One Night at Eddie's


George T. Philibin

"Another game?" John Temmels asked, tucking the twenty dollar bill he had just won into his wallet.

"Yeah," his opponent -- Eric something-or-other -- replied. "You got lucky on that last shot." The light bouncing off the green felt of the pool table made his sour expression look even worse than it was.

"Okay, you break," John said, grinning. He'd been 'lucky' enough to practically run the table twice in a row. Some people just didn't know when to quit.

As John corralled and racked the balls for a game of nine-ball, Eric took a quick puff on his cigarette. He set the cigarette down before picking up his stick to break.

"Twenty bucks again?" John asked.

"Let's make it double or nothing," Eric said.

"It's your money," John replied. Eighty bucks for maybe ten or fifteen minutes' work sounded just fine ...

Eric concentrated on his break for a moment, then fired his cue-stick into the cue-ball and sent all nine balls bouncing around the table. The three-ball dropped into a side pocket.

"Nice break," John said, frowning. Eric had been hesitant, even clumsy at times, in the preceding games. He sure didn't seem clumsy now.

Eric took aim and made the one ball, then the two, then the four, then the five, and then the six.

After firing the seven into a corner pocket and slowly hitting the eight and sending it into a side pocket, the cue-ball came to rest near the rail not far from a corner pocket with the nine-ball only six inches in front of it and inline with that pocket. An easy shot!

Eric aimed and sent the nine-ball into the corner pocket, and before the cue-ball stopped rolling Eric grabbed the money from John.

"Another one?" Eric asked.

"You were lucky this time! Fifty bucks says you can't do it again," John said.

"Like you said before, it's your money!" Eric replied jokingly.

Eric won the coin toss for the break.

After Eric examined the rack to made sure all the balls were tight together, he fired the cue-ball into the rack, and all nine balls bounced off the rails and rolled to a stop except the six-ball. The six-ball entered a side pocket and went kerplunk.

Eric, after whipping his pool-stick in the air at an imaginary foe, took aim and ran every ball off the table.

"Well, another game?" Eric asked in a soft and very friendly voice.

John threw down a fifty and stormed out. Eric had hustled him, throwing a couple of games at ten and twenty bucks to lure him into raising the stakes, then revealing his true skills and taking back several times the amount he'd lost.

Way too good for me, John thought, in pool and especially in hustling.

John lit a cigarette and felt the cool night air close around him as a coyote howled in the distance. He thought about the forty-mile drive back into town and hoped that he had enough gas.

John's wallet produced ten dollars. Ten dollars left out of a hundred and fifty! What a night, he thought as he looked up at the neon sign which flashed "Eddie's Bar and Grille - Nevada's Best Pool Room."

He shook his head. Win some, lose some, he thought. And I lost this one all right. But he'd made a hundred thousand last year playing the stock market; the cash Eric had taken was really just pocket change.

Brilliant white light suddenly washed over him, stretching his shadow across the gravel parking lot like the silhouette of a stick insect. John ignored the light, still pondering the way he'd allowed Eric to hustle him. If the trucker wanted him to move, he could hit his air horn and blast him out of the way.

After a few more seconds, John noticed that the lights had dimmed down to a soft glow, and realized that he had not heard any noise. If the lights had been coming from a tractor-trailer as he had assumed, there should have been engine noise, the rumble and pop of tires rolling over gravel, the sigh of airbrakes ...

John took another puff, then turned around.

Whatever it was it was no tractor-trailer, for it rested on steel legs and it was open at the bottom of its underbody with a ramp leading down to the ground.

The lights around the object looked like clearance lights that tractor-trailers have, but upon closer examination John further confirmed that this was no tractor-trailer.

As John walked around the large object and looked at its contour and oval shape and studied the lights that appeared to be integrated with the metal body, he jumped back and dropped his cigarette. There were no wheels to this thing! How did it get into the parking lot without wheels?

John looked it over again and took a peek up at its underbody, and, as he thought he saw some movement, the word "UFO!" exploded in his head like a fifty-foot neon sign.

John, dazed and light-headed at the thought of a UFO, saw two beings walk down the ramp and approached him, one tall and thin, the other shorter and rounder. The taller one was putting together a custom pool cue -- and he seemed to be smiling.

