Alphonse and Lorenzo

Three Cheers and a Tiger ~ Bronze
Liz White


“Lorenzo you idiot! This is why I hate taking you anywhere!” Alphonse could not remember being more angry at his younger brother. Lorenzo looked surprised and offended, “A guy’s got to eat Alphonse! Look, I saved one of the legs for you.”

Alphonse screamed back at him, “You ate the driver! How are we supposed to get this thing to the convention now?” He was referring to his pride and joy, a Humvee he’d recently bought just for this cross-country drive. It was the only vehicle he’d found that was big enough to accommodate his bulk comfortably.

“Oh.” Lorenzo’s face first grew troubled, then gradually seemed to collapse in on itself as he realized the full impact of what he had done. He started sniffling, then blubbering, worked himself up to sobbing, and finally to outright wailing. It was enough to set the farm dogs howling for miles around, and it cut through Alphonse’s head like a rusty saw.

“Shut up and let me think.” He tried to sound calmer than he felt, knowing if he didn’t the din would only escalate. He didn’t want to get the farmers out with their shotguns to see what was going on. He knew this trip would have its challenges, and really hadn’t wanted to take Lorenzo with him in the first place. But there had been no choice. They made up the most famous wrestling tag team in the country, and were the main draw of the convention. There weren’t that many ways for trolls to make a living in the world of humans, so there was a lot of interest in hearing from those few who could manage it.

Alphonse was scheduled to deliver the keynote address in two days, and they were still well over six-hundred miles from Groom Lake where the event was to take place. This was the first annual convention of the Association for the Betterment and General Advancement of Trolls. It would also be the last if the main attraction didn’t make it on time. It had been difficult enough getting a place, and would have been impossible if it weren’t for the relationship Alphonse and several of his associates had with the military and the CIA.

ABGAT was still a fledgling organization with a precarious future. Trolls were not known for their organizational skills, and humans were not comfortable with them even singly, much less in large groups. The military felt it to be in its best interest to help them find a place to gather, and Groom Lake not only kept them from scaring the public at large, but offered a perfect way to keep tabs on the proceedings.

Alphonse had never driven before, but he loved cars, and had been watching the driver work the pedals and transmission closely. He was pretty sure he could figure things out. He’d never read a drivers manual, but he knew something about things that would get you in trouble, like going too fast, or going the wrong way, or running over people. The latter was a good way to get a meal, but tended to attract too much negative attention. He looked at Lorenzo. “Stop crying and get in.” He climbed in behind the wheel and looked for the keys. “Lorenzo, did you eat his clothes too?”

“No, I don’t like the texture. I like to peel them before I eat them.”

Alphonse found the key in the pocket of what was left of the guy’s pants and slid it into the ignition with anticipation. He cranked it to the right as he had seen the driver do, and thrilled to the sound of the engine; even if it did take three tries. This Hummer was built for civilians and had an automatic transmission, so he didn’t have to deal with a clutch. He reasoned out the correct position for the gear shift, put it in drive, and put his foot on the gas pedal. The car lurched forward, scaring them both, and Alphonse stomped on the brake, nearly putting them through the windshield.

He spent the next ten minutes or so figuring out all the controls before he felt confident enough to move out to the road. He carefully turned on the left turn signal, looked behind him to see if any traffic was coming up from the rear, and eased his foot down on the gas. Turning the wheel to the left, he bumped the car back onto the road, forgot to turn the wheel back again, and crossed all the way over to the other shoulder. After a second of panic, he swung the wheel back the other way, over-compensating again, but not as much. With considerable weaving and lurching, he managed to get back to the proper lane and stay there, but he was glad they were out in the middle of nowhere.

He was just starting to enjoy the experience when a bellow from his right made every cell in his body jump with alarm. Alphonse slammed on the brake, sending the car into a spin and nearly rolling it. When they finally came to a stop, he wrapped his hands around the steering wheel so tightly his claws were digging into his palms. He didn’t dare let go for fear he’d rip Lorenzo’s throat open. “What is it?” he snarled.

“Food!” Lorenzo was pointing back to a man by the side of the road. The man had picked up a backpack and was jogging toward them. “Hey Man… thanks for stopping. That was a cool move when you spun across the road like that! Hey! I know you, aren’t you Alphonse and Lorenzo? Oh wow, this is so cool. Wait’ll I tell my folks, they’re huge fans. So’s my sister. That’s where I’m going, home to see them. Hey, can I get your autographs Man?” He started rummaging through his backpack to find something to write with and on. “We watch you guys every chance we get. You are the best! Nobody’s ever had a tag team like you! You should be champions instead of Buck and Butch, those slimy, nasty, backstabbing SOBs.”

Buck and Butch were Alphonse and Lorenzo’s best friends, but in the wrestling world, they were arch enemies. Alphonse smiled. As he was writing, he looked the guy over. “Maybe we can help each other out. Can you drive this thing? I’ve… ah… been driving for hours and hours and I’m… uh… getting real tired.” He ignored the look of disappointment on Lorenzo’s face as he realized he wasn’t going to get his snack after all.

