Billy and the Flying Saucer
by Terry Bisson
“Hey, Billy!” said Vernon. “Guess what.”
Vernon was the boy next door. Billy looked over the fence.
“What,” said Billy. He hated Vernon.
“I have a present for you,” said Vernon. He held up a cigarette.
“Cigarettes are bad for you,” said Billy.
“No, they are good for you,” said Vernon. “You got it backwards. That’s because you are stupid.”
“No I’m not,” said Billy. But he wasn’t sure.
“Plus they are cool,” said Vernon. He gave the cigarette to Billy. “Smoke it.”
Billy smoked it. He knew how from TV. Then he puked on his shoe.
“Here’s another cigarette,” said Vernon. “You have two shoes.”
“Eat your turkey,” said Billy’s mother. It was supper time.
“I’m not hungry,” said Billy. “I smoked two cigarettes today.”
“Where did you get them?”
“Vernon gave them to me,” said Billy.
“That Vernon,” said Billy’s mother. “Cigarettes are bad for you.”
“I thought so,” said Billy. Vernon was a big liar.
“Eat your turkey anyway,” said Billy’s mother. They had turkey every night.
Billy ate his turkey anyway. Then he watched TV and went to bed.
Soon he had to puke again.
He was afraid to mess up the covers so he puked in the helmet that he kept under his bed. Then he closed his eyes but he couldn’t sleep.
He wanted a cigarette.
First thing in the morning, Billy went to the back yard and looked over the fence.
“Looking for something?” Vernon asked. He was smiling.
“A cigarette,” said Billy.
“I thought so,” said Vernon. “Now you are hooked. Now you have to do anything I say.”
“No I don’t,” said Billy.
“Yes you do,” said Vernon. “Say please.”
“Please,” said Billy.
“See?” said Vernon. He gave Billy a cigarette. This time Billy didn’t puke.
That afternoon Billy wanted another cigarette. He looked over the fence and said please.
“Say pretty please,” said Vernon.
“Pretty please,” said Billy.
“Sorry,” said Vernon. He held up a cigarette and broke it in two. He had a whole pack.
Vernon was mean. Billy hated him.
Billy had an idea. “I will trade you my helmet,” he said.
“It’s a Dale Earnhardt helmet,” said Billy. “It has a number 3 on it.”
“Let’s see it,” said Vernon.
Billy ran into the house and got the helmet. It still had puke it in. It hadn’t dried up yet.
“Here,” said Billy. He handed the helmet over the fence. It was black.
“Earnhardt was one of the Greats,” said Vernon. “Not stupid like you.”
He gave Billy a cigarette and then he put the helmet on his head.
The puke ran down over his face. It was yellow.
Vernon got mad. “Now I’m going to kill you,” he said.
“You can’t,” said Billy. “You can’t get over the fence.”
It was true. Vernon didn’t have any feet. He couldn’t get over the fence. Instead he rolled back and forth in his wheelchair.
Billy was glad the fence was there.
That night Billy shook so hard that his bed rattled. He wanted a cigarette.
“What’s that noise?” asked Billy’s mother.
“Nothing,” said Billy. He couldn’t let his mother know that he was hooked.
The next morning Billy wanted a cigarette worse than ever. He looked over the fence and there was Vernon. He was rolling up and down in his stupid wheelchair.
“No more cigarettes for Billy,” he said. “No more cigarettes for Billy.” He was singing it.
Billy pretended to be sorry. “I’m sorry, Vernon,” he said. “Please.”
Vernon just smiled and shook his head. He was wearing the helmet. He had wiped the puke off his face.
“Pretty please,” said Billy. He hated Vernon but he was hooked.
“I feel like reading a magazine,” said Vernon.
Billy ran into the house and got a magazine. It was his mother’s. He handed it over the fence to Vernon.
Vernon made a face. “This one’s is all about crime,” he said. He threw it down and rolled back and forth over it. “I want one with girls in it.”
Billy stole a dollar out of his mother’s purse and ran to the magazine store. He needed a cigarette bad.
“The ones with girls are two dollars,” said the store owner.
“I only have a dollar,” said Billy.
“Then you’re out of luck,” said the store owner.
Billy waited until the store owner wasn’t looking and stole a magazine with girls in it. He ran back home and handed it over the fence to Vernon.
“Now give me my cigarette,” Billy said. He held out two fingers. He had seen that on TV.
Vernon shook his head. He was wearing the helmet. “These girls are all standing around,” he said. “I want one with girls in wheelchairs.”
He threw the magazine down and rolled back and forth over it. Then he threw it back over the fence.
Billy picked up the magazine and ran back to the store.
He had to have a cigarette bad.
He tried to act cool. “I bought the wrong magazine,” he said. “I want to swap it for one with girls in wheelchairs.”
“This magazine is no good anymore,” said the store owner. “Some wheelchair has rolled over it. Besides, you didn’t buy it anyway. You stole it.”
Billy was shaking all over. He tried to lie. “I paid for it,” he said. “You just forgot.”
“Store owners don’t forget things,” said the store owner. “I’m calling the police.”
“I’m just a little boy,” said Billy. “My father’s a policeman.”
“No, he’s not,” said the store owner. “He’s in jail.”
“He’s undercover,” said Billy.
“You are a big liar,” said the store owner. He took out a cell phone. “Now I’m calling the FBI.”
The store owner made Billy wait while he called the FBI. Billy was shaking all over.
“Can I have a cigarette?” he asked.
“You must be hooked,” said the store owner. “No smoking in the store.”
The store owner was smoking, though. He blew smoke in Billy’s face and smiled.
He was as mean as Vernon.
Pretty soon the FBI arrived. They arrived in a helicopter. They were about to handcuff Billy when a flying saucer flew over the town.
It was flying low. Everybody looked up. The FBI and the store owner too. That was their mistake.
The saucer had a Forgetting Ray. It made the FBI forget about taking Billy to jail.
Billy ran home. He was breathing a sigh of relief all the way.
“Where’s my magazine?” asked Vernon.
“I forgot it,” said Billy.
“Then no cigarette for you.”
“I don’t care,” said Billy. “I don’t want one anymore. That flying saucer made me forget I was hooked. It had a Forgetting Ray.”
“I saw the flying saucer too,” said Vernon. “How come I didn’t forget I’m in a wheelchair?”
“That’s because you don’t have any feet,” said Billy. “I want my Dale Earnhardt helmet back.”
Vernon gave Billy his helmet back. Vernon had forgotten it was his. He had even forgotten he was mean.
Billy looked inside the helmet before he put it on. Vernon’s mother had cleaned out all the puke. Billy had come out ahead.
“Pass the turkey,” said Billy. It was supper time.
“Feeling better?” asked his mother.
“Yes ma’am,” said Billy. No more cigarettes for him!
About the Author
Terry Bisson lives in California
where he writes mostly science fiction. His most recent novel is Planet of Mystery. He is currently adapting one of his short stories for Komodo Films of Jakarta, Indonesia. His complete (almost) "Billy" stories will be published by England's PS Press later this year.
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