Copyright © 2011, Stephen
Published by Whiskey Creek
Reviews For HELP WANTED HUMAN:
NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY by Stephen Wytrysowski
“Stephen Wytrysowski has a relaxing, easy style
and mixes humor very well. He certainly has a mastery of his writing
tools. This is an entertaining book, if you like twisted symbolism,
and worth reading. Stephen should definitely consider writing another
book, but perhaps something more serious.” Readersfavorite.com
“ Cynthia Echterling’s first novel, Help
Wanted, Human: No Experience Necessary, a science-fiction exploration
of the complexities of inter- and even intrapersonal (nevermind interspecies)
communication, with overtones of Zen surreality, is served up as the
autobiography of one Stephen Wytrysowski. Alien speech-recognition
software preserves the dialect of Hammond, Indiana, as well as the
stylistic idiosyncracies of Mr. Wytrysowski. Help Wanted, Human is
an odd, brave book and, like so many odd, brave books, a hard one to
categorize. If you’ve read them, it might remind you of the surrealist
novels (if we’ve decided to call them that) of Richard Brautigan.
Or maybe Kurt Vonnegut. Someone else has already compared it to Huckleberry
Finn, and I second the notion.
It’s an odd, brave book, I said, but a breeze of a read. Wytrysowski’s
as disarming as he is discerning, and the trouble he has with big concepts
is as reassuring as the covers of those Total Moron’s Guides
to Just About Everything. Humor is a tricky thing to pull off in a
novel, but Echterling manages to coax from us, if not outright laughter,
an occasional smile of recognition that, yes, in fact, this is how
we humans would behave in front of intergalactic company.”
Nivens, The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog
Sample Chapter For HELP WANTED
HUMAN: NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY by Stephen Wytrysowski
Subj: Private Journal — Stephen Wytrysowski
Uh, how does this thing work? Wait a... Oh, I don’t believe
this! The computer is typin’ everything I say. Aw man! It even
mispronounces stuff! I’m sittin’ here watchin’...watching
the computer write down everything ev-er-y-thing I’m sayin’.
Sayin’g! Stop It! Computer, stop! Halt! Quit! I can’t do
this! They kin fire me if they want! This is just too weird!
Subj: Private Journal — Stephen Wytrysowski
I just looked at what I said, uh, wrote yesterday. I sure do come
across like some kinda dork! Course I was just messin’ around.
We’ve been ordered to keep journals in case people might wanna
know what it was like makin’ contact an all. And we’re
supposed to be ourselves when we write. They got scientists and jounalist
to write official papers. They want us to be like the human interest
side. Course when they see this, it might make ’em change their
minds. I can’t believe anybody’d wanna read something I
recorded on a computer. I guess I should take it serious because it
is historical. I have a hard time believin’ I’m involved
in anything well, that’s a major turnin’ point in human
history. I can’t hardly wrap my brain around that, but I’m
I guess I should start with introducin’ myself and tell about
my experience with first contact. My name is Stephen Anthony Wytrysowski.
I guess this is kinda like when I was a freshman in high school and
I hadta write an autobiography for English class. Like a freshman in
high school has something autobiographic to write about. Which reminds
me, that’s wit tris ow ski, not Steve the why try Pollack like
my high school algebra teacher called me. So I didn’t like algebra,
I’m twenty-one and I guess I’m pretty average. Brown hair,
brown eyes. I’ve put on weight cuz we don’t get much exercise,
but I’ve never been the kinda guy that sits at a desk all day
and a bar all night gettin’ a gut and a butt. I’m from
Hammond, Indiana. That’s kinda between Chicago and Gary. Mostly
what people used to do there is make steel. Mostly what they do now
is collect unemployment. It’s what my Dad does.
Before I came to the base, I was livin’ with my parents and my
two sisters and my brother. My seventeen-year-old sister is Cathy.
She’s pretty dumb. My thirteen-year-old sister is Mary Ellen.
She tries to get people to call her Eliana, but no body does. Mike
is my eleven-year-old brother. Mostly I call him shithead, cuz he’s
always gettin’ in my stuff. I had to share a room with the little
Oh and we’ve got a little mutt named Peanut and mostly what he
does is piss on my mom’s attempt to grow a rose bush and pisses
her off. He likes to hump people’s legs too and bark a lot. Other
than that, he’s okay. I kinda miss havin’ a dog around.
Our house is one of those frame ranch jobs with a one-car garage and
a gravel driveway that’s mostly mud and the garage door’s
busted cuz my stupid sister, Cathy, tried to back out of the driveway
in first. I’ve lived in this house all my life and the farthest
I’ve been from home before was Indianapolis on a school trip
and Chicago to the museums. A coupla times I went to Michigan to go
campin’. But that’s about it.
My best friend is a guy named Jeff. We’ve been friends since
grade school. Jeff is an assistant peddler. He helps this guy who sells
stuff outa the back of his van. Stuff like velvet paintings of Elvis
and cheap ceramic animals. He’s tryin’ to get something
goin’ on Ebay. He considers that like gettin’ a promotion.
When we’d go out, Jeff’d tell chicks he’s an art
After high school, I wanted to go to college, but Dad didn’t
want to pay for it. He has a hard time understandin’ you gotta
have a degree to sell shoes practically, let alone make the kind of
money he used to make at the mill. Well, I started goin’ to Purdue
here in Hammond part time. I even completed my first semester with
B’s no less. Then Dad got laid off and I had to drop out. See,
Dad was a crane operator and there ain’t too many places you
can do that except a steel mill. So Dad got me a job with this Greek
guy he knows, George, so I could help support the family while him
and his union buddies could sit around tryin’ to figure out how
to get the mill to take ’em back.
