CHAPTER THREE

 

 

"I don't want to go through anything like this ever - ever - again," Maryellyn said, wiping her reddened eyes with a Kleenex that Dr. Dzhugashvili's receptionist had provided. The bout of weeping that had lasted all the way across midtown and through Central Park had finally worn itself out, leaving her drained. "You could have killed me, you and your crazy dance and all that wild singing!"

"It's an ancient battle song and accompanying footwork," Targon said, "intended to intimidate the enemy. I wouldn't expect anybody on this benighted planet to appreciate it."

"You were drunk!" she told him, furious. "Let's not try to fancy it up with a lot of stuff about battle songs and dancing. The truth of the matter is, you could have killed me! I bounced off the hood of that limousine on Fifth Ave when, luckily, the chauffeur stopped just in time!"

Hearing the sound of voices, Dr. Dzhugashvili's receptionist came out to check and saw Maryellyn angrily addressing an empty waiting room. Shaking her head, she went back in again,

"Lower your voice?," Targon said, "I've got the mother goddess of all headaches stomping around in my skull."

"MY skull, you mean," Maryellyn cried. "I can't tell you how sick I am, making a spectacle of myself in the middle of Fifth Ave.! All I can say is I hope nobody in advertising was around to see it. Oh, please God," she added, "let Dr. Dzhugashvili do some good - I can't wait to get rid of you!"

"Don't be hasty," Targon warned her. "It isn't going to be that easy."

He made Maryellyn's hand reach for a stack of the reception room's magazines and selected an issue of "Time." The cover story announced in big red letters: "FBI AND CIA, America's Hidden Empires?"

"I have to," he said, flipping through the pages, "look for a suitable host body. That's top priority. I've been surveying the Styrex Three males we've encountered since we left your apartment, and they're the usual substandard lot. I'd hate to confine myself to one of those bodies for even a couple of days. On the other hand, it's obvious I can't stay with you. The situation is ludicrous. I've landed in a Styrex Three female body, thanks to some malevolent bastards in my solar system, and it's been an annoyance, to say the least."

"An ANNOYANCE?" Maryellyn spluttered. "You mean trying to kill me, humiliating me in Twenty-One and driving me into the arms of a psychiatrist annoyed you? Listen you - you - outer space - p-poltergeist - if I didn't have a rich sister, I couldn't even pay for all this!"

Targon ignored her outburst. He was studying "Time" magazine's article on the "secret empires" of the FBI and CIA. "There's a slight logistical problem involved. We should be hanging around hospitals looking for bodies, not wasting our time in a psychiatrist's office."

"Hospitals?" Maryellyn tried to put Time magazine down as she was hardly interested in articles on the FBI, but he wouldn't let her. "Good heavens, why would you want to do that?"

"The most efficient way to pick up a host body is to claim it just as the - er, donor expires," he explained. "When done promptly, with no extended time lag, it's one hundred percent effective. Not like 'accidentally' falling into some sleeping Styrex Three woman's body. I assure you, heads are going to roll over that one when I get back."

"You mean you want to find someone who's dying and steal his body just as he - passes on?" Maryellyn exclaimed, horrified. "Is that what you're talking about?"

"Somebody acceptable, naturally. I can't tell you how much I hate to select out of the New York body pool, good specimens are rare. And I want to match myself as closely as possible. I was thinking, actually, of Brad Pitt. Or perhaps Keanu Reeves."

"They're not dying," Maryellyn cried. "Oh God, at least I hope not! You wouldn't think of killing anybody, would you? Oh, I refuse to be a part of anything that would eliminate Keanu Reeves or Brad Pitt in the prime of their youth!"

"Stop yelling," Targon said. "Nothing's being killed except my head when you screech like that. We aven't got time to go out to California so Reeves and Pitt are quite safe, you can stop worrying about them. But we'd better put a midtown Manhattan hospital on our schedule right away. Because I have some urgent business to attend to. See this article? I may have landed in the right place after all."

Maryellyn tried to resist as her own hand waved "Time" magazine in front of her face. "What urgent business?" she asked, trying to push the magazine away. "You don't know anything about the FBI!!"

