Scholarly Weirdness

“Maybe he’s an android.” I said to my friend Toby.

“Android? No, I think he’s an alien. An android would have more social skills.”

“I know what you mean, but I think his being an android would explain more about his single dimension character and monotonic way of talking. An alien is alive and would show some signs of animation and passion.”

“Good point.” said Toby. “Android it is. The Harley Davidson motorcycle and the leathers he wears every day is just camouflage to hide his weirdness from incidental notice.” We were talking about one of our college professors. He instructed us in history and did so by reading the class textbook word for word. He made no side statements nor did he embellish the content in any way. It was like someone put a quarter into a machine and a text to speech program regurgitated pages of dull text. The book was bad enough, but the professors delivery made it excruciating. On the first day of class he announced that he would give us all B+ grades at the conclusion of the quarter, so long as we passed the tests he gave us. They were open book tests which essentially had us copying sundry paragraphs from the text.

“I think we should kill him.” I whispered. Toby nodded. “It’s the only hope for mankind. If his methodology spreads, everyone would become so boring that no relationships would ever spring forth. Without relationships and their associated procreation, the human race would slowly perish. The only question is, how would we kill him?”

“Yeah. He probably has special powers. We could try to knock him off and find ourselves disintegrated or flung into space out beyond the Oort Cloud.”

The two of us elected to give it some thought as time went by. We would attend classes and, like the rest of the students, spend each period desperately trying to stay conscious. The droning voice of the professor was like a Benadryl drip. To make it worse, the professor liked to keep the classroom at 80 degrees. It took super human strength to remain conscious during his lectures. It was on November 8th that it happened. The professor was droning away from behind is classroom desk, reading the text in his level monotone when the event took place. “Aahhhrrggggg!” screamed a student, rising so quickly that he dumped his chair over. He pulled a small black automatic, a Glock I believe, from his pocket and fired the gun seventeen times in the direction of the seated professor. Still engaged in a primal scream, he ran from the classroom. The professor kept reading throughout the event, apparently oblivious. He only paused at the end of the paragraph. The professor carefully marked the point in the book at which he’d stopped and then asked “did someone have a question?”

Getting no reply from the stunned and speechless rows of students, he then continued to read aloud the textbook. When the bell rang, signalling the end of class, we all rose and shuffled from the room. Toby and I were discussing how the professor was not hit by a single round from the gun fired at him and were wondering whether it was a force field or  special mental powers that held him harmless. It turned out that the whole ordeal was an experiment performed by a class in the psychology department, which was now totally befuddled because the reactions in the classroom -or should I say lack of reaction- totally hosed the experiment, much to the chagrin of the psych professor. In fact, there was no screaming or horrified expressions, the class instead tittered a little and there was a short smattering of applause.

“See? I said. “It had to be that he’s an alien. An android might have a force field, but only an alien with their super intelligence could have deflected the rounds while keep the rest of us appearing not to find the sudden burst of gunfire unusual.”

“Good point.” said Toby. “So, how to we kill him? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to become a totally boring dork that no woman would want to get busy with.”

“Maybe we could poison him.” I suggested. “Naw, he’s an alien. Anything we could use as a poison would probably just get him a little stoned.” I nodded and we sat in silence giving thought to possibilities, although none came to mind. We elected to shelve it for the moment and move on with our day. We could take this up later. Three months went by and neither Toby nor I came up with an answer about what to do about the alien hiding in plain site at the college. We took our exams and went home for the Christmas holiday.

Arriving almost simultaneously back at our dorm room on our return, we were busy with getting the books and materials needed for our next set of classes to consider the alien professor. It was two weeks later that he came up in conversation while we were lunching with some classmates at the cafeteria.

“Did you hear about that history professor?” asked one of the people at the table. “He crashed his motorcycle.”

“No!” I said, looking at Toby. “What happened?”

“He hit a concrete bridge abutment at 90 miles an hour. That’s what the cops said anyway.”

“Did it kill him?” asked Toby.

“Naw, he walked away without a scratch. His wife though, she was riding behind him and has a bunch of broken bones and internal injuries. The prof is taking time off to be with her and help care for her when she comes home.”

Toby and I decided that we needed to look into this. How could he survive a collision like that and be unharmed. It only seemed to shore up the whole alien idea for us. We decided to check it out. After classes, Toby and I went to the hospital and asked for the professor’s wife’s room. We were given directions and took the elevator up to her floor. No one paid us any attention and we hunted for and found her room. The professor wasn’t there and his wife was apparently asleep. She was wrapped from head to foot with gauze bandages, some revealing areas where blood had seeped through. “We aren’t going to learn anything here.” whispered Toby. I agreed and we decided to go look the professor up at his home.

We parked a block away from his house and made our way to his place. It was a typical cottage with clapboard white walls. The yard was cared for, the lawn neatly trimmed. We crept up the driveway and ducked behind a pickup truck parked there. The straps in the bed indicated he used the truck to carry his bike, not that’s he’d be doing a lot of that with his ride crumpled like hamburger wrapping paper. We peered at the house staying hidden behind the truck.

“What are you doing here?” came a familiar monotone. The professor seemed to appear from nowhere, standing behind us.

“Oh, uh, hi prof.” I said. “We came to give our best wishes for your wife.” Toby added. The professor said nothing, he just looked at us.  “Well, that’s all.” said Toby. “We’ll be going now.”

The two of us shuffled down the driveway under the watchful eye of the still silent professor. When we got to the street, we fast walked the block to the car and took off.

The professor never came back to the school and Toby and I focused on other things until graduation day. We wore our caps and gowns and picked up our newly minted diplomas and headed off to a local tavern for a celebratory beer or two. We were into the fourth of a couple of beers when Toby brought up the alien professor.

“You know,” I said, “college is done and I don’t even want to think about that guy.”

“You’re giving up on him? What about our plans to save the world from the impotency of boredom?” I shrugged and replied that I had to think about getting a job, and besides, I didn’t know where the prof was anymore. We’d heard that he’d moved away. Toby said he was going to follow up, the alien turning out to be an obsession for him.

It was a year later that I heard that Toby had mysteriously vanished during a trip. He had flown down to South America to “check something out” from what I was told, and no one had seen him after that. alien_graduateI went outside into the cool evening and looked up at the stars and wondered if Tony was out there somewhere in an uncomfortably warm room being tortured by slow monotonic queries. I wondered about our thoughts that the professor was part of an advanced guard, coming to recon the planet for invasion. I was suddenly stunned by a realization; the earth was heating up. The ice caps were melting. “Global Warming” the scientists called it.  But perhaps it was just more preparation. Preparation for the invasion. I looked back up to the stars and wished I could ask my friend.