“Sure man. I’ve never driven a Hummer before, way cool. Where are we going?”

“Nevada. We’re headed for a conference. I have to deliver a speech and we’re slated to put on an exhibition match and sign autographs. What’s your name?”

“Richard.” By now Lorenzo had moved to the back seat, Alphonse to the front passenger seat, and Richard was behind the wheel. “Looks like you’re going to need to get some gas.” Alphonse slapped his forehead, he’d forgotten all about fueling the car! He didn’t know if they had enough to get to the next town and started looking for a place to refuel. Just then they passed a sign: REST AREA 1 MI NEXT REST AREA 54 MI. Lorenzo started whining from the back seat.

“Can we stop Alphonse? Please? I’m hungry and I got to go. Please, can we?”

“Oh for cryin’ out loud. All right, all right. Richard, pull in to the next rest stop.”

Richard glanced at the dashboard, “The low fuel light just came on.” Alphonse thought hard. He had to control Lorenzo; they couldn’t afford to lose this driver too. They also had to fuel up somehow. Richard solved both problems. “If you distract a driver long enough, I can siphon fuel from other cars.”

“Okay, park here at the end away from the crowd where we can see who comes in.”

They sat there for a half hour watching traffic come and go before they saw what they wanted. A guy driving alone pulled in right next to them. Alphonse nodded to Richard then he and Lorenzo followed the driver into the rest room. When they came back an hour later, Richard had managed to fill the gas tank about half full and was ready to go. If he noticed the grass stains and blood spatters on Lorenzo’s clothes, he chose to ignore them.

A hundred and eighty miles further down the road, they stopped to fill the tank again and let Richard buy a sandwich at the convenience store. Lorenzo had a colossal appetite with little self-control and Alphonse worried about adding to the trail of human remains they’d already established. He concentrated on keeping a close eye on his brother. Consequently, he wasn’t paying any attention to Richard, and failed to notice when he placed a phone call.

Back on the road, Richard did what he could to get conversation going. “Tell me about the speech you have to give.”

“It’s the keynote, and the topic is ‘Making a Living in the Human’s World.’ Most of us still have to survive in the traditional way, raiding farms for sheep, goats, or chickens and making it look like the coyotes or wolves are responsible.” He put special emphasis the part about “sheep, goats, or chickens”, giving Lorenzo a pointed look. Lorenzo, however, pretended not to hear. Alphonse sighed, “Lorenzo and I are unique in being able to make money legitimately.”

“So how do you get by socially? Isn’t there a lot of prejudice against trolls?”

“Yeah, we’ve run across our share, but there are laws to protect us now, we’re an endangered species. The Feds tolerate us because we’re useful to them.” He paused, and then added, “We do an occasional odd job for the FBI and others.”

Richard drove on in a comfortable silence, and Alphonse watched the sparse desert vegetation fly by as the sun set. The sky darkened to black velvet and the stars grew intensely bright, scattered like billions of tiny shards of glass lit with a black light. With no moon or city lights to interfere, it was a spectacular sight. Alphonse settled back to gaze at it, and fell asleep.

He woke up from a nightmare in which farmers had cornered him in a barn and were waving torches and shotguns in his face. The Hummer was stopped and the torches turned out to be flashlights wielded by a couple of soldiers. He sat up to see they were parked on a ridge overlooking the Groom Lake site. He was certain he had not told Richard the specifics of this location, and he knew Lorenzo didn’t know enough to have told him, so how did they get here? The obvious answer was that Richard wasn’t just an ordinary hitchhiker.

It took him a few seconds to register what the soldier was saying, “…the last of them. What took you so long?” He heard Richard explain about the first driver and running out of gas, and the delay at the rest stop to allow Lorenzo to feed.

Alphonse looked around. “Where’s Lorenzo?” “He’s off in the weeds,” Richard answered. “He said he had to go, and he thought he saw a sheep. I’ve never seen anyone put away so much food! He’s not too bright either, is he Alphonse?”

“He may be a little slow on the uptake, but he’s a good brother, and one hell of a wrestler. Why are we stopped here?”

“This is the end of the road. We’ve arrived at your big convention.” The sarcasm in Richard’s voice was unmistakable, and Alphonse finally got it. They had outlived their usefulness, and the government was tired of cleaning up the messes they left. Here at Groom Lake, no one would notice an operation that would significantly reduce the number of trolls in the world.

He looked again at the guns pointed at him and resigned himself to the inevitable. He was contemplating his death when he heard a soft snap and the two soldiers slid to the ground. He saw Richard turn at the sound and come face to face with Lorenzo.

“Now, Alphonse?”

“Sure Lorenzo, enjoy.” Alphonse watched as Lorenzo deftly broke Richard’s neck and began peeling.

pencil

“I live in North Fork, CA, with my husband and dog, and work as an analyst in Geographic Information Systems. Currently, I’m growing out of adulthood and back to kidhood!” Liz can be reached at whites[at]sierratel.com.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email