The house was perfect, large fenced yard, Dead End Street, and a three car garage. And the best, a tall laurel hedge surrounding the property.

“This is perfect we can move everything including his spaceship here, “said Clark.

“Tony's is supplying the moving company, van and men,” said Jones. “I tell you again Tony never quits amazing me.”

Lenny handed him the house keys and said, “The boss wants us to start the move tonight for obvious reasons, can't be moving flying saucers during the day,” he said with a grin and left.

“Has a point,” said Jones in agreement. “We had better get over to Thuds place and get those two ready to go.” And they did just that.

***

The Feds were ready! Basic black unmarked cars covered the block. A Swat team stood ready in the front of the abandoned warehouse. Another Swat team in the back, a helicopter circled above ready to coordinate the assault. The early morning sky threatened rain, never mind that they had a job to do.

Director Johnson was taking personal charge of this assault. Dressed in a very nice dark suit and tie, he had decided camouflage wouldn't do, he couldn't find a set in his size. He was ready for action, parked in a limousine next to the Command Van. Only three blocks from the warehouse, in the gritty part of the industrial area. By sheer coincidence next to an early morning seafood restaurant which served breakfast. He took in a deep breath and yelled into his Microphone; “Do It!” and they did. The wide front doors, built for a large conveyance, were blown down with explosives. They would have fallen down eventually from a stiff breeze. Then the rear door was blown in, taking the old pipe and broken chain with it. The troops charged in, to the roof then down into the basement and final to the concealed transmitting station. Tear gas grenades and concussion devices exploded, automatic weapons fired, the combat teams in full blown assault. No one was home; they did find a complicated array of antenna's and amplifiers, once in working condition. Now thoroughly useless shot through with bullets and blown apart with concussion grenades from a very effective Swat team, score one for the government.

Joe got a large bonus, the Director a plaque of recognition for his valiant defense of the government. He hung it on his wall next to his other mementoes twenty-five years of government service.

***

Thud liked his new home; Carol was very pleased with the arrangement. They both were invited as guests at Mario's, they accepted graciously. It was Monday and the restaurant was closed. They were driven by Lenny in a vintage 1963 Red Cadillac. Lenny drove them through the old neighborhood, dotted with abandon cars and empty houses. Thud thought it felt a lot like home, the buildings and streets resembled his home world not at all, but the atmosphere, the quiet desperation reminded him of where he had grown up. That was a long time ago, ancient history he thought. This new life here was so much better, the planet so fresh and primitive. They were meant at the side door by the waiter Alfredo, he greeted them warmly, white jacket, slicked back hair, he held the door for them. Thud walked in behind Carol, the bar was almost empty. An elderly gentleman in a dark suit and tie sat looking out the window nursing an amber colored liquid in a short glass. He turned and offered and offered a brief wave of his hand, then returned to watching the parking lot and the street. This were lead through the bar to the dining room, high ceiling large long tables, covered with white linen and fresh cut flowers. Tony was there accompanied by his two main men, confidants/ body guard.

Tony waved them over admiring Carol's slim body in her tight short dress, she was arm and arm with Thud. Tony heard about Thuds atrocious wardrobe, his problems with finding anything that would actually fit his wide barrel build. A gracious man of good taste who appreciated the finer things in life came to an immediate decision. Being an Italian he appreciated the best, the best was Mr. Wallace his Jewish Tailor. Lenny drove Mr. Wallace to Thuds warehouse apartment in his 59 caddy. Accompanied by Jesse, another aging gangster with a big gun, they had no trouble at all in the district. One watched the car the other watched Mr. Wallace. The elderly Jewish tailor Jewish considered Thud a personal challenge. Tony wanted the Man Dressed! He would dress him, bringing all of his great talent to work. With over fifty years’ experience he went to work. He had scratched his balding palate and smiled this would be fun. He had reported back to Tony the man was not human; he would have to design and build his clothes from scratch. Everything from suits to underwear, Tony nodded and said do it, and he did. His friend and fellow artisan Herb did the cobbling. Boots made from scratch for such an extreme foot was a challenge, his proclivity for cobbling renowned. Herb being his tenacious self, accomplished a small miracle, boots for an Alien. Mr. Wallace and Herb received a nice bonus for a job well done.

***

Thud arm in arm with Carol was a showcase of fashion. Gangster Circa 1930's, he stood out, dark pinstripes, vest and tie, flower in his lapel, custom built boots. The Alien was impeccable dressed fashion statement; Tony was as proud as a new born father.

