Author: Paul Garson

Billy Forester sat in the rocket ship waiting for fuel. There was a big splotch on his helmet’s faceshield. It looked like one of Saturn’s moons. Then he remembered. His mother had kissed him good-bye.

Suddenly there was a knocking sound on the outside of the canopy. A fuel cell malfunction, he wondered. He turned his head in the cramped cockpit and out of his left eye saw the alien peering in at him. He tried reaching for his laser blaster but couldn’t get his gloved hand into his pocket. Then without warning the entire canopy came away

“I brought your Oreos and milk,” said the alien. “Are you allowed to eat in space?”

Billy grimaced as he flipped up his faceshield. But he took one of the cookies.

“Your father and I wondered when you would be returning from your mission,” said his mother. “I’ve got a pot-roast about to launch itself onto the dinner table and your Uncle Craig and Aunt Valerie will be teleporting in any minute.”

Billy sighed and shook his head. Why did she have to try and speak spacetalk? He took another Oreo and said, “I’ll be back from the Moon in about fifteen minutes… if all goes A-Okay,” he said. “Could you put the canopy back on, Mom?”

His mother smiled and replaced the cardboard portion of Bobby’s spaceship. It had just arrived that morning and he had spent two hours putting it together. The price tag had been 50 Quaker Oats cereal box tops. As his mother had observed, “At least you got plenty of roughage.”

Bobby’s rocket ship sat on the green shag rug in the living room directly in front of the RCA television set, the first color set on the block. Billy and all the neighbor kids had gathered on the day of its arrival to watch “The Mickey Mouse Show” for the first time in living color. A couple of years later Billy had watched Alan Shepherd ride the Mercury capsule into space on that same RCA. From that moment on he knew what he wanted to be… an astronaut. He had even rented a tape recorder from the camera store and recorded all the Mercury and Gemini flights. The President had said Americans would land on the Moon by the end of the decade. Now sitting in his rocket, Billy planned to get there a bit earlier.

He adjusted the wooden knobs on the instrument panel. Everything was ready. He just needed to turn on the TV to Channel 4. “Space Rangers” was about to start. It would be like looking out into space itself. Just in time his Mother switched on the set. She must have read his mind, thought Billy. But wait a minute… this wasn’t “Space Rangers.”

Then he heard his mother calling to his father, “Hurry, honey, the President’s motorcade is coming….” It wasn’t the Moon, thought Billy. It was just Dallas, Texas. No spaceship, just a big black car. The moon would have to wait, thought Billy.