The two looked human, more or less, with the appropriate number of eyes, ears, arms and fingers, but the way these parts were arranged was just slightly -- wrong. They wore what appeared to be faded jeans, T-shirts, and red Converse high-tops. The T-shirts had designs -- or maybe writing --triangles and half-moons followed with various diamond-shaped geometric figures that might as well have been ancient Chinese to John. But one figure, a sphere, had the number nine on it.

The alien holding the cue-stick stopped a couple of feet in front of John and proceeded to look him over like a man inspecting a horse. Then, in a Brooklyn-accented voice that reminded John of that disco movie, the alien said, "You shoot pool?"

John almost swallowed his tongue after he heard that question, but he managed to pull himself together somewhat. Yet, he could not respond. Words would not form because his mind could not process the question. UFOs and pool just didn't go together -- did they?

"Well, do you shoot pool?" the alien asked again.

John managed to close his mouth, then coughed explosively -- a moth had flown in, attracted by the mingled scents of beer and tobacco -- but still said nothing.

The alien sighed and rolled his eyes. He looked at his shorter, rounder companion with an expression that clearly meant "I traveled halfway across the galaxy for this?" Finally, he said, "Okay, buddy, let me ask you one last time, slowly. Do. You. Shoot. Pool?"

After another brief interlude in which John's senses started to return, his mind finally processed the question and John responded with "Y-yes,-- I -- I -- I do."

"Good, that's all we wanted to know. I've been stuck at the base and have been practicing on one of this planet's pool tables for a month now. You know, it is not unlike our game of Temleise -- only we use ten pockets and thirty-balls and the tables are a little bigger.

"How about a game of nine-ball? You can break, as they say," the alien holding the pool-stick asked.

John could only reply with, "T-There's a-a guy in there t-that is really g-good."

The two aliens shot a glance at each other; then the smaller alien took out a wad of money and showed it to John.

Christ! Am I dreaming? Am I drunk? Nuts? Overstressed from work? John thought to himself as he glared at the two aliens. His mind continued to work, but the only thought that surfaced was This is impossible!

The smaller alien said to John, in a voice that sounded like Fat Albert, "We have been on Earth for years. Many years. Er, not me personally -- I've been stationed here for about two of your earth years and have another two to do -- but extraterrestrials in general.

"Don't flip out now, your government knows all about us -- we came here years ago at their invitation," the smaller alien said. "One of our ships crashed and your government took very good care of our crew until we could retrieve them. We were impressed with your society because it has developed along near parallel lines with ours.

The taller alien then said, "So you see there's nothing to worry about. We're not going to zap you up in a beam of light and experiment on you. That's only in your movies and your television. But to tell you the truth, we all like Star Wars and Star Trek! --- You might not believe this, but me and Singhour here have seen some creatures out there that look like some of the things in those movies!"

Singhour chortled and said, "We learned your language and your customs long ago -- easy enough -- but we're not supposed to mingle with the civilians. We do anyway, of course, and get away with it. You see, with all the fuss about 'aliens' and 'flying saucers' and 'ET's' and 'close encounters of the third kind' on your communication networks -- well, let me put it this way. Your society is UFO nuts and if you tell someone about Honetlet and me, they'll think that you're a real freako, a nutbar, a -- a -- what's that expression connected with your moon? Oh, yes -- a loonie!"

Honetlet said, "You look relatively bright for a human, so I don't think you're going to jump up and scream aliens have landed! No, you're far too intelligent-looking for that nonsense."

The two aliens snickered to themselves, then Singhour asked, "You aren't going to try to turn us in, are you?"

John could not make his mouth move. And before his mind managed to generate a meaningful thought, Singhour said, "Still a little flummoxed, huh? And I'll bet you have a lot of questions, too. Well, ask away! We'll tell you almost anything you want to know."

The only question that bubbled up in John's mind was, "Why have you stayed here?"

Singhour chuckled then said, "Oops! That's one we can't answer. It's -- as your government says -- Top Secret!"

