Author : Todd Keisling, featured writer
Mr. Serling entered the cafe and took a seat at the bar. He ordered the lunch special which, for that day, was a bowl of vegetable soup, carrot sticks and a peanut butter sandwich.
His arrival did not go unnoticed. Rob watched from his booth table while his girlfriend, Mary, nursed her coffee.
“Rod Serling is an alien.”
Rob chewed his lip as he made his confession. Mary set down her cup of coffee, glanced around the cafe and lit a cigarette. She blinked.
“Your neighbor is an alien?”
“Yes, I’m telling you, he’s a damned alien and he’s right there.”
Mary took a drag and exhaled a plume of smoke. She regarded poor old Mr. Serling’s aged back and smiled.
“You’ve been smoking too much, man. Not the ciggies, either.”
“No, Mary, I’m serious. Here–”
Rob produced a brass pocket watch. Mary smirked.
“It’s a watch, Rob.”
“No, it’s not just any watch. I found this in his front yard.”
“You were snooping in that poor old man’s front yard?”
“No. Well, maybe. Yeah, anyway, look–this watch stops time. Just like in that old Twilight Zone episode.”
From his seat at the bar, Mr. Serling uttered a low belch and opened up a copy of the morning newspaper.
“Rob, you’ve been doing more than smoking. Did you drop that acid last night after I left?”
“I’m serious, Mary. Look.”
“Rob, it’s a damn watch. Now, I want you to go over there and return that man’s property. Tell him you found it and think it belongs to him.”
“But Mary, he’s an alien!”
This last outburst attracted the attention of several cafe patrons. Mr. Serling was too absorbed in his newspaper to notice.
Mary put out her cigarette in the ashtray and placed her hand on Rob’s.
“Honey. I love you, but I swear to God Almighty, if you don’t stop watching those reruns on TV, I’m going to kick you in the ass. The real Rod Serling died in the 70s. You know that. That guy–”
She pointed at old man Serling.
“–just happens to have the same name. That guy’s not even related. You know that. I know that. Now go return his watch before I smack you.”
“Mary, you’ve seen the shit that goes on next door some nights. You’ve seen things float into the sky and hover and the flashing lights and–”
“Rob, I’ve been stoned out of my mind and seen elephants eclipse the sun. He is not an alien. You’re just paranoid and weird. Now go return the damn watch.”
Rob snatched the watch from the table and rose. He marched over to the bar where his neighbor Mr. Serling sat chewing a peanut butter sandwich.
The old man swiveled in his seat and faced Rob.
“I, uh, well, see, I was walking along and I found this–”
Rob held up the watch. Mr. Serling’s eyes brightened.
“Oh, thank goodness. I thought I’d lost it forever. Thank you, young man.”
Mr. Serling took the pocket watch. He opened the cover, stared with gentle amusement at its ticking face, and then pressed the stop button.
He rose from his seat, left a couple of dollars on the bar and left the cafe in its frozen state. Above, birds hovered still in the air, while cars and people stood in place.
Rod Serling surveyed the street corner, smiled and nodded. His work here was done. He pulled back his sleeve, tapped his wristwatch, and promptly vanished into another dimension..