by Stephen Faulkner
When Jared told me the story originally, that was all that I thought it
was: a story, one of his silly "supposes." It had to be that, I
figured. How can you take something so crazy and give it credence as
being something real? I mean a flying, invisible vehicle that fits in
your pocket when you're not using it? Crazy, no?
"I love your imagination," I told him. "Your sense of the absurd, but, please, don't insult my intelligence."
Jared laughed from the word imagination, as if he found what I
thought of his revelation as absurd, then truly guffawed when I
mentioned an insult to my intelligence. "It don't take no 'telligence,"
he yelped. "Jus' seein'."
"Seeing," I huffed--no question, just a flat declaration in a nasal monotone. "Like 'seeing is believing'?"
"Zit," he said. "Now you got it. You just gotta see, then you bleeb. Pee in yer pants kinda bleed is what you do."
"All right then," I said, figuring I had nothing to lose. "Then let me see."
"Now?" he said, seeming surprised that I was so willing. Actually,
at the time I thought his reaction was more fear than surprise; fear
that I had called his outrageous bluff and now he wouldn't be able to
deliver on his crazy promise, his otherworldly vehicle.
"Now, right here," I said. "Where is it? In your pocket?"
"The 'veloper is," he said, "but the seein's to be done outside. "
I got up from my seat at the kitchen table and headed for the back
door. "Then let's go," I said, barking out the words like a command
while arm-waving him to the door. "Backyard."
Jared put his soda can down and, shrugging, followed me out the back
door, slapping his pockets as he came. He stopped on the deck, feeling
his buttocks and thighs, looking sheepish. "Jacket," he muttered, and
hurried back inside. Here I was thinking that this was just a stalling
tactic, that maybe, as well as I thought I knew him, I didn't really
know the lying son of a so-and-so at all and that perhaps he would
light out and I would never set eyes on him again in this life.
A minute later and he was back on the deck, his beat up denim jacket
hanging from his left hand as he rifled its pockets until he found what
he was after with his right. A wan smile slowly constructed itself
across his plain but pleasant face. "There y'are," he said and pulled
out what he termed the "'veloper,'" a folded manila envelope the size
and shape of which would be used to send a small wedding invitation.
He opened the 'velope as he came down the stairs from the deck and
was holding a small wad of something colorless in his hand by the time
he had reached me in the middle of my small backyard.
"That?" I asked. He said nothing, but in answer held out the handful
of alien matter to me. I reached to touch it, and then pulled back as
it hummed and vibrated at the approach of my fingers. "Yug," I said
"You don't hafta if y'don't wanna," he said and, smiling that
half-formed, gentle smile of his, he stepped back, bent down and laid
the stuff gingerly on the grass. He then stepped away from it and
affected a posture reminiscent of a soldier at standing rest; all calm
bearing and readiness with hands folded over one another at the crotch,
the same expression of meek attentiveness on his face. Several solemn,
silent minutes passed in this way before I broke the mood, whispering
as if in a church waiting for the service to begin, "What happens now?"
He raised his right hand in a gesture suggesting restraint, his left to
indicate that which was happening before us.
I didn't so much see as feel the vessel rise out of the grass in
front of us. To say that it was transparent would be a fallacy since
all senses of the flesh--sight, hearing, smell, touch, and
taste--insisted that there was nothing there to be perceived, but there
was something. I could feel it, not like the vibrations that the
handful of nascent goop had given off moments before that had
frightened me, made me pull my hand away, but feel it with a certainty
that I was standing before a vessel, a vehicle resting on skids or
wheels in front of me that was as large as a hearse giving off an aura
of electric force unlike any other in the universe. The known universe, my fevered, frightened intellect amended this thought even before it was fully formed. This can't be real.
"Now," said Jared, answering my question as he headed toward the thing. "We gets in."
* * *
I had met Jared a little more than a month earlier and, as opposing
as our worlds and ways of seeing the world seemed to be, we liked each
other and found a bond of trust with one another almost immediately. If
I were forced to place a label on him, Jared would be the young, black,
uneducated male gardener for the cluster-home development in which I
live. I, on the other hand, am a middle-aged (I guess thirty-six is
middle aged), divorced, and college-educated, white female.
