Hello! I’m The Patient!

By: R.D. Ronstad

Hello! I’m The Patient. I’m an alien in your country, and on your planet. Kidnapped from my home planet, Chortowdo, over 1,000 years ago by a sentient Mini-Cooper and transported to Earth, I have lived in the Mini-Cooper and at the same location ever since. You will find us in a Walmart parking lot just north of Chicago.*

Why do I call myself The Patient? Two days after I was born, some Dood (Chortowdoian soothsayer) appeared to me and told me I would leave my planet soon, and that once that happened, I should never reveal my true name to anyone, or “some crazy shit” would happen to the universe.** He never explained what he meant by “crazy shit,” or what I had to do with it or the universe, but I have heeded his warning because our seers have much higher batting averages than yours. And, he was right about the leaving part. At any rate, the first thing I noticed as the Cooper landed in the parking lot was a sign outside a dentist’s office next to the Walmart that said: “New Patients Welcome!”*** The rest is self-explanatory.

Let me tell you a few things about myself. Chortowdoians are very similar to humans. In fact, we have the exact same anatomy as humans, with just two exceptions. First, we have two navels — one in our bellies and one directly across from it in our backs. (No! We cannot be strung together like beads!) Second, we have one toe. Not one toe on each foot — just one toe between them, and no telling on which foot. Except at the beach or pool of course.

Chortowdoians can regenerate, and do, usually, fairly often — not just when we’re dead or almost dead or really embarrassed. Our regenerations are random though. There could be as little as two days between them (rare) or as long as twenty years (rare). They are not accompanied by flashing lights or musical crescendos, and are easy to miss. We just phase out and in — like a TV being switched off and on — at the drop of a fez****, no fanfare. It can be easily missed if you blink. So if you ever meet a Chortowdoian and hope by some extreme long shot to witness a regeneration, remember the most important thing — whatever you do, don’t blink! The origins and survival benefits of regeneration for our race have been debated among us for eons, with no consensus reached. One thing is certain though — it keeps us on our toe.

Disappointingly, the Cooper is smaller on the inside than on the outside, so living in it has been somewhat of a trial. Still, it’s not a bad life overall. I can sleep fairly comfortably as long as I levitate (sorry, forgot to mention that ability earlier) and sleep diagonally. And the Cooper does take care of me, after a fashion. It provides shelter. And food. Every morning I wake up and find water and a selection of healthy food on the dashboard. I don’t know where the Cooper gets them, though. I’ve tried to check under the hood to see if there’s a replicator (Star Trek got that right) under it, but could never get it open. I suppose it’s possible that while I’m sleeping the Cooper shops the isles at Walmart disguised as one of those car carts Earth shoppers push their kids around in.

Personal hygiene is not a problem. Chortowdoians are self-cleaning — not like your cats, more like your ovens. I do regularly need to go numbers one and two (some races have a number three), but that’s no problem since I can use the toilet at Walmart, and when Walmart’s closed, the john at the gas station across the street. They won’t give me the key since I never buy any gas or Twinkies, but I found a sonic corkscrew in the Cooper’s glove compartment that does the job just fine.

As far as getting bored, it’s just not possible for Chortowdoians — we don’t even have a word for it. There’s a story on Chortowdo, probably apocryphal, about a Chortowdoian who waited patiently for 2,000 years for his girlfriend to exit the bathroom, and when she did, they both simply took it in stride.

So life in the Mini-Cooper has not been a bad life all-in-all. Apparently my stay has made some Earth people uneasy, though. During my first 200 or so years here, various Walmart customers would stop by the Cooper and check on me. They had passed the Cooper a number of times during their periodic trips to Walmart and had realized I was living in it, so they became concerned about my welfare. A number of them eventually invited me to become their companion in their homes and on their adventures. I accepted quite a few of these offers, but eventually discovered, without fail, that their homes and adventures were also smaller on the inside. Since then I’ve stuck to the Mini-Cooper.

