On this day, 30 years ago, today, the Royal Navy’s flagship, HMS Hood, was lost in the Battle fo the Denmark Strait, in a battle against the germna battleship bismarck and teh battle cruiser Prience Eugen.
HMS Hood exploded and sank in less than 3 minutes, taking with her the captain, Admiral Lancelot Holland, staff officers and a crew of 1415 men, 70% of whom were aged 18 yearas and younger.
Less than 30 minutes after the British opened fire, a shell from Bismarck struck Hood near her aft ammunition magazines. Soon afterwards, Hood exploded and sank within three minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew.
Prince of Wales continued to exchange fire inflicting significant damage on Bismarck, but suffered serious malfunctions in her main armament. The British battleship had only been completed in late March 1941, and used new quadruple gun turrets that were unreliable. As result of serious damage to her bridge, Prince of Wales was forced to break off the engagement, laying down a smokescreen and conducting a tactial retreat.
The battle was considered a tactical victory for the Germans but its impact was short-lived. The damage done to Bismarck’s forward fuel tanks by Prince of Wales forced the abandonment of the breakout and an attempt to escape to dry dock facilities in occupied France, producing an operational victory for the British.
Copyright, C, May 2021 – applies only to words of Steve Erdmann. Other words may be under separate copyright and persons should contact the authors directly.
A rather interesting (if not a total rehash) about a few of the recordings from Air Force Project Blue Book files which add some insight into the many UFO cases collected. The famed Kenneth Arnold sighting is analyzed and some discrepancies brought to the fore. The distance that Arnold saw his UFOs on June 24, 1947 is disputed. “If Arnold actually saw the objects and if his estimate of distances is correct, that of size cannot be, and visa versa,” said the Air Force, “in view of the above, it appears probable that whatever objects were observed were intelligent and authentic agents in the sky, therefore, had been some sort of known aircraft.”
The Mantell case of January 7, 1948 has been stated as an UFO attack on Mantell’s plane. The Air Force files depict general confusion in which Mantell originally saw the planet Venus along with the flight of a Skyhook balloon—the two intrinsically tied into one sighting. “The sighting might have included two or more balloons or aircraft; or they might have included both Venus (in the fatal crash) as well as balloons,” said the Air Force.
One gets the impression from the files Steiger has gleaned from the Air Force that the Air Force didn’t have a heck of a lot of information about ‘saucers.’ Dr. J. Allen Hynek makes an appearance in various forms and reports throughout the book, perplexed and even cynical, until, approximately, the time of the April 24, 1964, Lonnie Zamora ‘UFO landing.’
It appeared that the Air Force got tired of chasing ‘ghosts’ and in 1966 turned the whole mess over to the Condon UFO Committee investigation.
Civilian investigators have howled about an Air Force conspiracy but all this book has shown is their perplexity and even disgust with the inability of people to properly identify or hoax air objects.
“Project Blue Book” turns some of the best-known UFO tales into a TV series, starring Aidan Gillen as investigator J. Allen Hynek. (History Channel Illustration)
“Project Blue Book,” the History Channel TV series making its debut tonight, takes its inspiration from classic UFO cases of the 1940s and 1950s — but for UFO fans who gathered to watch a Seattle preview of the first episode, the show hints at the shape of things to come as well.
“You won’t believe how many productions are coming down the pike right now to basically red-pill the public,” Michael W. Hall, the founder of a Seattle-area group called UFO iTeam, said at the screening. “The truth is out there, and guess what? We’re going to have to ‘fess up to it right away.”
“Project Blue Book” fictionalizes the real-life X-files of pioneer UFO investigator J. Allen Hynek. So it was natural for Hall — an attorney based in Edmonds, Wash., who styles himself as the “Paranormal Lawyer” — to put out the word to the more than two dozen UFOiTeam members to attend November’s movie-theater preview.
The series takes its name from the real-life Project Blue Book, a U.S. Air Force campaign that investigated UFO reports starting in the 1950s. Hynek was the scientific consultant for the project, as he was for two earlier investigations known as Project Sign and Project Grudge.
The trained astrophysicist eventually came to believe that some UFO sightings were genuine mysteries and deserved more serious scrutiny. Nevertheless, the Air Force shut the project down in 1970 .
Hynek, who passed away in 1986 at the age of 75, is a kindred spirit for UFO enthusiasts — and particularly for folks like Maureen Morgan, who is Washington state director for the Mutual UFO Network, also known as MUFON.
Morgan and other MUFON investigators take reports like the ones chronicled in “Project Blue Book” very, very seriously.
“Generally, when we call and interview everyone who submits a report about a sighting, invariably the first thing that comes out of their mouth is, ‘You’re going to think I’m crazy,’ ” she said. “And then I remind them who they’re talking to and say, ‘No, we’ve probably heard it before.’ ”
MUFON isn’t the only organization documenting anomalous aerial phenomena. The National UFO Reporting Center, or NUFORC, has been compiling records for decades. The center’s current director, Peter Davenport, has his headquarters in an converted ICBM missile site in Eastern Washington.
Washington state has a rich history of UFO sightings — going back to 1947, when private airplane pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing weird-looking aircraft flying past Mount Rainier at incredible speed. News stories about Arnold’s claims gave rise to the term “flying saucer,” and set the stage for the Roswell UFO incident weeks later.
In the series premiere, Hynek (played by “Game of Thrones” veteran Aidan Gillen) is recruited by the Air Force to track down an explanation for the pilot’s sighting. He takes the job more seriously than the Air Force wants him to, however, and eventually runs up against shadowy spies and the infamous Men in Black.
Will “Project Blue Book” become a phenomenon of “X Files” proportions? Based on the premiere, the show seems a bit too earnest to strike that chord. Throwing in some quirky “Monster of the Week” episodes and the geeky Lone Gunmen might liven things up. But that might clash with Hynek’s straight-arrow vibe.
The series’ serious tone certainly suited the folks on the UFO iTeam. For them, anomalous phenomena aren’t merely fodder for a retro TV show. In this age of media mistrust and government dysfunction, maybe programs like “Project Blue Book” are in line with the temper of the times.
“Without the MUFONs and the iTeams, without the National UFO Reporting Center, there is nothing out there, and it will revert to the deep state, whatever,” Morgan said. “It will go back to the same people who were behind Project Blue Book.”
Between 1952 and 1969, the U.S. Air Force conducted a series of studies on UFO sightings called Project Blue Book. Not only is there a new History Channel series about the program, but this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the project’s termination. Get to know the secretive program better.
1. PROJECT BLUE BOOK WASN’T THE GOVERNMENT’S FIRST UFO STUDY.
In 1947, a private pilot named Kenneth Arnold reportedly spotted nine glowing UFOs zooming over Washington’s Mount Rainier. The public went wild for the so-called “flying saucers.” Shortly after, the U.S. government launched Project SIGN to determine if such objects were a threat. In 1948, Project SIGN purportedly published a document called the “Estimate of the Situation,” which suggested that extraterrestrials were a possible explanation for UFO sightings. As the story goes, Air Force officials destroyed the document and launched a more skeptical investigation in the late 1940s called Project GRUDGE. Blue Book came a few years later.
2. THE “ESTIMATE OF THE SITUATION” WAS INSPIRED BY A MIND-BOGGLING EVENT.
In the 1960s, Air Force officials denied that the “Estimate of the Situation” document ever existed. Those who vouch for its authenticity, however, say the report was inspired by a 1948 UFO sighting in Alabama, after two experienced pilots saw a torpedo-shaped “glowing object” zip past their aircraft and rocket into the clouds. The report shocked and baffled many of Project SIGN’s researchers, though scientists would later claim the sighting was consistent with a bolide, or bright meteor.
3. “BLUE BOOK” WAS NAMED AFTER A COLLEGE TESTING STAPLE.
Whether UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin is debatable. What’s undeniable is that, during the 1950s, people routinely spotted (or thought they spotted) objects flying over the United States—and it was the onus of the U.S. military to figure out what they were and whether they posed any danger. Blue Book would earn its name because, at the time, Air Force officials equated studying the phenomenon with preparing for a collegiate “blue book” final exam.
4. OFFICIALS DEVELOPED A SPECIAL PROTOCOL FOR HANDLING UFO SIGHTINGS.
A central part of Project Blue Book was the creation of a standardized questionnaire for UFO sightings. Some sample prompts: “Draw a picture that will show the shape of the object or objects … What was the condition of the sky? … Did the object: Suddenly speed up and rush away at any time? Change shape? Flicker, throb, or pulsate?” Eventually, every U.S. Air Force base ended up designating a special officer to collect these UFO reports.
5. THOUSANDS OF REPORTS WERE COLLECTED—AND SOME HAVEN’T BEEN EXPLAINED.
By the time Project Blue Book was closed, officials had gathered 12,618 UFO reports. Of those, 701 were never explained. Nearly half of those unidentified UFOs appeared in 1952 when a whopping 1501 UFOs were sighted. (Interestingly, that following year, it became a crime for military personnel to discuss classified UFO reports with the public; the risk of breaking the law could mean up to two years imprisonment.)
6. PROJECT BLUE BOOK SAW FIVE LEADERSHIP CHANGES.
Each person in command saw the purpose of Project Blue Book differently. Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, for example, treated the job as a serious scientific quest and is often lauded as the project’s most impartial leader. (Notably, he is responsible for coining the term UFO.) Major Hector Quintanilla, who took over the project in 1963, was more interested in turning Blue Book into a PR front and focused on quelling the public’s interest in UFOs—a desire that would eventually lead to charges of a government cover-up.
7. BLUE BOOK MADE SUCH BAD SCIENTIFIC MISTAKES THAT CONGRESS HAD TO GET INVOLVED.
In 1965, Oklahoma Police, the Tinker Air Force Base, and a local meteorologist using weather radar independently tracked four unexplained flying objects. Under Quintanilla’s advisement, Project Blue Book would claim that these witnesses had simply observed the planet Jupiter. The problem with this explanation? Jupiter wasn’t even visible in the night’s sky. “The Air Force must have had its star finder upside-down during August,” Robert Riser, an Oklahoma planetarium director, said at the time. A series of more badly botched scientific explanations eventually led to a congressional hearing.
8. THE PROJECT’S DESIRE TO DISMISS UNIDENTIFIED PHENOMENA BOTHERED ITS SOLE SCIENTIST.
Project Blue Book had one consistent scientific consultant, astronomer Dr. J. Allen Hynek. In 1968, Hynek wrote: “The staff of Blue Book, both in numbers and in scientific training, is grossly inadequate … there is virtually no scientific dialogue between Blue Book and the outside scientific world … The statistical methods employed by Blue Book are nothing less than a travesty” [PDF]. Hynek held Quintanilla in particularly low regard, saying, “Quintanilla’s method was simple: disregard any evidence that was counter to his hypothesis.”
9. IN 2007, A NEW GOVERNMENT INQUIRY INTO UFOS WAS LAUNCHED.
Between 2007 and 2012, the U.S. government spent $22 million on a new UFO study called the “Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program.” (Nowadays, UFOs are called UAPs, or “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena”: You can watch one here.) This January, more than three dozen of the program’s studies became publicly available, revealing the government’s interest in everything from warp drives to invisibility cloaks.
Debbie Siegelbaum, BBC News, Chicago
Amateur historian John Greenewald has spent nearly two decades requesting declassified information from the US government regarding UFOs.
Recently, he posted more than 100,000 pages of documents on the US Air Force’s internal UFO investigations to the internet. Here are the top five things to know from the open files of Project Blue Book.
1. Project Blue Book had a sizeable mission
The origins of the ambitious project can be traced to June 1947, UFO researcher Alejandro Rojas tells the BBC.
The editor of Open Minds magazine says a well-respected businessman and pilot, Kenneth Arnold, was flying over Washington state when he witnessed several unidentified flying objects.
Arnold later described the crafts as “skipping like saucers”, which the media adopted and took to calling flying saucers.
This high-profile incident – along with several others, including a rumored UFO landing in Roswell, New Mexico, the same year – led the Air Force to launch an investigative body.
Named Project Blue Book and headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, the program was reportedly comprising only a handful of staff.
Nonetheless the group investigated 12,618 UFO sightings in a two-decade period.
2. Project Blue Book was created in a time of public unease
Formed in the years immediately following World War Two, Project Blue Book was intended to stop the spread of public unease about a growing number of reported UFO sightings, including over such landmarks as the White House and US Capitol.
“There was a lot of hysteria with the public, and that to the military and government at the time was a big threat in itself,” Greenewald says. “It didn’t matter if UFOs were alien or not, they were causing a panic, so [the government] had to settle everybody’s nerves.”
Though frequently met with derision today, UFO sightings are said to have been discussed at the top levels of government in the 1940s and 1950s.
“It was taken very seriously back then,” Rojas says, with Central Intelligence Agency chiefs publicly claiming it was a real phenomenon and even then-Congressman Gerald Ford warning it needed to be investigated.
In 1966 a separate Air Force committee was set up to further delve into some of the cases within Project Blue Book. That group later released a report finding no evidence of UFO activity.
Project Blue Book was officially shuttered in 1969.
3. Many of the Project Blue Book cases appear open-and-shut
Though many credible sources, from Navy admirals to military and civilian pilots, reported seeing UFOs, most of the cases investigated by Project Blue Book were deemed caused by weather balloons, swamp gases, meteorological events or even temperature inversions.
In Seattle, Washington, in April 1956, a witness described seeing a “round, white object, one-half the size of the moon … [and] going round and round”, according to documents.
Investigators later concluded it was a meteor and closed the case.
In January 1961 in Newark, New Jersey, a witness reported viewing a dark grey object “about the size of a jet with no wings”.
That object was later deemed a jet aircraft flying in the area.
4. Some Project Blue Book cases aren’t so easily explained
According to Greenewald and Rojas, more than 700 Project Blue Book entries could not ultimately be explained by investigators. Many such cases cited insufficient data or evidence.
But even some of the closed cases raise more questions than answers for UFO researchers.
In one such example, a police officer in 1964 in Socorro, New Mexico, halted vehicular pursuit of a suspect after he saw a strange aircraft overhead.
The officer followed the craft – which he described as bearing a strange red insignia – and saw it land and two child-sized beings exit.
It later took off, leaving scorch marks and trace evidence on the ground.
“[Project] Blue Book labelled it unexplained; even after all these decades they still can’t explain it,” Greenewald says.
5. There is still information to be uncovered about UFO activity
Though Greenewald has amassed a stockpile of government documents, he says there are still many he – and the public – has not yet accessed.
One request to the National Security Agency yielded hundreds of pages, but they were so redacted only a few words were readable on each page, he says.
Other US government entities – including the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency – also conducted UFO investigations that have not been publicly released, Greenewald notes.
“I think Project Bluebook … is simply the tip of the iceberg,” he says, adding he will continue to request more information from the US government.
“There are secrets after conspiracies after scandals that continue to come out,” Greenewald concludes. “There’s always something to go after.”
In November 2004, several U.S. Navy pilots stationed aboard the USS Nimitz encountered a Tic-Tac-shaped UFO darting and dashing over the Pacific Ocean in apparent defiance of the laws of physics. Navy officials dubbed the strange craft an “unidentified aerial phenomenon,” but they have remained mum on what, exactly, that phenomenon could’ve been. Now, unsurprisingly to anyone who’s ever considered making a hat out of tinfoil, the military has confirmed they know more than they’re letting on.
In response to a recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, a spokesperson from the Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) confirmed that the agency possesses several top-secret documents and at least one classified video pertaining to the 2004 UFO encounter, Vice reported.
According to the ONI spokesperson, these documents were either labeled “SECRET” or “TOP SECRET” by the agencies that provided them, and that sharing the information with the public “would cause exceptionally grave damage to the National Security of the United States.”
The Secret of Project Blue Book
January 7, 2006, 5:53 AM
Feb. 24, 2005 — — Today, if you ask the Air Force about UFOs, it will cite its own 22-year study called Project Blue Book, which said there is no evidence that they are extraterrestrial vehicles and there is no evidence that they represent technology beyond our own.
Blue Book, based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, investigated hundreds of UFO reports yearly throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
But the truth is Blue Book never became a serious, full-scale, scientific inquiry. The main purpose of the Air Force’s UFO office was public relations, says Robert Goldberg, author of “Enemies Within: The Culture of Conspiracy in Modern America.”
“That mission was denouncing the UFOs, dismiss the UFOs, debunk the UFOs and anybody who believes in them — just come up with answers and get this UFO thing out of the newspapers,” he told ABC News.
Blue Book was far from a massive institute with a staff of white-coated lab technicians, said UFO researcher Mark Rodeghier. “There was a guy at a desk and a secretary and a private or someone there typing stuff. It was a very, very small project,” he said.
Explaining It Away
Blue Book may have done some investigating, but it was overwhelmed by the volume of reports that were coming in.
Col. Robert Friend, the project’s director from 1958 to 1963, told ABC News: “We wanted to explain as many sightings as possible, but we recognized that the amount of resources that would have been necessary in order to do this would have been far beyond those that we were ready to commit at the time.”
He also recognized Project Blue Book’s real purpose: “What they wanted to try to do was, I think, to re-educate the public regarding UFOs, to take away the aura of mystery.”
And the best way to keep UFOs out of the newspapers — and therefore, out of the public mind — was to say repeatedly that they were nothing more than weather balloons or rare atmospheric conditions, like a star on the horizon.
The man most often responsible for making these explanations was Blue Book’s one civilian scientist, Ohio State University astronomer J. Allen Hynek. Between 1948 and 1969, he was the lead investigator on thousands of cases.
In interviews from that time, he insisted “there is no proof that I would consider valid scientific proof that we have been visited by spaceships.”
Michael Swords, a professor of natural science at Western Michigan University and UFO researcher says Hynek’s job “was to stretch his imagination to try to find explanations for every possible case he could, even if he knew it didn’t make any sense.”
In a 1965 interview with one witness, Hynek argued with a woman who said she saw a UFO, insisting it was a meteor.
She asked, “Don’t you think it would be kind of unusual for a meteor to just fall across the road and hover over there a minute and then drop to the ground?”
Hynek replied: “The coming over wouldn’t be bad. It’s the hovering that would bother me.”
Project Blue Book even dismissed a sighting by experienced military personnel on high alert during the middle of the Cold War.
On the night of Oct. 24, 1968, Mike O’Connor was dispatched to make a repair at a missile site at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
En route, he says he saw a bright light “lift off the ground, and parallel us down the road, until we came to the missile site.” When he got out of the truck, the light “just kind of hovered there,” he said.
The Minot control tower diverted a B-52 to investigate. The navigator on the B-52, Capt. Patrick McCaslin, remembers what he saw on the radar screen: “This thing was climbing out with us and maintaining the same heading we were. That was unusual. But what really watered my eyes [was] when this thing backed away and allowed us to turn inside of it.”
Capt. Brad Runyon, the B-52’s co-pilot, says he remembers the “overall object was a minimum of 200 feet in diameter and it was hundreds of feet long.”
“It had a metallic cylinder attached to another section that was shaped like a crescent moon. I felt that this crescent moon part was probably the command center. I tried to look inside the thing, but all I could see was a yellow glow.”
He says at that point he was fairly sure it was an alien spaceship, and when the crew members returned to base, they reported their sighting.
