Monday, March 4, 2019

the regular visitor

by fred flynn

illustrations by konrad kraus

the inspector arrived on earth for his regular visit. his visits occurred every twenty-eight years, three months, and nineteen days, earth time.

the permanent observer greeted him at the greyhound bus station in thomasville. the observer did not ask how or where exactly the inspector had arrived on earth, and the inspector, who was not much for small talk, did not volunteer the information.

there was a burger king a block away and the inspector and the observer walked over to it. both took the form of american men in their 40’s, wearing clothing suitable for golfing. the inspector wore a neatly trimmed mustache, the observer was bald and clean shaven.

the burger king was two thirds empty and after collecting their orders - coffee and a bacon and cheese whopper for the inspector, and coffee and a slice of oreo cookie cheeseake for the observer - they took seats at the big window, out of hearing of the other patrons.

“well,” asked the inspector, “has anything much changed?”

“not a great deal,” the observer replied.

“the humans are still in charge?”

“yes, very much so. more than ever, in fact.”

the inspector took a sip of his coffee. “the other larger species have made no counterattack against them?”

“anything but.” the observer shook his head. “anything but. and the micro species have not launched anything effective against them to speak of, either.”

“then the humans must be pretty well pleased with themselves.”

“not so much as you might think. many of them are concerned that, as they put it, they are destroying the environment.”

the inspector laughed. “what else would they be doing with it? they must have a pretty exaggerated notion of their own longevity." he shook his head. "i thought this was one of those places where the inhabitants always think their world is going to end any minute. “

“well, it still is. in some segments of the population.”

“anything else?”

“there is one rather curious development.”

“and that is?”

“within the humans, more and more females are assuming positions of authority.”

the inspector did not seem to find this particularly interesting. “but is that affecting the humans’ relationship with the other species?”

“it does not seem to be.”

“well, then.” the inspector took a big bite of his bacon and cheese whopper, then turned his gaze out the window, and sat watching the restful scene of big rigs and suv’s moving along the interstate.

a few clouds drifted across the sky.