They were joined shortly by the Pollock’s, this was a special occasion. Clark's wife Mary was of Scandinavian decent, short and stocky with a well-endowed bosom. Her low cut long dress and high heels gave her the appearance of being taller than she was. With her natural long blond hair past her shoulders she was a knockout. He was dressed in dark suit and tie almost the same as his partner; you would have thought they were related. Jone's wife Tina on the other hand was tall and slim, very black skin and over six foot in heels. A much nicer version of her husband, in a tight red dress she was hot.

The men were proud of their wives, and unlike most people men on the force, the city brass let them run their own game. Mobsters included, even the conservative brass knew once in a while you needed someone with connections in the underworld. Something’s were too conspicuous to be done in the light of day.

The dinner was excellent; Tony's Chef Giorgio was from Northern Italy, schooled in the old country with a strong Italian accent. Past sixty with a protruding belly, he had a young apprentice half his age in the kitchen, like Giorgio had the same love of cooking. Both men were appreciated as well as respected. Tony had them come out and take a bow after the dinner plates had been cleared. “This is Giorgio, he has been here with me for twenty wonderful years. Then he introduced his apprentice Romeo and the new kid on the block Jimmy, he was the prep cook, dishwasher and all around kitchen gopher, short small and Asian. They all bowed deeply and thanked them for enjoying the meal.

***

The old man sitting in the bar looking out the window quietly walked up to Tony. Whispered in his ear, then turned around and waited next to the entrance to the bar. Tony tapped his spoon on his glass stood up and made an announcement. “Ladies and Gentleman we have problem in the parking lot, some undesirable people are outside prowling our cars.”

Clark and Jones stood up quickly and said in unison, “We can handle it!”

“NO, thank you,” said Tony appreciatively, “You are guests; I was wondering if you would like to see my family in action. The windows in the bar are bullet proof, as are all of the windows in the restaurant. Charlie shot out one of our picture windows unexpectedly, due to a similar problem in the parking lot last year.

Everyone turned to look at the elderly Charlie, “I didn't have a choice,” he said and shrugged his narrow shoulders.

Clark said, “I heard you shot the gang banger dead through the window good shooting.”

Charlie said simply, “Seemed like the thing to do.”

Jones added, “It was investigated by us, the police, and declared justifiable.”

Tony cleared his throat, and the room went dead; “You never saw a thing, you never left the dining room deal?” He looked over his guests and calmly waited for an answer.

Jones looked at his wife, then at Clark, then at Clark's wife and said, “Don't know anything about a shooting, can't see a thing from the dining room.”

“I really would like to see this too,” said Jones, “the building is brick with the windows bullet proof we can have front row seats. They all exited the dining room in favor of the bar. The bartender unperturbed by current events poured the drinks.

Restaurant employees hurriedly exited the building. The Chef, his apprentice Romeo, and Jimmy went out the back door still wearing aprons. The two waiters in smart white jackets exited the front. The side entrance opened on to the parking lot from the bar; it was reserved for Tony's elderly henchmen, Tony in the lead.

The unsuspecting gang thought a few vintage Caddies would spruce up there image. Their home was across town, they weren't worried about Mario's reputation for being off limits. The six gang members were spread out over the lot, peering into the unlocked cars. One exceptional bright member figured out the cars weren't locked. Then noticed the keys were in the ignition, what a find. He turned his head side to side, looking carefully around. This was too easy, then carefully opened the door of a bright red Cadillac. The dome light turned on easily noticed in the fading light. Forgetting himself he said loudly, “This car is cherry and the keys are in the ignition, check out the others!” Another member in dark baggy clothes exclaimed, “This one too, it’s unlocked, keys in the ignition!”

“Let’s take them all!” yelled another little gangster,” this time at full volume forgetting about stealth.

“Not the best idea bright boys,” said Tony, standing in the doorway of the restaurant, gun in hand, “they don't belong to you, that's stealing!” The punks froze then whirled drawing there weapons, three had knives, three pistols. “I wouldn't do that children! We play for keeps here!”

The crowd in the bar was tense with anticipation. This is great, said Carol with uncontrolled enthusiasm. Jones wife, oblivious to the people around her chimed loudly, “This is better than sex!”

Charlie said to the people in the bar, “Watch this!” The group was riveted to the play.

The parking lot was bright and well lit, Jimmy the little Asian nimbly cartwheeled over the hood of a Caddy and kicked a knife wielding gang banger in the head. The man screamed and fell grabbing his face.