The two aliens snickered again, but Singhour whispered, "You didn't hear this from me, but the truth is, we stayed to protect your planet from what's up there." The alien pointed to the stars. "Oh, by the way, if you do tell somebody that you've seen a flying saucer and spoken to two aliens, please tell them how nice we are! Really, we are!"

As the two aliens snickered again, John noticed that their skin had a light-green hue to it, in addition to the other subtle differences he had spotted earlier. But for the most part, they could pass for humans. In fact, they looked more human than many of those characters that walk around a city at night and more human then some of the people he knew at the health-spa and local gym!

John looked up at the stars, then looked at the two smiling aliens. The alien holding the pool-stick -- Honetlet? -- was wearing more of a smirk than a genuine smile. And John had seen a smirk just like it all too recently. Holy crap, he thought, Honetlet is a pool shark!

The slight breeze felt good as it dried the sweat that had saturated John's shirt. He walked around within a radius of five feet, his nerves settling down enough for doubts about the aliens to emerge in his mind. He smiled back at the aliens and said, "How do I know you guys aren't bull-shitting me?"

"You don't," Singhour said. "But it doesn't matter. We don't care one way or the other. It's your call if you want to spread the word that two aliens landed, and if you don't believe us -- that's okay too. Either way, we win!"

"Okay, let's cut the crap!" Honetlet said. "We want to shoot pool, and you said that a real live pool shark is in that dwelling. Well, if he is then we want some action. And why don't you join us? We could use a -- local friend! And you might learn something!"

The question stunned John and he almost tripped as he stepped backwards, but he caught himself. He looked around the parking lot and it was empty except for the saucer and a truck and two cars. Without thinking it over and not in the mood to argue with the aliens anymore, he answered, "O -- okay."

"Good, let's shoot some pool," Honetlet said.

Singhour pushed something on a small device that looked like a garage door opener; then the saucer lifted itself up to about one-hundred feet and hovered in the air. Singhour pushed another button and the saucer vanished from sight.

As John watched the saucer vanish, Singhour gave John the old one-eye and said, "Don't even ask."

Eric was sitting at a table counting his money, and he seemed to be enjoying himself as he counted. As John and the two aliens entered, Eric looked up and smiled at first, but then his expression turned into amazement as his eyes focused on the two aliens with John.

"Well! Well! Well!" Singhour said. "If it isn't Squimalliat! Squimallist from Atonallant, or -- what are you known by now?" Singhour asked as he looked at John.

John answered "E-eric" and almost passed out as he answered the question in awe.

"Well -- Eric -- how've you been? Nice name, by the way..."

Eric stood up straight, glared back and said in disbelief, "Singhour? Singhour the pilot? It is you! It's been, what -- fifteen years? More? And who's your pal there?"

"Captain Honetlet," Singhour replied, returning 'Eric's' hostile stare. "But you can call him Nine-ball."

"I know the other guy -- played him tonight," Eric said. "The kid's got some talent but he needs to be on the road awhile." He turned his attention to John. "John, I don't know how you got mixed up with old Singhour here, but let me tell you this -- you will not learn anything from him!"

John took everything in with his mouth wide open.

"Captain Honetlet shoots pool, Eric, and he can't be beaten!" Singhour said. "He sent Jocobia himself back home on a freighter after he cleaned him out on the fourth moon of Testallian."

Eric and the Captain walked around each other and shook hands. Then Eric said, "Have you been looking for me?"

Singhour answered with "No, he hasn't, but I have. I got the stake money!"

"You know each other!" John blasted out, and the bartender looked over for a moment, then shrugged and turned away. He knew that John, at least, wasn't the type to make any real trouble.

"Know each other? Why I've been looking for old Eric here for -- well, for a long time. And where do I find him? Right under my nose! Hah! He took me for one thousand ducates at Brhumels on Zhonatic, and I've wanted to see him beaten in pool for years," Singhour said.

The bartender didn't seem interested in the conversation at the pool-table, John noticed, now that the volume had subsided to something resembling normal. His attention was reserved for something he thought was more important: a televised basketball game, tied with six minutes left on the clock.

John walked over to the bar and ordered a beer. He thought about having a shot -- he needed one -- but he decided that a beer would be enough. Maybe two beers? Hell, maybe he should take a shot of whiskey and light up a joint! Whatever, this night would be one that he would remember whether he was drunk, high or both.