I am successful enough to afford a "unit" in a small but well-heeled
new subdivision of closely packed houses. My unit has no front yard,
the front door giving onto a one care parking pad directly in front of
my living room window. Each unit has a small chunk of backyard big
enough in which to have a small party as long as no one deigns too take
more than twenty steps in any given direction. To the extreme rear of
the property is a gully that serves as a drain for the westward slope
of the development as a whole and which disappears under the eight foot
wall demarking the extreme southern perimeter; part of the reason for
the excellent price I got on the house was the fact that it is one of
only three units in the subdivision that sidles against the perimeter
buffer wall outside of which can be heard the hiss and roar of
Interstate traffic. Step off of my deck and head to the right (about
ten paces) and you will reach my neighbor's yard and his yappy little
overbred, hypertensive Yorkie, Flondrick. One day either I or Jared--at
my bidding--will kill Flondrick for all the little landmines he has
deposited on my miniscule back lawn. Jared is in total agreement with
me on this which is probably the reason he and I began our friendship
in the first place: our loathing of that little dog.
If I am to be totally honest, however, this is not really where it
all started. Yes, Flondrick was the subject of our first conversation
after Jared had stepped in one of that mutt's turds while he was mowing
the right side stretch of my little lawn, but it was not the real
reason why I spoke to him at all: the reason there was fully and only
sexual. In the parlance of the day, Jared was a hunk, and the fact that
he often worked with his shirt off and occasionally in shorts was, in
my mind, a definite plus.
If he had worked in the nude I would not have been so fascinated by
his lovely physique, might even not have looked at all. As it was, I
wanted him and, not knowing how to get him, as it were, I instead
became his friend. The fact that, through conversation, I grew to like
him as a person did nothing to sway my desire for him sexually. It only
made the actual doing (the kiss and slap and tickle of it all; the
grope and grapple and heady engulfments that I fantasized and dreamed
about)--if I ever was going to do it--all the more problematic.
"Whatchoo lookin' at, Miss Linda?" he would ask, drawing me out of a
horny reverie many more times than I would care to admit. I could never
do more than mutter a halting assurance that it was nothing, I had only
been lost in thought, perhaps daydreaming. I told him the truth but I
was too much the coward to admit to him that he was the subject
of my lubricious daydreams. Just looking at him with the sweat coursing
down between his dark pectorals, gathering in the cuts of his washboard
rippled abs was enough to make me turn my face away and bite my lip in
an agony of desire.
God, was I ever pitiful!
Then, with the friendship came a growing understanding between us of
who the other one was. There was equality between us. He was not "just"
the gardener hired by the development to mow my lawn, trim my anemic
hedges, kick my neighbor's annoying little dog. He was a man, a human
being, a nice guy, someone to share with. His schedule had him in my
area every other week during the spring and summer, once a month during
the off-season. Once we established a rapport--all chat and gossip in
the beginning, more intimate dialogue as time went on--he came whenever
the mood struck him, whether scheduled or not.
Even as the friendship grew, though, I still had a thing for him,
gazed on him longingly as he worked, intently watched his muscles move
under the skin as he walked the lawn mower, wielded the hedger like a
heavy sword, cut swathes in the ditch grass with the weed-whacker;
watched as his butt muscles tilted and rippled as he walked away with
the mower, the chest muscles expand and flatten with his breathing as
he came toward me, abdomen tighten, the lump in his crotch shift with
each step, the smile on his gentle face. I am sure he knew what was
going on in my mind, and the dampness he caused under my panties. For
my part call it a heated friendship, a passion unrequited. I would have
loved to have called him inside for one of our talks, and then surprise
him at the door in some lacy nothing that I would dare him to tear into
with his bare hands to get to the pale flesh beneath, but I didn't have
the gumption, the guts or the heart. I wanted, was wracked with a
desire so sweet, so intense that it hurt at times but perhaps it was
not enough for, ache as I might, I did not act.
All I had, then, was his friendship and that seemed to suffice. I
had his voice, his stories of family and his desires for a better
future, a more successful and fulfilling life with a woman he had yet
to meet (!); of "supposes," as he called them, tales of surmise meant
to entertain both the teller and the told; conversations that sometimes
lasted for several days in a row. At night I had my fantasies of
unbridled passion with Jared on me and over me and in me that had me
thrashing the bedsheets into coils that wound around my thighs and
waist until I was so spent I would drift off into an exhausted,
Pitiful! And still I would say nothing, admit nothing to him. How
could I? I would ask myself. So I would only tell him whatever I had to
tell of my thoughts, my day, then listen to him talk, have his say,
tell his tales; just be his friend.
I listened with interest when he divulged his secret, the story of
the alien vessel that landed out on the field near the road he had
traveled so many months ago, of the faceless ones and their gift: the
hand-held 'veloper of formless glop that turned into a machine that
could take its passengers through the air to whatever destination
chosen at the speed of thought as if on spirit wings. "Suppose" is the
word I thought as he rattled about this strange topic. What if….
