Hospitality is often said to be a great attribute of the citizens of Pleasantview, sneaking in before their promiscuity and after their excellent home brewed beer. This rumor is fact to all who read It’s Always Pleasant in Pleasantview!, a highly regarded piece of propaganda concerning the aforementioned suburb. Those who live within city limits, however, obviously do not read the tourist brochure, and thus find themselves not privy to the expectations it sets forth.
An exception existed, as one usually does, in the form of Blair Belue. As a bored, television deprived teenager, she had wasted away many days making love on her late parents’ bed and reading dull brochures that were inexplicably left in her mailbox. It was on a particularly lazy day that she became aware of the high opinion the rest of the world held of her and her townsfolk, and laying in her empty bed, Blair decided that she had best live up to that opinion, lest it come back to bite her later.
Being a Belue, it would come back to bite her, though not quite in the way that she expected.
It had been agreed on for some time that when enough money was saved, Blair, her husband, and her younger brother, Bender, would sell the happy yellow house where their parents had died and build something very, very different. “Nothing like Mom and Benjamin’s,” Blair had said. “Nothing like the one I had in college,” Bender had said. They had moved without a single glance backwards at their parents’ graves and regifted engagement rings, and a new house was erected within the hour, and new visitors arrived within two.
Of these visitors, only one was even marginally important. She went by the name Nina Caliente, and she had arrived with a mission.
As Nina Caliente approached the house, Blair rose to meet her. She had just finished another bout of lovemaking not twenty minutes ago, and wanting to repeat it before the hour’s end, refrained from putting on her dress. Nina was not deterred by her display, having been used to seeing much more skin in her childhood. Her parents had been firm believers in the free love doctrine-they free to make love wherever, whenever, and in front of whomever they so pleased. When entering her first sexual education class, Nina was reprimanded many times for proving herself more knowledgeable than the cheap films the curriculum provided.
“Hello there, Mrs. Belue,” Nina began, smiling softly.
Blair winced. Her visitor’s teeth were blindingly white. If her luck was any indication, Blair wouldn’t be passing her next eye exam. She sighed. “Hi,” said Blair. “What can I do for you today?”
“I’m,” Nina’s voice faltered, and she swallowed, “I’m really needing a place to stay right now.”
“What’s going on?” asked Blair, crossing her arms. While her heart contained little room for sympathy (Blair liked to think she had one of the worst childhoods in Pleasantview, after all.), she was going to try her best to feel sorry for this girl. Sympathy bred hospitality, the brochure had said, and Blair very much wanted to feel hospitable.
“My husband.. I’m-I’m running from my husband,” sputtered Nina. “He attacked me with a decorative fern, then pulled his fishing trophy off the bathroom wall, and chased me from the house with it. I lost him by the Goth mansion, but I just need somewhere to hide for a while. I’m afraid if he sees me, he’ll come after me with a garden gnome. And I absolutely hate gnomes.”
“We haven’t got an extra bed right now,” said Blair, glad that Bender was at work. He would hate to see Blair allowing a woman refuge in his house. “But you can use ours when we’re not using them. Come inside, dear.”
The house was much more bare than Nina had imagined it would be. The home of famous lawyer Bender Belue should have been luxurious, professionally decorated, well lit, and a feng shui masterpiece, though Nina Caliente had never thought him as the decorating sort. Even so, his house really was less than a masterpiece. Had it not been for the stains, her previous lodgings would be much finer.
“It’s not much,” apologized Blair, “but we’re saving up to decorate and renovate.”
“Anywhere’s better than where I’ve come from,” said Nina, flashing a smile.
“Where did you come from?” asked Blair’s husband, Griff.
“She came from an abusive relationship!” admonished Blair. “Don’t bring it up! A woman doesn’t like to think about these things!”
Turning to Nina, she continued, “The bathroom’s upstairs, you’ve already seen the kitchen, and the bedrooms are upstairs, as well. Make yourself at home.”
It was then that Bender returned from work. Mouth agape, he surveyed the scene in front of him, and then began to speak.
“Blair, who the fuck did you let in here?” he growled. “I thought you were better than the day old shits I left in college.”
“I’m no Starla Wren, Bender,” said Blair coldly. “This is Nina Caliente. Don’t wave your hands like that-you might remind her of her abusive husband! And lower your voice! And watch your language! Really, Bender? Have you got no sympathy?”
