Benny’s long, rectangular, cabin-like house is divided into two halves by one short hallway. One wing is an open area holding the living, kitchen, and dining rooms with nary a wall between them. The other wing holds three bedrooms, a bathroom, and a den. This particular den has, as dens often do, become a junk room. On one wall of the junk room is a large wooden box nearly as long as the wall it sits against. Made of simple pine wood with a hinged top, it was meant to be a storage unit and coffee table. Now it serves well to hold an over-sized tank, a solid 20 gallons, made proudly by Benny himself out of glass, iron, and a custom plastic lid. The tank, usually empty, was recently vacated by a rather impressive Wahoo, and now holds something totally different.
Benny and Jane squat, hands on their knees, peering through the murky sea water. The creature’s bulky body is propelled by a host of long, stringy tentacles. It sinks―it tumbles―it rolls.
Seems a bit confused,” Benny says.
A miniature, soft hand and small frame peak around the door, wide eyes looking in the tank. The boy only reaches his father’s waste, his face with delicate features including a round chin that comes to a point and a small nose unlike his father’s.
“What is it, Da?”
Benny, tall and willowy, stoops down to meet his son eye-to-eye.
“I don’t know, Cecil. Some sort of exotic fish!”
“Are we keepin’ it?” He asks, stepping closer to the tank, his voice raising half an octave.
Benny gives an affectionate chuckle, “Sure son. Fer now. Until we know wha’ we’re gonna do with it.”
“Come on, you lot,” he adds, “I’ll get started on dinner.”
Tearing themselves from the spectacle, Cecil looking back over his shoulder and nearly missing the doorway, the two follow Benny back to the kitchen, where they all perch themselves on bench-seated dining table.
Soon enough, the latest catch is grilled and served up. With a bite rationed and properly stabbed on her fork, Jane pipes up:
“So… pretty big deal, eh? Discovery of the very first alien to land on Earth!” She gives a little wink and Cecil’s eyes light up.
“Is it an alien Da?”
“Well, I don’t know. What else it could be? Some undiscovered form of fish? Do we really think this thing came from outer space though? Wouldn’t the atmosphere eat it up or something?”
Jane smiles wryly, “This one, with his degree in astrophysics.”
Ignoring this exchange, Cecil adds, buzzing with excitement, “Maybe it has…a, a, a… force-field or something.”
“A force-field, Da! Like… like… Violet! From The Incredibles!”
“The Incredibles?” He gives out a booming laugh, “I hate to break it to yeh, son. It is clearly from the sea. We found it in the sea. And it knows how to swim. And there weren’t any crater around it, was there? Yeah? So how yeh figurin’ it came from outer space?”
Cecil drops his head, directing his eyes to stare glumly at his plate. But when he catches Jane’s eye again, she gives him another wink and he smiles.
“Time for bed son!”
“Da…” his son groans.
“Come on,” his father bids, leading the boy to his room.
With his son bundled up in bed, Benny takes a small plate of left-overs and plops down on their old couch. Its broad, soft cushions sink in and devour the sitter, which is just how Benny likes a couch to be. Balanced gingerly on the worn arm is an old paperback. Jane sits near him in a rocking chair, one foot pulled up onto the seat, hugging her knee, flipping through channels on the television, sipping on a beer.
“Did you know,” he says suddenly lifting himself up from his book, “they have a computer program where you can hook up one person’s brain to another and they can trade thoughts? Trade thoughts over a computer program?!”
Jane looks bored.
“Look Ben, we’re friends and all, but I really don’t care.”
“Are yeh kidding?” He asks incredulously, eyebrows raised dramatically., One of the men controlled the actions of the other! He moved the other man’s hand for ‘im! Like a puppet! Could you imagine someone movin’ you around like a puppet?”
There is a moment of silence.
“Sounds like torture,” he adds thoughtfully.
Jane shakes her head, not saying a thing, and takes another sip of beer, hits NEXT on the remote control.
“Madam, you are truly unintellectual if you don’ think tha’s interestin’.”
Jane makes a rude hand gesture which is not befitting of young ladies, which only makes the man give a hearty chuckle, returning to his book and taking a large bite of food.