According to Blue Book’s investigation, the crew of the B-52 and 16 witnesses on the ground said they saw a UFO that night. In its final report, Blue Book concluded that they were all probably just seeing stars.
The Air Force finally got out of the business of trying to explain UFOs in 1969 and closed Project Blue Book after an independent commission concluded that UFOs were of no scientific interest.
But there was one loud, dissenting voice: Blue Book’s once-skeptical chief scientist, Allen Hynek. After more than 20 years and more than 12,000 investigations, Hynek had become a believer.
In an interview at the time, he recalled how embarrassing it had been to take UFO accounts from military pilots during Blue Book because the Air Force had trained those men.
“They could say civilian pilots might’ve been untrustworthy, but they could hardly say that of their own military pilots. And we got case after case after case from military pilots, which never hit the press,” he said.
Hynek spent the rest of his life investigating sightings and calling for a serious scientific inquiry into the UFO phenomenon. Most of his fellow scientists rejected his opinions.
In 1973, he founded the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago to conduct more research into alleged sightings. He died in 1986.
Steve C, Erdmann, C, May, 2021, Independent Investigative Journalist
Travis Walton finally updates on his mysterious claims that he was ‘zapped’ in the Arizona woods and taken aboard a UFO. Was it really a hoax concocted by the crew of forest workers? No, according to Travis Walton , not only did the men in the forest see a UFO but Travis was indeed taken aboard the craft. Polygraph tests seemed to indicate this, medical tests as well. Yet, even though this case once again shows similarities with several other UFO abduction cases (bug eyed creatures, large cranium humanoids, etc.), the inconsistencies are more puzzling.
Could it possibly be, even though the outward appearances parade as authentic, that beneath its veneer rests a mystery larger than any ‘space visitors’ mysticism? What could be more devastating than space visitors? Perhaps Travis gives us a clue himself: “By ‘alien’ I do not necessarily mean extraterrestrial. I know of nothing that positively indicates that these crafts or either their occupants came from outer space…(there are theorists that indicate a reality) as being from this earth…”
Outlining the many theories, Travis, also details other offshoot theories. One of the many is the possible explanation that ‘saucers’ and /or ‘forces’ are apparitions are ‘images’ or ‘symbols’ from the subconscious triggered by electromagnetic energies from an intense field of energy (those oval lights in the night), sometimes so intense that one cannot look at he source. The literal spaceship theory is a thing of the past, but what a more modern version will be, is yet hard to say.
“When I was first able to focus my eyes good enough, I was still on the table. And as soon as I saw this face, and knew it wasn’t human, I tried to hit it away from me. They were much smaller than me, and I think that’s the reason they gave up. Once they found out they couldn’t control me, they split. I was absolutely terrified.”
Walton, pictured above, was declared missing for five days, during which time his logger buddies fell under suspicion of foul play. When Walton finally turned up again, not knowing how long he’d been gone, an intense investigation was underway, including multiple polygraph, physical and psychological tests.
He tells HuffPost about little known aftermath details, including subsequent research in the forest area which has shown an unusual growth rate in trees in the immediate vicinity of the encounter.
“About 15 years later, it was discovered that the trees nearest to where [the UFO] hovered had been producing wood fiber at 36 times the rate it had in the 85 years before that,” Walton says. “More recently, a complete core sampling revealed that this thickened growth was only on the side of the trees towards, or in the direction that the craft had been.”
Walton addresses the stigma that he and so many other people — who claim encounters with possible alien beings — are generally considered unreliable wackos.
“The scientific evidence of the likelihood of intelligent life in our vicinity has become so overwhelming that the people who believe that we’re alone in the universe — those are the kooks.”
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of his close encounter, Walton will speak at the November Sky fire Summit in Arizona. On the agenda is a road trip to the exact spot where this four-decade-long controversy began.
Early one November morning in 1975, a seven-man logging crew was returning home from working in Sit greaves National Park, near Snowflake, Arizona. What happened — and what they witnessed — from their truck is uncertain.
I could see out of this one craft — and I could see stars all around, but no planet or sun or anything like that. So, at some distance from this solar system.- Travis Walton, self-described alien abductee
But at some point one of the men (Travis Walton, 22), disappeared — only to re-emerge five days later at a nearby gas station. He claimed he had been abducted by aliens.
Alleged alien abductee Travis Walton in 1975. (Michael Rogers/courtesy of Travis Walton).
As it Happens host Barbara Frum spoke with Mr. Walton later that month. Here is part of that interview.
Barbara Frum: Mr. Walton, how are you?
Travis Walton: I’m feeling a lot better.
BF: Where were you?
TW: I don’t know.
BF: Can you tell us anything of what happened?
TW: I could see out of this one craft — and I could see stars all around, but no planet or sun or anything like that. So, at some distance from this solar system.
I became conscious inside the craft. And I believed I was in the hospital. I was in a lot of pain. And as I became more conscious, I looked around and I saw alien beings and I just panicked.- Travis Walton
BF: When you got off the truck to see the object that the other people on the truck saw, do you remember what you thought when you were running toward it?
TW: I just wanted to get a closer look. I didn’t have any idea of what would happen.
BF: Did you hear the truck drive off without you?
TW: No. I was unconscious at that time. I didn’t see any blue ray like they described. I just blacked out. I was just struck. And shocked, sort of.
BF: Now what’s the next thing you know for sure?
TW: I became conscious inside the craft. And I believed I was in the hospital. I was in a lot of pain. And as I became more conscious, I looked around and I saw alien beings and I just panicked.
BF: How’d they look?
TW: They looked almost human. They were very white — on their skin, and hairless. And in reddish-brown coveralls.
BF: What do you mean ‘hairless’?
TW: No hair on the head, no eyebrows, no eyelashes.
BF: No moustaches?
BF: How did they treat you?
TW: I reacted violently, because of the shock and the pain I was in. But looking back on it now, I don’t believe they had any harmful intentions.
BF: What did they feed you?
TW: I don’t recall ever being fed. I was only conscious for two or three hours out of the five-and-a-half days. Hypnosis has been trying to see if there’s any blocked memory there, or if perhaps I was just totally unconscious for that time. But there was a mark on my arm that suggested intravenous feeding.
BF: How much weight did you lose in the five days?
TW: Ten or twelve pounds. I’ve regained all of about three pounds of that weight I’ve ost.
BF: Anyone in Snowflake, Arizona, believing you?
TW: Acceptance is growing — especially since the final word of the experts that I was examined by after my return. A lot of negative publicity went out immediately, because since I was under testing and not available for any kind of an interview or comment, they just seized on a lot of speculation and a lot of negative things came out. But since then, acceptance has been growing tremendously.
BF: Are you going to write a book?
TW: It’s been suggested to me. There’s so much to tell. It’d probably be a good idea.
The Hit The Lights Podcast
The Travis Walton UFO incident & Abduction
APRIL 17, 2020 TOP5S
The Hit The Lights Podcast
The Travis Walton UFO incident & Abduction The Travis Walton UFO incident & Abduction
It is one of the most famous and at the same time one of the most controversial cases in Ufology. Travis Walton is now a name that has become synonymous with the alien abduction phenomena thanks in no small part to the mass media attention his case received at the time. This profile was only raised further with the release of the 1993 movie “Fire in the Sky” which chronicled the events surrounding his abduction. But for all those who believe Walton’s story, there seem to be an equal number of people who doubt his authenticity and both he and the other witnesses to the events that fateful night have come under personal attacks by those claiming they faked the whole thing as part of some money-making scheme.
Walton’s story has left researchers, sceptics and law enforcement asking countless questions regarding their respective fields of interest. But the one question everyone seems to want to know the answer to is this; just where was Travis Walton between November 5th and November 10th, 1975. Was he as some have suggested, hiding out in a cabin or a tent deep in the forests of Arizona, waiting to re-emerge with tall tales of aliens? Or was he indeed carried away by some unknown force for reasons that still elude us?
In this Destination Declassified video, we are going to break down key points in the Travis Walton case. It is not our aim to prove Walton is telling the truth nor are we here to suggest he is a liar but until he or his colleagues come forward admitting it is a hoax or some previously undiscovered evidence emerges that proves he is telling the truth; we are left with deciding for ourselves what we want to believe.
The apparent alien abduction of (then) 22-year-old Travis Walton in the winter of 1975 is perhaps one of the most well-known of such encounters. Not least due to Walton’s story resulting in a book and then the movie – Fire In The Sky. It is also, perhaps ironically, this monetary “compensation” enjoyed by Walton that has led some to cast doubt on the incident, with several investigators claiming the account is nothing but a hoax. In September 2017, Walton would defend himself against such claims. Although, as we will look at shortly, Walton did fail one lie-detector test, he has passed no less than sixteen others. The main witnesses to the incident also passed their lie-detector tests, and furthermore, it is hard to see what each of the men would have to gain by supporting an apparent hoax.
It remains a case that fascinates most and divides opinion in others. It is potentially, however, barring any kind of proof or admission of fabricated or manufactured events, one of the most important incidents of its kind. And certainly, one of the most documented and investigated. The case is not only intriguing, but it also opens other avenues and areas of concern regarding the UFO and alien question. Not least, the apparent rabid nature of skeptics, or perhaps even those that use skepticism as a shield to issue disinformation and cover over whatever truth might be available.
Before we move on look at this most intriguing encounter in more detail, check out the short video below. It is the trailer to the “Fire In The Sky” movie. As Walton would state later, the filmmakers used “artistic license” with some of the scenes on board the UFO, but the essence of the account is true to reality.
A Glow In The Woods
On the evening of 5th November 1975, at a little after 6 pm following another hard, grinding day sawing trees in the Apache-Sitgreaves region of the US National Forest, seven hired woodcutters were making their way home to the town of Snowflake, Arizona in the head of the group, Michael Rogers’ pick-up truck. As they chatted among themselves, the men, Rogers, and Walton, along with Ken Peterson, John Goulette, Steve Pierce, Allen Dallis, and Dwayne Smith, suddenly noticed a strange glow coming from the woodland that hugged the side of the road. Thinking it was perhaps a forest fire, all the men were suddenly more attentive than they might have been, lest they became trapped in such a situation.
According to MUFON’s report on the incident, as they approached the hill in the road where the light was coming from, they suddenly saw a “large silver disc” hovering over a clearing in the roads. It glowed brightly, lighting up the patch of ground underneath it. Slightly in shock at what he was seeing, Rogers would bring the truck to a stop. As soon as he did so, and without warning, Walton would leap out of the passenger-side door and walked directly towards the strange, glowing craft.
Not hearing, or not listening to the rest of the woodcutting crew who were pleading and demanding he return to the truck, Walton continued until he was standing directly underneath the mystery object. Then, strange mechanical turbine-like noises began to fill the air. At the same time, the craft began to wobble, still in its hovering position. Walton, perhaps now sensing something was about to happen, stepped back slightly and slowly began to back away.
Then, came the “beam of blue-green light”.
“Beam” Strike And Disappearance
According to the reports of UFO researcher, Jerome Clark, the witnesses from their vantage point from inside the truck, witnessed a blue-green beam strike Walton square in the chest. This caused him to rise “a foot into the air, his arms and legs outstretched, and shoot back stiffly some ten feet”. During this, Walton remained within the glow of the craft’s light. Suddenly he was seemingly flung to the ground “like he’d touched a live wire”, striking his shoulder upon landing “his body sprawled limply”, apparently dead. That is certainly what the rest of the group initially thought as they sped away from the scene as quickly as they could.
What exactly happened next and in what exact timeframe varies slightly from account to account. However, after initially fleeing the scene the remaining six made the decision to return to the area to retrieve their friend and colleague. However, upon doing so, he was no longer there. Despite being sure they had the correct location; he was simply nowhere to be seen.
More than unnerved and simmering towards panic, the men would drive to a shopping center in the nearby town of Heber. Again, while the exact timeframe varies slightly, sometime between 7:30 pm and 8 pm, Ken Peterson, on behalf of all six of them, phoned the local police. His call was answered by Deputy Sheriff Chuck Ellison. Although on the phone Peterson stated merely that one of their crew had gone missing, Ellison still agreed to meet them at their location.
When he arrived, however, the men, all visibly distressed (with some close to tears) would tell them exactly what they had seen.
The crew of Travis Walton
“If They Were Acting, They Were Awfully Good At It!”
Perhaps naturally, Ellison was taken aback with the outlandish nature of such a serious claim. However, he would later state of the men’s demeanor and behavior, “if they were acting, they were awfully good at it”.
It was at this point, himself slightly overwhelmed with the strange nature of the apparent incident, that Ellison would contact his superior, Sheriff Marlin Gillespie. His orders were to ask the men to remain at the shopping center under his supervision until he could arrive. Around 9 pm, Gillespie, along with police officer, Ken Coplan, pulled up their police car in Heber.
By this time, several members of the crew, Rogers, were becoming increasingly anxious. With the apparent lack of action Rogers would demand that a search was launched immediately and that they should return to the scene of the incident . Although they were not able to utilize any police search dogs, several officers, along with Rogers, Peterson, and Dalis did examine the location. However, there was no sign of Walton. And perhaps more importantly to their suspicions, there was no sign that anything as untoward as the crew were claiming had taken place.
The remaining crew members in the meantime would return to Snowflake and begin to inform family and friends of the bizarre situation. As the night wore on the search would have to be delayed until the morning. However, there was concern among the police that Walton, who was dressed only in jeans, shirt, and a light jacket, would fall victim to the brutal winter-like, freezing conditions of the forest.
Suspicions Of A Hoax
Along with Roger, Coplan would travel to Walton’s mother, Mary Walton Kellett’s house to inform her of the situation and the witnesses’ account of it. Her response and overall demeanor would strike Coplan as “odd”. Rogers would tell her of her son’s disappearance to which she calmly listened before asking him to repeat the account. Then, the first question she asked was whether anyone else other than the crew and the police were aware of the situation. Coplan believed it wasn’t a typical response of a mother informed her son is missing. Ultimately, it would simply harden his suspicion of one untruth or another regarding Walton’s apparent disappearance.
However, deeper analysis of Walton’s mother’s general character would suggest this aloof type of response to be in line with her personality and attitude. She had, for example, raised six children, largely by herself and in difficult circumstances. She was ultimately very “guarded” regarding her feelings in public. As the days went on, though, the stress became all too apparent for all to see. On the night of the disappearance, she would contact Walton’s brother, Duane. Upon hearing the news, he would travel to Snowflake from his home in Glendale, Arizona.
By the following day, 6th November, with the sunbathing the area in full light, the region was searched once more. This time, many more people were part of the operation, including multiple volunteers from the local community. However, once again, there was no sign whatsoever of Travis Walton. Police, at least privately, suspected that the “UFO story” had been put in place to cover up an accident, or even a homicide.
The Fred Syvanus Tape
It was only a matter of days before news of the incident leaked to the reporters from a whole range of sensationalist-type tabloid newspapers. As well as UFO investigators with various degrees of genuineness and competence. One of those UFO investigators hailed from Phoenix, Fred Sylvanus. Whether his intentions were well-intended or not, the interviews he obtained with Michael Rogers and Walton’s brother Duane would go on to be often used by skeptics. It perhaps didn’t help that both men would openly, and maybe correctly, criticize the effort by the police in finding their colleague and brother.
More importantly and, in part, a genuine cause of concern over the years was Rogers’ “admission” that he would no longer be able to fulfill his logging contract. We will come back to this later as if there is any kind of fraudulent behavior afoot, this could be key.
The other statement would come from Walton’s brother, Duane. He would reveal that both he and his brother had a long-lasting interest in UFOs. In fact, Duane would even reveal that he had witnessed a UFO himself twelve years previously. Furthermore, he would offer completely of his own accord, that both he and Travis had made a pact that if either of them was ever to witness a UFO they would “get as close as possible”. Some reports even claim they would “try to get on board”.
Each of these statements would be used repeatedly against those involved with the case. Before we move on, let’s look a little further at the logging contract. And, as unlikely as it might have been, why it is, whether coincidentally or not, perhaps the one real chink in the armor of their story.
The Logging Contract
The timber thinning contract that Michael Rogers successfully bid for and won in the spring of 1974 is perhaps of interest. As per the terms of the deal struck with the US Forest Service, Rogers would be responsible for the thinning operation over 1,277 acres of land in the Apache-Sit greaves forest. Rogers, in part, was successful with his bid due to considerable undercutting of the other companies bidding for the contract. However, by the summer of 1975, it was becoming increasingly obvious to Rogers that he was simply not going to meet the predetermined deadline to have the work completed.
This would lead him to apply for a deadline extension. This was granted, but it would mean a monetary fine against what he had agreed to be paid. He would forfeit one dollar per acre for all work carried out after the original deadline. The new extension was agreed, and Rogers was to have the thinning operation complete by the 10th of November. Once again, however, it quickly became apparent to Rogers that he was going to miss this second, extended deadline. If Rogers applied for another extension, which may have been granted, he would incur further fines. Furthermore, due to the already missed original target date, the Forest Service wouldn’t pay in full for the work until it was complete.
This was quite a concern for Rogers. Not only would he not be able to pay his crew, but he also himself would be severely hampered financially. And with winter just around the corner which would even further hamper work, some believe that Rogers, along with the rest of the crew concocted the abduction claim to have their contract voided and receive payment in full due to circumstances beyond their control stopping them from finishing the work.
Suspicions Of Foul Play
As the days went on following Walton’s disappearance and several unsuccessful searches of the Turkey Springs area where the crew had been working, suspicion began to increasingly return to the crew members. Due to the amount of time, he had been missing combined with the below freezing temperatures of the first two nights of his disappearance, the feeling among the police began to discreetly change from a search-and-rescue mission to one of recovering the young man’s body.
After the second full day of searching, the police would approach the crew members with an offer for them to take a lie detector test. They had initially offered to take “any kind” of test in the hours following the disappearance to prove their account was truthful. Polygraph examiner, Cy Gilson, generally respected in his field as being fair and accurate with such readings, would conduct the tests.
All the crew members would pass the tests with no problems whatsoever, aside from Allen Dalis, whose didn’t fail the test, but whose results were inconclusive. It was also known that Dalis didn’t particularly get on with Walton. His inconclusive result, despite the efforts of the crew members, singled him out as being responsible for what the police were increasingly sure was Walton’s death. Incidentally, just under twenty years later in 1993, Gilson would retest Mike Rogers and Allen Dalis, as well as Travis Walton. He would use a “state-of-the-art” computer. All of three of the men passed the test.
Back in the winter of 1975, among suspicions of foul play, Walton’s sister, Grant Neff, received a sudden phone call slightly after midnight on the evening of the 10th of November (going into the 11th of November). On the other end was Travis.
Several suspected Walton of a hoax
Walton sounded confused, panicked, and disorientated. His sister managed to retrieve information that he was calling from an Exxon Station somewhere nearby. Grant’s husband and Walton’s brother, Duane, would immediately jump in their vehicle and head towards Heber where they indeed found Walton “crumpled to the floor of the phone booth” at the gas station.
Years later, in the book ‘The Walton Experience’, Walton would recall his first memories of waking up following his five-day disappearance. He would claim that he “regained consciousness lying on my stomach” with his head on his outstretched arm. He immediately noticed how cold the air was and was “instantly awake”. It was then he noticed a bright light “on the bottom of a curved, gleaming hull”. Then, he noticed the “mirrored outline of a silvery disc” hovering somewhere over him.