The audience in the bar screamed with enthusiasm, Thud immaculately dressed roared with approval, “That's great, what agility!”

Next the young apprentice chef, threw a twelve inch French knife at a punk holding an outstretched pistol. The knife struck the hand holding the large revolver, it dropped to the ground with one of the punks dismembered fingers still on the trigger. He screamed madly forgetting about the fight and looking for his lost member.

Two would be Caddy owners opened up with poor marksmanship as well as bad stealing skills. The bullets hit the glass window of the bar; far too the right and bounced off the glass. There gunfire brought a rebuttal of lead. Giorgio, Alfredo, the bartender, Tony, and his bodyguards opened up.

The two with knives turned and ran, gold chains jiggling, one bleeding badly from his arm. The wounded man ran into Alfredo leaving blood on his clean white jacket. Alfredo's eyes dialed crimson, he shoot the young man in the chest. “Dumb son of a bitch!” he screamed, “I'll never get this clean.” Then turned and shot the other gang banger who was in full flight in the back, “Stupid idiot kids, you ruined my jacket.”

“Score one for the mob,” commented Clark with a big smile.

Jones said, “Two wounded four dead, not bad for an after dinner shoot out,” the women covered their mouths in horror or maybe something else.

Clark said sympathetically, “Tony just saved the tax payers a lot of money by avoiding due process of the law,”

Tony said to no one in particular, pointing at Alfredo kicking a wounded screaming gang member,” That man has a temper,”



Back inside minus Alfredo the other waiter was serving drinks in the bar, the guests still looking out the windows. Alfredo was still mad about his jacket and was out kicking the surviving two punks on the ground amid their cries for help. Clark said to Jones, “He definitely has a proclivity for violence.”

Jones laughed, “Ya think!”

Thud was exploding with enthusiasm, “That was the best show I have ever seen, anywhere, and that includes the immediate universe.” He had been holding Carols hand close to the window being the shortest person present.

Tony came inside gun in hand and said loudly, ”I asked them politely to leave, this is after all a family Restaurant!” everyone laughed, then he said seriously, “My dear guests I have three cars waiting in the back, why don't you let my drivers take you home? Two of you being Police and One an Alien, it might make things a little sticky.”

***

The Police arrived much later, answering a call about loud noises, possible gun shots. A cruiser circled the block, the parking lot was empty, no bodies, no wounded, the place was deserted. False alarm one said to other, they called it in, Charlie watched from the darkened bar, short glass of amber liquid in his hand. People peaked out their curtained windows no one offered to help the Police.

Tuesday morning at headquarters they checked the morning reports, no mention of a shootout in Old Town, they relaxed Tony was meticulous in his work.

***

Weeks passed Clark answered his desk phone, “Joe wants to meet us, says our mutual friend found our other friend a job!” They grabbed their coats and hit the road.

Jones nodded appreciation and said with all candor, “The people in Tony's neighborhood have more faith in him than us.” He was bit crunched up in the passenger seat as was usual, a tad bit tall for the conveyance. “No way in hell with all our resources could we cover up a crime scene so fast!”

“Say what you like about Tony,” added Clark, “the man has class and takes care of his own.” He let it sit for a minute then said,” I wonder what kind of job Tony found for Thud?”

“Not a clue?” answerer his partner, they drove to the house.

They drove to the suburbs where they called home. I wasn't quite the way they left it this morning. The supposedly secret safe house was anything but secret. As they approached the house they found it surrounded, deep in Government Issue sedans. Dark shades blended with dark suits were extremely plentiful in the neighborhood.

“Talk about an audacious display of force,” exclaimed Clark,” You would have thought Aliens had landed.”

“Jones gave his partner an odd look then burst out laughing and said, “Ya Think!”

Impervious to the suited bull shit Clark drove ahead, they were stopped half a block from the house, neighbors peered out their window looking for an explanation. Clark and Jones displayed their badges with no visible affect. A man behind dark shades with a cord plugged into his ear said, “This is a restricted area, you need to leave, Now!”

“Really!” said Jones producing his badge, “We are invited guests of Thud and Carol, Let us through!”

The man looked closely Jone's badge and then at Clark's, another man in a dark suit and glasses stood behind the first. Satisfied they were cops he radioed the house, after a brief discussion he said, “You have to turn around and leave!”

“We are the Police here!” said Clark eyes riveted thick with contempt.

“Doesn't matter in this situation, Federal authority supersedes local.” He stood smugly with a small sneer on his face.