"See what I'm sayin'?" he said mildly. "It's like all you gotta do is kinda will it, and it happens."
"A lovely idea," I admitted. "If it only could be."
"Is," he said flatly. At first I did not understand. Then it hit me:
the hard point of his gaze on me, his hands open as if in supplication,
the tilt of his head to one side, the look in his eyes, all in the
attitude of waiting for me to see.
My God, I thought, finding the epiphany he meant for me to attain. He thinks that this thing he's just described is real.
As if reading my mind, he repeated his assertion: "Is."
* * *
The sensation under my outstretched hand was one of an electric
shock about to happen: a rasping tickle along the palm and the
undersides of the fingers, the feather hairs on the back of my hand
rising as if from the sucking force of a vacuum cleaner held too close.
Still, though, I could detect nothing of the alleged vehicle. All was
surmise, nothing solid.
Get in?" I asked Jared. "Get in how?"
"Like here," he said and moved toward the field of electricity;
three steps and then, on the fourth, he was… gone! "In," I heard his
voice say from nowhere. "C'mon."
Stupidly (so I thought then), I followed. The sensation of walking
into, then being surrounded by an electrical force or field intensified
until it seemed that it ranged through as well as around me. I could
see as well as feel Jared next to me; he seemed canted forward on his
toes as if leaning against an invisible buffer of some kind. He
motioned for me to mimic his posture. I did so, angling myself into
something that pillowed my torso in a quite pleasant warmth.
The feeling of electricity in the air and on the skin abated, giving
way to a comfortably warm feeling almost of nakedness, I looked down at
myself to be sure that I was still dressed, the feeling of bareness
being so intense, the feeling on the skin that of taking a warm,
luxuriant bath, but there was my blouse, my shorts and sandals; and
there was Jared beside me, dressed as he had been before we had entered
the craft, though when I noticed this I was a little disappointed. Would that he were naked,
I thought. The feelings of pleasant warmth turned erotic against my
skin as I looked at him turn his face to me and smile, a simple action
on his part that nearly gave me an orgasm. "Takes some getting' used
to, it feels so good," he said. His smile brightened. "Even better with
I thanked him, said I was a glad of his company, too, and asked what happened next.
"Go somewhere," he said and spread his arms wide, taking in all the world.
"Then go ahead," I thought. "It's your show."
Jared looked at me, smiling, and nodded as if he had heard me, and willed the craft into flight.
"Uh," I thought, stunned.
"Yes," he said without speaking. "In here we read minds."
"We, uh…. Whuh?" I thought, even less articulate in thought than I would have been if I had used my voice.
But Jared didn't continue the conversation nor allow me to wonder at
this startling news. Instead, he drew my attention to our surroundings.
It was as we had become characters in a super hero movie or cartoon,
flying through the crisp blue void a thousand feet off the ground.
Controls winked and sparkled in front of us just below eye level as
Jared guided us through clouds, scudded us over treetops to scare up a
flock of grackles, did loop-the-loops over rich but fallow farmland
twenty miles outside of town, aimed us through underpasses behind the
diesel stink of a semi heading down the Interstate toward a city
hundreds of miles to the west. I was like a kid on her first thrill
ride at the amusement park, unsure whether my fear would overtake the
adrenalin rush of fun that coursed through me as we flipped and dove
and soared and careened, sending waves of giddy nausea through me at
every turn and change of direction, every rise, dip and barrel roll. I
nearly lost my breakfast several times, but always managed to hold it
down, and then hold my breath for the next thrilling rush, the next
surprise at Jared's hands.
Always, throughout the whole experience, I trusted him. Until the
very moment we landed back in my yard, our feet seeming to plant
themselves back in the grass not ten feet from the steps of my deck, I
had every confidence in his skill at piloting (if that was the word)
this machine (if that was what it was). When we were out of it, though,
then the worries welled up and overtook me.
"How…?" I started, but could say no more. Jared understood what I meant, but could give me little in way of explanation.
"Will," he said rather sheepishly. "I just does, and it does, and there we go."
I hadn't expected anything more than that. What, really, could he
have said? The thing had been a gift, he had told me as much, and it
was his to use or play with as he would. Whatever the physics or
mechanics, it was attuned to his will and did his bidding. End of story.
And a new one beginning as I recalled something rather troubling.
"We knew each other's thoughts," I said quietly.
"In there," he said, nodding. "Not out here."
"But in there," I repeated, remembering what I had been thinking,
and then feeling embarrassed for those thoughts. "When I looked at
"Thinking I was nekkid," he said softly.
"Wanting you to be," I corrected him. He nodded; he had heard my mind well. "I hope I didn't make you uncomfortable, knowing that."
