Where shall I keep my heart if I lack a sleeve to wear it on?
I was in love. Truly, madly, deeply, incorrigibly in love, for the first time in my life.
Granted, it was with a fifteen-foot-long two-ton farting extraterrestrial caterpillar, but, hey, it’s about more than looks, right? Which is a good thing, because, my God, she was ugly. The other night, we’d been sitting on the hillside inside the huge central garden of the ship, watching the stars slip by one of the equally-huge windows. She inchwormed towards me. “Wanna’ cuddle?” she fluted.
“I’d prefer not,” I said. “I’m saving myself for when you’re less hideous.” Her whole massive body shuddered at that, and she made a sound similar to a dozen kittens being blown to death inside a dozen discordant saxophones. Alien laughter. “You’re not the most attractive thing in the worlds to me, either, Joe,” she said. I chuckled, “Well, at least no one can argue we were just horny kids acting on hormones,” I said. More alien kitten-murdering laughter. “That’s for darn sure,” she honked. She shimmied and twisted a bit awkwardly. “I’ve been down that ‘rush to get hitched’ road before, no rush to do it again,” I said. She continued to wriggle.
“Something wrong?” I asked.
“Itch. Driving me crazy. Can’t reach it, since I don’t have any arms,” she said. I say ‘Said,’ but that probably requires some explanation: The Oobjulonian species don’t have vocal apparatus like us humans do, and they’re entirely vegetarian. They eat a lot, they flatulate a lot. Consequently, they have multiple…uhm…let’s be polite: they have multiple vents for expelling the gas. The system of speech involves farting through these vents in various sequences and at various notes and durations. It smells about as bad as you’d expect, and it sounded like a soccer riot in which a gang of whoopee cushions was attempting to murder a gang of accordions. Completely indecipherable. Fortunately my hosts had outfitted me with a fart-to-English translator, so I could understand her. She had a knack with languages, so she was able to understand me within a few hours of our first conversation.
“Could you please scratch my back?” she tooted
“Seriously, I’d rather not. You’re really icking me out,” I said.
“Please? Really, it’s driving me nuts.” Some Tractus puppies were playing tug of war with a dead branch under a nearby orangewood tree. I borrowed it from them - “Just a sec, kids“ - and scraped my girlfriend’s back with it.
“Oh, yeah, that’s good!” she said. The puppies stared drop jawed. When I was content she felt better, I gave the stick back to the pups. “There y’go,” I said. “Thank you.”
“Ewww, grrross” they yelped in unison, and loped away.
He name was Bly. She was, far and away, the most hideous thing I’d ever met - even among her own species, she was regarded as kind of ugly - but by the time we’d laid eyes on each other, we’d already been in love. Well, by the time I laid my eyes on her. Oobjulonians don’t have any. They use biological microwaves in this stage in their lives. It was cute. I’d put a cup of room temperature hot chocolate and marshmallows in front of her, and she’d stare at it real hard and heat it to a boil in a minute or so.
My ship - “The Heart of Dogness” - was a massive alien trading vessel owned and operated by the Tractus Canus, and I was basically the ship’s mascot. The Tractus liked me, and I liked them. Who doesn‘t like dogs? So they basically kept me around for no particular reason other than I was bored and didn’t want to go back to earth. I spent most of my time laying on the couch watching Beverly Hillbillies episodes, or in the library reading largely incomprehensible alien books, but occasionally they gave me odd jobs to do in order to maintain the polite fiction that I’m a member of the crew, and not merely their pet. I’m cool with it. Generally, my duties involve babysitting the puppies, or giving cultural center lectures on whatever random crap came to my mind. Rarely they’d give me other duties.
The Oobjulonians were new, as far as my doggie masters knew. They’d never had any contact with them before, and had never even heard of them until we stumbled through some transmissions from their homeworld. It turned out they were obsessed with interstellar colonization, but,