The Alien




I had only just come back from a different world, a world far from this one, far in time and space and nature. This new world was a shock to my system in so many ways. Autumn. Dark evenings. Cold. There was a poster in the classroom. It was of a man whose body was that of a dog, and he was naked. A naked man on a poster almost life size, but with a dog’s hairless body. I was shaken by the courage of the teacher, by the audacity of the choice. I was captivated by the image of this naked man-dog. And yet it was years before I was to learn what the poster was.

One year before I had been called across the playground in that other, different world. The headmistress had a transistor radio she was brandishing above her head, a ghastly pink radio. And in a very crackly broadcast, not knowing what I was listening to, or who, we heard a voice, a mans voice, “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” In that far off different world I had heard a man on yet another different far off world. And I had no idea until decades later who that man was, what he was saying, or even where he was, in which world.

As much as the giant leaper was on in a different world, it was the man-dog who was the alien. He was not in a different world as the giant leaper had been, or as I had been. He was from a different world.

I never did know much about the alien even though I heard every now and then that I looked like him. I heard every now and then some news of his life. I even knew some of his work, but very little.

Today the alien went home. As little as I knew him or of him, and the much less even he knew of me, I am sad. He had been there ever since I came back to this world from that far away place. He changed our world while he was here.

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent. He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.

Safe journey, Davy.

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