Author : Harris Tobias
The night Janet saw the UFO was the night she threw Frank out of her life. She had just finished dumping all his stuff—clothes, records, comic book collection—into several black plastic garbage bags and placed them on the lawn in a neat row. Let him come home to that, the miserable excuse for a man. She’d had a hell of a day— a visit to Planned Parenthood with her mom. Frank was too busy to or too squeamish to be present, the hypocrite. His idea of fatherhood didn’t extend any further than the end of his penis, the prick.
The plastic bags looked like aliens lined up on the lawn in front of the trailer. Their shiny black skins reflecting the moonlight. Just four bags. That was all it took to get him out of her life. Four bags and four plastic tubs of comic books. Franks precious comic book collection. The only thing he really cared about.
How could she have ever expected anything more from a big baby like Frank? Already the trailer seemed more open, more room to breathe, more space both physically and emotionally. Goodbye and good riddance, Janet breathed the first breaths of un-oppressed air in two years and she liked the way it felt.
Comic books. What a metaphor for her life. Her life read like a tawdry magazine filled with every cliche in the book. Frank cared more for his comics than anything else. He’d spend hours with them. “They’re going to take care of us in our old age,” he would say as though that justified the time he spent. How could someone be so anal about one thing and a complete slob about another? He’d leave the rooms a filthy mess but his precious collection was the example of organization, every book lovingly covered in plastic, labeled, cataloged and filed away for posterity. And where was the prick now? At some stupid comic convention.
He lived in a fantasy world, a comic book world of super heroes and impossible villains. Impossible things, that’s what Frank believed in. That’s why they could never get along because, deep down, she was a practical girl who liked practical things, real things, like a regular paycheck and regular meals. Silly, regular stuff like that. That’s why she was the one with the stupid job while Frank read the want ads and comic books.
When every last bit of Frank’s stuff was outside, it began to rain. Janet went in and fixed herself a seven and seven and sat down at the tiny table in the tiny kitchen. She looked out of the window. She could see Frank’s stuff outside in the moonlight lined up like an invading army of dumpy alien ninjas and laughed to herself. Frank would appreciate that image.
She was having her second drink when she saw it. At first she thought it was the moon, it was so bright and round and other worldly, but the shape was wrong and it was moving horizontally across the sky very slowly, behaving in a most un-moonlike way. The object hovered over the trailer park for a while then darted away as if spooked by something. A UFO, Janet thought to herself almost giddy with the novelty of it. Frank would be jealous that he wasn’t here to see it. I saw a UFO she thought just before the tears came.