He would estimate the craft to have been around forty feet in length. It moved silently above him for several moments. As he followed it moving only his eyes from where he lay he could “see the night sky, the surrounding trees, and the highway center line reflected in the curving mirror of its hull”. Suddenly a “warmth” caressed the exposed skin of his body. Then the object “shot vertically into the sky”. In an instant, the craft was gone. Walton would later recall that “the most striking thing about its departure was its quietness”.
After taking Walton to his mother’s house, his brother Duane would take him to a hospital in Phoenix. And after some initial resistance, all involved would allow APRO (Aerial Phenomena Research Organization) to drive the case. They would immediately have Walton examined by two different physicians.
Memories From Inside The Craft
According to Walton, the last thing he clearly remembered was being struck by the beam of light as he stood underneath the glowing disc. The next thing he knew, he was lying on a flat service like a “reclined bed”. He immediately noticed that the air was damp and “heavy”. He also immediately felt pain all over his body. A light shone down on him from above. Each breath was decidedly difficult and painful.
He at first believed he was in a hospital somewhere. Then, he noticed the three figures stood around him. Each donned an orange suit, although it was perfectly obvious to Walton that they were not at all human. He would later state these figures were around five feet high, certainly no taller than that, and with strange bald and enormous heads. Their eyes were equally large. He would describe them as “almost brown without much white in them”. The rest of their facial features were decidedly smaller than their size suggested. What Walton was ultimately describing was three, grey aliens.
With a surge of fear-induced adrenalin running through him, Walton jumped down from the bed and quickly stood. He began to shout at the three strange creatures, warning them to stay away. He managed to pick up a “glasslike cylinder” from a shelf as he backed away. His intention was to smash to object and use it as a weapon. However, he was unable to break it. Instead, he waved it at the three creatures and continued to shout. To his amazement, they backed away and left the room. After waiting for a moment, Walton also left the room.
The High-Backed Chair In The Round Room
He would proceed down a hallway and soon found himself in a round room. He could see a strange chair with an overly large back to it sitting in the middle of the room. Walton stepped forward, making his way towards the chair. As he moved inside the room, lights began to come on around him. He cast his eyes around the intriguing and mysterious room, assuring himself he was still the only one inside. Satisfied, he moved forward, sitting in the chair. Upon doing so, lights came on all around the room reminding Walton of a “planetarium ceiling”.
He would recall that the left-hand arm of the chair had a “single short thick lever” with an “oddly molded handle”. On the other arm was a lime-green screen, casting out a warm glow. Walton pushed on the lever and the “lights” rotated until he let go of it, now stopping in their new position. Suddenly realizing he had no real idea what such buttons and levers might do, he got out of the chair. As he did so, the lights above him went out.
Then he heard a noise from behind. He spun around, witnessing a tall humanoid figure with a glassy helmet. On its frame was blue coveralls. Walton began to fire questions at the “man”, but he either didn’t hear or ignored him. Instead, he would motion to him that he should follow him. Walton did so, following the tall figure down another hallway. He carried on down a steep ramp and soon found himself in another large room. A room like an aircraft hangar. It was then that he realized the ramp was a walkway out of the disc-shaped craft. He saw two other discs “landed” in the hangar in front of him.
Mothership, Or Terrestrial Base?
Whether Walton was on board a mothership of sorts somewhere in Earth’s orbit or even farther out in space, or whether he was taken to a more terrestrial base somewhere on Earth is unclear. He was, however, led into another room where he claimed to see three humans, two men and a woman. Unlike the person who had led him here, these people had no helmets although they too, as Walton could also now see of the helmeted man, had a strange larger appearance to their eyes.
Once more he began to ask questions of the trio. However, much in the same way as the first humanoid, they dismissed his inquiries. They instead directed him to another table-like object, motioning that he should sit down. Before he realized what was happening, the “woman” approached him. In her hands, she had a mask-like device. In another second it was clasped to his face. A second later, he lost consciousness.
Walton claimed his next memory is of waking up, on his stomach outside the gas station in the freezing cold. Above him was one of the disc-shaped objects which shot directly upwards at breakneck speed after several seconds. It was then, still confused, that Walton went to the telephone box nearby. In his mind, he believed he had been missing for a few hours. It was only when his brother arrived that he was told he had been missing for a full five days.
A Purposeful “Mental Block!”
There were certainly some interesting details that surfaced in the immediate aftermath of Walton’s return. Many theories circulated that Walton may have been attacked and drugged. He had, according to the theory, awoken in an unknown hospital. And confused, would believe his strange surroundings to be that of the inside of a spaceship. While that would perhaps make sense, it wouldn’t explain the sighting of the disc-shaped craft by all the crew, including Walton. Indeed, it was this sighting that would have, if we believe the above theory, influenced Walton’s confused perception. And besides, if Walton was attacked in such a manner, by whom? And why? Furthermore, there was no sign of head injury. Nor were any drugs that may have caused such confusion present in his system.
Another little-known event in the immediate days following Walton’s return was a meeting he and his brother, Duane had with ARPO consultant, James Harder. To prove his genuineness, and to unlock any other memories of the account, Walton would agree to undergo hypnotic regression. Harder himself would conduct the session. What was interesting, though, was that Walton’s “conscious recall and unconscious memory were the same”. Furthermore, and perhaps even more interesting, on either mental level, Walton could access only the two-hour period following the beam of light hitting him in the chest. Anything beyond that had a feeling of being “off-limits”.
Both Walton and Harder would get the impression that there were indeed memories to unlock, but that there was a purposeful “mental block” preventing access to them. Walton would even state that if attempts to retrieve these memories continued “he would die”.
Interesting Details And “Other” Sightings
There were other details that very much supported Walton’s claims. He sported a full five days’ worth of beard growth, for example. He also appeared significantly malnourished. What is interesting, however, is that despite this very real physical evidence of a prolonged period of starvation, there is also evidence to suggest that some form of basic nutrition would find its way to Walton. There wasn’t, for example, elevated levels of electrolytes in the blood, which would normally be the case had Walton literally starved of all nutrition for a prolonged period.
So, with that in mind, whoever or whatever did take Walton from the woodlands of Arizona, and wherever they took him, they were concerned, prepared, and aware enough to administer appropriate levels of fluids and nutrients to prevent any long-term damage to his health.
Perhaps also of interest are several sightings on the 10th of November – several hours before the apparent return of Walton. Although the location is unclear, the witness would report seeing a “V-formation of orange lights” over her house. She waited to see if the lights would return. Then, she blacked out. Her next memory is of sitting a large chair in a strange room with dim lights all around. She could see several “human figures” walking back and forth through a doorway. The next thing she knew, she was back in her home.
On the same night, a report came from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota. According to the report, “a bright star-like object…about the size of a car” was moving across the sky. Estimations would suggest an altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 feet high but with no noise whatsoever. The sighting would receive corroboration from three other witnesses. Interestingly, several sightings came from Canada in the early hours of 11th November.
The Movie “Fire In The Sky” – A Great Display Of The Emotional Impact
Several years after the abduction encounter in 1978, Walton would release the book ‘The Walton Experience’ in which he would tell the full story, as much as he could remember of it, of his abduction and the events that unfolded afterward. The book would eventually result in the movie by Paramount Pictures ‘Fire In The Sky’ in 1993.
As we will examine a little more later, many used already established suspicions and added the monetary gain Walton would have had for the releases as further evidence that the whole event was a hoax. In defense of Walton, and some of the others such as Rogers and Dalis, the events so well and widely scrutinized, it would be extremely difficult to go back to any resemblance of a normal life. Add to that the emotional state of Walton’s mindset following the incident, even if he had been able to just step back into his “old life”, his fragile state of mind required he very much stay out of the limelight. So, any form of monetary compensation offered would have surely been a welcome relief.
The film was a moderate success and generally met with good reviews. Some of the scenes inside the craft were overblown. And not at all in sympathy with Walton’s account. They did, though, “borrow” details from a medley of other similar abduction accounts. And so still present a realistic experience. What the film really does achieve greatly is relate how such an incident impacts on those involved both emotionally and mentally. Even the crew’s decision to report the incident would come after indecision and second-guessing.
You can check out the short video below where Walton talks a little of the “artistic decisions” of the film.
Further Points Of Interest
We will look at the renowned UFO skeptic, Philip Klass, and his perception of the case shortly. However, one of the main areas of concern for those looking to prove a hoax was Walton’s apparent previous interest in UFOs and aliens. In fact, one person who knew the family claimed that Walton was a “UFO freak” and had been for years. Another stated that the entire (Walton) family had made claims of seeing UFOs over the years.
This is a particularly interesting point. Many alien abductees discover that their abductions been a recurring process for many years. Often going back to their youths. Many also involve other family members such as siblings or parents. And what’s more, these abductions, in some cases, have gone on through generations going back decades. With that in mind, then, and if we accept Walton’s account as true, genuine, and accurate, it is perhaps no surprise that Walton’s mother and siblings have also had similar accounts to tell of. Even should none of them remember an abduction, it is at least possible if they are seeing UFOs combined with what we know of Walton’s account, that they too have had similar more close-up encounters.
Before we examine some of the claims of a hoax, check out the short video below. It features Walton, many years after the incident returning to the scene of the abduction. Interestingly, the area has experienced an accelerated rate of growth in the trees in the immediate vicinity of the area. Experts have claimed this accelerated growth is simply a natural occurrence and is not at all proof of a strange incident being the conduit for such a change in growth acceleration. However, trees cut down immediately prior to the incident, suggest otherwise.
The Bias And Manipulative Narrative Of Philip Klass?
One of the main skeptics of the incident at the time was Philip Klass. However, Klass’ bias and manipulative style in using out-of-context part quotes and bending them to his narrative are very much on show here. A lot of this would come from comments on the Fred Sylvanus tape.
For example, Klass would ultimately paint a picture of a hoax, with Rogers and Walton at the top. Merely keeping the rest of the crew in line with promises of monetary gain and outright threats of violence. He would question that Rogers at no time showed “the slightest concern over whether Travis might have been injured or killed”. However, when listening to the hour-long interview in full, this isn’t the case. The interview occurred while Rogers and Dalis were physically searching for Walton. Several comments about the nature and state of Walton’s injury are clear. Even that at one stage that several of the crew, including himself, started crying due to the bizarre events.
Another example is a conversation Klass puts across as Rogers threatening one his crew, Steve Pierce, who had apparently been offered $10,000 to sign and stand by a denial of the events. Apparently, he was thinking of doing this to which, according to Klass, Rogers said “Then you’ll spend the money alone and you’ll be bruised”.
However, the full quote from Rogers is entirely different. It was, “Steve told me and Travis that he had been offered $10,000 just to sign a denial. He said he was thinking about taking it. We asked him. ‘ Even though you know it happened, would you deny it just for the money?’ He said maybe he would. He was thinking about it. So, I told him ‘Then you’ll spend the money alone, and you’ll be bruised”.
The “Forest Contract Theory” And Attacks On Trivial Issues
While the theory that the alien abduction of Travis Walton was really a hoax to release Rogers from his logging contract is sound, in theory, it was one that Klass pushed in his overzealous way. According to him, Forest Service Contracting Officer Maurice Marchbanks, confirmed that such an incident, if it were true, would be an “act of God” and would free Rogers of his contract and result in him receiving all monies owed.
However, Klass didn’t feel the need to also relay March bank’s opinion that such a hoax was improbable. He would state that “there was no way such an alleged hoax could benefit Rogers”. Others involved with the Forest Service agreed that he would have nothing to gain from such a hoax. Not least to his reputation.
Klass also drew overzealous attention to the fact that Walton, through his own admission, had smoked marijuana “a few times” in his youth. Although attitudes to such a minor drug are much more liberal and sensible today, at the time in the mid-1970s, many in society simply wouldn’t separate smoking a joint to sticking needles in one’s arms. Klass was aware of this also and used the matter-of-fact admission to paint Walton as a “drug-user”.
Klass also reported that Walton had previously served time in jail. This isn’t true. Several years previously, he and Rogers’ younger brother altered payroll checks and declared guilty of check fraud. The pair would complete two years’ probation. Despite the incident being his only serious legal trouble, Walton has stated his “embarrassment” at it.
The “Failed” Lie Detector Test
Then, there is the failed lie-detector test of Travis Walton, the very first lie-detector test following his reappearance. Klass alleges that this test not only proves Walton to be a fraud but that APRO actively suppressed it. In truth, this wasn’t quite the case. A lie detector test had indeed taken place. On 15th November, only five days after Walton reappeared in Heber.
The National Enquirer newspaper would essentially bankroll the APRO investigation into the Walton case. They, in turn, were looking for exclusive rights to their findings. The first test was administered by John McCarthy. A man with two decades of experience and very much respected. At least according to Klass. However, while he declared that his opinion was “gross deception” APRO argued the test to be inconclusive. This, due to the still emotional state of Walton. Perhaps most intriguing, however, was that when McCarthy’s test records were examined by Dr. David Raskin. Many see Raskin to be the best in his field. He would state McCarthy’s technique was “unacceptable”. Furthermore, his equipment and use of it was “thirty years out of date”.
Just as an example, McCarthy appeared aggressive in his questioning. At one point asking if he (Walton) had “colluded” to manufacture a hoax. Walton replied he didn’t know what the word meant. McCarthy would fire back that collusion was “planning or conspiring”. Just like he had “colluded to steal and forge payroll checks”.
Whether the decision to keep this first test “quiet” was correct or ultimately more damaging, is open to debate. It does appear, however, that McCarthy was biased and unable to conduct such a test. Not least due to the bizarre nature of the events of Walton’s mentally fragile state at the time.
A Genuine Close Contact Encounter?
On balance, it is likely that the abduction of Travis Walton is a genuine account of close extraterrestrial contact extraterrestrial. There are, however, some intriguing aspects to examine.
For example, where did Walton go once inside the disc-shaped craft? Did he leave the planet and go somewhere into the near or far reaches of space? Or was his journey more terrestrial? Was he, in fact, taken to one of the many alleged secret bases? One deep underground somewhere in a remote location on Earth? And if so, what does that tell us of those behind such bases? Were the “humans” that Walton witnessed humans? Or were they humanoid and still of an extraterrestrial nature? And if they were human, does that suggest some authenticity to the claims of an alien-human pact? One that proceeds with dark, clandestine operations on the rest of the planet’s populace?
Whatever the truth Walton would ultimately return to normal life. Marrying Rogers’ younger sister, Dana, and eventually finding work at a lumber mill in Snowflake. He occasionally appears on television specials or at UFO conventions. One of the most memorable was perhaps in 1993 following the release of the ‘Fire In The Sky’ movie. Both Walton and Rogers would appear on Larry King Live along with the Klass. During the interview, Klass would lose his temper and announce Walton to be a “goddamned liar”. Many still consider Klass a genuine skeptic and debunker of such cases. Many others, though, including some skeptics, suspect him spreading disinformation.
Seven People, Over Forty Years, And Numerous Lie-Detector Tests?
The details offered by Walton at the time were also quite unique. Certainly, from much of what was in the public arena of the era. We must remember; this was before the Internet and the sharing of information among enthusiasts. Many would even draw attention to a TV-movie (The UFO Incident) based on the abduction of the Betty and Barny Hill, perhaps the first widely known abduction case that had aired in the weeks leading up to the alleged abduction of Walton.
Some charge that this movie, in part, gave Walton and Rogers, the core of their idea to perpetuate the hoax. If this were the case, however, it would perhaps make sense that Walton would have offered details more in line to that of the Hill incident. He didn’t, though. The details offered of both the abduction and the particulars of the craft were completely different. They would also be ones that would surface in other reports over the years. Furthermore, Walton could only remember two hours of the incident and not any other memories of the five days he was missing. Again, this apparent simplicity suggests an authentic account.
Is the location of importance? After all, the remote and dense forest regions of Arizona and the surrounding states are mysterious. Rife with reports not only of UFO sightings but strange activity. Much of which dates back hundreds of years.
The video below is one of many interview and lectures available by Walton. Make of it, and his account, what you will. Although first, ask yourselves, would a hoax, one that stretches in several directions, and under the scrutiny of multiple lie-detector tests truly stand up for over four decades?
The stories, accounts, and discussion in this article are not always based on proven facts and may go against currently accepted science and common beliefs. The details included in the article are based on the reports and accounts available to us as provided by witnesses and documentation.
By publishing these accounts, Steve Erdmann does not take responsibility for the integrity of them. You should read this article with an open mind and conclude yourself.
The copyright applies only to the words of Steve Erdmann. Other copywritten material should be dealt with by contacting the original authors.
PROJECT IDENTIFICATION, Harley D. Rutledge, PH.D., Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 205 pages, 1981, $12.95. Softcover ISBN 10: 0137307136 ISBN 13: 9780137307135 Publisher: Prentice-Hall, 1981 View all copies of this ISBN edition 1 New
Amidst anxious anticipation by UFO buffs, Dr. Harley D. Rutledge, Ph.D., published his findings about UFOs in the Ozarks. Dr. Rutledge was chairman of the Physics Department at Southeast Missouri University at Cape Girardeau.
After making an initial investigation in March 1973, discovering to his satisfactions that UFOs are indeed in the Ozarks, Rutledge requested funds on April 26, 1973 from several major newspapers. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat responded.
While Dr. Rutledge’s Project Identification purports to have been a dispassionate study of UFOs (and the study is devoid of a lot of the mystical and sensational hysteria associated with the subject), the chapters are tinged with lively outbursts which could possibly betray a scientific study. After Rutledge sighted mysterious UFOs on May 11, 1973, he says, “for more than a year, as I approached that particular episode during public lectures, I had difficulty dealing with the motion it stiffed.” The May 11 incident was like other Project Identification episodes where ‘stars’ or ‘pseudo stars’ suddenly appear in the sky to scintillate and the suddenly ‘blink out.’ Some chapter headings are A Terribly Strange Night and A Second Terribly Strange Night. Most of his ‘team’ consisted of fellow students from the university.
Some of Rutledge’s cases seem to warrant more excitement. One Thursday the Project team flew a Cessna 150 to Clark Mountain. Rutledge observed an amber light along the slope of the mountain which blinked out. As they approached the second light, it suddenly streaked upward at that Rutledge estimated to be “10,560 feet- per- second squared, or, 7.200 mile-s per -hour, 32-feet—per-second squared…,” a phenomenal act, especially in light of the fact that ‘flying saucer’ reports are typical of such fast acrobatics which are the basis of the so-called ‘‘UFO Mystery.”
Project Identification made approximately 160 sightings of UFOs—during which 700 photographs were taken. No ‘Class A’ UFOs were able to be photographed (UFOs which had ‘’bizarre behavioral and/or physical properties that defy conventional explanation”). Class “B” UFOs were recorded as photographic ‘wiggly’ or ‘gyrating’ lines across slide frames which demonstrate almost noting conclusive.