As John pondered, three girls came in, laughing. One hollered over to the pool table, "Hope you win!" as she passed by John. Both Honetlet and Eric looked up and grinned, each assuming that the girl had meant him.

One girl ordered a beer, took a long swig from the bottle, then turned around and looked at the aliens discussing a game of pool. The other two were laughing about some state cop that had tripped while handing out a ticket on the interstate. The bartender listened to the two girls with interest, but he kept one eye on the TV.

John drank half his beer in one gulp then returned to the pool table.

"Even up?" Eric was saying.

"I don't know -- you're the best, they said. Spot me the eight-ball?" the Captain said.

"Nah, from what Singhour said, you're too good for that," Eric said. "Even up or no game!"

The Captain rubbed his hand over the felt on the pool table, then rolled the six-ball up the table and watched it rebound off the far rail. Before the six ball stopped the Captain, his expression pensive, said, "Okay."

"Tell you what, my friend, John will rack for us," Singhour said. "If you don't like the way he does it, he'll re-rack them -- okay?"

"He's a good racker," Eric said, twirling his cue-stick around like a baton. "It's his shooting that needs work." He looked at John and winked.

"Well," Eric said to John, "you know my buddies here. I'm one of them but from a different place at home. They come from the south but I come from the north."

John brushed his hair back with his free hand, clutching his beer tightly in the other. He looked up at the slowly-rotating overhead fan, then at the air conditioner humming in the wall. He felt tired but alert, and he knew that he would be very alert the remainder of the night.

He could see now that Eric did resemble Singhour and the Captain, with the same slightly-off arrangement of features and limbs. Eric's skin had a lighter hue to it, too light to notice any green, but otherwise ... John had thought that Eric was just an odd-looking guy -- he'd seen weirder -- but seeing the three of them together, all with the same quirks, was unnerving.

John tossed back about half of his beer in one long gulp. What the hell am I doing? he thought. This isn't a dream! These guy are aliens and I'm trying to think of them as somebody from Europe or Asia! What the hell is wrong with me?

The blond girl at the bar realized that a money game was about to start, and she came over and said, " Mind if I join you guys? I really like pool."

The three aliens shrugged their shoulders, but John said, "If it's okay with them ... but remember this is a money game -- don't hang too close."

"I'll just sit right here at this table with you," the blonde asked in a low sexy voice. "You wont know that I'm here. Can I get you guys a drink? It's on me ..."

"You can buy me another after this," John said.

"What about you three?" she asked facing the aliens.

"We're good," the Captain answered.

A though danced in John's mind. Could these aliens drink? Maybe, but they didn't seem interested in any beverage.

"I'm Tina," the blonde said to John as she lit up a cigarette and blew a puff of smoke up towards the exhaust fan.

"I'm John. Please don't make any noise while they're shooting. It's kind of a grudge match, and they're really serious about it."

Tina winked.

John racked the balls and made extra sure that the rack was tight, with every ball in the rack touching another ball. After Eric and the Captain had inspected his work and nodded their approval, John flipped a coin for the break. Eric won.

Eric broke and ran every ball into a pocket in sequence. Eric broke again and scratched. The Captain received the cue-ball; then he ran the table.

The Captain broke again and ran out the balls.

After each time John racked, he sat down at the table with Tina. She had to be very into pool, for she knew the game well and realized how good the two playing were.

Tina's two friends, a redhead and a brunette, must have been keeping the bartender amused. The bartender's laugh echoed around the room, but Eric and Honetlet seemed able to ignore the noise.

Thank God the girls are keeping the bartender occupied, John thought. The aliens didn't look too strange -- at least not in this light -- but often one would mention a place that sounded peculiar and that could attract some unwanted attention. Yet, they seemed comfortable here in the bar. And Tina, John thought, could be handled, hopefully.

Tina wore shorts and a halter top that showed off a beautiful tan. As she sat cross-legged and sipped on her beer, her leg swung back and forth like a tapered honey-gold pendulum, drawing John's eyes away from the pool table.

