At the hospital, Doctor McKinnie filled out some paperwork. Having done it many time before, he was an old hand at these documents. He sorted them and stuffed them into a large yellow envelope. He scrawled the Drost’s address on the face of the envelope, slapped a stamp in the upper right-hand corner, and dropped it in the outgoing mail bin.
He had to lie a bit to get the data into the system. It was not blatant fraud, just a little misrepresenting of dates things occurred, and whether or not he witnessed a particular event.
He told no one of what he did. He could face serious consequences. Though, it was for the best.
John parked his truck next to the house. He did not notice the man hiding in the back. Grabbing the box of epinephrine pens, he made his way for the front door. His wife greeted him cheerfully, apparently having no signs of recently being ill or in need of serious medical attention.
The man observed this, then jotted a few notes. He looked up slightly and saw a shiny creature of some sort. Pulling his camera out of his coat, he zoomed in and snapped a photograph of what he saw. When John went inside, the man paused for a moment, finally crawling out of the truck’s bed and making his way to the street, where he walked back into town.
John checked his mail the day the yellow envelope came from the hospital. It was addressed to him. He brought it inside, then tore the side open. Inside was a collection of papers declaring the birth of Marvin legitimate under the parentage of John and Martha. John examined the birth certificate. “Marvin Allen Drost” said the certificate. “Born this day,” it went on.
John made a note to get a frame for it sometime during the day.
Martha entered the room, Marvin in tow. “What’s that?” she asked.
“Doctor McKinnie sent us a copy of Marvin’s birth certificate.”
“I didn’t know his middle name was Allen.”
“I think that was the doctor trying to be cute.”
John held the document out for Marvin to see. He squeaked delightedly, as he was getting attention from both his surrogate parents.
“I’ll go out and get a frame for it today.”
The man in black approached the veterinarian. He had developed his film in his hotel room. He held a few photographs, each in a different magnification of the creature he saw in the house.
“Doctor Kline,” the man said, “could you tell me what kind of animal this is?”
Kline looked at the man in black. He had met him once before, and still did not like him any better. He took the photographs being offered to him and ruffled them around, trying to make sense of the image he saw.
“I have not seen anything like this before,” he admitted.
“What do you suppose it is?”
“My best guess is a domesticated lizard or monkey. You said they don’t have any children?”
“Maybe the wife is sitting for someone. It could be a child wearing glasses, shadowed by the door.”
“It could be, but it isn’t. Doc, do you believe in aliens?”
“You mean people from other countries?”
“Try beings from other planets.”
“You think this thing in the picture is an extraterrestrial being?”
“It might be. It definitely doesn’t look like an animal or human.”
“Do you know the statistical improbabilities involved with a creature from outer space visiting earth?” asked the veterinarian.
“Not really. What are they?”
“Astronomical, no pun intended.”
“But still within the realm of possibility.”
“Possibility if not plausibility. I say it’s a child she’s watching, feeding a maternal instinct she did not get when her own child died. I’m sure it’s nothing big.”
“Thank you for your time, doctor. It has been most helpful.”
“You’re welcome, uh, what did you say your name was?”
“I didn’t.” The man in black exited, leaving the doctor in a state of slight confusion.
Cabin fever sets in when you are stuck in the same place for a long time. Even if the place is interesting, soon the cabin fever sets in.
“John, I need to get out,” Martha told her husband. “It’s not that I dislike caring for Marvin, it’s just that I do it every day, and don’t ever get a chance to leave unless it’s to go shopping while you watch him for a few minutes.”
“What are we going to do with Marvin, though?”
“We could hire a babysitter.”
There was a pause in the conversation. “A babysitter? Where are we going to find someone we can trust as well as someone who will not be afraid of the fact that we have a creature of an unidentified species living in our house?”
“You have a point. I really wish there was something we could do, though. I feel like I’m about to explode.”
The doorbell rang.
Dolores, the Chicano teenage daughter of Carlos stood at the door. She wore her school uniform.
“¡Hola, Señor Drost!”
“Is my father around? I am supposed to ride home with him today.”
“He’s in the field right now. You can wait here for him if you want.”
Realization strikes at the strangest moments.
“Dolores, you’re the oldest daughter of Carlos, right?”
“Do you ever watch your siblings if your parents want to go out?”
“Of course.” She rolled her eyes slightly at this.
“Uh, can you keep a secret? It’s very important that you tell no one.”
