"HAVING MEATLOAF FOR DINNER"
by Bill Brennan



My name is Adler, Lou Adler, and Im the owner and main bartender here at the Draco Tavern. Why is that special? because the Draco Tavern is the only bar on the planet that caters to aliens. It was strange the way it happened. I bought the place years ago when it was first built here at the Newark airport. Then the Sloots landed, the first aliens to ever make contact with man, and with them came commerce, trade...and an open door to all the other alien races in the galaxy. the Newark Airport soon became the Newark Spaceport (due to its location close to the United Nations) and all of a sudden one day I have these aliens comeing in, escorted by all kinds of secret service agents. They Sloots are nice folk-yeah, the look a little strange with the green carapace and waving antenna and all, but they like human alcohol drinks, and they tip very well. "Thang gew for the drinkssssss," said one on the way out. " We will telll our friendsssss..." And the Draco became the place where all the Sloots hung out while waiting for a ship to land or take off. And they did spread the word, and soon enough the Draco became "THE" place for all ET's to get a drink, or whatever they liked: it was alcohol for the Sloots and the Levesques. (ha, the Levesques would drink anything with alcol!), fresh raw meat for the Kzin and the Folk, sparkers for the Chirps, and almost anything that came be eaten, smoked, or drank for the Transylvanians, etc, etc.

That was a few years ago, and business has been booming. We serve good drinks and food, have a friendly atmosphere, and so far have never even had a bar fight...

Until now.

I saw him down at the end of the bar- a big, brawny guy with a healed scar on his forhead. He had come in a few hours ago and was drinking steadily, beer after beer. he was okay, quiet...until a group of Transylvanians came in. he gave them dirty looks as the group sat there at a table across the room. Now he was balling his fists, his face was red, and I saw murder in his eyes.

I filled a tall glass and walked over to him. I didnt want any trouble. "We dont get many fights in here, friend," I said with a soft smile from under my white beard. "Why not have a free drink insted?" The big man looked at me, looked back at the table of Trannies, and back at me again. The look on his face changed from anger to...something else. Remorse, maybe? "Thanks," he said, and picked the beer up. "What's your beef with the Trannies?" I asked. Better to get him talking than fighting. "You wouldnt understand," he said. "Try me." Thats when I saw his hand: one set of knuckles had the word "LOVE" tatoo''d on them. I looked over-the other set of knuckles said "HATE." "Dont I know you?" I asked him, and of course I did. The big guy sitting there was none other than Eddie Von Scott, the famous astronaught. Who else would be in an ET bar with the head scar and those knuckles? "The Trannies, they...they..." he stopped, and started to look mad-very mad-again. I looke dover at the group, and they didnt seem out of the ordinary at all: sunglasses to protect their eyes from out too-yellow sun, the formal tuxedos (the " formal uniform amongst strangers and equals" is what they were called in the Transylvanian tongue), the white spats, coloreed cummerbunds denoting rank and status, white faces and party hats...pretty much like any other Tranny you will ever see. One of the waitresses, Lauri, was serving them a huge cut of meat and lots and lots of wine. the table was decorated for the Trannies in particular: mismatched forks and knives, all kinds of different cups and plates, it was very fitting from the culture, anything to make my guests at home.
"Hey," I said, "you discovered the Trannies, didnt you?"
"Yeah. You know the story," he said, and drank deep.
"Indulge me," I asked.
He looked up.
"Okay...it was me and Majors and Weiss. We were on the Hetzer expidition, you know, looking for gravititational anomolies, when we picked up the signal. we went into warp and followed it to the planet Transexual, in the unknown galaxy of Transylvania..."
"Yeah, I remember seeing it on TV. They gave you guys quite a welcome, huh?"
"You know it," he replied. "Booze, food, women, men, anything we wanted for as long as we wanted. Had a great time. Wish I never went." He was started to break up his sentences, and I saw how drunk-truly drunk-he was.
"So whats the problem? Trade with the Trannies has been great,l they are peaceful...so why the hostility?"

"We let them examine us, you know, what we eat, sample of our blood, all that shit. We signed a waiver, they could do what they wanted with the sample they took. turns out we have some immunitys they dont, and they asked if we would mind if they made clones of our bodies. they said they wouldnt clone our brains, so the clones wouldnt really be people, but they couild use what the clones for biochemical research, very big deal."
"And?" I prompted.
"And what? We said yes. That it." And now he looked angry again.
"These got to be more, or you wouldnt look so angry."
The table of Trannies all cheered, drank, and we watched.
Eddie looked like he was about to turn red as they dug into the hunk of meat.
"Thats not all they used the clones for...turns out we make good eating, us humans. We...we taste good."
"I dont follow you," I said, and I didnt.

"The clones...they like us. They like ME in particular. They grew the clones and used them for biochemical research...turens out that Transexual has a huge population, many planets, and feeding all the Transylvanians well enough is one of the problems. Well, us Earth people solveds that for them. I helped...they made clones of me, millions and million, no brain, perfect meat animal..."

I gasped, and swallowed, and looked at the Trannies at the table as they dug into the meat some more, throwing slices around at each other. "You dont mean..."

"I do. Ten billion Transylvanians had me for dinner tonight, and every night...they call me Meatloaf on the menu's..." "HOOPLA!" called a Transylvanian as he raised his glass. he saw me staring, raised his glass towards us, and smiled. He drank ,and then started eating what was on his plate. Eddie got up, spilled the drink and staggered out of the bar and into the night, leaving me standing there with my mouth hanging open. Lauri came over. "You okay, lou?" she asked. "Check the menu," I told her, "under 'Transylvanian Cuisine'. Do they like meatloaf?" I asked. She checked her palm top keyboard menu. "Yup...hey, thats strange. meatloaf is beef, but it says here 'homo habilus' under food compatability. Homo Habilus is us, humans. There must be a mistake. Want me to fix it?" "No, never mind, " I said as I swallow, trying not to be sick. "Im taking it off the menu."