John had to force himself to focus on Honetlet and Eric's game. He hoped that the aliens didn't find Tina as distracting as he did; he had seen guys lose at pool, blame their loss on someone or something that had thrown them off -- and then start breaking furniture and faces. Pissed-off aliens might use death rays instead of pool cues and switchblades to express their frustrations ...

He leaned over and whispered, "Would you stop with the leg?"

"Oh, sorry," Tina said softly. "It's a nervous habit." She placed both of her feet on the floor. Then she whispered, "Your buddies are good. But why do two of them look a little sick? They been smokin' something?"

John had been hoping that Singhour and Honetlet's greenish skin was not too obvious, but he had prepared an answer that he hoped would satisfy Tina. "They're from a small island in the Mediterranean. They eat a lot of kelp -- seaweed -- and green vegetables like spinach and green beans. The color must get into their skin."

"Oh, that makes sense," Tina said, nodding. "My uncle loves garlic. And boy does he smell like garlic! He's been eating it for years." She lit up another cigarette and offered one to John.

John took a long drag on his cigarette, thanking God that it wasn't a menthol, and said, "Thank you. You girls from around here?"

"No, we're from Jersey -- out here looking for a job in Vegas."

"Well there's plenty of work in Vegas for good looking girls like you three."

"Yeah, we all worked for a place in New York City but it closed. That redhead is my cousin and the other one a friend since grade school.

"You shoot pool much? I was on a pool-league at 'Jimmy's', the place we worked at and I fell in love with the game. Boy, those guys are really good! That one ran the table four times now. That's fantastic!" Tina said. She scratched her leg, again drawing John's attention to its sleek golden contours.

John shook his head, closed his eyes for a second, and returned his attention to the match just in time to see the Captain pitch some money on the table.

Eric pocketed the money then twirled his pool cue and yelled, "I win!"

As far as John could tell, they were actually about even in terms of games won or lost. The Captain might have been a little ahead, in which case Eric's celebration seemed a little premature.

The Captain won the next two games and Eric looked a little sad, but John did notice that Eric missed some shots that he had easily made earlier! Maybe he was holding back, John concluded, but John couldn't understand why.

Eric won the next game then Singhour said to Eric, "Boy, if it wasn't for luck, you'd be flat broke by now!"

"Luck has nothing to do with it; I'm bored with this small stuff," Eric said as he looked at the tip of his cue-stick.

"Bored? The Captain is better! You can't stand losing, can you?" Singhour blasted out.

John didn't know what to think. Both of the aliens were much better than him, and maybe the Captain was better than Eric. The Captain was ahead some after two hours of play, and Eric looked tired and a little stressed out, John though, but then again they were aliens.

One of the girls at the bar must have put some money in the Jukebox, for the song "Ghost Riders in the Sky" came on, and John thought the song was pretty appropriate -- the aliens had ridden across the sky, all right, and their greenish skin made them look ghoulish, if not ghostly.

"Honetlet, how about two hundred thousand ducates?" Eric asked.

"I don't have that much, but I have something else," the Captain said.

"What are they talking about -- duck-cats? What the hell are they?" Tina asked.

"Oh -- that's the currency where they come from. One ducate's worth about two cents American, I think," John answered. He cursed silently as he realized that two hundred thousand ducates would still be $4000, a pretty big bet for a game in a truck stop.

"What's 'something else'?" Eric said.

The Captain held his hand out to Singhour and said, "Ok, cough it up! That's an order!"

Singhour placed the device that he had used to hide the saucer in the Captain's hand, and John gasped.

They're going to bet their saucer!

"I can take him," the Captain whispered to Singhour. "Squimalliat isn't used to playing someone like me, and he's sure to choke with stakes this high."

Singhour seemed to agree with the Captain as he handed over the device to the Captain.

Eric pulled something out of his pocket and said, "This should cover the bet."

John didn't know what Eric had, but Singhour smiled and said, "It certainly will."

"Oh -- cool! They're betting a car or motorcycle!" Tina squealed. "I seen a guy lose a Harley once in a bar down in South Jersey. But the next day the other guy gave it back to him. They were friends or something like that," she said. "And the bet was made when they were drunk -- that doesn't count, does it?"

John stared at Tina with wide eyes. Even a Rembrandt wouldn't have been able to capture John's expression.