Observation of the unclouded night sky often revealed “pseudo stars” – stationary lights camouflaged by familiar constellations. Some objects appeared to mimic the appearance of known aircraft; others violated the laws of physics. The most startling discovery was that on at least 32 recorded occasions, the movement of the lights synchronized with actions of the observers. They appeared to respond to a light being switched on and off, and to verbal or radio messages
The belated UFO Study Group of the Greater St. Louis had members that made numerous trips to Elsberry, Missouri during a 1978 UFO-Animal mutilation ‘flap’ in that area. Cameras with telescopic lenses also recorded ‘gyrating’ UFOs on slides remarkably like the Rutledge phenomena. Interestingly, however, known, and identifiable aircraft produced ‘straight’ trails on the slides. This seemed to add to the mystery. However, much-later-crews went to the identical areas to again observe the same amber, orange of yellow bobbling, blinking lights which had been seen in 1978 (the ones which apparently made squiggles on film), and promptly were able to identify them as aircraft, many coming into or out of Lambert International Airfield, while other were ‘taxiing’ in a holding area over Winfield. Many of the lights would suddenly ‘blink out.’ This latter investigative crew identified many as the ‘take-off’ light on passenger planes or other lights being ‘shut off,’ while the smaller fuselage lights never were discernable to the unaided eye at those distances. The investigative crew theorized that some aircraft appeared as ‘straight lines’ because they were much closer; aircraft much further away showed on film as the larger light on the crafts which demonstrated ‘wiggles’—possibly attributed to atmospherics, camera vibrations and air currents.
One of Dr. Rutledge’s photos from Cape Girardeau, however, recorded what he called a “helix effect.’’
In my opinion every Ufologist with the means and drive should emulate all that Dr. Rutledge did and more importantly if the larger so-called UFO organizations would follow his blueprint with modern high-tech-equipment, we may just uncover some answers.
Not only was he a major inspiration for me to create “In The Field,” but his work was unlike any other person that has entered this field before or after. Ironically, there are still researchers who are unfamiliar with him and I find this mystifying for several reasons, but mostly for the casual interest that his groundbreaking work received.
In 1966, Harley Rutledge completed his Ph.D. in solid state physics at the University of Missouri. A short time later he took the position of Professor and Chairman of the Physics Department at Southeast Missouri State University. He became President of the Missouri Academy of Science. He was Department Chairman from 1964 through 1982 and retired from teaching in 1992.
The story began in February and March of 1973 when strange accounts began to trickle out of Piedmont, Missouri of people witnessing balls of light flying around and disrupting car engines and televisions. Soon numerous people from all over began to flock to the area hoping to catch a glimpse of these anomalous balls of light. The local TV station and newspapers covered it extensively, mostly drenched in sarcasm with a few roughly criticizing the locals as uncultured.
Dr. Harley Rutledge said, “Unbiased, disinterested physical scientists usually measure the properties of inanimate matter. Biological, medical, and behavioral scientists, on the other hand, study intelligences less than or equal to their own. In this Project, we dealt with an intelligence equal to or greater than that of man. We interacted with the phenomenon under study.”
The strange events in the small town of approx. 2,000 people was all everyone was talking about and groups of people gathered outside at night to witness these mysterious lights. One night an excited woman on a local news show displayed some photos she had taken of the lights and the next morning this prompted two of Dr. Rutledge’s colleagues to jokingly suggest that he go and investigate these UFOS in Piedmont. He laughed and said, “I wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole!” Less than 2 weeks later he would change his mind completely.
At the time of the sightings Dr. J. Allen Hynek was active in his investigations and made a trip to Piedmont to investigate what was going on. He was contacted and invited by State Representative Jerry Howard through Police Chief Gene Bearden because of the frequency & number of sightings. He stated, “We ourselves didn’t see anything, but that’s to be expected……but we found a great number of highly excited people”. Pointing out the power of suggestion he implied that people were seeing lights from observation towers…..”You have to disregard any light on the horizon” he said.
I believe this was a large, missed opportunity for Hynek and if he had not so hastily made a judgement and left, his story would have been much different. Surely if he teamed up with Rutledge and spent some time out there he would have observed these bizarre lights, but this was not to be.
On April 6th, 1973 Dr. Rutledge, Prof. Milton Ueleke and both of their their wives made the trip to Piedmont to be briefed on what was going on by Dennis Hovis who ran the local radio station where many of the sightings were reported. During the conversation Hovis was interrupted by listeners that were phoning in sightings reports. Dr. Rutledge thought that obviously this radio station was the real “Piedmont UFO Headquarters”. Within a few minutes another call came in and when Mr. Hovis returned he excitedly explained “There’s been a UFO landing on Clark’s Mountain….This high school boy with his parents saw it and they are reliable!” Rutledge agreed to go, but as he got in the car he turned to Prof. Ueleke and said “Milton, this could be a big put-on for our benefit.”
This report turned out to be a local pilot who had dropped down behind the mountain and shut his lights off, creating the illusion that something was landing.
With no success they drove back to town and had dinner with a local couple who were friends of the Ueleke’s. Over the meal they decided to visit another spot called Pyle’s Mountain which was an area with earlier reports. It was at this spot with his telescope that Dr. Rutledge made his first observations of these strange lights and he described them this way…”: Less than an hour had elapsed on Pyle’s Mountain when a small stationary light suddenly appeared near the southern horizon. After locating and centering the light in the telescope on 8X, Rutledge attempted to view the light on a higher power, but before I could focus properly, the light went out. It had been visible for about 5 seconds. At intervals of several minutes, the light appeared 3 more times, but in a different position each time.”
He was finally able to catch it magnified at 80X when it remained visible for 20 seconds and described it as a stationary ball of light that didn’t just shut off, but “decayed” as a powerful tungsten bulb does when the power is cut.
Prof. Ueleke stated his opinion that he thought they were just viewing car headlights in the distance, but Dr. Rutledge disagreed completely and devised a plan to show that this theory was not the answer. The very next week he hired a pilot who happened to be a university student majoring in physics, to fly a Cessna 150 over the area to look for a road to use to prove his point. They located an old logging road and returned that night to observe the area. Once they were in the air they could quickly see the lights of the town when suddenly an amber/orange light appeared on the slope of the mountain near the top. The pilot turned the aircraft and made a beeline towards it, but within seconds it went out. Simultaneously another one came on several hills away and the pilot banked towards this one. Through the binoculars, Dr. Rutledge said it looked to be awfully close to the earth’s surface, possibly on it and as they got closer to it suddenly shot straight up and out of view. Rutledge stated “My interest took a decided leap after those two sightings from the Cessna 150. But although the appearance and behavior of the two lights were perplexing, I did not accept them as UFO’s at the time.”
This launched into what would become “Project Identification” and would span from 1973 until 1980. A total of 158 viewing stations were setup all over the area and the sky was watched for 427 hours. There were 620 observers over the years and 378 were Project observers. Not included are the many hours Project members observed the sky when not present at a station. There were 157 sightings of 178 UFO’s and the behaviors that they observed have all been recorded by different members of “In The Field” in the present day. Some examples are what Dr. Rutledge called “Pseudo stars” and this is when they will hover in place, sometimes for a long period of time to blend in with the stars and then suddenly move off or blink out. Another example would be something Rutledge did not observe, but many told him they had witnessed it and that would be a ball of light cruising over an area and dropping a smaller lit object down to the surface, usually a wooded area. Several members of ITF have caught this on video and it is obvious that they have some type of agenda and are intelligently controlled.
The advantages we have today are extremely better for observing and gathering data from these sightings, yet it has not happened except in sporadic individual cases with “Active Observers” like us. Not only is our equipment far more advanced than in the 70’s such as night vision, telescopes, cameras, or spectrometers, but to communicate with others and move in on a repeat, active area (Flap) would be swift.
Unfortunately this has happened in a few cases, where an area was highly active and was reported over and over yet ignored and even scorned at without any observation by laptop critics. Meanwhile the larger so-called UFO organizations are posting videos or photos of lens flares and insects, yet this actual UFO activity is clearly ignored. They need to take a good long look at what this man achieved or what we at ITF are trying to achieve and follow suit….follow the Rutledge Blueprint…
Rutledge said: “A relationship, a cognizance, between us and the UFO intelligence evolved. A game was played. In my opinion, this additional consideration is more important than the measurements or establishing that the phenomena exists. This facet of the UFO phenomena perturbed me as much as the advanced technology we observed. It is a facet I cannot really fathom – and I have thought about it every day for more than 7 years.”
At 2 a.m. in March 1967 on a farm about 4 miles west of New Baden, Leona Boeving saw a UFO in a field near her house.
In a Belleville News-Democrat story by reporter Michelle Meehan from August 9, 1992, Boeving said, “It was like the full moon was cut in half standing on the ground.”
“It had a bright white light on top and then a whole row of little red lights at the bottom. There were these metallic things around it, like strips of silver,” Boeving said.
She woke her daughter, Marilee Black, who was staying with her.
In a July 2017 interview, Black said, “Yes, I remember it. All I have to do is close my eyes to picture the thing.”
“It was round and large even from where we stood in the house. It was something I had never seen before,” Black said.
She could not see anyone inside it, only the bright lights coming from it.
They watched it for a few minutes. “Then, my mother opened the window. Suddenly, it lifted and went south. If it made a sound, we didn’t hear it,” Black said.
Terrified, Boeving and Black remained in the house until morning. “It was just scary,” Black said.
When they explored the field, Black said the heat from the object left burn marks on the ground. “Nothing grew there for quite a while,” Black said.
Boeving called Scott Air Force Base, which is about 7 miles from the farm, for an explanation.
Black said, “They knew nothing and could say nothing about it. I guess it didn’t fly from the base.”
Black has seen nothing unexplained since that time and is fine with that. “I don’t ever want to see it or anything like it again,” Black said. “It was frightening; it really was.”
In the 1992 BND article by Meehan, Boeving is quoted as saying, “There were a lot of people who, to this day, think we were crazy. But I’ll tell you, I was the biggest non-believer there was. I probably still would be — if I hadn’t seen it myself.”
Not all the lights seen at Elsberry could be identified to everyone’s satisfaction, however. For instance, a stationary ‘star’ seen on June 25, 1978 that remained so for over fifteen-minutes or longer, suddenly began to bob and weave in a circular pattern. The UFO then moved in a wide arc heading eastward over the Mississippi River as seen through the tree line. Surprisingly, it doubled-back towards three witnesses stationed on a farmer’s field. There was no sound at all. The witnesses estimated the craft to be at a 2,000 feet level. It came directly over the farmer’s field and witnesses, banked directly over them, and then headed back out over the river. It appeared to be a lighted fuselage with passenger windows. As it left the area, a red strobe light seemed to have been turned on. A very peculiar and uncharacteristic airplane.
On July 16, 1978, over ten people were suddenly surprised by lights that seemed to ‘pop’ onto the scene of Highway V and W, momentarily hovering (or seemed to) and then ‘drift’ off (these were photographed). Others insisted these were regular airplanes.
Rutledge would have felt vindicated by these sightings, it would seem. However, the more skeptical investigators feel a rigorous study in aircraft identification is needed.
Rutledge would feel vindicated by these sightings, it would seem. However, the more skeptical investigators feel a rigorous study in aircraft identification is needed:
** Field crews consisting of aeronautic engineers, flight operation managers, aircraft pilots, and FAA specialists jointly observing UFOs at night and consensually giving their opinion as to identity. Pilots, amateur astronomers, aircraft technicians often aren’t able to singularly identify the behavior or appearance of airplanes or helicopters.
** Experts specializing in ‘nocturnal aerial photography’ are needed: we have found that opinions as to what is ‘photographed’ in the night sky and ‘why it appears on film as it does,’ are as varied and entangled as the dispute as to what ‘lights’ constitute UFOs and which one don’t.
Rutledge admitted that much study is necessary. The team used radar and other electronic scanning (some of it was never removed, however, from Rutledge’s home office). One of the findings was the recording on color film the spectrum of a UFO using an objective blazed diffraction grating—but Rutledge does not say one word as to what was discovered. Perhaps, then, it was really nothing.
Rutledge did not, however, insinuate that space people are involved; he entertained the possibility that UFOs are little known manmade inventions. He talked about German research on ‘flying discs’ in 1941, and about PRVs (Remotely Controlled Vehicles) which resembled spinning discs which “hardly make a sound.”
As Logician Peter Kor stated in his article The Tue Inquirer: “The process of discovering reality depends on a rigorous rationality. Intense focus on any matter will produced countless apparent connections and confirmations. Without a rigorous approach, these will be accepted as probable proof of truth, rather than mere possibilities that should be tested.”
If Project Identification could have been expanded into a perpetual, thorough team, into a broad range of experts and equipment in weekly or daily trips into UFO areas, possibly the problem of UFO identification would have become less of a will-of-the-wisp.
Steve C, Erdmann, C, May, 2021, Independent Investigative Journalist
The front door would stand momentarily guarded by a deep silence: not a creak, rustle, or crack. Only the monotonous flashes of the thunderstorm and the cool chill of the dark day invaded the front hallway, tutored by the old Grandfather Clock which recited at definite intervals with it incessant tick-tock-tick-tock. The polish of its veneered surface gave a slight sheen that highlighted the masterful artwork of a by-gone era; it also gave a peculiar comfort and coziness to the evenings encroaching wet condition.
It was the kind of a rain-chill that invaded every part and muscle of your body, regardless of a raincoat and other weather resistance clothing you might attempt. The persistent pitter-patter of the cold sheets of the downpour hit upon the oval pane of glass in the old-fashioned Victorian door. The door’s heavy frame was slightly more than a comfort against the dreary weather, and through the lace curtains frosty lines of rain could be seen trickling down the glass. Every now and then, a flash of lightning would cast a glow into the vestibule, quickly followed by a burst of thunder.
Without warning, the presence of someone had arrived on the outside porch. A heavy shuffle denoted a person arriving from a hard day’s work, and the hulk of a man in a grey overcoat vaguely appeared on the outside of the partition. A gust of moist chilled air rushed into the house as the man quickly opened the door and then abruptly turned and closed it shut. His shoulders tilted from side to side as he shivered from the cold air. He walked over to the coat rack standing desolately in the corner and draped his overcoat on it. The same action occurred everyday between eight in the morning to five in the afternoon—-or else, he was sure he would become heavily blotched from the rain, when it rained, and he was glad to get the garment off. Just as despondently, he placed the wet hat on the rack, it stood still for a moment and then sagged to me side just as sadly.
The man stood stopped and stood motionless to think for a few seconds.
Everything seemed to be as usual; thought a private emotional storm was raging and barely subdued beneath his chest; not quite able to mimic the downpour outside, however, the man was sure he had it under control.
The smell of a freshly cooked dinner; the deeply invigorating aroma of a roast overlayed with the delicious touch of hot, buttered rolls, coffee, and gravy.
He gave a sigh. It still was comforting to still be able to come home to the smell of a robust dinner. Perhaps it would be many years yet before that bit of tradition would be torn asunder. It was hard to tell.
Wiping his nose on the handkerchief he has drawn from his pocket, he began to part his lips, then stopped. He tried once again.
”Clarisse, I’m home!”
He combed his damp, shaggy hair into place. It was rich, dark, and sleek. He needed every bit of that professional ‘white collar’ air that he endeavored to project. He needed that aspect of that executive job, from eight to five every day, or else he was sure he would go quite mad—-if that term meant anything any longer.
He shivered again, then stepped away from the small puddle of rain he deposited at the door He took a few steps for the kitchen..
‘Hi honey, how’s the damp weather?” came the cherry response of his wife. “So far, so good,” Mark thought.
He stopped abruptly when he came abreast of the huge sliding doors to the front room. In the shadows and dark, the doors appeared as one darkened monolith. He wrinkled his brow as if to look beyond the doors into the room. There was a certain intensity in his glance. The he stirred himself and headed for the kitchen. What was laying in the front room would just have to wait—-wait a while longer.
“Eeeem, smells good!.” He glided up to the back of his wife and kissed her on the shoulder. He could smell his wife’s favorite perfume, the one he had liked to well. It was down-right titillating.
She twisted her neck to smile into his face. It was a modest smile, but he could see that she at least meant it. She kissed him on the cheek.
“I thought we’d have a roast tonight, Mark. Bobby said the other day that he’d like one prepared,” she said washing her hands beneath the sink facet. She routinely wiped her hands on her apron. Then she pushed a strain of glowing black hair from her forehead to smile at her husband. Mark had had begun to pick at a steaming bowl of asparagus.
“Stop that Mark!” she just looked at him with an almost unquestionably indifference. “We’ll eat in minute.”
“Ah…y….yes,” he smiled comically, glancing up into the small, fogged bay kitchen window, “and how soon will that be?”
“Any minute dear, any minute.” Clarisse chided with a pleasantness that was rare but quite welcomed to Mark. When she smiled , a sparkle would enter automatically into her eyes and ridges of skin would flow evenly back from the bridge of her long, narrow nose atop two thin lips that, when parted, would show rows of beautifully even teeth.
She placed another bowl of food on the table, then fell back into a routine composure.
“Where Is Bob, anyway? Home from school?”
“Yes, he’s up in his room. I promised him that if he’d get his schoolwork done by seven he could see Sherell tonight.”
Mark didn’t say anything, but he acted slightly disturbed. He eased himself into a table chair. The he folded his hands in an almost prayer posture.
“How did your day go, Mark?”
Mark gazed across the table set with food. Then he glanced at his hand which was resting on the table’s edge and he noticed the nervous tremble the hand had acquired.
“Not too well —- as usual. Not too well.” Mark’s dark eyes held a slight sadness at that moment. His olive complexion almost turned white. He rubbed his stub of a nose and folded his hands together again.
“Oh. As usual?” There was a certain pique in his wife’s voice, but also a bit of cold sarcasm, almost always. “Later, Clarisse.”
“Seems that’s all it’s been here of late. I hope they let up on you.” Now that was a bit more tender, thought Mark, a bit more sincere!
“It’s not them. I guess, it’s me. I’m just not a good accountant…I’m …” Mark stopped and gulped while lifting two watered eyes to look at his wife. She returned the probing glance. “Later Clarisse,” he pleaded.
It was quiet for a moment. She continued her activity by clumping two tablespoons into their respective bowls. It was obvious she had put some work into the dinner preparation. The curious way her almost coal-black hair rippled along her temple and stuck in the corner of her mouth was a tell-tale sign of her industry but also of her sensuality.
“How’s our box doing?” It had been on his mind all day. In fact, it was somewhat exciting, though a strenuous day at the office had deadened that excitement somewhat. But such natural, wholesome excitement was getting to be a rarity, and he hadn’t wanted to give it up that easily. But for now, it was at least a pleasant diversion to speak of.
“Still sitting there on the pedestal, still sitting there,” she said, gracefully stepping around the edge of the chair and neatly pulling it beneath her. When she had herself settled-in, she timidly gave a nervous glance at her husband , then busied herself with the dining utensils. “Look at him,” she thought to herself, “sitting there like a time-bomb, fuse-burning, waiting to explode!” “It’s people like him that cause all the terror going on today,” she silently annumerated to herself, “pushing , prying, tearing! Well, I didn’t cook this dinner just to see how much energy I could send. If he is going to pull his usual guff, at least my son and I will enjoy this meal.”
Mark gave a smile: “I wonder why grandpa did something like that? It’s so unlike him. I guess the old fellow had a sense of intrigue and humor to boot. Imagine, stuffing an old box behind some bricks and tying a mystery note, to boot. So mysterious.”