At that moment the door opened and the receptionist beckoned. "The doctor will see you now," she told them.

"I'm not going to do any talking," Targon said as she got up, "so don't ask me to."

Dr. Dzhugashvili's office was located in an old Central Park West building similar to its neighbor, the Dakota, which had been made famous as the place where the movie "Rosemary's Baby" was filmed. It had the same National Guard Armory architecture, and spacious, somewhat rambling apartments built for the lifestyles of another era. The elevators were antique brass cages, and the corridors tobacco brown, where the gloom was broken by fixtures of hand-blown amber glass in the shape of tulips.

Even the psychiatrist's waiting room reflected the glory of the past with oil portraits that Maryellyn guessed were of Dr. Sigmund Freud and Dr. Carl Jung and other gentlemen with beards.

The inner office of what her sister had termed "New York's currently hottest shrink," was more of the same: a heavily curtained room with bookcases filled with leather-bound books, paintings of castles on peaks above Germany's Rhine River and stags at bay about to be torn to pieces by packs of hunting dogs.

Maryellyn was greeted by a little man in short brown beard who jumped up from behind his desk and rushed forward to meet her.

"Ah, dear young Miss Caswell," he boomed in a surprisingly deep voice, "whose very socially prominent sister, Mrs. J. Stephen Crump, has already informed me that you are possessed by intergalactic-traveling aliens. Did they arrive," he said, pumping her hand, "by UFO?"

Maryellyn couldn't find her voice for a moment. Dr. Dzhugashvili was something of a surprise, more like an energetic little teddy bear than what one would expect of an eminent Manhattan shrink.

"Only one alien." She couldn't suppress a slight shudder. "Believe me, one is enough."

"One alien," the doctor repeated, "and it is inside you now?"

"He," she corrected him, looking around. Maryellyn felt somewhat embarrassed. "I'm sure it's an hallucination, doctor. My sister's probably told you I've been working much too hard - and - and not getting out as much as I should," she added nervously, "but it's definitely a 'he.' Sub Commander Targon from someplace in another solar system."

Dr. Dzhugashvili waved her forward, looking slightly disappointed. "No UFOs? Ah, what a pity, UFOs are very interesting, I am fascinated when patients tell me about them. You might say it's my speciality." He shrugged. "Well, let's us not mind, we will get to the bottom of the matter. Will you stand up as you tell me all that has happened, sit in the chair, or lie down on the couch?"

Maryellyn knew lying down on Dr. Dzhugashvili's leather-covered couch was probably the accepted way of doing things. But she was exhausted after her bout of crying in the taxicab, and wanted to get her breakdown, or whatever it was diagnosed as quickly as possible. Face to face seemed better. "I'll sit down, if you don't mind."

The doctor nodded, then returned to his seat behind his big mahogany desk. He pulled a yellow legal pad to him and began writing rapidly. ""Now I am putting down my notes," he explained. "You have a space-traveling alien who identifies himself as - " He looked up.

"Targon," she told him after a moment's hesitation. "Sub Commander Targon."

"One moment, dear young lady," Dr. Dzhugashvili responded, still writing. "Sub Commander Targon from unnamed solar system, having taken possession, according to subject, of her body. Transportation did not involve UFO."

Maryellyn wished they could drop UFOs as a topic, but she felt compelled to say, "Well, actually, I only know what he told me. You have to realize I woke up in bed this morning and I was speaking in a man's voice! It was a terrible shock. But this man's voice was raving on and on about how his enemies in the transportation system had done this deliberately, sent him to Earth when he should have gone somewhere else to investigate crooked bureaucracies. He seemed to think they put him in a woman's body - my body - for a joke!"

"It was no joke," Targon said inside her. "Those bastards wanted to sabotage me."

Maryellyn started. "There, you see? He just said something and he vowed he wouldn't open his mouth! But he's so unbelievably paranoid, I knew he couldn't keep quiet. He believes he landed on Earth because his enemies wanted to get rid of him!"

Dr. Dzhugashvili looked excited. "My dear young miss, you are telling me the alien is talking to you right now? At this moment? Wonderful, wonderful! Tell me, does he speak out loud? Would it be possible that he would speak to me?"

