Author: Leon Taylor

“I am not going to live next to a mansion of six-foot cockroaches.”

“It’s their right,” his wife said.

“Since when did cockroaches have rights?”

“Since the Alien Rights Act of 2037.”

“I know. I wrote it.” The Senator watched the movers lug boxes into the house configured like a muddy conical nest. Two aliens directed the crew, waving their feelers, chirping in glissandi, their midsections turning blue with excitement. “Abstract rights are fine. But this is real time. What are we going to do when they have a hootenanny?” He looked down the tony street, crammed with aliens crawling towards downtown Alexandria. He drew the felt curtains with a snap and rubbed his square jaw in a creditable facsimile of thinking. He was fortyish and fit, with snapping green eyes and close-cut blonde hair. “We’ll have to buy them out.”

“We don’t have that kind of money.”

“Madeleine does.” He dialed her number. “Have you seen the new neighbors?”

“I can’t even pronounce their names.” Madeleine was loud, white-haired, and built like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

“Just spit a bit. Or ignore them, because we’re going to buy back their lot in a week or two.”

“Isn’t that the old Patterson property? Sounds expensive.”

“Not as expensive as psychotherapy. We’ll do this the fair way. You own four-fifths of the lots in the neighborhood, and we own one-fifth. Therefore you will buy four-fifths of the Patterson property and we will buy one-fifth.”

“I will, huh?” Click.

He sighed and redialed. “We were, um, cut off. Look, you’re the old-timer here. We’re just the newcomers. You’ll get most of the benefits from throwing out the aliens. You understand how the neighborhood should look.”

“I’m the old-timer, and that’s why I won’t pay. I financed the heliport, the day care center, even the adult theme park. You can spring for the aliens.”

“How much?” he mouthed to his wife.

“A million, at least.” She pulled nervously at her dull gold wedding ring.

“Tell you what,” he said to Madeleine. “We’ll borrow a million dollars from you. I’ll pledge my salary as collateral.”

“Your Senate salary? That is what, two hundred thousand? No way. Pledge your home, or get accustomed to the buzz.”
***
“I was afraid that it wouldn’t work,” Zztzis said to her deputy spouse. “They were arguing so much that I didn’t think they would ever agree on a way to pay.”

“Humans are litigious. They have yet to evolve manners. And they are repulsive to look at. A pasty exoskeleton, and no decorative feelers at the mouth. I won’t be sorry to fly out of this place.”

“With a million bucks.”

“With a million bucks. Where to next?”

“A city called Los Angeles, with dozens of gated communities. They’ll be delighted to pay millions for the status quo. And then I think we can go home for a holiday. I can almost taste those succulent homegrown worms.”

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