I was workin’ as a cashier at a truck stop named Captain Hook’s
Travel Island. Stupid name. After a while I got promoted to assistant
night manager and I was makin’ eight-fifty an hour. With me workin’ fifty
to sixty hours a week and Dad’s unemployment, we were gettin’ by.
Really bizarre things started happenin’ about that time. I noticed
it before most people cuz we have those tabloid papers right by the
register and I’d read ’em just for laughs. I had to be
careful not to laugh too loud cuz George believes that stuff. He also
believes that professional wrestling is a sport and Elvis is still
alive. I don’t see what people see in Elvis. If you ask me, his
music sucks dinosaur eggs.
Anyway, I started noticin’ that every week the main story was
about alien spaceships bein’ sighted. I know they’re always
reportin’ that stuff, but the weird part was that was all they
were reportin’. No bigfoots or bigfeet whichever. No ninety-year-old
grannies givin’ birth to super genius babies who pick lottery
numbers. Just aliens. Then I started hearin’ stories from the
drivers, but it was always, somebody on the CB said they saw a UFO.
Never a first hand account. So I thought it was like those rumors about
dead mice in pop bottles. Or those drivers were readin’ too many
of those tabloids we sell.
Then they just showed up everywhere and everybody knew about ’em,
unless you were like a guy from Borneo with a bone in your nose. There
was no chance for a cover-up. They were about as obvious as a three
hundred pound broad in pink stretch pants. And even when you couldn’t
see ’em, you could feel ’em, like a deep vibration in the
pit of your stomach. People in my neighborhood are used to sleepin’ through
jets and trains, but this was like havin’ a jet fighter buzz
The first time I saw one close, I was on my way to work, drivin’ down
the Boreman Expressway and one a those suckers just dropped down over
the traffic. It must’ve been five hundred feet across and so
bright the street lights went off. Well, some jerk up ahead slammed
on his brakes and we ended up in a forty-car fender bender in each
lane. Then the space ship shot straight up and disappeared. Scared
the shit outa me! Well, not actually.
The worst part was nobody’s insurance would pay off. They said
it was either an act of war or an act of God and they didn’t
have to pay on neither. So then, I was drivin’ around in a car
that looked like it had a harelip in front and I had to wire the trunk
shut. I had a ’95 Chevy. The quarter panels were pretty much
rusted out, but it was a pretty good car. I gave it to my sister Cathy
when I left and, last time I talked to her, she hadn’t put it
through the garage door yet.
Anyway, they had all these experts on TV reassurin’ us: the president,
astronomers, physicists, even science fiction writers. Like if you
make up aliens, you know a lot about real ones. Yeah, right! And they
all said the same thing. They weren’t radioactive and nobody’s
been killed by one yet. And, the ever popular, any civilization capable
of such advanced technology would be socially advanced as well and
therefore beyond any desire for hostile invasion. I think what that
meant was that if the aliens were gonna blow our shit away they’d
a done it by now.
Well they did sort of. From what got leaked out, the government tried
to communicate, but when the aliens didn’t answer right, the
military decided they were bein’ snubbed and tried to shoot ’em
down. A whole lot of jet fighters ended up disappearin’. I mean
poof! Gone! Then the crews would show up unharmed some place like hangin’ from
the flagpole at the White House, or the President’s bathroom,
or the head of the joint chief of staff’s bedroom. They landed
a chartered jet full of Japanese tourists at Area 51. Or so the rumors
went. They didn’t put stuff like that on the regular news. One
of the drivers told me they had a pilot show up on the baboon island
at Brookfield Zoo, but I don’t know for sure. That’s not
too far from us, so it was kinda creepy and it probably really upset
the baboons. All that shut everybody up. No more government reports
or TV news bulletins. It was like they never existed. Oh, once in awhile
somebody’d get to where they couldn’t take it any more
and try to shoot a UFO down with a twenty-two, but nobody even thought
that was funny anymore.
Maybe people thought that if we just ignored them, they’d go
away, but they just kept flyin’ over. They had a regular routine.
In our area, there was a medium sized one with blue lights that went
over at ten-forty-two p.m. and a little gray one that went by at one-eighteen
in the afternoon. You’d get that feelin’ in your guts,
the sky would light up and all the pictures on the walls would go crooked.
Nobody’d say anything, but people would be settin’ their
watches by ’em. You just put up with ’em like bad neighbors
and zits, cuz there wasn’t a damn thing you could do about it.
But down deep we were all feelin’ pretty helpless and scared.
At our house, at about ten forty-five and one fifteen we’d all
be lined up at the bathroom door. We only have one bathroom. It wasn’t
always that you had to go. Sometimes you just decided you absolutely
had to wash your hands or comb your hair. Course with the way UFOs
vibrate your guts, if you had a full bladder at saucer time, you’d
better go! At work it was the same thing. I’d decide I had to
check to see if we needed paper in the johns and you’d think
all the customers had the runs. Course if they ate in our restaurant,
they probably did. But there were no windows in the bathrooms. So like
I guess we were pretendin’ if we didn’t look at ’em,
everything would be all right. We were tryin’ to pretend things
were normal and we were playin’ right into their hands—if
they had hands. They do, but I didn’t know it at the time.
After I realized this, I had trouble sleepin’. Actually, I always
had trouble sleepin’ cuz I mostly worked nights and my stupid
brother had no consideration. But I’d lay awake thinkin’ about
aliens and I decided we were bein’ tamed. That’d give me
the shivers and then I really couldn’t sleep. I guess we were
all just a little paranoid back then.
I have to stop now. I have to fall asleep before Smash comes around
to check our breathin’ rhythms or read our auras, or whatever
it does. ’Night.