Dolores paused. She contemplated taking a step back towards the door. Usually it was a bad sign if a man asked if you could keep a secret, especially if you were a young, attractive female.
“Is your wife home, Señor Drost?”
“Oh, yes. Of course.” John realized that what he was saying could be taken in a bad way. “Martha?”
Martha peeked her head around a corner. “Hello Dolores!”
“Hello, Señora Drost. What is this secret I hear so much about?”
Martha glanced at John quickly who nodded to her, signifying that it was okay.
“Well, Dolores, we need a babysitter for tonight. We were wondering if you could help us out.”
“I have to watch Pablo tonight. I do not think that I am free.”
“Don’t worry about that, Dolores. You can watch your brother here, and also baby-sit for us. We will pay you.”
Dolores had wanted a new pair of shoes. Since her parents did not pay her, and constantly had her baby-sit, she did not have the opportunity to baby-sit for other families so that she could earn some money on the side. She had some money saved away. She might be able to buy those new shoes if she could get away with this.
Then she paused for a moment. Hadn’t the Drost family recently lost their child? This did not make sense.
“Excuse me, but who would I be watching?”
“Do you promise that you will not tell anyone?”
Martha stepped out into the hallway. She held Marvin in her arms. “This is our little bundle of Joy, Dolores. I know he looks fairly strange, but we do love him.”
“Dios mio…” she said, crossing herself.
“Don’t worry, Dolores, he’s not an evil devil-spawn or anything. He’s, to the best of our knowledge, an extraterrestrial intelligence.”
She cautiously approached Marvin, who was sleeping.
“He doesn’t bite. You want to hold him?”
“He is sort of cute.” She reached her arms out to hold the creature. He was soft and squishy. Pulling him to her shoulder, she was surprised when he awakened suddenly. Seeing and feeling her hold him, he decided to wrap his arms around her neck and hug. This won her over completely.
When Carlos came in from the fields, Dolores asked her father if she could watch both Pablo and Marvin, the Drost’s having offered to pick her and her brother up, then drop them off. They needed to get out that much.
They followed Carlos as he drove back to his house. Dolores wanted to ride in the truck, to continue holding Marvin, but John told her she had to ride with her father, since it was unsafe to hold a baby while riding in a car.
They got to Carlos’ house, a small affair on the poorer side of town. When he got home, his children flooded from the house to greet him. Excited voices spoke in Spanish, causing John to miss a lot of the words. They were simply shouts of glee that their father was home. This was a happy family. John followed Carlos to the house. Martha stayed in the car, tickling Marvin. They figured it was best, as the smaller children would not understand Marvin.
Carlos explained to his wife what John and his wife had proposed. At first she was hesitant. John eventually sweetened the deal by offering that the two couples double date. He offered to pay.
Finally, she conceded. They decided to go have dinner, followed by a movie. Before leaving, they had agreed on eating at an authentic Mexican restaurant and catching a Spanish-language film. This would be a fairly new experience for John and his wife, rarely delving into the Mexican cultures.
John got directions to the restaurant and theater, then returned to the car to explain what was happening to his wife. She was more than happy to get out of the house, and didn’t care if they were eating raw squid and seeing a movie in Sanskrit.
Soon, Dolores emerged from the house, carrying Pablo and a diaper bag. Behind her, Carlos’ wife, Pancha, carried a child’s car seat. Martha helped her set it up in the truck, and strapped Pablo into the seat. Dolores sat next to her brother in the back seat of the truck. She had changed out of her school uniform and was now wearing jeans and a t-shirt with Spanish phrases on it.
They took her back to their house, and then gave her a tour of the house. They tried to remember every little detail about Marvin that they could, so that she would know what to do and what not to do. The most important part of the tour was their explanation of Marvin’s allergy to lemons, and where they kept the epinephrine pens, and how to use them. They wrote down a series of phone numbers to call in any sort of emergency, and stuck it on the refrigerator. Soon, it was time for them to leave. Fielding a few last questions, they wished Dolores luck and said to call if there were any problems.
She waved goodbye as they pulled out of the driveway and onto the street. Once they had left, she locked the deadbolt and returned to the babies. Marvin was playing with blocks with Pablo. Pablo was too young to realize that he should be afraid of Marvin’s appearance. He saw him as just another baby with which he could play with blocks. They babbled to each other, Marvin squeaking occasionally.
Dolores sat on the couch and watched them play. This was more entertaining than television. Soon, she could not help but play with the blocks with them. This would be the best job ever.