Tina stared back for a moment then said, "That's a true story! Just ask my cousin over there!"

"Rack 'em up, John," Eric said. "And do it right. We're playing for all the marbles now."

John racked one of the tightest racks ever and both Eric and the Captain studied the rack.

"Race to seven?" the Captain said.

"Sound good to me," Eric answered.

The Captain won the flip. He took his time, aimed, and fired the cue-ball into the one-ball. All nine balls bounced around the table, but no ball fell into a pocket.

"I didn't leave you much," the Captain said, for the cue-ball rolled behind the five-ball and left a near impossible shot on the one-ball.

"You left enough," Eric said.

Eric raised his cue-stick to a masse position, judged his aim and rammed the cue-stick down on the cue-ball. The cue-ball rolled out, curved around, then shot down the table and knocked the one ball into a corner pocket.

Eric looked around with a high eyebrow at the Captain, and Tina stood up and clapped her hands and said, "That was fantastic! Just fantastic! I've never even seen something like that except on television!"

Eric bowed to Tina, then walked around the table and sized it up.

John wanted to kill Tina.

Eric won five games before missing. The Captain won three before scratching on the eight-ball.

Eric won two more games, and before he shot the nine-ball in on the last rack, he aimed, but then looked over at the Captain and without looking back at the table he fired the nine-ball into the side pocket, smiling!

The Captain threw the device over to Eric, who caught it one-handed even though he was dancing something resembling a cross between a jig and the watusi.

Eric came over to John, shook his hand and gave him a twenty. "That's for racking!" Then he gave Tina a twenty and said, "Have a drink on me."

"Thank you! You're such a gentlemen. And you are the best nine-ball player I've ever seen!"

Eric turned around to Singhour and the Captain who were deathly quiet, and asked them if they wanted another game.

Singhour answered "No."

Eric then said, "I hang around here on Fridays. Come again. Bring some friends. And it doesn't matter where they come from!"

As Eric walked out the door, Tina stood up and clapped and said again and again "You're the best!"

The Captain and Singhour didn't look too well. In fact, the longer they stood there, the greener they looked.

"Boy, you guys really lost big time, didn't you?" Tina asked. "Did you guys have a custom-chopper or corvette?"

"They had a -- um -- a monster truck," John interjected. "Big one. Like a customized Hummer. The kind that could go way off road."

The two aliens looked up at John in disgust.

Tina pouted in sympathy. "Too bad, better luck next time."

As she walked back to the bar holding the twenty, she sang along with another song on the jukebox: "The Devil went down to Georgia" by Charlie Daniels.

Another fitting song, John thought, if you cast Eric as the Devil.

John had a worried look on his face, but soon it returned to normal after neither Singhour nor the Captain pulled a death ray from his pocket.

"Do you guys need any help?" John asked. "I have a cellphone ..."

Singhour sighed. "Could you give us a ride in your vehicle? It's about fifty miles up the main route to our base."

"No problem," John answered.

"Look me up in Vegas!" Tina yelled as they left.

As John drove the two aliens, they talked between themselves without any fear of John hearing.

"What will Terimateuls say?" Singhour asked.

"He'll get over it!" the Captain answered. "They have others."

"And what about General Matterson of the United States Air Force? You know he always said that you were too much of a wise-guy for this assignment. But your father pulled some strings to get you posted here. General Matterson's opinion is highly regarded by our superiors, you know that.

"When you flew next to that passenger plane and made faces at the passengers that time, he wanted you out of here then. And after you scared everybody by flying under that Golden Griddle bridge in San Francisco -- I believe that's what it's called -- he demanded that you be transferred. But your father intervened again.

"Now, you lost one of his prize possession in a pool game? I don't want to be around after our superiors are informed by General Matterson! No - -I'm not going to be around for that one." Singhour's face had darkened to the color of a ripe green pepper, and veins were standing out -- on his nose and cheeks.

"Look, you're in it too," the Captain said.

"Yes, but I don't have connections in the Ruling Consortium like you do!"

"Don't worry, I'll protect you -- if I can," the Captain said.

After the Captain's last remark, Singhour blasted something at the Captain in an alien language, but John was pretty sure he caught the gist of it. There were probably references to excrement, abnormal sexual practices, and Honetlet's ancestry, these things being -- universal.