As you may have guessed, visitors to Earth from other planets (most space aliens look sort of human) spend a lot of time shopping at Walmart. In fact, Walmart is the only reason space aliens come to Earth. (They love those rollbacks!) As a rule though, aliens give Earth a wide berth. Why? Well, there’s no delicate way to put this: they think Earthlings are batshit crazy! And not without reason, I might add.

Occasionally alien shoppers too will stop by the Cooper to chat. But whenever I ask them to take me home with them, I get one of two answers: 1. Since earth is such a long haul from Chortowdo, we’ve filled our ship (every alien race has cloaking technology these days, so don’t bother looking) to the brim with purchases for ourselves and all our relatives. There’s no room. 2. We know who you are and we don’t want to risk contributing to some universe-wide catastrophe.

None of the aliens hang around too long because of their aversion to Earth culture. None of them except “the gang” that is. The gang is a group of three aliens, all of whom do not at all look like humans and are castoffs from their separate planets, They’ve been hanging around the Cooper for the last seventy-five years and have even made me an “honorary member.” I don’t know why they call themselves “the gang” though. I’ve never seen them doing anything gang-like, unless hanging around a parking lot all day every day would qualify. I won’t get much into their respective planets or races, since that would get digressive (more footnotes!). I will however describe their appearance. The gang consists of a white stripe, a small potato, and a handicapped parking sign. It’s their appearance that has enabled them to hang around the parking lot so long and not be noticed. (The handicapped parking sign does not look like that in its natural state. That would be silly! No, it’s a member of a fish-like race and is a shapeshifter.)

The white stripe calls himself Monsieur Shasta. I believe he took this name from a crushed soda can that was lying next to the white stripe in the parking lot the day they arrived. The fish/shapeshifter calls herself Phinnie. The potato (a Spudaran) is actually a potato-sized alien that looks so much like a potato he can (and does) lay on the ground next to the Cooper’s right front tire to avoid detection. People just assume he’s fallen out of somebody’s shopping bag. His name is Lax, appropriate since all he does is lie around all day chanting what he calls his war cry: “Ka-tah-DIN! Ka-tah-DIN! Ka-tah-DIN!” Why Monsieur Shasta and Phinnie want him in the gang I have no idea. Maybe they’re just lousy recruiters.

I appreciate the company of the gang, but I’m still hoping the Cooper will soon return me to Chortowdo, or at least tell me what I’m doing here. And there have been a couple of encouraging developments lately. Over the last couple of years, mysterious writings have been appearing on the windshield of the Cooper, looking like the writings you see on the windshields of used cars for sale. It’s always the same message: “Silence Will Fall!” What exactly does that mean?. Silence will envelope everything? Silence will itself be enveloped? Shut somebody named Will Fall up? I have no idea, but at least it’s a sign something may be happening. The other development took place a couple of times when I went into the glove box for the corkscrew. At the back of the box I saw someone looking at me like you might see someone looking at you through a mail slot, with one of their eyes covered by an eyepatch. The first time, a male voice said, “No, I think he’s awake.” The second time it said, “It’s fine. Your doing fine. Just stay calm.”

So, why…..am I telling you all this?………………………………………………………………………..No, really…………………………………………………..why…………………………………………………………….

………………………………………………………………………..Hello! I’m the Patient.

*You say there were no Walmarts, or even a Chicago, on Earth a thousand years ago? Well, I don’t mean to sound condescending, but you Earthlings have an immature understanding of time.Time is loopy-goopy-hang-on-Sloopy. If that doesn’t make sense to you, I’m sorry, it’s the best I can do given your limitations. As for Mini-Coopers, they appeared on our planet at about the time Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon on yours.

**Chortowdoians are fully literate at birth.

***How did I read the sign? The only reading material in the Cooper during our long journey to Earth was a book called Learn English in 5-9 Easy Steps.

****The fez is the traditional headgear on Chortowdo for both men and women.


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