“Hey man,” Medium Jim began, “I don’t care what he was on. I did him a favor.’
Normal Ed took a long drink of his brandy and sighed.
“He wasn’t on anything – you clubbed him unconscious. We saw you.”
“So?! Why should I be going to the slammer for 30 years just for hitting him in the face accidentally?”
“Repeatedly, you mean.”
“A few times. Accidentally.”
“You’re going to the slammer for 30 years because knocking someone out then putting leeches on their unconscious body just because of a misunderstanding almost certainly constitutes a breach of the Geneva Convention, Jim. I just don’t know how to make it any clearer to you.”
“Look, you eloquent bastard, if you don’t have anything nice to say, just don’t say anything!” In response, Normal Ed tipped back in his chair, pulled his hat over his eyes, and started snoring.
The two sat in silence for a good 45 minutes. The sullen bartender passed by occasionally, refilling Jim’s soda. A giant horsefly strode in through the double doors of the saloon, sat next to the snoring, dirty lump that was Normal Ed, and dumped his hat and six-shooter on the bar. A bright brass Sherriff’s badge was clipped to his vest pocket.
“It’s hotter’n hell out there boys, ain’t it?”
Normal Ed made a loud snerkey noise and awoke, eyes wide.
“Whiskey for myself, and glasses of milk for my friends,” the horsefly said to the bartender.
“I told you before Sheriff, we don’t consider you buying us milk an insult,” Ed said to the horsefly, while rubbing his eyes.
“Yeah,” said Jim, “it’s high calcium content provides much needed rejuvenation to our frail human bones –“ “Pipe down, buddy. Anyway Sheriff, why’re you here in the first place?”
“Wel-l-l-p, I was just wonderin’ if either of you boys would know who put fly paper all over Town Hall? It stuck a lot of my pals there, and it doesn’t look like they’re gonna’ make it. Too much glue in their eyes.”
“No, Sheriff,” said Ed, “We couldn’t have done that. We’re just dumb humans.” He finished off his shot glass of milk and slammed it down on the table. “Just dumb humans. I mean, come on. We lack even your mighty exoskeleton. How smart could we possibly be?”
“Well, you aren’t playing with a full deck on the carapace front, that’s true,” the Sheriff smirked. “But if you guys hear anything about it, I can get you an extra ration of gruel.” He winked.
Jim and Ed piped up in unison. “Hey, sweet!”
“You know it,” said the horsefly. He gathered up his things and clomped out of the bar without paying. Beyond the doors, a harsh dark orange sun burned down on the dusty street.
Jim and Ed looked at each other.
“Man, I wish we didn’t have to kiss his ass all the time, Ed. Servitude sucks.”
“Wow, Jim. ‘’Servitude sucks’. You’re a goddamn poet. Finally, I have something worthwhile to pass on to my grandkids.”
“See, this is why we have problems. You’re too hostile.”
“Says the guy who put leeches on someone he knocked out, huh?”
“THEY WERE MEDICINAL.”
“They were diseased, that’s what they were.”
“Most people get the hepatitis vaccination now, though.”
“It’s the principle of the thing, Jim.” Ed settled into his chair.
A few hours later, after Normal Ed had drank his way past hostile and into chummy, he swiveled around on the barstool to face Jim, angry that the jukebox wasn’t returning his inebriated advances.
“Y’know…J…Jim, y’know, we should, um, get the Sheriff back for all the…” Ed paused, and started looking around the room through his beer glass. “Woooowww! Anyway, the, the stuff. We should get him.”
“Alright Ed, but I should inform you that I don’t think I’m cut out to be the smart one if you’re going to be this way.”
“What? You…you talkin’ to me? HUH?” Ed leaned back to take a swing at Jim, but never got past ‘leaned’, and hit the floor with a dull thud.
“Aw, come on Ed, we gotta get you home so you can sleep this off. Come on,” he said, coaxing Ed up, “come on, by tomorrow morning you’ll be nice and surly for all your revenge plots.”
“Aww…good ol’ re…revenge plots. They’re my friends, you know that, Jim?”
“Yeah Ed, I know.” Jim patted Ed’s head.
“Now! Let’s go to the Sheriff’s… office.”
“Well, all right Ed, if you insist. But we have to talk to him about my parole, ok?”
“I’LL PAROLE YOU,” Ed yelled, trying to hit random things around him for no reason again. As he did that, Jim guided him out of the bar. A cool wind blew, whipping up the dust. A horsefly edged his DeSoto steam-car through the night. Normal Ed and Medium Jim stumbled down the row of buildings. All the electrically lit places had “No Humans!” signs in the windows, and on the outskirts of town the Human Mines loomed black against the navy sky. Ed mumbled to himself quietly. Eventually they stumbled their way to the Sheriff’s Office, and Ed pushed his way in.
“Hey Sheriff…hey…Sh…what do you not like?”
The sheriff, leaning back in his chair trying to shoot the spider in the corner of the ceiling, was caught unawares and fell out of his chair.
“Being interrupted, Ed, being interrupted. I guess I don’t really like boiled eggs…That’s pretty much it, as far as I know.” The Sheriff wrinkled his nose slightly.
“Oh yeah? Wh…what do you like? Huh?” Ed forgot his point gracefully.
“The sweet, sweet aroma of mammal feces.”
“HA HA! Take this boiled egg!” Once again, Ed tried punching, but collapsed onto his desk. Jim meekly poked his head in, and saw Ed sprawled on the Sheriff’s desk.
“Wow,” said Jim, “someone’s going to sleep well tonight.” The Sheriff nodded. “But could you just put him in one of the cells or something? I have to get to work, and seeing as I’m already about three hours late and decently drunk, I can’t really spend the time taking this chump home.”
“Sure thing Jim,” the Sheriff replied. “You have a good day now son, y’hear?”
“You too, Sheriff. Sorry that, technically speaking, we came to kill you.”
“No problem, I guess.”
Jim left, slamming the door behind him and letting fly some muffled epithets regarding the Sheriff as he stormed off into the night.
Inside, the Sheriff grinned. He just knew it was those two bastards who put the leeches on him. He fished around in his desk, moving Ed’s dangling arm out of the way. “Ah!” He found it. He pulled out the book – 42 Easy Recipes for Humans, by George Martinius McFly. The Sheriff went to the other room and returned with a four-foot tall pot.
Ed let out a mumble, then fell back asleep.