"This guy's a nut," Targon said. "He sounds like a UFO groupie to me."

Dr. Dzhugashvili had been watching Maryellyn intently. "Now he's talking to you again, is he not? What a tragedy I cannot hear him! What a tragedy I cannot SEE him! Tell me, has he by chance appeared to you? It would be the most excessive luck if he has, but dear Miss Caswell, I dare not hope that you have had an actual visual manifestion!"

"Oh, I've gotten a good look at him, if that's what you mean." Maryellyn was beginning to sense that Targon was right when he said that the psychiatrist might be, well - eccentric. Certainly Dr. Dzhugashvilie didn't seem at all concerned that his patient might be having a dangerous mental breakdown while he talked about wanting to see and hear the sub commander. It was as if he'd immediately believed that the alien existed.

"Dr. Dzhugashvili," she began, "I hope you understand that my sister arranged an emergency appointment with you because I have never - never - had hallucinations about aliens or anything else. In fact, we think this whole episode is due to overwork. I'm a free-lance commercial artist for several state-of-the-art advertising companies,and the competition and stress in my line of work is pretty terrific. If you don't mind, I think I'd like to lie down on your couch, now, because I'm not really feeling very well."

"You must tell me in detail," the doctor interrupted, "about this wonderful visual manifestation of the alien. You didn't take any photos, did you? Polaroids? Videotape?"

"Why don't you draw him a picture?" Targon said. "That's your business, isn't it? Show him I look like a bowl of Wheaties."

Maryellyn didn't want to make the mistake of yelluing for Targon to shut up. But she decided to stick with it for just a few minutes more. "Well," she said, trying to go on, "he appeared sitting on my bedroom chair so I could go take a shower. But I don't think he can do it for very long, materialize like that, because he keps talking about finding another host body. That's another thing - "

"What the alien looks like, please, Miss Caswell," the doctor reminded her.

"Oh," she said, blushing, "well you know, kind of interesting if you're into exotic types. But I mean, he's not ugly or gruesome-looking with tentacles all over his body and one eye, thank goodness!"

"That's a Medusian," Targon inserted, "or something close to it."

Maryellyn tried to ignore him. "He glows all over," she told the doctor. "A gold color that sort of shimmers, and he has matching hair and skin. And he has a very well-muscled, well-proportioned body. I'd say he's about six feet one or two, and one hundred seventy five to eighty pounds, and he seems about thirty years old."

"Thanks," Targon said. "I'm thirty-seven by your way of reckoning things."

Maryellyn said more loudly, "He's certainly better looking than anything Stephen Spielberg put together. If he didn't glow so much I guess he really would look like Brad Pitt."

"Marvelous, marvelous," the doctor murmured. "We must pursue this, you and I in future sessions, dear Miss Caswell. That is,, why your psyche reacts to an apparent lack of sexual stimuli due to overwork, and creates this beautiful glowing gold male creature that must exist only in your body."

"I didn't say that," Maryellyn protested. "In fact, he's looking for another body right now. Except it involves visiting hospitals looking for dying men who are as good-looking as he is."

Dr. Dzhugashvili, nodding and smiling, was writing on a prescription form. "Yes, yes, and he does exist, that is possible too, is it not? Perhaps this is not an hallucination, young Miss Caswell, and you are really harboring a lost visitor from outer space. If this could be true, think of what extraordinary data this would provide - the papers of controversy it would engender in the American Journal of Psychiatry! Not to mention the formidable technical publications of NASA, and Aviation Week. But we must not get carried away," he said, tearing off the prescription form from the pad and handing it to her. "First we must explore traditional avenues of inquiry. I wish you to attend a special therapy group, it is meeting this very evening at seven-thirty at the address I have given you. When you mingle with the group you will be able to make the distinctions that now seem to cause you so much anxiety."

Maryellyn was experiencing decidedly mixed feelings. She really didn't think it was anxiety caused by working too hard, it had to be something worse.

"Was that a prescription he gave you?" Targon wanted to know. "Listen. no more pills! When I get snoggered there's dancing in the middle of the street, remember?"