Never complaisant Clark's reactivated negatively to the order. Quick as a cat his massive hand wrapped around the slender man’s throat, “If you ever want to breathe again have the fellow behind you radio again. My name is Detective Clark that is Detective Jones this is our Town we are homicide, call Joe Flynn.”

Jones said with barely controlled hostility, “Better call quickly while your partner can still breathe, and if that hand goes under your coat there will be a homicide for us to investigate; yours!”

Then help arrive in the form of Joe, he had another dark suited man with a corded plug in his ear in tow. The man in tow yelled quickly with authority,” Let them in! They belong here,” so they did.

“Sorry about that,” said Joe, “these Feds have no common sense.” The man standing next to him a grave look, Joe caught it in the corner of his eye. And not too sure of themselves when it comes to a one on one fight,” he turned around the man stepped back.

He forgot the man and said to the Pollock’s, “The Feds found the space craft!”

Jones and Clark were dumb founded, “How could that happen, someone would have had to snitch.” They continued walking to the house among a small army of dark suits.

Carol answered the door and they went in, dressed in Jeans and T shirt she looked very young. The furniture was new since they had stolen it only a few months ago. The house was nice and comfortable not cluttered maybe a little under furnished. Thud dressed in baggy jeans custom made by Mr. Wallace, T-shirt and tall odd looking leather boots said, “Come on in guys, need something cold to drink?” The house had three dark suits in view, all looking very serious. “Have any coffee?” asked Jones.

Joe said, “All suits wearing dark shades. “Out!” There were three. He added gently, “Take a break we want to talk in private, Thud's not going anywhere.”

They glanced at each other and mentally reread the Federal Guidelines on dealing with Aliens, came to a decision and went outside.

“OK how did the Feds find them?” asked Clark. They Detectives sat down on the once new furniture, Thuds body and gravity aging it fast.

“Tony told them.” said Joe with a grin. ”He put up his hand and continued,” Tony figured to may already knew of Thud's presence, it was a matter of time someone got greedy and turned him. Tony's lawyer had a Federal Hotline for reporting illegals. After a little of negotiating by Tony and his attorneys we turned Thud in gift wrapped with a ribbon. I worked the other end telling the Director Johnson I knew for certain an Alien was loose on the planet. I got a big bonus, Tony got paid. If it had been anybody but Tony, the Feds would have bullied their way in and took him. Tony's off springs are all legit, legally that is. There Doctors, Lawyers, and of course Politicians. And when you start counting In-laws it’s a large family.”

Carol brought the detectives hot fresh coffee, Jones sipped and was in heaven then said suddenly, “Carol this coffee is great, will you marry me?” They all turned their attention Jones.

Clark tried the coffee and added, “Me too.”

Carol said, “Not today fellas, my Thud has been working on a better brewing process for coffee, Tony's was good, this is better.

“I used a few simple off world ideas how to improve the brewing process.”

“So now what?” said Clark sitting his cup carefully back into it saucer on the coffee table.

“Nothing, Thud's people are on their way, The Feds are scared to do anything.”

“How?” asked Jones, '

“Easier than I imagined” replied Joe, ”The emergency transmitter in the life boat was sending out a signal fine. But receiving intermittently, a team of university students recruited and very well paid by Tony came to the garage and got the transmitter working. They were charged with complete secrecy; Tony's Crew handled security. It took them a week working day and night to get it to work. Any leaks to the outside and they would know the meaning of real pain.”

A dark suit leaned out from around the corner in the hall, not wearing sunglasses and said, “Our investigation shows one died on this project, suspicious car wreck.”

Joe looked at him a little annoyed then shrugged his shoulders and said, “Loose lips sink ships; some warnings should be heeded.”



EPILOGUE



Thud became ambassador to the Stars, of course only a few well-placed people actually knew it, spacemen being science-fiction. Carol had a wonderful happy baby boy tall and wide. They moved to Colorado, a small town in the mountains full of interesting people, under government protection. Thud was elected Mayor and Carol was expecting.

Clark and Jones kept protecting the public, their wives were in love with Mario's and especially with Tony.

Joe Flynn did what Joe Flynn did best; taking very lucrative assignments for the government.

The Director Johnson got another Letter of Merit for his crowded wall.

Tony sat in his accustomed place in Mario's and watched casually as a livid Alfredo beat and kicked a drunken patron. The red spaghetti sauce on his new white jacket said it all; Alfredo had a temper!



The End

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