"No," he said, still in that soft, shy voice. He was apparently not
used to a woman admitting that she was attracted to him, didn't know
how to deal with it. "Me, I had to hold back thinking what I felt."
"The same as you," he said and look led at me sharply, almost a leer.
"Oh." Now we were both embarrassed, at a loss for words, for thought
or action. Time stuttered to a halt; both our gazes moved to the
ground. Finally, feeling a bit stupid, I said, "What now?"
"This, I guess," he said as he stepped toward me and wrapped his
powerful arms gently around me, pressing me to his chest, and he just
held me, hugged me, thrilled me and made me feel that there was no
other place or predicament in which I would rather be. Our faces rested
together, cheek to cheek; our arms and hands pressed into each others'
backs. We breathed in unison. There was nothing else to do that felt so
* * *
The next few trips, Jared and I did fly naked. On the ground, in my
home, we were lovers; in the air we were like children testing the
limits. The sensations were incredible as we flew, hand in hand or
hands on each other, still the super heroes but this time feeling very
wicked, like exhibitionists in the sky. We outraced jets at twenty ant
thirty thousand feet, mooning the passengers at the portholes. We
performed as many acts in as many positions as we could think of for
our supposed audiences. No one could see us, of course--it was an
invisible craft, after all--so there was no real danger, no real
wickedness done. Childish fun and games was all it was, done for our
own amusement. It soon became old, even boring. Orgasms attained in the
craft at no matter what height or speed, we found, were the same as
orgasms achieved in my bedroom or in the back of Jared's rickety pickup
truck. The feeling of doing something wicked; the rush of the idea of
being caught at our erotic shenanigans was greater in that dilapidated
vehicle of his than anything we did in the alien craft. We still
flew--the thrill and novelty of it never wore off--but after only a few
nudie flights we decided to keep our clothes on and concentrate on the
flying itself rather than what to do while in the air.
It was then, too, that we began to experiment with the sparkling
controls, the color-coded winks of light that lay before us just below
the sightline level as we flew along. All, it turned out, was not in
the will alone; there were hand controls, as well. Think left and you
bank left, Jared thought to me, explaining in his mind to me how he
controlled direction, pitch, yaw, and roll. Think right and you go
right; think up and you rise; think down and you sink at whatever rate
of speed that you wish.
But what, I thought to him, happens when you touch the red or blue of that crystalline yellow?
Find out, he thought, reaching. Later he told me that the
yellow control tickled his finger when he touched it, and a narrow
burst of red flame jumped to life in the cornfield below us.
We had found the weapons system of the vessel, and an exciting new set of toys to play with, possibilities to explore.
* * *
"Yellow, red, blue, green: that was the ascending order of
destructive force that the vessel could deliver. Actually, we only
tried the vessel's abilities up to blue. With that we had totally
destroyed a dilapidated barn as well as all the vegetation covering
what seemed to be a half mile radius around the structure. We didn't
want to monkey with the next higher integer and perhaps risk doing any
real harm to the town and its inhabitants.
"Wish this thing could mow lawns," said Jared wistfully. "Make my life a who'lot easier."
We stayed with the yellow control--the lowest on the destructive
scale--and, assuming that much of the ship's systems were predicated on
the will of the pilot, then maybe the weapons systems could be
calibrated, as well. We were partly right: aiming the weapon depended
on will, yes, but not the resultant explosive force. That, it seemed,
was a non-negotiable set.
I forgot what exactly it was that I wished but it must have run
something along the lines of "I wish that I could do with these systems
whatever I want." It was only an errant thought but it garnered
results: a set of controls appeared under my hands similar to those
that Jared had on his side of the craft. They appeared so suddenly that
I did not know they were there until my lover pointed them out to me.
"Your turn looks like," he said.
I gingerly touched the yellow control and closed my eyes. Nothing happened. What am I doing wrong? I thought. Jared shrugged; he had no idea. Where's the damned instruction book when you need it? I thought irritably.
Then, a single word came to me; again, just a thought, but this time
I knew that it was not my own. The word was "say." And I knew exactly
what it meant: say what you want the system to do. As with Jared's
piloting of the craft, so with this new weapon system, if that was what
it truly was; will was everything.
"Okay," I said aloud, reaching again toward the glowing yellow
control. Jared considered me warily for he had not heard or understood
the word that had played in my head. "Let's try it."