Lightning flashed through the windows and a moment later thunder boomed causing the usual drone of loose glass throughout the house. Clarisse glanced out at the storm having just set her first bowl of food down.
“Spooky!” she joked, referring to grandpas’ mystery box. Indeed, it was, they had taken the flowerpot off the wooden front room pedestal and placed it in the sun-room replacing it with the ole’ rotten thick oak-box. Its henges had become badly rusted, the latch to the lock still worked, though it was uncertain the key to the, now, red-crusted mechanism dangling in the loop would ever be found. It almost seemed unceremonious to attempt to open it without going the participance of a key.
Clarisse noticed that her husband hadn’t touched his coffee yet, so she indicated that he do so: “Drink up.” It was going all too well, thought Mark, it couldn’t last. If Mark could only tell her what his dictatorial boss, Mr. Ferrell, had said: gee, Mark pleaded to himself, If I could, just one time without an argument. Keeping on the topic and referring back again to Grandpa’s mystery box: “Thank you. Ah, what did his note say, honey, something about a Pandora’s Box?’’
Grandpa Bellinger had been a loner of sorts. It probably was because he differed intellectually with a large majority of his friend; an eternal beacon of something from frontier times like the old shod-shack hut, the buck-board wagon, the General Store, and, later, the Model T Ford, Racoon coats, and full-length swimsuits: some private idioms of his own personality in exchange for allowing the maddening world pass him by. Grandpa had a scientific bent, was a professional chemist most of his life. Towards his later years, grandpa had become a science-fiction reader. He once attempted writing a fiction story, but it was too nostalgically moral and a publisher accused it of being too bland; Grandpa Bellinger resigned it to the limbo of the trash can.
“The note’s upstairs,” her brow wrinkled for a moment, “ I don’t recall exactly. There was something about the latest Presidential Assassination; the nuclear conflict…”
She stopped for a moment. Mark imagined that he saw his wife shiver with a slight fear, the same as he also felt. “Well,” she continued, “it seems your Grandfather could visualize half the mayhem going on today—-the book burning, the body tattooing…”
“Pandora’s Box, Clarisse, what did it say about Pandora’s Box?”
“He said it just might be one depending on who found it.”
Yes, that sounded like Grandfather, thought Mark. Idealistic. Studious. And always fearful of mankind’s inhumanity to man and the various tyrannies about. But about Bellinger was also a kindness too, a sense of humor that was evident, so evident, when he died and bequeathed the old two-story, four-bed-room home—an old early-American mansion.
And there also was those old memories. Old memories and this ‘box’—-dredged from a cob-webbed hiding place in the attic and the chimney.
Thunder roamed the skies again, In the street, a car passed through a deep puddle of rain, spraying it upon the wooden porch. It resembled the thumping of fingers upon a table.
“Yes, well,” Mark gave a sigh as he licked a drop of coffee from his lower lip, studiously setting the cup back on its saucer with both hands, “there’s so darn much going on from day to day it is paranoia.”
His wife just kept intently looking at her husband. Her rich, sleek auburn hair somewhat tousled by homemaking, was lazily draped over the shoulders. The wash dress she wore had a floral arrangement with a backdrop of pink and white checkers. She had a small face sculptured with a thin mouth and smooth-running features that came to an abruptly pointed chin. Her brown eyes were saucer-large and floating in magical fluid: Her whole face revolved around those two beautiful ovals. Her face was sprinkled with dimly visible freckles on the slopes of her cheeks.
Don’t start, Mark, she sneered inwardly, please don’t start that infernal sniveling , that filthy tongue-waggling about the world conditions. Believe me, my husband, the only dirty thing is your damned evil mind!
“I’ll call, Bob.” She looked almost as if she were daydreaming. Perhaps she was concentrating on how well the dinner was harmoniously occurring? Mark spread his legs out under the table, laned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head.
“How’s the boy doing? I don’t hear that loud squalor he calls music. He must really be studying?”
“Don’t be sarcastic, Mark. I’m going to call him to supper now. He’s having a hard time here of late, just, just, let him be.”
That did it, thought Mark, what possibly could that bundle of cloth and hair be troubled about? Does he have a Mr. Ferrell breathing down his neck? “He’s having a hard time here of late?” Mark’s face reddened a little, “That kid has it so easy…ah, gosh, get the boy…” Mark sat straight-up and prepared to eat. Mark’s wife looked at him questioningly, slightly grimacing her lips. Mark just sat starring at her.
“Bob!” she called. “Bob, come and eat!”
A silence, then a muffled sound like “all right’’ or ‘‘coming.” It was Clarisse that sighed an eternal sigh this time. Her saddened look forced her husband to break his gaze at her as he glanced off into the raising steam of the food. He thumped the table nervously.
The endless melody of the Grandfather Clock weaved its sad song into the kitchen. Mark unbuttoned his coat, letting it slink off one arm, then the other, and wrapping it across the back of the chair. Just as rapidly he loosened his tie. He stopped to glance at his wife with a mute indignation, the said:
“Well, is he coming?” Mark quickly unbuttoned one sleeve and began to roll it up.
Clarisse resigned herself to the predicament, “I’ll call again.”
Mark repeated his glare and began to roll-up the other sleeve. “Bob, come on now, we’re waiting on you!”
The same low, muffled voice reached the kitchen and after a moment of silence heavy clump-clumps bounded down the stairs that led towards the second level. Into the kitchen bounded a rather tall youth of eighteen with long, shoulder-length hair. He wore a full free-flowing white robe, encircled at the waist by a red, silk-like cord. On his chest was an emblem of a blazing sun thrust through by a well-defined lightning stroke which gave the illusion to descend from the tip of his goatee beard. His feet were sandaled and dirt smudges were obvious between his toes.
Bob walked in clumsy steps, tripping over legs of chairs, scrapping the woodwork, and finally bouncing into a kitchen chair, but holding, all the time, a most graceful air of serenity upon his face to which his father gave a silent gasp and bewilderingly arching back and looking at his wife with raised eyebrows.
The boy shoved himself near the table and quickly began to grab a bowl of food, dumping a portion onto his plate. Before his long arm managed to lay hold another set of china smoldering in steam, Mark Bellinger forced himself to speak.
“How are you doing, son?” there was a barely subdued air of contempt beneath Mark’s words.
“Fine, pop. How are you?” Bob looked up only casually. His long lanky hair swung back and forth each move of his head. Mr. Bellinger hadn’t started to eat .
“Your mother tells me you have troubles here of late. What seems to be the problem?”
Mark Bellinger, his wife had once said, looked like the late actor Tyrone Power, though some pronounced wrinkles around hi neck, and laugh lines around his mouth, gave an appearance more alien than familiar to the forever-youthful Powers. Two large ears were part of that alienness, and his eyes had a foggy appearance which was created early in his youth when Mark put many hours working as a welder in the government’s production of nuclear submarines for the most recent African conflict—-the one that witnessed no less than six nuclear attacks, without the resultant worldwide conflict. The attacks had, however, left several emotional scars.
Mark’s eyes would cloud when in deep thought, but occasionally, in moments of joviality, they would sparkle and a crystal-clarity would arise to transcend the current confusion: they would sparkle with a touch of anger.
“Well, just that I like to help if I can, son. I might not be a college graduate – and I understand that High School today is along a college level…” with all the mayhem, confusion, debauchery and riots of the college of my day, thought Mark, “…but I did go to school, son, I did go to school.”
“Dad, the things we’re studying in school today are so far removed from the High School of your day that it would be useless to explain…” The boy stopped his eating to look at his father. Clarisse hadn’t taken a bite to eat yet.
“Boy, you can say that again!” Mark Bellinger flipped hi napkin open and spread it across his lap. He reached for some food. “In our day, we didn’t have half the crazy things going on that I hear about today. ‘self-instruction.’ Who ever heard about literally doing that?”
When Mark had graduated from High School, and years later was able to squeeze in a few night courses at a local university, he was often bewildered by the campus bulletin boards. Besides odds and ends for sale, there were ads about homosexual liberation, lesbian liberation, childcare ‘corrals,’ anarchy as a movement towards human freedom—-page after page, notices, postcards all thumbtacks in a confusing mosaic on the bulletin boards.
And then Mark woke-up to the fact that people took these things seriously, and not as a momentary aberration. He was happy to know he was morally able to feel nausea.
Bob Bellinger leaned back in his hair to look at this father in a more serious vain. Girlishly, he flipped his hair over this shoulder, caressing his moustache with his fingers.
“Pop, it’s a different world! The things you would never happen ten years ago – are! The things that I wondered about then – I am! We are moving! We are also evolving, Pop! You know how I feel on this.”
“Ya, I know! I know how you feel! Pass the spinach, please.”
Clarisse disturbed her short passivity and proceeded to reach for the bowl and pass it to her husband. The she folded her hands again and quietly listened.
“You’ve never been to a ‘Rata-Tal,’ have you, Pop?” The father just looked at the boy questioningly, his beathing growing heavier. Of course, Mark hadn’t! “Well, if you’ve never tried to transcend this material reality by attuning to the ‘all-soul’ Rata-Tal chants—you really don’t know what you are saying…” The boy excitedly turned to look at his mother. “You know. You know, Mom. Mom’s been to one.” Bob turned to look again at his father, while Mark suddenly found himself trying to cushion the shock of those words.
Clarisse lowered her head slowly and rested on the elbow-supported palm of her hand, as she played with bits of meat on her plate.
“Yes, I’ve been to a Rata-Tal , she thought. I didn’t understand it, but I know one thing, she informed herself. There was excitement there! There was people, there was noise, noise and fun. Anything – anything – but this infernal cemetery of an existence.
Then she almost allowed a visible smile: she recalled the tiny black ‘bat’ that had been tattooed on the bottom of her right foot. She remembered the exciting instance when she dramatically received it at the orgy of body-tattooing at the Rata-Tal; she was eternally vigilant to hide it from her husband. She invented alternate excuses to tell her husband since its implementation, should he discover and ask about it.
“While you say we are rapidly ‘moving ahead,’” Mark Bellinger put a contemptuous air to the words, “I see us ‘falling back.’”
“Look at the whole picture, Pop.”
“Listen, young man, I’ve been around…’
“You see what you want to see!”
“I see what is happening! It isn’t new!”
“Man is a freedom-loving, evolving animal!”
What was this, thought Mark, a conspiracy? Just why is it that so bad for hard-fought-for wisdom of a father to be accepted? Why, in the world, are these two lovely people wanting to destroy me in such an ugly manner?
The slam of the fork upon the tables startled Clarisse and her son. The mother gave a small gasp of surprise, coming to astute attention. Mark gained a slight composure, examining everyone’s face, now, in tension. Was he happy the conversation had come to an end! He released the slight tautness of his muscles. It was the same old thing again, he thought, why was it never any different?
“Aren’t we supposed to say a little something before we eat, or something?” Mark questioned.
“Like what, Mark?” his wife asked.
“Like – like – a prayer or something.” Mark pleaded, swaying his hand through the aroma of the food. He reached for his coffee and sipped it hurriedly.
The steam coming off the food had died down somewhat, and several nosy flies buzzed from dish to dish. One landed on the table and began scurrying between the bowls of food and plates. Bob eyed it casually as he routinely lifted a fork-full of food into his mustached mouth that existed below the two the two large eyes he had inherited from his mother.
His mother straightened herself in the chair. She held back a bit of tears in her eyes by widening them for a moment. She pushed back a cluster of curls on the side of her head. She attempted to eat and her small lips parted for the first bite of food.
“I could say a neo-Indonesian chant, Dad?” It was hard trying to interpret that remark, as to whether sarcasm or genuine concern, ‘’or, perhaps a stanza from the Kali-Yuille?”
A form of panic gripped Mark’s tender features and his throat suddenly became lodged with a flood of liquid as he gasped and nearly dropped the cup of coffee, pushing himself away from the table and letting out a string of coughs.
“Y — you — you, you see what, what (cough) – I mean – (cough) – Clarisse, the boy is half done mad!”
Mark pointed a finger at the flush-faced boy. It had arrived, Clarisse thought, it had arrived! His wife slowly turned her penetrating eyes to her plate, blinking them once or twice, and dropped her fork to the side of her plate.
“Kali-Yuille! Kali-Yuille! I never heard of such terms. It’s some of that crazy oriental stuff those kids down at the University Loop have invented,” Mark continued, “do you know that area was nearly quarantined, Bob, by the City?” Mark looked at his wife, who now had both hands clasped over her ears while gazing down to her plate. “Fourteen rapes, Bob, and three murders, Bob , not in one year, son, or a month my boy, but one week!”
“So, people have problems!” Bob interjected.
“People have problems. You are darn right!” Mark whipped the napkin off his lap and began to dab the spots of spilled coffee, “you’re darn right people have problems, and we have some right here. Right here!” Mark threw the wet napkin into plate with a ‘splat.’
Clarisse yanked on her hair, first with a whimper, than a chain of sobs, and finally a loud cry. Those at the table came to a halting silence.
She lifted her head to reveal two greatly watered eyes and the beginnings of two tear droplets on the lower lids of each that shivered and swayed when she shouted deliberately and somewhat crudely:
“Please, just be quiet! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
“Mom!” the guru of Denver Boulevard started to rise from his chair. “Mom!”
“I fixed a roast, especially for Bobby tonight! It was hours in the cooking! I cooked a lot of favorites! It was going to be a nice dinner! A niceevening!” She pointed a tearful glance at her husband: “Why did you have to ruin it!”
“Me?” exclaimed Mark: This wasn’t just exasperation, it wasn’t amazement, but the usual tragedy warmed over.
“You come in here, moping like the dark dreary day outside, complaining your usual complaint about possibly losing your job! You started picking on the boy before he even got down the stairs! You can’t even…”
“Picking on the boy!” doggonit anyhow, thought Mark. “Now what a minute, this didn’t start tonight…”
“Oh sure, that’s right, you never did like the kid.” Streaks of acidic tears crossed her cheeks. “To you, he always was a gimpy screwball.”
Mark’s olive complexion had turned a shade of red, and his frustration at the swiftness of the change of circumstance had somehow turned into panic. Just then, a large boom vibrated the old house much like a heavy piece of furniture having been dropped onto the upstairs floor as a thunder-burst rolled the sky.
Mark began to swiftly scratch a sore on the back of his hand, and his Adam’s-apple groped in pain every few seconds. “Now, that’s not true! Why are you saying that?’’ Mark turned with a look of astonishment to his son who was now was sitting absolutely erect in stark silence. “Bobby , we always did things together. Remember?”
Mark leaned over to his son slightly, as if to place a hand on his son’s shoulder, but not daring to. “Remember the open-air circus they held every summer down at the Emmerson Expressway? You remember? And that big elephant you rode on, the one named Tiny. Oh, ‘Tiny’ was a favorite name of yours for a long time.” Mark tried to force a crude chuckle. “You even named your pet rabbit, your basement turtle , and a garden-snake you found, by that same name.”
The boy said nothing, just stared mysteriously with a vexation at his father. Bob’s small, rounded nose glistened under the kitchen ceiling light.
“Yes, pop, I remember!.” Bob threw his napkin on the table and tugged on his loin belt rather angrily. “I remember the time you killed that cat, little Clarabelle.” The thought of that little animated ball of fur hadn’t crossed their minds for some time now. Mark was shocked!
“What? I told you I did no such thing! That was a big misunderstanding!”
“Sure. Misunderstandings, like the time you slapped Mom, or the time you locked me in my room. We should have called the police, Mom.”’ He had turned to his mother who had finally lit her cigarette and was observing with curious but rapt attention.
“This is crazy!’’ Mark jutted up from the table, glanced down at the food, put his hands on both hips for a second, and then hurriedly walked away from the table, “This is nuts!”
Mark quickly rushed to the sink and gazed through the frosted windows, past the stream of rain and into the patio of the next-door neighbor. Twice now he had tightened his lips together, forcing them downward somewhat, stretching his neck muscles to abate the lump of fear in his throat; suddenly he became the prisoner in his solitary emotional cell again. He gripped the side of the sink.
No sound came from the family at the table for a second. A roll of thunder past overhead. Bob said in a more casual tone, “How’s our ‘box’ doing?’
“Still in there, still locked,” added Clarisse.
“Well, Grandpa was nobody’s fool Mom, I bet it’s full of money. No change, just bills,’’ Bob jested.
Darn it, anyhow, thought Mark. how can they be so casual about it all?
Clarisse was quick to laugh at the remark from her son, “sure, it would be nice. I wonder.”
That boy had no cause to say that to me, so easily, so quickly, thought Mark.
Mark noticed someone on the patio next-door. It was Mr. Maxwell, who had just finished his supper and sat down in his favorite easy chair, a glass of his favorite bourbon in hand. It was hard to make out everything plainly for patio glass was heavily steamed, but Mark believed that his neighbor had a look of contentment upon his face.
“I had to lock you in your room, Bob, you were doing some bad things at fourteen-years-of age. Some bad things. You should remember.” Mark’s voice was soft, listless, with a tone of frightening exasperation that trailed off into the corners of the house.
The other voices at the table stopped for a second; they surely heard what Mark spoke. Then they quickly resumed their conversation.
“Ah, I don’t think its money,” Bob informed, “but probably one of his inventions he made – one that he never told us about. You know, I went up to grandpa’s private laboratory in the attic once when I was six, and I remember,” the boy’s eyes rolled to look at the ceiling in deep thought, “ this big coil outfit he made—I didn’t know what it was for, at the time—but he said it had an ‘electro-magnetic’ output of such and such; you know the regular laboratory jargon. Grandfather was talking about making a larger condensed-model one day.”
“You think that’s what it is?” his mother smiled, blowing a puff of cigarette smoke into the air.
(Mark imagined that cocky, serene look which had suddenly grown on the face of his wife, and those two thin lips that moved indifferently to haunt him; what was that slogan: thin-lipped people are selfish?)
“Maybe not this big model,” the boy explained, “but maybe a smaller one?” His mother just lifted her eyebrows in question. “Boy, when he pressed this button I thought my short was going to be pulled off my body! I think it was kind of a force field!” The boy was excited in telling of the event.
(Mark saw their indifference as a continuation of the sardonic conspiracy to the genuine circumstances Mark was feeling and had experienced at other times: what was going on, Mark argued inwardly?)
Through the ‘crystal ball’ of a kitchen window, Mark saw the imagined face of his employer, and suddenly he was back at work, computers whirling invisibly beyond him as he busily punched a tabulator in front of him. The supervisor just stood there for a moment. A look of stark anger upon his slim face—-a face that seemed to have been constantly washed morning, noon, and night.
Mark hadn’t stopped his tabulating immediately. No, he wanted to be as casual as possible. Yes, through the corner of his eye, he could see Mr. Farrell’s tweed-like material of his suit coat. He could smell the strong fragrance of his cologne, but Mark didn’t want to appear too startled, too shocked, though he knew very well why Mr. Farrell stood there with his cheek bones slowly moving and protruding somewhat aflame.
“Damn it, Bellinger, can’t you see?” Farrell’s voice brought Mark to full attention. “You did it again! What’s got into you, man?” With a slap, Mark’s boss threw the file folder on Mark’s desk, causing the papers to spew over its surface. Mark investigated the man’s face. Mark did nothing, just pushed his glasses back on the bridge of his nose. Mr. Farrell looked at him questioningly. Then just as crisp:
“Be in my office in five minutes!”
