“An old couple stops you in the street and says you’d be perfect for the job…”
It was a Saturday afternoon, autumn, by the river. The air was getting colder but not too cold that I couldn’t hold a paintbrush, thankfully. The leaves were browning and fluttering to the ground at a slow pace, and yet they still had time to fall down onto my lap and get on my head when I was trying to focus on my canvas.
I was just packing up my paints that afternoon, about to go back to my house where my roommates were probably waiting for me, wondering what had taken me so long. I was meant to be cooking dinner that night.
As I crossed up the grass from the river towards my car, I noticed an odd looking elderly couple sitting on a bench just off from the car park looking right at me.
This of course made me uncomfortable, especially as I had only just come back to reality after spending hours in my own world with my easel, canvas and paints.
Even so, I heaved a sigh and carried on walking towards my car that irritably, they were sitting too close to for my own liking.
As I got nearer however, they stood up, still staring right at me.
Weirdly, my palms started to sweat as I felt sudden nerves rush through me.
This couple was strange, in odd coloured clothes, spiky silver hair and eyes so wide and bright they looked almost edited from real life. They stood identically to each other with the same posture, facial expressions and crooked smiles on their lips.
It was obvious that their genetics were different so they were clearly not related, but friends maybe? Or married? I wasn’t sure. However I was sure that with the way they were acting, they clearly spent too much time in each other’s company.
I kept walking, trying to do whatever I could to distract myself from the couple and get to my car only a couple of metres away from them.
My easel, canvas and paints were starting to make my arms ache.
‘Young man,’ it was the elderly woman, with the short, silver, spiky hair that addressed me first.
I ignored her, quickening my step.
‘Young man!’ Then it was the elderly man, with longer hair that spiked in different places and was gelled down in others. It was a peculiar sight.
I’m not sure why, but I stopped when he addressed me, as if my feet no longer chose to work.
The couple, seeing that I had stopped, made their way over to me, looking too thrilled for my comfort.
‘Oh you were definitely right, Oslo,’ the lady talked first, talking to the man beside her as if I wasn’t in hearing distance at all, ‘look at him! That tall, thin figure and weird looking goggles; no one would suspect a thing.’
Weird goggles? I gave a chuckle. ‘You mean my glasses?’ I asked, taking them off of my head and showing them to the lady, washing the world out around me in a distorted blur. I quickly put them back on once I realized that the lady did not care for my correction to her words.
The man however, had not seemed to have noticed that I had talked at all. ‘Yes, Clia!’ The man was excited, his voice so high it squeaked, ‘He would be perfect for the job!’
‘What job?’ I blinked at the couple. Only minutes ago I was painting by the river and now a strange couples was talking about a job I would suit. This day baffled me.
The elderly man, clearly named Oslo, turned to me with a hint of distaste on his face. ‘Young man, have you not learned to speak when you are spoken to?’
I was amused by this point. ‘Well seeing as you are talking about me, right in front of my face, I would only think that you were talking to me, just not directly at me.’
‘How does that make sense?’ The lady, Clia, asked me.
‘As much sense as it is to talk about me, right in front of me,’ I stated, ‘it doesn’t make sense at all.’
That shut them up.
For a moment they were looking blankly at each other, both expressions matching the other, eyes blinking at the same time in utter bewilderment. It made me laugh as I walked passed them towards my car again.
But soon, they were back by my side.
‘You must take the job,’ Oslo continued causing frustration to shiver up my spine.
Just his voice was hitting every nerve in my body.
‘What is this Special Job I’m perfect for then?’ I stopped and looked them both dead in the eye, making sure to look as bored as I could.
Maybe if they could see that I was not interested they would leave me alone?
‘An Earth Vendor,’ Clia explained.
I snorted. I couldn’t help myself. It just came out. ‘A what?’ I asked.
‘An Earth Vendor,’ Oslo said as if it was the simplest thing in the world, ‘you would go to different galaxies selling artefacts from this Earth, talk to the leaders from so many corners of Space.’
Again, I snorted. ‘You’re shitting with me,’ I shook my head, walking towards my car again.
Oslo reached out a hand and stopped me, making his hand collide with my chest.
I wasn’t one for human contact and quickly took a step back to make sure he wouldn’t touch me again.
‘I don’t understand what you mean,’ Oslo said, ‘but we are being serious! Together Clia and I have been travelling through space for fifty years, selling possessions from our Earth; New Earth, and getting a wealthy sum of Starbucks in return.’
‘You get paid in Starbucks?’ I had to ask.
‘Yes,’ Clia nodded.
‘You mean the coffee?’
‘I mean the money,’ Oslo said, ‘what do you mean coffee?’
‘Never mind,’ I shook my head and walked around the couple, heaving the easel under my arm to make sure I wouldn’t drop it.
I made my way around the couple and to my car, shuffling awkwardly in my pocket and taking out my car keys and unlocking it quickly.
‘You would be perfect for the job,’ Oslo carried on from behind me, making his way over to my car. I wished to god that he would not touch me or my car to get my attention again, ‘you would take over from Clia and my business.’
I sighed, walked to the back of my car to open the boot. I placed my art things into the back of my car before walking over to the driver’s side. ‘Not interested,’ I yawned, ‘sorry.’ I don’t even know why I apologised.
‘What do you mean?’ Clia seemed so disappointed.
I shook my head at them and took a deep breath, ‘It’s a no from me.’
‘But you’ve been chosen,’ Oslo carried on.
‘No,’ I got in my car and shut the door.
‘You’d be perfect!’ Clia shouted through the window.
‘Please go away!’ I shouted back.
‘You’ll seriously regret it,’ Oslo told me.
I rolled down the window and leaned out to them. ‘Trust me,’ I said, ‘I won’t.’
I put the key in the ignition and started the engine.
As I pressed the acceleration however, and moved the car forward, a swarm of colours surrounded me as wind, as strong as a storm whistled into my car through the open window.
My car seemed to be speeding through these flashing, neon lights around me.
Quickly, I wound up the window and held firmly onto my steering wheel and pinching at my skin to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.
‘You’re perfect for the job.’
There they were, in the back seat of my car, Oslo and Clia with the same expression on their faces of unnerving content.
‘Oh bloody hell.’ was all I could get myself to say.