“I have no sympathy for random women you drag in off the streets!” snapped Bender. “Does she expect me to start fucking her? I’m done with that. I told you, Blair, I’m done with fucking women. I don’t want women, I don’t want men, I don’t want nada. And I especially don’t want children, so why are you trying to fucking force them on me?”
“Bender,” said Nina softly. She shifted from foot to foot, and bit her lip. “Can I speak to you upstairs?”
“If you’re asking for a fuck, the answer is no.”
“I just want to talk.”
“Fine,” sighed Bender, holding his hands in front of his face. “We’ll talk on the roof.
Nina followed Bender to the roof, slightly shaky on her feet. She hoped he wouldn’t push her off the edge-it would be quite the depressing way to die, murdered by a white collar misogynist. She supposed she could think of worse. “So you’re a lawyer, I’ve heard,” said Nina nervously.
“One of the best,” Bender replied, facing the wall. “Is that why you’ve come?”
“I’m hiding from the past,” she said, voice as blunt as a kitchen spoonula.
Bender whipped around to face her, hands curled into fists. Despite appearing angry, he laughed. “Aren’t we all? Why else would you live in Pleasantview?”
“It’s always Pleasant in Pleasantview!” laughed Nina nervously. “What a joke.”
“You have that right,” Bender replied, brow furrowed. He squinted, attempting to read into the mystery that was Nina Caliente. He couldn’t trust a thing she said-she was a woman, of course, but yet he felt a firm desire to believe each word. She perplexed him, a thousand piece human puzzle, and he sought to find her out.
Besides, Bender loved to solve puzzles.
“I might need a lawyer soon,” she sighed, looking at the floor, “and you look like you might need a friend.”
“I have friends!” snapped Bender. “In the liquor cabinet!”
“Real friends,” Nina said gently.
“I’m not going to have sex with you.”
“I’m not asking you to.”
“Please?” Nina asked, flashing a brilliant grin. Bender could’ve sworn that for a moment it lit up the entire sky. Glancing up, he noticed a slim star shot across the horizon. He turned back to Nina.
Giving in, he gave her a hesitant “Yes.” He would need a drink or ten to accept this turn of events.
She smiled, and turned to the door. “Thanks,” Nina whispered, stepping inside. Bender remained on the roof. His return to Pleasantview had not eased his fears-the police could drop in at any moment. He needed to remain vigilant.
In the kitchen, Nina had set about to preparing a midnight bowl of celebratory spaghetti. Blair sat hunched over at the table, sleepy and deep in thought. She rather liked having another woman in the house, and despite Bender’s wishes, hoped Nina would give him the next heir to the Belue house.
“So Nina,” she said, “how do you like my brother?”
“Oh, he’s alright,” Nina replied. “A bit mad, but not too much.”
“That’s Bender for you,” laughed Blair, eyelids fluttering. She swayed back and forth.
“About Bender-!” began Nina.
A crash outside distracted Nina from Blair’s saucy sleeping habits. Though she assumed it to be a raccoon (and promptly remembered that raccoons didn’t exist, as she hadn’t graduated to the Sims 3 yet), she leaped from the table and crept to the front door, gasping as she peered out the window. “Son of a bitch!” she hissed, and gingerly stepped into the front lawn.
“Cassandra Goth?” asked Nina, biting her lip. “Fancy seeing you here. I see you’ve trashed the trash can.”
“I knew I saw you on the roof,” growled Cassandra. She readjusted her glasses and tugged at her impossible pigtails.
“Driving past-that’s when I saw you. Father pointed you out.”
Oh god, Mortimer, thought Nina. The floor felt unsteady. If Nina were to hurl, she only hoped she’d spew all over Cassandra’s expensive shoes. It’d be too fitting.
“Nina Caliente, you and your sister have messed my life up beyond belief,” she said, voice cracking. “And I just came here to tell you that I am prepared to do whatever it takes to make it up to my father, to my mother, and to Donald.”
“What are you going to do?” whispered Nina. His name was Don! she wanted to scream. Not some wishy washy Donald crap.
“I’m going to do the best I can,” said Cassandra, mouth twisting into a massive, contorted grin. “Sleep well, Miss Caliente.”