The ceiling lights on the office became once again the many flowing raindrops upon the kitchen windowpane. His next-door neighbor had made it a short-lived habit of reading the newspaper this evening and was soundly asleep in his favorite chair, paper crumpled on his lap. The oval of his mouth denoted an active snore.
Mark tangled with a thick, heavy gulp in his throat. The emotion was hurting his neck as if it was cement. His lips quivered and the tears in his eyes made visibility almost impossible.
“Well Mom, I am sorry about dinner. I really am. I would have gabbled-down that roast —- well, it was good!”
“Sure. At least I tried, Bobby. You know I tried.”
“Sure, I know, Mom.”
Was there something in those surprisingly mellow voices that emotionally ‘included’ him, Mark asked himself? There must be! He suddenly felt a loneliness that quickly accompanied his growing freight:
“I love you, Bob!” Mark practically sobbed the words. Mark remained in his feigned position. The boy only stared at his mother’s pretended surprise glance. She looked back at her son just as tritely. A moment of silence stood between everyone.
“Well, can I leave for Sherell’s now, Mom? We’re going to have some practice chants in the oriental sketches we’re doing.” Bob prepared himself ready to push away from the table.
“Your homework done?” she eyed him with a half-hidden and warm smile, part-way disguised by the drawn appearance of her lips and the way she cradled the cup of coffee in her hand. Her eyes twinkled unexpectedly.
“Yes, Mom!” Bob answered a bit resentful as he stood; I have to get-going, he thought to himself.
Bob! Bob! Come over and pat me on the back, cried his father inwardly to himself, and take me by the arm, squeeze it, tell me that everything’s alright – it’s alright! If the porcelain of the sink were clay, it would have ten deep impressions from his iron squeeze. But instead of secret pleas being vanquished, a kitchen chair was pushed into the table and rapid steps headed for the hallway.
“Bob!” Mark blurted out, his had towards the boy as if to grasp him away from some deep precipice. “Bob, son, let me talk to you.” Small tears had formed in his Tyrone-Power-eyes, and somehow the strong smell of spinach, mash potatoes and rich gravy was so, so out of place as they now sat forlornly under the dull fluorescent ceiling light.
Bob Bellinger just stood there before his father. Tall, somewhat lanky, his hair draped over his shoulders, a look of feigned exasperation on his face, partially recognizing the urge within himself to do the duty he was neglecting to do. He fidgeted on the ruffled cuffs of his Victorian short; oh, how obnoxious it appeared up against his faded jeans; old, whitened jeans that protruded from the bottom of his gown.
“Not now, Father.” He said softly.
“I want to go, Pop!”
Again, a small but deadly manipulative silence filled the room forcefully touching all those in the room.
“You just can’t do this, walk away,’’ Mark flipped his hand in the air. He glanced over at his wife who had a look of growing sick anticipation, “Things have been said! I need to explain. Please!” Mark’s wife just looked at him, shockingly sedate and surprisingly serene, lipping the rim of her coffee cup.
The boy lowered his head and swiftly turned down the hallway to the coatrack and jacket. Mark raced through the kitchen doorway; the light threw a long, slender shadow that reached to the front door.
“Stop, son, let’s talk!”
The boy only gave the usual exasperated look, swished the jacket onto his back, pausing:
“See you later, Mom!” Bob jerked the door open and headed out into a continuing, somewhat subdued fray of lightning. The door shut with a clump.
The Grandfather-clock seemed unmoved, undisturbed by the household activity.
Mark noticed that the Sun had set, and the temperature had dropped significantly. He stood still for a moment, filled with the solemn silence of the moment as he glared at this shadow. He made a tight fist, then relaxed his fingers again. There was a clank as his wife set her coffee cup down to the saucer.
“Well, better get the dishes.’’ His wife voice was a vote for resumption of daily routine.
The panic within Mark was somehow fortuitously held at a subdued level but he knew it would somehow evolve into a barrage of words any second. He slipped back into the kitchen light.
“Clarisse – honey – talk to me! It’s not right!” How could he describe the tense knot in his stomach and what it meant emotionally? Nor was he able to explain the thousands of little prickling sensations of pain rushing up and down his flesh. His body cried out for justice.
“Go on, talk.’’ The drabness of her voice was as deadly and metallically cold as the lovely strains of her Cole-Dark hair that ran across her shoulders, down her neck all the way to the middle of her back. She ventured to the sink and moved the few dishes deposited there in the water. When she pushed the facet handle tight, drops of water still leaked through causing a lonely ‘drip-drip-drip’ adding to the solemn quiet. Mark’s throat was sore from emotion: ‘‘Can I be that bad?”
“Tell me, honey!”
“Talk to me – talk!” It was torture: his very being cried out for help.
“What about?” She quickly moved to the table, gathering dishes for the sink.
“Are you happy with things this way? Do you take delight in knowing that your son hates his father? What’s going on here, anyway?”
Mark’s thinking was a maze of confused. He had the impulse to run out into the rain: washing the frustration and hurt like just so much dirty muck out of his system.
She stopped her trips across the kitchen floor, holding a ‘mash-potato-caked’ tablespoon limply in her hand, then coming to a military ‘attention’: “You are what’s wrong!” She quickly continued her march.
“Your nothing but a big overgrown brute!”
“Just like that?”
“Just like that!”
“That’s not fair. W….w….what specifically are you talking about?”
“Everything? Clarisse, what are you saying, you’ve never said that before?”
“Money. You’re tight. We can’t even spare a dime for a candy-bar around here!”
“Clarisse! You have this house—ah! You…you have plenty of cloths. I don’t understand!’’ The knot in his stomach continued to twist and churn.
“Work! You need to quit your job! You want your wife to work; you are plain lazy!”
‘Lazy!’’ his voice exploded. “What, are you nuts….?”
“Ya! I’m nuts! Stark-raving-mad! Thanks a lot!”
“Oh, honey, don’t confuse things – I’ve got problems at work. Today, I wanted to talk, to…to…ask your help about…”
“All you want, mister, is to drive people batty!”
“Stop it, Clarisse! You make me sound terrible. That’s lousy! Let’s be fair!’’
“Fair!” she sardonically laughed.
“I love you and the kid.” This was awful, Mark thought, grabbing his hair and yanking on it. He gritted his teeth.
“You wanted to get rid of us all along.’’ Clarisse smirked.
Mark was beginning to think of his sanity holding intact in this Kafkaesque game.
“That’s crazy! Crazy! We’ve got problems, but Clarisse, we’ve had good times. We had fun, Clarisse…”
“Ho, boy!” She leaned her head back now and then to project her words to him. She had slipped her shoe from one foot and was messaging the other with it: was she enjoying this? “We can’t get up and go to sleep without getting permission from our Lord and king, Master Bellinger!”
You’re wanted to be cruel, thought Mark, you’re wanting to be!
“It’s hard times, Clarisse. Terrible things are happening. We must run a tight ship around here. You know that.” Silence from his mate. “All those laughing, hysterically silly people cabaret about the nation – their happiness is short-lived. You must have some long-range goals, a little disciplined….’’
“So, we can go around moping in tears like you?”
“Inflation has driven most the nation into poverty!”
Again, her sardonic smile, “That’s because you want to live like the poverty smut taking over the city, instead of moving out into the county, like I wanted to!”
Mark injected a slightly different view: “What’s wrong with this house! it was grandpa’s house! What a terrible thing to say about a wonderful gift from my Grand Pop! It was an upper-middle class house home at one time, you know.”
“And now, dear, it’s junk—in more ways than one,” she was running a wet kitchen cloth over the now cleared table.
“You’re confusing things, Clarisse! Darn you! Can’t you try to be helpful? Darn you, anyhow!”
“And damn you to hell, too!”
“You brazen little two-year-old!” This growingly grotesque slander had been too much for Mark, too darn much. Mark lunged forward at his wife, when swift jerks of her hand from her bent position revealed a dire look of hateful determination at her husband.
“Go on! Hit me, you monster! Hit me like you did before!”
Mark stopped dead. There was a sharp shooting pain in the back of his skull like bolts of electrical pings. Something like a huge, thick wall had been lowered in front of him. He was unable to move around it. He wrung his hands together, gritting his teeth, and then suddenly his submerged eyes burst into tears, and the corners of his mouth drew back into a painful sob.
“I didn’t plan this!” wretched Mark. “Oh, no! I didn’t plan this!”
Mark covered his face with his hands and felt himself fall back to the doorway, momentarily leaning against the wall, letting his chest fall into deep heaves till his muscles were sore.
It was almost as if his feet had a mind of their own as he lingered in the darkness of the hallway, he stumbled, swayed, and almost falling, and then he soon felt his nose against the cold glass of the front door.
It was lonely, a terrible loneliness that had become his companion and a reality. The darkness was lonely. The rain was lonely. The low rumble of the thunder and, now, infrequent flashes of lightning were— lonely.
Father! Father! He sobbed aloud again: Oh, Pop! What a misery your grandson must have been!
Mark’s hand slid gently across the veneer-wood of the tall clock. The strokes of its long pendulum could barely be made out in the dim light. He could feel the cool glass on its front and Mark rested his head upon it for a moment, as if were caressing an old friend.
Somewhere upstairs a light had been left on, probably in Bob’s room, for its rays could barely be seen on reflecting surfaces in the upstairs hallway and onto the wall. One’s eyes could move in the darkness till they came to rest on the thick siding doors to the downstairs front room; and it struck Mark majestically as if he were viewing the entrance to some ancient tomb: the analogy was absurd but the feeling was striking.
A unique chill ran through Mark as he approached the sliding doors; he touched them, momentarily listening to the cars splashing through the puddles on the street outside. He slowly pushed the huge door panels into their recesses, and a woody growl of sound came forth.
Mark fumbled his way into the room. The smell of musty old gray dust along with the invigorating smell of vinegar from the kitchen was a peculiar mixture. He glanced about the room; what a cemetery! He could feel his father’s presence there, almost as if he were sitting in his regular upholstered easy chair in the corner, his grandad looking at him casually, a small light smile on his aging but still pink lips. Grandpa appeared as he was in his late sixties. Whitened sideburns, and patches of dark on his hoary head. The smile would momentarily leave, fluctuating at times into a serious grimace—almost as if grandpa could see the aches in his grandson’s heart. Grandpa still fidgeted with the corner of the armrest, a usual habit of his that Mark had noticed during their many front-room discussions in year’s past.
Somehow these thoughts scared him, and Mark rushed to switch the small frontiers’-lamp on an end-table. The first thing that small amount of light revealed to his vision was the box! It sat smackdab in the middle of the room on an old wooden pedestal. It was obvious that Clarisse hadn’t been in the room to clean the for some time as a sizeable layer of dust covered it and most of the furniture.
Mark walked slowly over to the box. It was an ancient object; something you might find in an old cabin somewhere, during or before the civil war, or, even the Revolutionary War. Its metal parts were badly rusted. The lock and loop were a grisly red. Barely visible was a gold and silver trim, and a design of something like an American Eagle could be seen. It looked as if termites had attempted to invade the crypt at one time.
Mark ran his fingers gently over the side of the box. Though he had handled it before, it suddenly felt more significant to him this time. Grandpop! Something Grandpop left for us! Something special!
He let out a deep sigh: if only he could have made up to his granddad all that he had wanted to do. Mark glanced over into the partial cover of shadows.
“Oh, Grandpop,” he whispered, “what am I to do! Things are getting rougher all the time!’’
Mark was thinking, of course, of the vast economic and sociologic changes going on since his granddad died ten years beforehand. He and his grandfather spoke openly about some of the coming trends. He was thinking about some of the wild kids running around the neighborhoods beating-up everybody on sight. Half of them were brazen, loud-mouthed homosexuals. The other half were nothing but freaks who had marvelous means of inhibiting and ‘handcuffing’ the police whose severely limited capabilities were bought-on by the various radical ‘civil liberties’ of groups that had sprung-up-out-nowhere seemingly overnight.
The communal tribal life of people had finally arrived. It first was a few excited isolated ‘communities,’ but with the passing of Supreme Court laws, whole city blocks were rented and designated ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and consecutive letters, and soon numbers like 184, 185, till the cities became thriving ‘free-for-all’ areas of living causing havoc with real-estate and Credit businesses, the new census polls, and schooling. Delinquency would no longer be traced back to ‘families,’ only back to the ‘community,’ and the ‘community’ had an abysmal way of avoiding all responsibility.
So, with Dad and Mom being nothing but murky, changing figures and faces, the youngsters became nothing but a wild, undisciplined herd of animals.
The police department surrendered to the National Guard; eventually, the National Guard surrendered to the ‘people!’ The ‘people’ told the ‘peace officers’ when ‘when-to-and-when-not-to.’ It became so difficult , so enmeshed in red tape, that finally it was simpler to ‘brush’ a dead body under a rug and then call “the law.” Was he your husband? Well, there’s always another man. Was she only a mate? It was never too late to find another.
Libraries became the property of the ‘Liberated Peoples,’ and Oriental-Asian-type nomads, descendants of the contemporary ‘hippies,’ that made quick business of using them as “Outposts.” It was crazy! It was nuts! But inevitably, books were burned in protest in one town, and soon spread as a ‘fad’ through the states. Magazines were “narrowed-down” to a few who adhered to the “New Age-Politic.”
It was a society that had sprung-up over-night and with surprising fury, for even its far-reaching effects couldn’t be seen by everyone, everywhere. The Nazi swastikas, the witches’ lore and ‘bent cross,’ plus other pagan symbolism, again became common. Everything was quite contemporary, yet quite ancient and fantastic.
In New York City, a recent poll indicated that the ‘red’ Communist Party was inadvertently ‘in power.’ The traditional mafia had some of its tentacles into the matrix as well. And there was even talk that the Russians had postponed an “invasion” because of the rapid success of the American Communist Party; we’ll give them another five years, the mighty ‘Bear’ said.
But above all this, the city of Yorkshire stood out in comparative peace. The Liberated Peoples’ movement had gained access to only perhaps 15% of the City and 8% of the County. And not everyone had convinced themselves that they had what it took to drop old values and step-in with the new; at least, not yet, all the way!
The trends were well-set, Grandpop Bellinger had said one night, sitting in that very armchair. It was already upon them; and that was ten years ago, recalled Mark (who had become tentatively content with the weak ideas that he and his family had not yet, despite the tragedy in their pasts, succumbed to the New Age altogether).
Mark shook his head. His hand could feel the small, corroded keyhole in the lock of the box.
What would money do? Sure, we needed it, he said to himself, but he wasn’t sure that it would help. It’s meaning and purpose would be twisted and pulled around beyond all recognition, and in the end, Clarisse would swear up and down that it was some diabolical misuse on his part. It always happens. But, oh, they could use the money. They could move…
Move! To where? And who could save that it was money in the box?
Maybe it was blood and guts! Perhaps Grandpa Bellinger had fallen before the weight of the cascading wickedness about him and wanted to play a hellish joke! Maybe he, too, dabbled in the back rooms of the university laboratories, the same as the strange ‘people;’ trying to create Frankenstein’s! And here, as a last weary tribute to a forgotten page of history and a nostalgic way of life, were the actual entombed bits and pieces of that life itself. Blood and guts!
Oh, what a hellish thought cried Mark inwardly, shame on myself, grandpa, forgive me!
Then, though, who could say – who would say?
Mark listened to the drizzle of the enduring rain hitting on the two large front-room windows. Every now and then the shades would light up in a faint headlight glow as a car passed-by.
Dull clinks and clanks rolled into the front room from the kitchen as Clarisse washed the rest of the dishes. Mark sighed deeply again, continuing to rub the box. It almost was polished from his incessant handling. He reached for a cigarette out of his pack. It had been years since they’ve had a cancer warning in the news media, he thought, holding the white cigarette cylinder before him. He lit it quickly and blew a heavy puff of smoke over the box. Then he slowly backed away and set into the thick, padded armchair.
Mark could imagine his wife at the kitchen sink, where he had often watched her gracefully at work under the dim kitchen-window-light. She was lovely, thought Mark, somewhat petite and thin, but very shapely with rich, sleek auburn hair that gently cascade about her shoulders and down her back, smooth and lovely ankles that were accentuated by delicate, sensually bulging calves. Even in an old mini skirt (the modern housedress) she had beauty; a beauty that even her small breasts couldn’t detract-from; after all, thought Mark, they had fed two babies; a lovely boy and his sweet little daughter.
Mark’s throat choked again. It had been some time since he thought of his daughter. He loved his daughter, despite the animosity that somehow existed between them. And he knew, too, that he loved his wife; yet, their lives were such a panic at times. And his wife could be so devilish! But then, thought Mark, she was not so nice to some others all the time either. Oh, what was the answer? How did they get into such a mess? An early marriage? A child out of wedlock? A punk kid with no formal schooling? Yes, sure, all that was correct, he confessed; but then, there seemed to be more.
Mark gave another thick sigh. “Oh, Clarisse! If we could only step beating each other over the head!”
His chest still hurt but he had stopped his crying. He just wanted to relax the tension and frustration. Relax! Let every muscle ripple loose and flow into a magical state. Relax. Relax.
He puffed the cigarette again. Smoke gradually filled the air. “The key,’’ Mark whispered, “Grandpop’s key! Let me think. Think!”
The box sat immobile in its mute witnessing. A museum piece in a crypt from out of the turn of the century; my, how time flies.
Mark closed his eyes. His eyes felt heavy and sore. He placed the cigarette in an ashtray, and he was thinking of the place his granddad may have kept a key.
Soon his olive complexion erased its wrinkles and a serene look of peace passed over it slowly. His head slumped to one side. The rain had stopped. Distant rumbles could be heard in far parts of the city. Mark Bellinger had surreptitiously fallen asleep.
Soon following, Clarisse decided to sleuth the situation on Mark’s whereabouts. Her expression was suave and noncommittal. She walked over and turned the lamp off without saying a word to her husband. Then she climbed the stairs.
Mark didn’t hear the melodious chimes of the Grandfather Clock announcing that the hour had arrived. Neither did it cause the clock to change its routine. It only said:
A steady stream of clear day light came through the curtain on the big front door. It lit-up the parlor delightfully but not in the full burst-light of noon time. There was a vague, dull overcast outside, but it didn’t deter the squall of the blue jays. One could hear the coo of pigeons on the roof and the crisp chirps of those hundreds of little brown birds that seemed to be imperceptibly everywhere. There was a steady rustle of the autumn leaves causing a placid, dim sound, like a waterfall off in the distance.
Every now and then, a silhouette would pass down before the front door in a swirling, rocking motion as several more leaves came off their parent tree to join the companion blanket on the ground.
The quick, rocky ‘putter’ and rumble of an automobile was heard as it raced by the front of the house — and then another going in the opposite way. Only the Grandfather’s Clock made the sole conversation in the autumn afternoon symphony: its choice of words never changed.
The someone scampered up the wooden steps to the house; Rather briskly turning the door, turning the nob once, hesitating, and then going back to the steps, and sat down. He sat there and made no motion for a long while. Only the ‘chee-chee’ of a bird indicated that someone was aware of the person’s presence. When minutes had passed, the person got up, quickly opened the door, and holding its edge, peered in.
It was Bob Bellinger. He looked fazed, like he had the flu or a bad cold. There was no doubt that he was troubled about something.