Of course, I had no idea what to try or how to go about it if I did,
but I was game for anything. So I touched the control and said "Wind
from the east at forty miles an hour." A small stand of pine trees in
front of us bent away from the near gale-force wind that had come up
out of nowhere to ravage them; cones and needles flew straight and
swift off of the trees, peppered against the shuddering windowpanes of
the nearby homes; the surface of the shallow water of a manmade lake
rippled and skimmed; a frisbee lifted off from the top of a clutter of
toys on a front porch and sailed away to the west like a UFO going
home. "Wind cease," I said, and all was calm once again.
Jared and I relaxed and remained silent for a while, reflecting on
what I had just done, seeing what the machine we were flying in could
do. "Whoa," Jared finally breathed, astounded.
"Damn right, whoa," I said and reached for the controls again, and again and again and again. That quickly and I was hooked.
We spent the day, then, playing with the weather. We caused freak
storms to develop, hail to fall from blue skies, thunderheads to take
on the shape of copulating animals in such detail that there was no
doubt in the minds of whoever saw them what they were meant to
represent, twisters to come down and lift up cars and buses and
individual people, spin them around and set them gently down only
twenty or thirty yards from where they were originally taken. We
laughed as they ran and screamed.
We turned the water in a backyard above-the-ground swimming pool
into lime Jello. It was with this trick that we became aware of the
machine's shape-shifting powers. That was when we turned around, went
home and set the vessel back down in my backyard so that we could talk
about what we had here.
"You saw what we did," I said in a voice made tight by labored
breathing. "We can change things with this machine. We can kill and
burn and change--I don't know--water into wine."
"Tha's blasphemy, Linda," Jared said, suddenly angry. "No one do that but Jesus."
"You think we can't? We just turned water into Jello, so why not
into wine? Or why not salt into pepper, poop into cheese, plastic into
wood, dirt into ash, pizza into paper, anything into anything else? You
see what this is? You do, don't you?"
"I think that..." Jared murmured but would not go on. Oh yes, he knew.
We got back into the machine at my insistence. "Try," I said. "We
can't let this go, can't stop…." Yes, at one point he had suggested
that we not go on, that we stop doing, making, changing, and trying.
"Keep on," I said as we took to the air again. "See what it can do."
Jared remained silent, only steered where I said, did what I asked.
"Push the limits," I said softly. I pointed to the left and Jared
worked his will and we banked and veered as my hand reached for the
blue control. Aiming at an animal scurrying along the ground--a
squirrel, I think it was, or a rat--I told the machine to do something
suitably absurd, and there was a toy stuffed rabbit where the living
animal had been.
Jared, it seemed, had lost the capacity for awe. He did as I said but didn't seem to care anymore.
* * *
No more childishness. After a few days of changing this into that
and just about everything into something else and back again, all for
the fun of it, I was again bored with the game. I finally came to the
pass from which Jared seemed to have started, though I came to it not
from a sense of the wrongness of what we were doing but from a totally
different direction, and that pass was this: a sense of unease, an
unwillingness to play God any longer.
It was done, finished. We knew what we had to do; we had passed
thoughts back and forth about it until we had come to a mutually agreed
conclusion. Still, though, I wanted one more shot at making a
difference, small as though I knew it would be. Two things, I told
Jared, then done with it all. He heard me out, smiled and said okay.
We flew high, directly above my house; hovered and waited. Our
chance came soon: there was Flondrick. I aimed on the little Yorkie,
hit the red control and said, "Silence. Yap no more, my little friend."
Still focusing on the little dog, I hit the blue control--the
strongest I had at my command--and, smiling, said, "Poop into lawn
fertilizer." I heard the dog yelp his last as he crapped out a load of
5-10-5 onto my grass, and so he would continue to do so for the rest of
his puny life.
"Anything for you?" I asked my lover. He shook his head. "Sure? No changes you'd like to make?"
"None," he said. Let's set'er down."
So we landed. Before I got out I hit the last control that I would
touch and said, "Five minute delay, then this vessel will cease to be."
We exited the craft and waited on the deck at the back of my house
until we could sense that it was no more.
Jared and I then went into the house and got ourselves something
cold to drink and, holding hands, went out the front door to sit on the
stoop to watch the world go by. Soon, a car went past. The driver, an
older white man, considered us for a moment. He made a disgusted face
before he gunned the engine loudly, squealed his tires and put as much
distance as quickly as possible between himself and the offensive
spectacle he had just been forced to witness.
"Well," said my lovely man thoughtfully between sips of cola. "Maybe there's one more thing I'd like to've changed."
© 2014 Stephen Faulkner
Bio: Mr. Faulkner is an out of work college administrator who is
now honing his writing craft. He looks forward to sharing his stories
with those who appreciate his singular style and point of view.
E-mail: Stephen Faulkner
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