Author : Stephen Graham Jones
It came like a Buick from the sky but it was on fire or close enough, hot anyway, blistering white and maybe even velour in places, its rocket engine disturbing the neighborhood at a molecular level, at an emotional level, the individual blades of grass in the lawns rubbernecking it in small imitation of the men, who have the beer and the cigarettes and the vocabulary of denial.
‘Looked like a big silver cigar.’
‘With tinted windows. Shaved doorhandles.’
‘Didn’t know they could go so low.’
‘You’d be surprised.’
‘Do they . . . sleep in it, you think?’
‘It seems they would have to.’
‘I don’t think they have motel arrangements, if that’s what you mean.’
‘They’re not like us.’
‘No, they’re not.’
‘Maybe we’re wrong, though. Maybe it was something else.’
‘Trust me, it wasn’t, isn’t. You saw it yourself.’
‘Maybe it was lost, then.’
‘You don’t come here by accident. Not twice in one week.’
‘You’ve seen it before?’
‘You were gone last Tuesday, right? Around nine?’
Witness a reluctant nod, a man sagging into his life.
‘Don’t punish yourself. I’d have rather been out too.’
‘If I were a turtle, the inside of my shell would be a visual landscape I’d be romantically involved with.’
‘If I were a lemming I’d be running for the sea.’
But why? Because not five minutes ago their wives were standing around the corner, their elbows cupped in their hands as if cold, and they’d been standing like that long enough that they’d begun to actually feel cold, so that when it cruised through their neighborhood like a great silver cigar from the sky it seemed as if the light it bathed them in was warming, vital, necessary enough that they didn’t hesitate to climb into the sterile interior of another world, out of their own.
‘I didn’t think it would be like this,’ one said.
‘I know . . . velour?’
‘Abduction, I mean.’
‘Missing time. Time I won’t be able to account for.’
‘When you go this fast, time slows down.’
‘Where do you think we’re going?’
‘Does it matter?’
‘I’m going to go ahead and put my clothes on inside out, I think . . . ’
‘Don’t get ahead of yourself.’
‘Of course. Thank you. This is all so new.’
‘Maybe that’s not even how it’s done anymore.’
‘We probably won’t even remember this.’
‘The way this dark glass makes the neighborhood look not unlike the landscape passing by the window of a train in an old-time movie.’
‘It’s hardly real anymore, I know. God don’t I know.’
Picture the two of them as their husbands do: on-screen, at the speed of light.
‘Last night my son asked me if they’d have buglights on the moon.’
‘You’re just having pre-traumatic stress.’
‘I know, I know. Tell me again about the probing.’
‘Well, there won’t be physical evidence. So no one would believe you even if—’
‘I wouldn’t. Won’t. Not even to myself.’
And they won’t have to, because the men with their cigarettes cupped against the wind still have their vocabulary set to denial, are talking now of atmospheric phenomena, the way street light can pool and puddle in the fingerdeep clearcoat of a chrome lowrider as it pulls away from the curb, the man at the wheel already talking to their wives in his alien tongue, the wives draping themselves over his velour bench seat, the carbon monoxide in the car’s rich exhaust lingering after they’re gone, driving the love bugs into a frenzy, one of the two men stepping forward into his life for a blinding moment, fanning the bugs up, up, into the blackness of space.