On any ordinary day the lovemaking of Felicia Fripp and her illicit lover the vicar, Victor Vickers, bordered on the stoic - and the wrong side of stoic at that, the East German side, if you will; despite the mighty effort he could be counted on to put into it - as befitted a pleasingly stocky man in middle middle-age still fit enough to teach Cub Scouts to play cricket - she would marshal her own even more considerable resources to drain whatever passion she could from the whole procedure, even going so far as to render a beautiful (not to mention necessary) form of human interaction into something best termed a ‘procedure’, making it seem more like he was inserting a catheter than a penis. Today, however - no matter how ordinarily it had begun - was shaping up to be anything but an ordinary day.
Meaning the torrent of passion unleashed by Felicia Fripp now not only startled him but her as well; in fact, she all but bit down on the mantelpiece in a sudden frenzy of ecstasy as he slid the same old cock into her he’d been sliding into her three times a week for the past two years - or was it two times a week for the past three years? who could be arsed to remember? - and he let out the kind of roar he’d always wanted to, the kind that even his wife wouldn’t let him do. When he did, much to his surprise, she ground her buttocks into his pelvis and seemed to spontaneously discover how to do Kegel exercises - despite the fact that they’d never been written about in Woman’s Own, let alone The Daily Mail, which were her two principal sources of information - whooping all the while like the geordie girl she’d put such a gargantuan effort into denying she was for all these years.
And on it went - for twenty, thirty, forty minutes or more - regardless of the potential that it might this once be mutually (or even individually) enjoyable, regardless of the distinct possibility that any of the neighbours might hear them over the subtle sound palette that was Emmerdale, regardless of the casserole-bearing presence on the back doorstep of a sky blue Andromedan named Lililili...
As for the alien, well, he was intrigued.
Bending momentarily at the waist and listening via the cat flap, Lililili was thrilled to discover that, although the accent they were using was archaic, he was still able to understand the conversation being held within and was, in point of fact, a little bit proud to learn that a species as primitive as the Earthicacians could be so readily fluent in such an obscure dialect of Andromedan. He briefly considered the social damage an equivalent ripple of pride such a discovery might cause amongst the viewers back home, not to mention the rising sense of shame his own sense of pride had enflamed, whereupon he considered placing his hand over his camera pendant. Only his own disgust at any form of censorship overrode his desire to prevent such a dangerous happenstance as pride from occurring in his fellow Andromedans. Instead, he set the casserole dish down on the mat, sat on the Fripp’s back step, and eavesdropped in his best documentarian way.
‘This ocelot tastes of radiator,’ he heard the male human say.
To which the female human offered the hilarious rejoinder: ‘Disagreeing. Coulis of wombat.’
‘I like aardvark sweaters,’ the male offered, an entirely thought-provoking - not to mention provocative - change of topic considering the context, which only moments before had been an absorbing discussion of modern cookery. Still, wasn’t that the way with sophisticated conversation, topic hopping this way and that from cuisine to fashion, er, seamlessly...
‘Flinch like an albatross, you whinging Indonesian,’ she offered, which made no sense to Lililili at all and therefore thrilled him because it meant he had something left to learn - whereupon they took turns shouting out the names of Centauri footballers for some reason. After a good (or bad, depending on what you’re into) forty-five seconds their previously intellectual discussion fell silent, followed by the scent of burning tobacco and another, faintly musky aroma the alien had never smelled before, but one which was redolent of something he wanted to put into his watering mouth nonetheless.
Lililili was licking his lips emphatically when he said ‘Fascinating,’ out loud, in Andromedan, which word sounds not unlike a strangulated meow.
‘Fascinating indeed,’ came a similar sound from behind him, at which point Lililili’s head then torso then pelvis turned jerkily, and he came face to face with a large ginger tomcat ambling awkwardly up the garden path. After several steps the cat stopped, watching with feline fascination and an undoubtedly impaired sense of depth perception as a wasp busily crossed his path. Then he sat.
‘You only have one eye,’ Lililili noted aloud, Lililili being notable for the painfully obvious quality of his insights. ‘This is fewer than standard, is it not?’
‘It is indeed,’ answered the cat, falling into the strange being’s speech patterns in the process, although not in the least surprised to find himself communicating with what looked like a human.
‘You are a cat, no?’
‘I am a cat, yes,’ he corrected, easing himself back onto his haunches before lazily drawing a paw across his tongue, or else busily drawing a tongue across his paw, depending on how one looked at such things. ‘You may also have noticed I also have only three legs.’
The Andromedan had noticed, but had been too polite to say anything, and would have let the fact fester in silence between them until the cat mentioned it if necessary, despite having only lived in Britain for a few hours. ‘Do you live here?’
‘Well, that all depends on what you mean by ‘do’, ‘live’, and ‘here’,’ the cat offered, cryptically - in a way only a cat (and possibly a president) could do well.
The alien - marveling at the idea that the shorter the word in English the deeper the meaning, yet also marveling at the way the more short words a person used the shallower they were considered - offered no immediate comeback; for his part, the cat smiled - albeit inwardly - at having so easily gotten the last word. In short, the cat felt he’d not only made a new friend, but had made precisely the kind of friend he preferred to make - that is to say a stupid, easily manipulated one who would always let him have the last word.
‘I like you,’ said the cat after a pause, a pause which had begun to grow increasingly awkward with each passing second from the very first of its seconds, and taking the risk that his statement might make the awkwardness worse the more seconds it lasted.
It did not. ‘I like you as well,’ the alien offered. ‘I’ve never met a cat before, and I’ve always wanted to meet one.’
Now, normally this kind of sentiment, no matter how sincerely presented, was to be dealt with as though it were toxic racism, rather than a plain-spoken statement of fact. The cat, however, chose to be amused rather than offended - not a choice made frequently among humans, but the sort of thing a ruthlessly situationally ethical animal such as a cat delighted in making. ‘You don’t say...’
‘My name is Lililili,’ the alien said, at which the cat reflexively made a chattering sound - since Lililili’s pronunciation of his own name sounded oddly, startlingly, erotically, like a chaffinch reading an eye chart.
However startled he’d been by his reaction to the sound, the cat managed not to show it. ‘For obvious reasons, they call me Winkie,’ the cat said, maintaining his poise, despite his resemblance to a tripod. He then stared at the alien with his one eye and the alien stared at the cat with his three eyes, and back and forth and on and on like two mirrors at the start of a duel, until such time as the cat’s curiosity got the better of him, which was not only his personal wont but all too often the downfall of his species. ‘Of course, that’s just my slave name. The name my mother gave me is Jeremy.’
The alien scarcely needed the prompting. ‘Pleased to meet you, Jeremy,’ he said, offering a hand to a paw, which paw came to rest in said hand once the cat had again oriented himself on his hindquarters.
The cat could tell he was getting nowhere fast, and so for the sake of his own attention span (and not at all the narrative pace) he decided to get to the point. ‘So why are you eavesdropping on the old battle-axe anyway?’
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