It began to occur to Wang, that the life of an Extra Terrestrial sent to investigate human behaviour could be a difficult one. Especially so if the mission was based in a regional town in Australia
He took a long drink of his dark beverage and exhaled with satisfaction. The ice clinked against the now half-emptied glass as it settled on the counter. The smell of cigarette smoke wafted over the bar into Wang’s face. The curious behaviour of inhaling and ingesting poisons was a, what was the expression he’d just heard? ‘A hard nut to crack’.
‘Nothing better than a Bundy on a hot day,’ the old man broke into a smile, ‘or any other day for that matter.’ Indeed, with reasonable air conditioning, it mattered little what the weather was. ‘Don’t worry so much,’ he said, ‘it might never happen.’
‘Hmm?’ Wang realised the statement was focused on him.
‘You look concerned; what are you thinking about?’
‘Oh, I was just wondering why people drink and smoke.’ A short intake of breath from the pub’s owner further down the bar filled the silence for a brief moment.
The old man eventually cracked another smile and followed it up with a laugh.
‘Lucky for you, they do, or you’d be out of a job,’ he raised his glass and sipped. ‘You not a drinker?’
‘No, I tried it and smoking. Didn’t like it.’
‘Well, good for you. If you don’t want it, don’t touch it. Nasty stuff.’
‘Then why do you drink and smoke?’
‘Been doing it forty years, why stop now? Besides, if I do things that make me happy, I’m a better person to be around. You wouldn’t want me without a drink or smoke in me hand,’ he laughed again and took another sip.
‘Being happy makes other people happy,’ Wang processed that for a moment. ‘I’d not thought of that.’
‘Well, that’s why you come to work, learn something from the infinite wisdom of your elders.’
‘You would sacrifice your health to be happy and to make those around you happy.’
‘Pretty much,’ he sipped again. ‘Oh, that reminds me, I need a glass of water. Thanks mate.’
Wang poured him a glass while the old man retrieved a hidden packet. Inside was an array of medications in tablet form. He threw them in his mouth and gulped them down with the water. ‘Doc says I need to take them with water,’ he explained, washing it all down with the last of his rum. ‘Another one, thanks champ. Need to spread the joy.’