That was the last straw. Maryellyn jumped to her feet, gathering up her things. "Oh, you're such a smartass," she burst out. "Dr. Dzhgushvili half-believes you exist. He's dying to have you say something to him! Why don't you get me out of this fix and just open your mouth and talk?"

She suddenly felt herself being propelled toward the psychiatrist's desk, and then pushed over to lean on it. Her face was right in the doctor's.

"Boo!" the baritone voice of Targon bellowed. "How's that?"

The sudden assault of sound right in his face made Doctor Dzhugashvili recoil in shock. But he instantly recovered. He lifted his hands to his face, his eyes closing in sheer ecstasy. "Mein Gott," he whispered. "It has happened! Please, please, I beg you, could you do it just once more?"

"Oh hell!" Targon propelled Maryellyn rapidly toward the door. "Let's get out of here before I make you do something to really embarrass us."

"Why do you do things like that?" Maryellyn exploded as the taxi took the 86th street crosstown through Central Park. "Talk about sabotage - you deliberately did that when I begged you to say something to Dr. Dzhugashvili to help him decide whether this whole thing is one big hallucination. But you decided to yell 'Boo!' right in his face! What good did you think that would do?"

"It got us out of there," Targon said grimly. "That shrink is wasting your time and mine, too. Right now I've got more important things to do. I have to warn the President of the United States of the danger from his subversive bureaucracies. But not until I've made at least a preliminary investigation of the FBI. According to the magazine I read in the doctor's office there are several official investigations of the FBI going on that have already amassed a good bit of evidence, but it's not the kind of evidence that's important. Bungling, incompetance and cover-ups are irrelevant. What you really need to look for in this sort of situation are elite cadres of conspirators dedicated to overthrowing the government. Assassination is part of it, too. Before he died, J. Edgar Hoover was planning to do all of that. And he especially disliked Lyndon Johnson."

Maryellyn stared at the back of their cabby's head. Targon was talking out loud, and the cabby was obviously listening. "Will you keep your voice down?" she hissed. "I don't know how you know all this about J. Edgar Hoover if you came from another galaxy. Why don't you concentrate on how to steal a body from the nearest hospital?"

The cabby must have overheard her, for the taxi swerved coming out of Central Park and nearly sideswiped another automobile. While the drivers exchanged shouts and curses, Targon said loudly, "I got my information on J. Edgar Hoover from the expose I just read in Time magazine. It was a complete history of the agency. It's my own conclusion that if Hoover hadn't died when he did, he would have launched a joint FBI-CIA coup, and taken over the White House."

"That's the most preposterous thing I've ever heard!" Maryellyn cried. "Now I know you have to be an hallucination!"

"It's not preposterous," Targon shot back. "Dammit, I know my profession, I've been practicing it with top honors for years. While I'm on this planet I intend to warn your president of his danger - the whole country's danger. Hoover was only a milestone - a charismatic leader. The same crowd will try to do it again."

Maryellyn had been keeping track of the cabby, who'd been rather frantically watching her in the rearview mirror. The cabby was hearing two distinct voices but seeing only one passenger.

She tried to warn Targon but it was too late: as the cabby turned the corner into Lexington Avenue he was too distracted to see a NYPD police car double-parked. The cab hit the rear end of the police cruiser with a loud crash.

For a moment there was an eerie silence. People passing by on the sidewalk stopped, and stared as if they could not believe what they saw. At impact, Maryellyn had slid to the floor of the cab, landing in her knees. The taxi driver, too, seemed stunned. He sat for a long moment with his eyes fixed on the rear view mirror as if still searching for the phantom voice. Then he threw open the door of the taxicab and jumped out to meet the police officer who came running up, service revolver drawn, and his partner, who sprang out of the driver's seat of the cruiser.

"This should be interesting," Targon said. "Now we get a chance to see your federales in action."

Maryellyn hauled herself up onto the back seat. "They're not federales," she said finally, "that's the wrong word, wrong country. They're the NYPD. And yes, we're going to see them in action. Our cabby is going to get lots of tickets for having smashed into the back of a police car, which is a really stupid thing to do. And I hope you have lots of fun, because I think right now he's trying to tell those two officers the weird reason it happened."

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