Like a zombie, Nina retreated into the house, shuffling from room to room, dragging her fingertips along the sloppy paint job. The Goths knew. Everyone knew now, didn’t they? She was fucked, royally fucked. Nina didn’t like to swear, but at the moment, it was all she could think to do.
“Shit,” Nina muttered to herself, scrubbing her hands raw. “Shit, shit shit.”
On the roof, Bender was saying the same thing.
“Shit, nothing’s going to happen to me,” Bender laughed, brushing off Griff’s concerns. “I am completely sober right now.”
“Bender!” Griff pleaded. “I know you love looking through that telescope, but you really shouldn’t do it at night. I’ve heard rumors from my cousins in Strangetown…”
“Rumors,” retorted Bender. “Besides, you’re the one who plays with that freaky wolf every night. I’m going to use the damn telescope.”
“I really don’t think that that’s a good idea, Bender,” Griff muttered. “How about I bring some tequila up from the fridge, and we have a drink to the new house? How about that?”
A deep, foreboding silence had fallen. Not a leaf stirred, not a man breathed, not a wine glass shivered. The cats lay silent in their beds. Griff hardly dared to turn around. “Bender?” he whispered.
“What are they trying to do, blind me?” asked Bender. Resigned, he sighed. The police had found him, and now were trying to minimize his threat level. How lovely. Perhaps Bender could get makeshift eyes once he got out of prison. He’d like technicolor ones, for a change. His brown eyes bored him at times. “Just take me to jail already, fuck, doesn’t this count as cruel and unusual punishment?”
“Bender,” said Griff slowly, eyes saucers. “I don’t think that’s the police.”
“What the hell is this?”
All of the sudden, the night was overtaken by a massive whirring. A brilliant beam of light shot down from the stars and enveloped the Belue heir in a galactic spotlight. He squinted, momentarily blinded. He could see not Griff, nor his home, nor the little green spaceship hovering above him.
Bender’s feet shook in his shoes, and then left them behind on the tiled roof. Feet clad only in thick, black socks-the sort you bought on clearance but mimicked those of a seasoned socialite, Bender began to float. Gravity wasn’t doing its job correctly, he thought sourly, and hoped that gravity had a boss who would lower its salary. Meaner still, he hoped gravity wouldn’t get invited to the Christmas party.
“Don’t panic!” Griff shouted. “From what I’ve heard, they’re mostly harmless!”
“Who in the fuck is they!?” cried Bender. Looking down, he screamed, “My god, my feet aren’t touching the roof!”
“You’re not going to like the answer,” said Griff, yanking out his smart phone, which was very smart, but not as smart as the situation required. It, too, was let down by gravity, and was sucked into the ray of light like soda up a straw. Griff hoped the aliens enjoyed Angry Birds. He thought back to the problem at hand, and then thought to his cousins in Strangetown, and their friends, The Curious family. A gear clicked into place.
“I’m already not liking this!”
“Aliens, Bender. The they is the aliens.”
“Shit! What are they going to do-lay eggs in my stomach!?”
Bender’s fingers were beginning to slip. Furiously in vain, he attempted to scramble some sort of hold on the telescope. The beam of light dragged him from his sanctuary, yanking him by the soles of his feet into the midnight sky. “Griff?” called Bender, voice a mere squeak in the echo of the universe. “Griff, you’ve got to help me!”
Griff lunged forward, but was thrown back just as quickly, his arms tingling. They did not want him, a married man. Bender was unattached, a free floater. A prime target for alien probing. Anyone with more to fight for than him was less than ideal, and in the eyes of the aliens, were little more than idle distractions for their children to watch on the daytime television.
“Do they have vodka in space?” screamed Bender. Another sentence seemed to be in the making, but he was cut off by the loudest BLIP! Pleasantview had ever heard. Griff stumbled backwards. It was very rude, he thought, that the aliens had not offered him earplugs. He’d prefer that if they were to impregnate his brother in law, that they wouldn’t make him deaf as well.
Blair and Nina sprinted to the roof, disturbed by the noise and panting like tired dogs. “Griff? Where’s Bender?” cried Blair. “Oh god, is my asshole brother dead? Did they take him?”