“Mom!” he called, glancing back and forth through the house. He listened for an answer. “Mom!” Still no response.
This prompted him to come and shut the door. It quickly dulled the whine of a jet’s after-burner overhead.
Bob peered into the kitchen. No one. And no one was in the Sunroom. Upstairs?
Apparently, not, thought Bob, they surely would have answered by now.
He gave a short sigh, whipped the thin layer of sweat from the palms of his hands onto the stripped pants (pants designed by the elite of homosexual clothing designers). He started for the stairs – but suddenly stopped. He glanced for at the heavy sliding doors to the front room and felt a sudden compulsion to go in. Why, he didn’t really know, but within seconds he had the doors pated enough for him to pass through. He just stood there for a moment, casually scrutinizing the alien sight.
It wasn’t too often that he had spent any amount of appreciable time in the front room, it seemed so odd and outlandish. And for the most part, the heating was shut off there to help to reduce the heating bill — this was denoted by a sudden draft that wafted past him. Bob pushed aside the doors.
But still, it was quant, thought Bob, something nostalgic and reassuring. A symbol — a symbol out of the past of never-changing values – of permanence and even loyalty. As loyal as the musty old chopped and unlit wood in the fireplace; it hadn’t been disturbed in any great degree since Grandpa Bellinger died.
Bob shivered. His complexion was still flu-like. He let his hands slide from the edges of the thick doors to his sides with a notifiable tap: he rubbed the brightly decorated, thin satin material of his trousers, as if attempting to warm himself. The necklace around his throat was brassy but still distinctly appealing in color. His skintight, evenly creased trousers were the latest style among the ‘Ultras,’ a faction of theLiberated Peoples of America.
And, boy, did he need some reassuring!
How could such ominous yet commonplace things have happened so spontaneously and yet present so many difficulties? He wasn’t even sure it was happening! And Sherell, he thought in utter amazement, was giving him some fantastic doctrine about doing it ‘the correct way!’
Sickening, he thought, yet, there still existed laws that bound a man to marry a woman with children resulting, and the one party, usually the female, wanted to consummate the union because of children.
Such an anarchic law! Who paid any attention to this, any longer? And above all, why, in the world would Sherell – a princess-maiden in the American Liberated Peoples – pull-off something like that?
Bob just shook his head dejectedly at the floor, churning his fingers into his palm, all emphasized by the gulp of his larynx. In the next instance, his thoughts had become too overpoweringly bewildering. He shook his head again, and ‘swooned’ the few feet to the sofa, falling onto it, allowing his head to finally rest.
He peered up into the old venetian-blinds. Light streamed faintly though them making zebra strips across his face. Apparently, Mom had felt compassion towards the old place, for she had, almost despite herself, replaced the yellowed shades and the crinkled, bent venetian blinds, with brand-new ones. It probably took some effort to break-away from daily daydreaming to do that toil.
He slowly lifted his head; his vision was confronted by the old wooden box, situated no more than three feet from him.
“Boy! How can everything go so wacky?” he said aloud to himself, and suddenly he realized he must tell his parents about the cryptic happening, the sooner the better, he told himself. But how? Dad was out of the question, he reasoned, he could not bear to approach him. But what was more frightening, Bob Bellinger acknowledged, he wasn’t so sure his Mother would react according to his preconceived notion of what should happen.
Ah, Mom was a swell cooky, Bob thought, and she had many ‘swinging’ ideas. Bob Bellinger gave a wicked little smile: Ideas that would even have blown the top of Grand Pop’s head off. Oh yes, Mom had shared some of the current scenes: the ‘blood-runs’ outside the City Limits; the Rati-Tals; the various ‘New Age’ magazines and newspapers. She wasn’t completely alien to Bob’s private world. Perhaps she would understand. Perhaps. It was a secondary thought, but one of weird comfort, nonetheless.
“There will be help. Maybe, just maybe, things aren’t as bad as they seem. If I’ve known that stupid girl would pull something like that,” continued Bob in his dramatic thinking, “I’d would have dropped her long ago.”
He just shook his head again; it was useless to go on in this panic-like way. Mom would be home any minute.
He glanced at the old Grandfather Clock, the face of which peered at him incessantly, ticking off minutes and seconds like eternity dispensing through a box.
His eyes fell upon the decrepit construction of wood before him. He slowly lifted himself off the soft springy sofa and reached for the box. He noticed fingerprint smears over its polished surface. Mom had a remarkable job of cleaning and polishing the old relic, what a souvenir it had become. But ‘why,’ asked the rather stern-looking teenager, didn’t they open it? A hammer, crowbar, or axe – anything would do.
“Silly,” he whispered. He glanced around the room at the antique and vintage furniture, “dumb, crazy, idiocy,” he eyed the old fireplace, “nuts, gooney, stupid…” It wasn’t helping any. He dropped his hands down at his sides and looked back at the box. The afternoon stillness grew upon him.
And then his heart spiked, and immediately began to pound — someone was coming up the porch steps.
He tightened his forefinger onto the box. His throat went dry. A key turned in the door lock. There was the rustle of a paper bag, and soon his mother appeared in the parlor, headed towards the kitchen.
“Mom!” the words came out suddenly, almost unexpectantly. The fear that had been rising in him was coming to a quick peak.
Clarisee backed-up till she was in the middle of the doorway. She had a satin scarf about her head, and her slender arms looked strained under the load of groceries she was holding. It pinned her knit sweater up to her elbows. She looked at her son questioningly.
“Home from the scatter lands already, Bob?”
Bob was momentarily lost for words, and his mouth was gapped a space. His eyes rolled over the strained stance of his mother.
“Ah, yes, Mom.”
“No instructor today?”
“Yes, no instructor.”
“Boy,” she shook her head and smiled, “school sure has changed since my day. Didn’t one of the kids get up in front of the class and teach? They usually do that, don’t they?”
“Yes, Mom. Mom,” his voice picked up a slight sense of urgency, “could I talk to you?”
There. He was well on his way. It would be out in the open any minute now.
Clarisee’s forehead wrinkled slightly, “Sure, Bob. What’s wrong?’’
“Here, set the groceries down,” he approached her taking the bag and setting it on the sofa. Clarisee untied the knot of her scarf, whipped it off her head into her pocket. She shook her head, letting her hair fan out round her shoulders. There was a strong scent of beer on her breath. Dad had given up years ago to fight her lavishing alcohol; but it had led to their share of conflicts, thought the boy, and — well — maybe she’s just relaxed enough to take his message smiling.
“Well, go on.” There was an element of suspicion in her voice.
“Sit down, Mom.” Bob’s voice had turned somewhat somber. He pointed to the sofa for her to set as he turned to the musty old armchair. There was the perpetual chill to the room. It was almost as if the logs in the fireplace should have sprouted into flames out of desperation. But, instead, the unending sweeps of the pendulum of grandfather’s clock; the rustle of leaves along the street outside; and the forlorn melody of a popular song from someone’s stereo down the way, all indicted the unchanging seriousness of the moment.
Bob’s mother’s large brown eyes held the face of the boy seriously, who, now, nervously groped for words. She squirmed. Then crossed her legs in anxious suspicion.
“Mom. Promise you’ll try and understand that what I tell you is something that ‘can’ be handled.”
“Mom, I am sorry but Sherell Getigard…’’
“Go on, Bob! What is it?”
“Well, she’s having a baby…’’ The words just fumbled out. It was no use to decorate them by proper tone or volume of voice. Bob Bellinger felt suddenly nihilistic and just wanted time to ‘pass’ in a swift fashion; perhaps the universe would melt away.
(The shocked expression on his mother’s face didn’t change for a few seconds. Her lips were pressed together firmly and slightly wet. Her eyes didn’t move. She just sat looking at her son in a skillfully subdued moment of panic. She perhaps wanted to cry but something much deeper than fear flashed before her now; and for that moment, she saw, again, the flashing red signal atop the ambulance in front of the house: it was then that the neighborhood had gathered before the white picket fence — Mark Bellinger was holding the door aside in desperate urgency while white-smocked attendants handled the wheeled stretcher down the steps out to the sidewalk. Heavy sobs and an occasional sequel echoed from his wife’s throat as Mark pathetically hung onto the sides of the stretcher.
She remembered the heavy lines on the face of a father who had just lost a baby daughter, seeing Mark standing there in the flashing light sweeping through the dark night, falling on his solemn and painful countenance.)
“A baby?” she spoke painfully.
“A baby, Mom” answered Bob Bellinger, and she just as well had said ‘what’s new?’ – thought the boy – for all the fashion she was reacting to it.
Clarisee lowered her head slightly, turning it aside, and grabbed the bag of groceries.
“I’ll put these away.”
She hesitated only momentarily, and then rose slowly to head into the kitchen. Bob sat nervously in the chair, fidgeting on its upholstery.
A moment later, a strange howl rose from the kitchen — an almost agonizing whimper: a lonely, low scream, an agonizing moan of desperation, came from Bob’s mother.
Bob wished he could run; run quickly, immediately and without any responsibility or recollection as to what was happening. But as the voice of his mother shrouded his very being, he knew it was hopeless; and Bob knew she was crying for more than just any baby.
Amongst the ‘Liberated Peoples,’ and large segments of the American populace, children were far and few between. It wasn’t a need to curb the rise of venereal disease, but, moreover, it had justly become a look for more restrains for ‘lusty independence.’
When the ranks of the ‘LP’ decreased because of such regulatory and medical concerns, an added maneuver was instigated to bring about a second generation of children, prospectively trained and drilled in the Liberate People’s philosophy: the result was ‘Babylon,’ and children were mere chess pons on a diabolical chessboard.
Mass abortion was common, even the ‘Law’ in some cities. But more fantastic, there were rumors of ‘child sacrifice’ in some segments of the decadent society. How it came about was uncertain; but where power and prestige were at stake, anything was possible — even in a democracy of a neo-utopian-sophisticated-America.
And there where those, suspended in a limbo of confusion, who had not yet accepted the growing fads and trends of the new “Utopia.” Some were still single-minded – and aware of the sanctity of children. Some still cried when they died, and still fewer worried what would happen when they grew older.
It was baby ‘Margaret Ann’ that Bob’s mother was crying about, thought Bob, and in a sudden moment, a vast panorama of grisly gangs of punk kids; orgiastic pranks in darkened avenues; and the whole scope of his earlier private delinquency passed before his mind’s eye.
He quickly brought a hand across his face, and he, too, began to cry in hard, deli berate sobs and chokes.
“Oh, baby Ann,” he sobbed, “oh, baby Ann!”
Through watered eyes, Bob tried to drink-in every ancient and comfortable sight in the room. He was thinking, at one time the bookshelf held classic novels and stylish, contemporary stories, but now only a stack of the latest LP publications sat there, worn, and well read, but triumphantly quiet.
There was the old phonograph, dusty but useable, setting silently in one corner. The melodies that were played on it were something out of another world altogether; what was the one name — Glenn Miller?
A world that believed in fresh roses, goldenrod, and ragweed that once was placed on the tables throughout the room. A world that was as eloquent as the yellowed chandelier hanging from the ceiling…as majestic as the old Grandfather Clock…yes, a world as ancient and romantic as…as…
As the old wooden box setting in the middle of the room!
Bob rose from the chair and reached for the box. He pressed his fingers tightly onto its surface again, and then quickly turned away from the pedestal.
Why were they living as they were? Actors in a surrealistic panorama? A phantasmagoric drama?
Loud voices could be heard outside, about a block’s distance away. Chatting, singing and a general grumble came from a large crowd.
Bob Bellinger slowly made his way from the chilly room into the hallway. He glanced at the dignified sweeps of the pendulum in the masterly face of the Grandfather Clock, as he went about opening the thick front door.
He cursed at himself, suddenly, as he peered outside — he cursed at his stupidity and jeered at the impending doom about him: over the trees and housetops across the street, in the distant horizon, was a deep glow, a rosy, pink vapor enveloped amid thick black fringes and edges: somewhere buildings were burning; somewhere property was being destroyed.
Soon, a parade of screaming, jeering, chanting long-haired delinquents appeared. Youthful girls clad in plastic-like, clear one-piece jumpers made from the latest synthetic material in space flights, shielding their nude bodies from the cold about them. Many were carrying torches in their hands. Faces of boys and girls alike were contorted in savage teenage frivolity. Mouths were formed into large round ovals; it resembled an over-sized searching party who had gone out to get Frankenstein’s monster.
It was going to be a rough weekend.
“Bob, I don’t know what is going to happen. I just don’t know. I think, I might do crazy any minute.” It was the weak, sick voice of his mother. She was much smaller than her towering son, and she had to reach up to caress her boy higher on his lean back.
Bob could feel her moist cheek on his arm as the two peered out at the crowd passing in front of the front door window-curtain — the red infernal hovering on the horizon. His body shivered with a peculiar freight and pain.
“But I want you to go to your room,” she continued to speak firmly, “and I want you to stay there and not come out. You’ll tell your Father …no, I’ll tell your Father that you are sick. You’ll be in bed, too sick to see your Father.” She looked at her son with tearful eyes.
“Do you understand?”
Bob turned slowly, feeling the small hand of his Mother slink down his back.
It was a Johnson-Clark respirator that had been used on Baby Ann in the ambulance. Bob remembered the churning hum that emitted from somewhere inside the vented mechanism, and the red cross pasted on the side somehow stuck in his memory. A cross? He was not sure what it stood for; any more than he understood the real purpose for those round, heavy, brick, stone sculptured gothic structures the LP assembled as groups to practice their sundry rituals.
He walked towards the stairway. With painfully heavy steps, he crept up to the second floor. Then suddenly when he reached the landing — he raced down the upstairs hallway into his room, as his Mother had ordered.
Mark Bellinger had been such a dashing fellow, Clarisee was thinking, perhaps in a juvenile way, but he was the man-of-her-dreams. She had built her whole world around him in their teen-years. He was swell, good looking, muscular, and a man; how she needed some of that strength; beg, borrow or steal…
The parade of teenage libertines had left his street; only a bright red color filled the parlor hallway and door window, fading back and forth reflections as the furious flames fluctuated far out in the city.
The parlor clock chimed the hour, and the sound carried to other parts of the house, a sound that also seemed to dance about the patiently- waiting front room pedestal—–and the companion ‘box.’
The box—–it appeared stretched and out of focus—-being viewed through a female’s tear drop.
The light from the table lamp in the front room cast a cozy warmth into the parlor. It lit-up the face of the majestic Grandfather Clock, part of the front door, and the somewhat dirt-stained rug on the parlor floor.
It was pitch-dark outside, and the cold steady howl of the wind portrayed the winter’s coming intentions. The panes of the house-windows would vibrate forlornly under the wind’s persistent challenges, and every now and then, a gust of an additional turbulence would slash against the house, whipping it with snow and ice. In the light of the arched streetlamp on the sidewalk, one could barely make out the dazzling mounds and drifts of snow lying about. Tree branches were laden delicately with ridges of snow, and the silhouette of a large icicle could be seen protruding from the rim of the front porch, amidst an array of smaller icicles.
Nevertheless, it must have amused the Grandfather Clock immensely to be in the warmth of the house, as it just stood unalarmed and chanted its lullaby as it looked out over the passing vista of the household.
Mark Bellinger was busy about the old box. He had seen it sitting there long enough, and he had forsaken the idea of ever finding a key to fit the lock, if the lock was mechanical enough to even use.
Instead, he brought a hacksaw from the basement, and had placed the blade upon the corroded loop and was presently sawing it about a quarter of the way through.
But why was he prompted to such sudden action this evening? And why the drooped mouth and the sullen continuance? Was it just preoccupied worry about imaginary ‘blood and guts’ Grandpa Bellinger might have deposited-away to teach a cruel lesson? Perhaps, Mark’s grandfather had a few esoteric and cryptic tib-bits about his Grandson, Bob?
He did talk to the boy often – even when he had been arrested by the police for theft – and maybe the boy confided in the man more than they had thought: You know, “…here was the cruel information.” Ah, no, no! Grandpa Bellinger would have come right-out with it, right then and there.
But it was obvious that Mark was caught in a spastic web of deep thought – deep enough to prevent him from successfully completing his objective, for he would stop a few seconds and breathe deeply, his eyes agog, and looking dramatically at the box. And then he would move the saw a little more.
“I was a child once, just like Bob, like my wife, like millions of citizens. Now, I am a man,” Mark was instructing himself. “What is a man? What is a human being?”
In the silence of the cold night, footsteps were trudging the snow-covered sidewalk, making a crunching sound under the weight of the huddled form. The person quickly scamped-up the walkway to the house and pounded-up the wooden steps. A thick ridge of snow was knocked from the person’s boots onto the huge front door mat. Then suddenly —
‘Boy!” exclaimed Clarisee Bellinger, somewhat breathlessly, as she stepped into the vestibule, she shut the door with a big shiver. Mark froze still, quickly throwing the saw into the lap of the old armchair. He just stood there for a second looking at the fireplace. His heart pounded a little from the surprise.
Clarisee quickly dropped the coat off her back and proceeded to drop it over the coat rack. The fur cap followed just as quickly, and then she placed the goulashes and wet socks neatly into one corner. She stood by the old cast-iron radiator, barefoot, trying to grasp some warmth in the wavering air over its surface.
“Who’s in the front room?” she queried, trying to peer about the edge of the sliding door. A short silence followed.
“Just me, Clarisee.”
“Home early tonight? No overtime, eh, Mark?” Her conversation was unentertaining even though he attempted to be pleasant.
“Yes, honey, I’m home early tonight.” There certainly was no enthusiasm there.
The solemness of the remark sounded slightly peculiar to her, and she moved into the light of the front room doorway, her bare feet giving that sensuous ‘thud’ of a feminine walk. She stood there placing her weight to one side, outlining a shapely hip. The blurred redden appearance of her eyes and the heavy smell of Jack Daniel’s liquor rolled in waves to his nostrils, revealing that his wife had somehow left the Budweiser stage. Clarisee acted more sexually titillating when intoxicated, but Mark could help feel nothing but disgust. It was so brash, so careless of her; however, he held his peace.
“How come? Inventory over?” was her bland query.
“Yes, it’s over.” He said with a bit of sarcasm, and he turned to look at her. He casually walked over to the sofa and wearily slumped down onto its cushions.
“And you? I didn’t know you did your shopping today?”
Clarisee’s face went somewhat flush as if a forgotten moment flashed before her eyes, or an unspoken secret had been nearly disclosed. “Eh, no shopping. I – I – I just had something to take care of.”
“It’s cold out there,’ she exclaimed, trying quickly to change the subject, “feel my hands.’’ She approached her husband and rubbed her fingers over his cheeks. He dimly smiled.
“What in the world were you doing?” she asked, pointing to the metal filings on the table and floor.
“I’m going to open that darn thing,” he pointed a straight finger accusingly at the box.
“Why now? It’s been sitting there…”
“Clarisee,” he interrupted her with an outburst, “Clarisee, it’s happened!” His voice was filled with emotion.
“I’ve been fired!”
“And worse than that, Mr. Farrell has threatened that I’ll not be recommended for another job.” Mark didn’t really wish to, and he didn’t intend to, but his eyes rapidly filled with tears.
“But why?” his wife asked. “Why are they threatening you?”
