Thursday, March 28, 2019


Ross 128b
By Janet Shell Anderson

“A temperate exoplanet within the inner limit of a habitable zone.” Paradise! That sold Frank.

Paradise. I don’t think so.

First off, Frank’s in trouble, this is dodgy and far; that’s why we’re here. Second, it’s all red murk. The sun’s little, dark, squinty, a red dwarf called Ross; we’re on Ross 128b. The year’s nine days. I’m Snooky Balboa, fourteen by the new calendar, not really exactly fourteen, but what does Frank care? I’m tired of red. The flagstones on the patio are red, the walls of the Apollo Morongo Diablo Inn, red. The pool’s red. In it—-red, slick philosophish that talk, climb out, naked as noon, want to have a conversation on the nature of reality, whether or not God is the ground of all being, what is sin? Should they evolve? They look at me with their big eyes, wriggle their fins, kind of eager in a way I don’t like, flop back in.

Frank spent a fortune to get us to this resort; now he’s disappeared. What counts is, I can’t get my hair done right, so in this light my superfine Octavia Infrared plume looks skanky. I ought to put on clothes.

The place feels skanky. Just wrong. The flowers’re black, the shrubs, black, the crouchtrees and hotforests, morongo purple. There’s a three-headed dog, real friendly, but he slobbers. No one’s here. There are no people. Supposedly at night there’s a blue-footed booby band called the Lost Souls, but I haven’t seen them. The resort’s got this big pool and then little, hidden, private lighted pools outside everyone’s bedrooms, lah de dah, twinkling walkways over the pools so you can sit and have a drink right over the water, do anything you want. Where you step lights up, glows; it’s ok. Except no one’s here. Alexas, that’s all. And slick philosophish with dorsal fins, advanced degrees, maybe some blue-footed boobies.

The phish like me. Frank says I look like Venus Milo and Mona Lisa rolled into one, if they spent a hundred million dollars on their hair at Scampis and tanned nude. Even so, Frank got up at dawn to go for a walk near the ocean, which has high tides. I warned him about it. He’s been gone hours.

I did see one other person when we first got here. Jessie James, real good looking, athletic, sculpted, her hair all flame red, burning, golden, mauve, raspberry, huge, weightless up in the caravan tower headdress all the Euros were wearing when we left, no clothes on except a thong that said in tiny gold script, “I Believe.” Gauzy wings too. Pretty cheesy.

Frank got into a little trouble politically back home in Washington, DC, nothing too serious, nothing Frank couldn’t talk his way out of; but Neo Langley was looking into it. We lived on N Street in Georgetown, his townhouse, 18th century. Steep hills, cobblestones, nice shopping near the canal, river restaurants, Georgie Ws, not bad, and I miss my demoncat, Fuzz, who couldn’t come. Our Alexa will take care of him, but he’d like this, the redbyrds, Cardinal trees, burning bushes.

Frank mentioned he thought they were going to blame him for some kind of coup. It must not of worked.

I don’t like the idea of Jessie James. What kind of name is that?

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Published by 365 Tomorrows, Vestal Review, Grey Sparrow, decomP, FRIGG and many others, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, included in an anthology with Joyce Carol Oates, I am an attorney.

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