Griff, fearing a divorce in the event of his brother in law’s death, quickly glued his eyes to the telescope. “Yes, they abducted him,” he began.
“So he’s dead!” wailed Blair. Nina, oddly, was silent.
“No,” said Griff. “Just abducted. I’ve heard it’s rather exciting, actually. I’m going to watch for him until they bring him back. I bet he’ll have all sorts of great stories for us about, you know, aliens and the whatnot.”
“Is he coming back?” asked Nina, shivering. Memories stirred within her, threatening to spill over her careful composure. She needed Bender, not only for her plan, but as a desperate escape.
“Why, yes, I’d hope so,” said Griff. “They’ve just got to run a few tests on him. Alien research, probing, you know. Maybe you’ll be an aunt.”
“Oh, cool,” she said weakly.
Without another word, Nina walked, like the ghost of a ghost, to Bender’s bedroom. She would have liked to have sex with him, she thought. He seemed an exclusive man, nothing like..like… No. Nothing like him. She tossed her clothes to the floor, eyelids heavy. She had never felt the weight of such exhaustion before. She curled up under the covers, squeezing her eyes shut.
As she drifted into sleep, the nightmares began.
The bowling alley. Absinthe green light. Ocean eyes on fire.
The hot tub. Grey against blond. False tanned hands with red trimmed nails.
The bedroom. Leopard print sheets. Great ugly fear, great ugly hate.
Midnight faded into dawn, and dawn into morning. Griff remained at his post, crusty tired eyes peeled to the sky. This was nothing like Pleasantview, he thought. This sort of crazy shit only happened in Strangetown.
“By god, it’s Bender!”
Swerving into the Pleasantville landscape like an acne ridden teenage boy trying to impress his slightly above average girlfriend, the spaceship took one giant heave, its insides constricting and shuddering, and then spat a bewildered Bender onto the asphalt.
As Bender was hurled, used and abused, to the ground, he took one last, longing look at the spaceship. Space hadn’t been too bad. In fact, the probing had felt quite good. A tingling, electric shock remained to remind him of the time. And if anything, it had been much more interesting than Earth. He had never seen a hovering toilet before, and he was certain he’d never see one in any of the catalogs lining his mailbox. It had made a lovely swishing noise, too.
The electricity faded into a sharp pain in his stomach, resonating like the beat of a pumping heart. He groaned. Cold, sweet pavement caressed his face. How was he supposed to face Blair, Griff, and Nina? Hell, how was he supposed to face the cats? Another heart beat inside him, Bender knew. That’s what the technician had said, hadn’t he?
I’m just like a seahorse, thought Bender. I am Mister-fucking-Seahorse.
“Bender!” shouted Griff. “Shit, are you okay?”
“I feel so…” Bender paused, searching for the correct word, “wasted.”
A deep numbness overcame him, rushing over his parents, his ex-fiance, the woman sleeping in his bed, the women who had slept in his bed, and finally dipping into the life growing inside of him. He wanted to scream, to cry, to bury himself in alcohol until he no longer knew how to spell his own name. Alas, he couldn’t give into his many wishes. Bender had no desire to hear Blair give him some long winded lecture about fetal alcohol poisoning or something dull that he would’ve learned about if he’d gone to medical school or read health magazines. He hated to be railed at, however, and thus, our heir embarked on the most difficult mission of his twenty-two years: a nine month sobriety.
This next year was going to be the worst of his life. Looking back at the spaceship, Bender shouted, “The sex wasn’t even that good, fuckers!”
As if on queue, the spaceship whirled upwards, pulling open a wide, swirling rip in the fabric of space and whizzing through, disappearing in the blink of an eye. Bender stared at his stomach, shuddering. He didn’t even have a vagina, so how in the hell was he supposed to-? Shaking his head, he walked briskly to his carpool. He did not want to think about that.
Shuddering, he could already feel the vultures descending.
A/N: Sorry for taking so long to update and for making this update so long.. But I’m proud to say that yes, I spent hours editing forty something photos, yes, there is a plot now, and yes, it is crazy as hell! Now I’m off to reread Hitchhiker’s.
This is possibly the most depressing thing I’ve seen in my legacy so far. As a spare gets married with baby incoming (whoops, spoiler, my bad), the heir plays teaser with the cat. What a life.