Did you ever have a friend that you don’t see often, nor even live in the same city, yet you’re still instantly friends when you see each other again? Years can go by and you pick up again like no time passed at all. Daisy was one of those friends and in our case, we lived on different planets.
I walked into the raw food bar and he was already sitting at a two-person table. He immediately stood up upon seeing me for the first time in nearly twenty years.
“It’s too loud in here. Let’s sit outside. I ordered you a smoothie.” His bizarrely high pitched voice brought a smile to my face.
Daisy Eatherton looked to be a man in his late fifties, very short, just over 5ft, with shaggy gray hair and a bright blue Hawaiian shirt. He shuffled his bare feet into slippers he’d kicked off under the table and led me with his order number held high out to the restaurant’s patio.
“Is anyone sitting here? Anyone?” he asked, startling a straightlaced group of customers in their corporate attire with his falsetto voice.
He slid into the empty picknick table and gestured I take the opposite bench.
“Daisy, you haven’t aged a day. I was expecting a very old man.”
His prolonged high pitch laugh at this statement sent the yuppies into silent fast eating.
“To tell you the truth, I’m younger than last time you saw me. You know, the whole traveling at the speed of light relativity thing. How’s my favorite undergrad student? Without your help, I would never have got off this planet.” He squealed at the idea.
Daisy had been my physics teacher back in college. Though I looked closer to his age now, he looked exactly the same as he did then and still talked as fast and to the point as ever.
“I’ll never forget the night you left. When I got back to my dorm I was floored no one else saw the lights through the trees. I had a sunburn for a week. I pretended my family went to the Carribean over winter break.”
“Those old engines did put off light radiation.” Daisy eye-balled the group pretending not to listen.
A young woman with a buzzed haircut and a nose ring dropped off two electric purple smoothies and took our #9 order plaque.
“Thank you, kind sir.” Daisy winked at her.
“I’m a woman.”
“Oh, pardon me. I’ve never really figured out the whole gender thing. Penis, no penis, breasts, no breasts.” He put both his hands on his saggy pectorals and lifted them. “I mean, who can tell?”
“Thanks for bringing our drinks,” I said as she walked away rolling her eyes.
“I think you might be even too weird for Portland,” I suggested.
“Nonsense.” He let out a high pitched snort. “I’m glad you were able to make it from New York. This should reimburse you for your plane ticket.”
He placed a solid gold egg on the table with a thud.
I grabbed the heavy lumpy object and shoved it in my jacket pocket. If our patio mates were thinking of leaving before, they were now riveted to their seats.
“I was shocked by your text message. I’ll keep this same phone number from now on. What is it you wanted to see me about?”
Daisy smiled and slugged down his entire smoothie in one drink. When he spoke after you could see his breath, even though it was a lovely summer day in Oregon.
“Well, I thought I’d repay you for helping me. I’ve upgraded and I’m flying a two-seater. I know you wanted to go with me last time. And now, I’d like to invite you to join me.”
“Daisy, I’m married and have a kid. I can’t just leave them behind.”
“I see.” He pulled a small device out of his pocket clicked it open, it glowed blue, he looked at it for a second and closed it. “You do understand that this place won’t be so charming the next time I swing through another twenty years from now.”
I put my head in my hands. “I know. If I read one more climate report about how my retirement will be a disaster on an apocalyptic scale I’ll puke. I hate thinking of my golden years being rife with war, famine, extreme weather; fucking mass global migration.”
“Well, I leave tomorrow, I’m afraid.”
“And saying no to you right now is probably the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. I never thought I’d see you again. I feel like I’m a nineteen-year-old kid all over again. Thank you, Daisy. I wish more than anything I could go with you.”
“I’ll go with you, Mister,” said a man in pleated shorts and a pink button-down now standing at the edge of our table.
“Fuck you, Taylor,” said a blond woman sitting across from us.
Daisy reached over and touched his hand. I knew better to never touch a Sleldack space slug, let alone let one touch you and control your mind. He spoke to the man in a kind feminine tone.
“Oh, my fine friend, you stay here and invest in renewables, you’ll do just fine.”
The man shook his head in a swoon, dazed for a moment, then came to. “Of course. That’s a great idea! Fantastic advice! Literally, so sorry to bother you.”
He went back to his angry girlfriend yammering about changing his portfolio. The group left in a huff.
Daisy stood up. “I’m sorry to have brought you all this way for nothing.”
“It’s great to see you.”
“Likewise. Give my love to your family.” He looked around to make sure no one was watching and then disappeared.
I looked down at my untouched smoothie sweating on the wooden tabletop, picked it up, and sucked the thick drink through a wide straw. It was delicious.