Then brilliant white light flooded the road behind them, then faded to be replaced by alternating flashes of orange and green. Eric was buzzing the road, showing off his new prize. The Captain and Singhour looked out at the lights, and they both started talking in the alien language again.

Once again John knew what was being said as their eyes tracked the lights overhead, lights that were taunting them and following them and flashing a message. John wondered what the alien equivalent of sucker was, but figured that he was seeing the alien Morse Code version.

Afterwards they drove silently until the Captain said, "Ok, you can leave us off here. We have to walk the rest of the way .... No! Wait! Oh No! No! No! No! Not them again! That is all I need now!

"Please drive past the entrance about a mile and drop us off," the Captain said.

"They never stop, do they. You'd think that they would have something else to do!" Singhour said with a hint of a growl in his voice, a distinct change from his usual rumbling purr.

John drove past some vans and cars parked along the road, and a group of people were looking up at the sky in excitement.

John, Singhour and the Captain looked up and there the saucer with Eric in it was hovering about a half a mile high. "Get a picture of it!" someone screamed as all eyes in the group were fixed on the saucer.

A women looked over at John's car and pointed with excitement at the saucer, and the Captain put his head down and said, "Why me? Why me?" over and over again.

Singhour just shook his head back and forth and looked like a statue, speechless and silent, as another voice screamed from outside, "It's a flying saucer!"

About a mile up the road John dropped them off, but Singhour wanted a way to get in touch, so John wrote down a number on a slip of paper. "This is my cell number."

"Your cell number? Are they going to put you in jail?"

John pulled his phone from its case on his belt. "Cellphone number, I mean. I carry this thing everywhere I go."

Singhour looked relieved. "Oh, I've seen these used at the base. People just call them phones, though."

Singhour and the Captain disappeared quickly before John could wave a goodbye, but John know that he would see them again. Yes, John knew it.

Things fell together for John after he realized what base he was near. John never cared about "UFOs" or aliens, and this was the first time he had driven up here.

John turned around and started back down the road with his window down and the cool night air felt refreshing. Not a cloud in the sky, and the stars for some reason sparkled brighter than John ever remembered.

He stopped at the group that was still looking up, but the saucer had vanished.

"What were you guys so excited about?" John yelled over to a guy that had a large video camera.

"There was a flying saucer, my good man," the guy said with a strong English accent.

"Where did it go?" John asked because he wanted to hear the English accent again.

"I don't know. One second it was here, then poof! -- it was gone!" the guy answered.

John had to laugh at a group of people were standing beside the road chanting, "We are friendly," over and over again as they looked skyward.

John asked the guy with the English accent another question, "Hey, do you think the guy flying that saucer is named Eric?"

"My good fellow, if you can't act civil then please let our group continue without your smart remarks!"

The Englishman turned his head from John.

As John started driving away, he hollered out the window "I was just asking!" to the Englishman who ignored him

Memories of Tina's delectable legs made John decide to head back to 'Eddie's'. With luck, she might still be there; otherwise, he might just have to plan a trip to Las Vegas. Too bad I didn't get her phone number, John thought as he approached the intersection.

A large sign reflected John's headlights, and John knew what the sign said without reading it. But John looked over at it, read the private property notice, and the penalty for entering a government facility without authorization, and his eyes finally found the name of this base, a name that he had figured out, but read anyhow: Area 51.


2005 by George T. Philibin

Bio: "My name is George T. Philibin, and I'm employed with a local public utility. I served in Vietnam, attended the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown campus, worked in coal mines, steelmills and a dairy.

I started learning proper grammar about ten years ago in order to effectively write grievances for our union members. And I started writing articles in a newsletter, and started sending letters to senators concerning working people, political issues, and my opinions on important national matters.

I'm no longer involved with the union, but to my surprise, I fell in love with writing. It's fun! Composing words that strike a chord in someone is really fascinating, and the more I write, the more I'm learning how to strike better chords!

Writing isn't easy and I'm having problems with grammar, style and the written language in general, but I keep struggling."

E-mail: George T. Philibin

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Lettercol
Or Return to Aphelion's Index page.