He suddenly felt speechless, so he just shrugged his shoulders, looking somewhat desolate. Mark had been home long enough to change into an old knit sweater and casual trousers that lapped loosely around his legs. Perhaps he had worn these clothes trying to locate some form of comfort in doing so. His chin rested on his chest, and he looked directly at his slippers.
I cry too much, thought Mark, his eyes becoming increasingly watered. And what is Clarisee going to say, Mark asked himself, now that I need someone close – close at hand?
Clarisee straightened for a moment. A slightly worried look had come over his face, as she paced back and forth near the wooden pedestal in the middle of the room. She had a hard-time placing her thoughts appropriately on her husband now, and she found her thoughts were centered more on Jack Getigard – Sherell Getigard’s father.
Ever since the crisis that involved Bob and his girlfriend, Jack Getigard had been an understanding friend. Clarisee had been afraid to approach him about the problem at first. Apparently, Sherell had not confided in her father, and it was her mother who accompanied her in the intention of filing legal charges. But Jack Getigard spoke consolingly and assuredly – and then several visits had ensued, and several more, clandestinely, most private, and then….
Clarisee squished her eyes, biting her lower lip; Oh, boy! she thought, my, my, my, things are happening!
The wind buffeted the windows, and a whistling sound ensued around the house. The panes of glass in the room opposite the vestibule vibrated eerily.
Look at him, Clarisee jeered to herself, gazing analytically at her husband, like a child with his hands covering an embarrassed face. Jack Getigard wouldn’t act that way, not Jack!
She walked over to the fireplace and gazed aimlessly into it. Ah, what’s coming off, Mark, he yelled inwardly, you need help, I need help. Oh, if I could walk right out that door right now!
“What’s happening, Mark? I mean…things are getting so dog-gone confused.” I need someone to hold me, Clarisee secretly pleaded, someone to say the world is the same sweet country cottage I lived in as a girl.
“Your confused?” blurted out Mark. It was the wrong expression to use at that moment, but Mark had no idea as to what Clarisee had been thinking, ‘‘How do you think I feel? Eh, Clarisee? I’ve warned you. I’ve been telling you what would happen! Instead, all I’ve gotten back was a bunch of rotten names…now I want help!’
You want too much, thought Clarisee! She couldn’t help it; it was the way she felt at that moment. Mustering-up all the authority she could, she glared at her husband’s questioning face.
“You’ll get early tomorrow,” her words were slow and deliberate, “get dressed – and go look for another job! You understand? You’ll be a man and get out and find a job to support us!” It was hard to subdue the look of anger upon her petite face.
“Clarisee, don’t start that! Of course, I will! But you always start off on the same foot: I’m jut a dumb guy who just doesn’t do anything for you. I don’t understand how you can say that? Clarisee, honey, you’ve got a lot – really! This house! You’re not starving, you know!”
She rolled her eyes in disgust: “You’ll get up! Get dressed…”
“All right, cut it out! I don’t need that ! Not now, honey! Please…”
Clarisee mumbled the curse to herself and turned so Mark couldn’t hear the full expression.
Suddenly, the shrill ring of the telephone from the hall jerked the two to a sudden alert. It seemed to echo endlessly in the solitude of the large house. What’s that? Did the old parlor clock stop its relentless chant from the freight o the sound?
Exactly why, it would be hard to say, but Mark immediately raced to the phone before his wife reached it. When his hand was secure on the receiver, Clarisee froze in her tracks with a look of almost horror.
Oh no, Clarisee thought, oh no !
“Hello, Bellinger residence…who?…Sherell Getigard?…oh, yes, Bob’s girlfriend…I haven’t heard too much about you lately…what?…yes, go on, I’ll listen…”
It’s Sherell, Clarisee mumbled, what is she trying to do?
“What?…I can’t understand you…why are you crying?…Sherell?…Sherell?” Mark’s face took-on a placid expression, as if trying to fathom a deep cryptic message. His heart gave small thumps against his chest-growing-into-lead, as if a small animal were jabbing his breast with its feet.
He’s twisting the telephone cord, thought Clarisee, and he has a look of confusion and anxiety. What was he hearing? Oh, Mark, turn around and look at me! Look and see that my heart is hurting too! Oh, Mark, hang up! Hang up and come hold me!
“Yes…yes…a baby?…now, wait a minute, whose baby?…Sherell, Sherell, stop crying, I can’t understand you…yes, yes…yes…yes…oh, no…no, it’s notso!…angry?…Sherell, where’s your father?…yes, get him, please…”
Mark turned to look at his wife standing limply in the middle of the front room. His face had a peculiar exasperation, denoting the thunderous parade of thoughts running through his mind. Half of his body was cast in shadow causing an electric effect.
“Sherell Getigard,” the words just stumbled out, “she’s having a baby. Bob’s baby !” He looked as if he wanted to say more, but his lips stayed parted, his mouth dry, and he never continued more words; instead, his glaring eyes said all the words that were necessary.
Clarisee just tried to shake her head, her eyes stinging from the acidity of tears. Once again, those brown opals were filled to the brim like water filled and overflowing in a canister after an all-night rain.
Suddenly, she slumped to the floor, almost as if her legs had suddenly become stricken with paralysis, into a kneeling position, thrusting her hands over her face, and sobbing heavily into her palms.
Mark’s attention was suddenly snapped back to the conversation on the phone.
“What’s that?…he isn’t….he what?…who?…”
Again, a look of utter dismay came over Mark’s face like a cloud slowly covering a near beclouded moon. Astounded, he held the receiver away from his mouth as he clumsily formed words to his wife:
“She…she…she says to ask you ! You would know where the father is at,’’ Mark’s lips moved hesitantly, and his eyes squinted in deep puzzlement, “and that you had seen him earlier. That you would know!” She took her hands aware from her face, but did not say anything, only stared at the floor.
“Sherell!” There was deep panic in his voice. “Sherell, listen to me! Go find your father, you hear me? Find him, and you, your mother – all three – come here Immediately! immediately! Yes!…yes!” and then weakly, rotely, insincerely out of the range of the receiver as he hung up, ‘‘goodbye.’’
Mark stood immobile for a moment, then staggered back into the shadows and sat on the bottom of the stairway. He just kept shaking his head in steady succession. Eventually, he lifted his head, “Where’s Bob?’’
Hesitant at first, Clarisee made the insipid reply, “In his room.’’
“Bob!’ Mark called out a shrill command. Doggonit, this head aches, he swore silently! Pain!
A moment later a shadow appeared in the dim light cast -down the upstairs hallway. Bob gazed down at this father rubbing the pain in the back of his neck denoting his panic. Mark’s blank expression was hidden in the shadows. “Bob, come on down here!”
The boy said nothing but slowly descended the stairs. He passed his father, and when he had appeared in the light of the front room, it as plain that he was uncomfortable. He had been sleeping fully dressed his clothes were wrinkled and rugged. His face had a saddened drawn appearance; his hair ruffled and dislodged.
His mother was already seated on the sofa and was making faltering attempts to light a cigarette.
“Sit down, Bob,’’ his father gestured towards the sofa. Mark limped to the old armchair, as if attacked by insufferable boils – or maybe sore diseased muscles – or both – had suddenly seized his body: a body that seemed to have aged measurably within minutes. His throat gave a gruff crackle, as if to excuse the prickly salvia and its heavy warmth resting in his mouth.
Lost for words, they sat for a moment. The whistling wind about the house went racing at a furious pace. And every now and then the windows behind the sofa would bang under its force. The only solitary sign of warmth seemed to be the smoke-column rising from the cigarette Clarisee held precariously between her fingers.
Mark couldn’t discern the meanings on the faces of the two people before him. Either they, too, were filled with mutual hurt and bewilderment – or – or – the same old resentful indifference and hatred existed in each of them: ‘which?’ asked Mark secretly.
He rubbed his hands together tightly lacing the fingers between each other. That at least helped to abate that lump in his emotionally racked larynx. The panic within him had been gaining rapid momentum.
The sound of the whining wind outside suddenly resembled the heart rendering, distant, whimpering of a dog in pain. It drew his attention to the windows for a moment. A car had slowly passed down the snow-caked street, dredging its way along, with its headlights hitting the front room windows. It left the street with the constant ‘whirring’ of its tires all the way.
It only betrayed Mark’s utter frustration to find the proper words. In the silence of the room, he could feel that deep, heavy thud of his heart, a slight ringing was in his ears, and there was a deep pain behind his eyes along his temples; every time he gulped, the ache grew with the feverish fear of enveloping him.
“Bob!” Mark finally said, startling the young man sitting in fearful placidity. “What in the world is going on, son?” Mark shook his head painfully. “How about taking pity on this old man, eh? I can take a lot, but a lawsuit….from a bunch of legal gangsters…a baby…’’ He again was suddenly filled with emotion, rushing his hand to his mouth to ward-off a sob.
Clarisee dropped her blank look of numbed agony to flick the ashes off her cigarette. The she turned to her son.
“What is Sherell going to do, Bob? Does she still plan to get an attorney to file the complaint?’’
It’s not the right time, nor the right place, thought Bob. And perhaps dad wouldn’t like to hear what’s really been going on.
“Mom! Later! Please!”
“You might as well get it out in the open, Bob.’’
“Mom!’ pleaded the boy. He fidgeted with the thongs hanging limply from his feet. Finally, somewhat exasperated, he relinquished to the request.
“Dad, what I am about to say might sound strange, but try to remember, this has been going on for some time now.”
Now, Clarisee’s complexion took on a shade of pasty white from the drab pink that already resided there. The scanty vale of freckles that resided on her face became invisible altogether; and she suspected that she too was about to hear something altogether new – and perhaps frightening.
“When Sherell became pregnant, I didn’t think it very unusual, pop. After all, these things are happening quite regularly. I mean, the child could have been ‘sold’ to one of those full-fledged Liberated People’s regimes – and I might as well tell you – I’ve been trying to gain membership for some time now. Anyway, there are ways to handle this.”
Bob’s father just looked at him, wide-eyed, shaking his head. For a moment, Bob thought it was useless to keep talking, but he endeavored anyway. It would almost seem foolish to stop now.
“But when Sherell said that she wanted to marry, and to keep the baby,’’ he continued, “ I didn’t know how to handle that! I mean, Sherell never let on that she ever even anticipated doing such thing to me!”
His mother wearily forced her lips apart to peak. “Why, Bob, didn’t you use contraception?” Her large brown eyes seemed to be drooping somehow, and it was hard to carry on conversation.
“Why?’’ the boy refrained from commenting further for a moment, “I mean, gee, it is quite a thing to have a child. They are born, placed in a ‘circle group,’ and given care and guardians. I imagine, I’d see the kid quite regularly,’’
Are you serious? That’s all Mark could have thought to say. He wanted to scream something out to the boy but couldn’t.
Clarisee eyed the dirty, crinkled pole of Liberated People’s magazines on the shelf of the bookcase. She recalled reading several articles on the topic of children practices; but it was always in another part of town or a half-mile away; maybe only several blocks away that these happen…but…
Her ears had gone deaf for a moment. The words that were now rapidly tumbling out of the boy’s mouth were only silent vibrations to her. In a moment, the conversation will evolve to her. What will she have to say? And why did she alert the Getigard’s? Why did she not keep it a secret? Soon, there would be the sound of someone at the front door, and she realized that she didn’t have one idea of what to say. To say? It would be hell, she thought, for she would have to make a frightening decision!
Her vision slowly traveled over the old room. It passed over the partially lit parlor and the hypnotic sweeps of the Grandfather Clock pendulum; the pale, slightly yellowed, olden wallpaper displaying various colonial villages and wooded areas. A crack had developed in the wall, towards the ceiling, and a spider web could barely be seen at its apex. The dull light of the old floor lamp behind the antique armchair soon drew her attention, and then the rim of her husband blended into the scene, and she casually examined that familiar visage.
Oh, he’s trying to be serene, she thought! The poor guy, what in the world is going to happen? What can I do for him, anyway? Do I want to do anything? Ah, who cares? How hopeless, how utterly hopeless!
Mark’s sleek, shinning hair was accentuated by the glare of the floor lamp, and his face was split in a slicing contrast of light and shadow. Every now and then, his mouth would move to form words, and his lips would barely pull apart, as if a thin layer of glue impeded their movement. Multiple ridges ran across the dry surface, and the rugged appearance was only deflected by the small lines of wrinkles on his forehead. They were evenly and succinctly planted there by the heavy weight of words his son was now speaking.
“I thought you went out in the evenings to visit Sherell or a friend or two! Maybe you played basketball, or compared notes, you know, like I did when I was a kid!” Mark poked himself in the chest at this point. “Now you start all kinds of crazy talk about Eastern rituals, with long complicated phrases about Oriental Initiation. About…about…oh, gads, son…child sacrifice! Are you joking?’’
“Pop. I thought you knew it’s going on. I mean, what’s so strange? Mom knows…ah…ah…everybody…’’
“Everybody! Mom! Son, I haven’t read a book, seen a television broadcast, or read a legitimate newspaper since that cockeyed regime’ took over everything years ago. The last time I read a newspaper it was called the Tribune and its editor was Paul Darrell. Now, all I see lying about the streets are those bits of printed trash!” Mark indicated the magazines on the bookshelf, there lay pages of erratic faces and cartoons of blatant pornography and esoteric philosophies. “I suppose I’m still living in a world long passed, son. Why, I remember taking a stroll through a local park on a sunny day, and watching parents with children, who fed ducks. Now, it seems, all one thinks of when ‘the park’ is mentioned is horror and disgust.” Mark’s voice seemed to trail-off at the vision that paraded before him, heavily sensitive to those last few words.
“I don’t agree with everything that’s going on either, Pop. That’s why I – I — I want help.”
“Do you?” Mark’s voice was sarcastically quizzical.
“Do I?” the boy didn’t understand. He glanced suspiciously at his mother. “Tell the man, Mom, tell him that I can go to jail if this isn’t straightened out.”
Oh, how stupid, thought Clarisee, did anyone really care? Nothing was making sense, and everything seemed to suddenly swirl in the cesspool of humanoid confusion.
With one agonizing leave of her body, Clarisee lifted herself off the coach and made her way to the fireplace. She noticed that someone that someone had attempted to start the logs aflame at one time but had done an extremely poor job. Slowly, she stepped over to and opened the gas jets and then pressed the red button that ignited the fumes, shooting a burst of flame over the wood. Soon it would burn and send a graceful aroma and flummery of forest-perfume-fragrance into the chilly room.
Deep within the flames she could see the sun-caressed fields of wheat and clover that surrounded the old country cottage of her childhood. And beyond that was the small suntanned little girl that she recognized as herself. Yes, she was running swiftly after a beautiful Collie dog. And Clarisee’s heart leaped to run with that little girl!
The vision was suddenly cut short with the agonizing scowls of wind and snow outside the house.
“Bob, Bob, I keep seeing a little boy before me,” Mark’s stomach was catching up with the rest of itself in his mouth, “a little boy that had the sweetest smile. I used to hold and cuddle you, son.” His throat became thick, and he quickly cleared it. “I’d carry you around at the Zoo on those hot, sultry days, and we’d walk for blocks on end; go shopping on cold days….son, we need to get together again – in one piece!”
“Sure, Pop, but…”
“There’s a chasm. A big, dirty chasm that has descended between you and I, Bob, almost overnight.’’ Mark lowered his aching head to look at the floor for a moment, and then spoke more softly, “I – I – guess I’ve made mistakes. I did some lousy thinking at times, son. I suppose I’ve gotten desperate at times…’’
“Dad, Dad…I need your help! I…”
That’s strange, thought Clarisee, the boy is crying! I don’t recall ever hearing him, seeing him, act in such a way in front of his father lately: it almost sounds sincere, she told herself, without turning to look; for she too would see tht small four-year-old child stiffly sitting on the sofa looking wide-eyed at his Dad. But what was it that made it seem so incongruous? Perhaps it was the fact that Mark was, in her estimation, so unworthy of such loving glances. Darn it, why do I resent you do, Mark?
Clarisee bit her lip as he eyes filled with fluid; she hugged herself tightly. “Hold me, someone, hold me,’’ she barely said audibly, but it was the haunting visions that prevented comfort from forming before her minds’ eye.
“Oh, Bobby, son, I might be your idea of a perfect father – but I do care! I do care!”
“Let’s get this out in the open. Let’s get together, boy, and fight this thing!”
“Oh, Dad, where in the world do we start? I’m not even sure if the baby is alive…but if it is, can we bring it home with us?”
Mark was constantly whipping the sweat off his palms onto his trousers, he was at a loss for words. He feverishly glanced about the room, thinking, searching for something. And int the back of his mind was the almost imperceptible sound of a siren. The flashing light of an ambulance. A cry of a small baby. An agonizing whimper of an infant.
Springing to his feet, Mark began to pace the floor, his hands firmly entrenched in his pockets, toying with coins. A look of hysteria enveloped his wide-open-eyes, and he nervously ran a chaffed hand through his hair and then guided his hand back into its pocket-lair.
“Baby Ann,” he spoke softly at first, then he stopped and glared at his wife, “Baby Ann! Baby Ann!”
“What’s that?” came the voice from the wet face of Clarisee. She swung about to face him. He glanced at her quickly, and with no surprise, continued his pacing.
“Baby Ann,” he spoke just as softly at first, then he stopped and frowned at his wife, “Baby Ann! Baby Ann!”
“Oh, don’t shout!” Clarisee screamed back.
“Life, Clarisee! Love! That’s what that baby was! We’ve lost something, honey. It passed away quickly as that darling little baby.” Oh, Clarisee, he thought, can’t you understand? Oh, for goodness sake, woman, can’t you see?
“Don’t talk about Baby Ann! How dare you!”
“Ah, honey, please try to understand. Clarisee, we need to get together again. To be made whole.” He swung around to face his son, who was now standing, his face red with anguish, and two glistening tears on his cheeks.
“Bob, it can’t be straightened all at once, not tonight. But we’ll work on it, son. Believe me…” He unconsciously held his hand out.
The boy was caught off-guard for a moment. A bleak silence filled the room. Bob Bellinger glanced at the shaking hand, fingers stretched out to him. Seconds were swiftly passing, and the only sound was that of grunts barely emitting from the lips of the two.
Suddenly, dramatically, the boy plunged to the hand of his father! He grabbed it: It was warm, strong, and firm. The callouses he had achieved while he had worked at the government shipyards were still there at the base of his fingers. Mark grabbed his son about his back, and he embraced his cheek to his own, squeezing himself tight against the older man’s bosom. Then Mark cried! He cried like the four-year-old boy he once had been!
This is almost ecstatic joy, thought Mark, and he began to smile. He believed he could even laugh without much effort, if given more time. A laugh of love reclaimed. Oh, one giant step. The thin air at this height was exhilarating!
Then – the telephone rang! Mark, still smiling, released his son, to listen. The boy held onto the thick part of Mark’s arm.
The phone continued to ring incessantly.
“Oh, no!” cried Clarisee.
“What’s wrong?” innocently asked Mark.
“Oh, Mark, don’t answer it!” Clarisee raced to her husband. “Please, please, don’t answer it!”
The man looked down into his wife’s large brown eyes as they dramatically searched his face. A whole story had suddenly been written there. He was no longer smiling. His lips were straight and taunt; his face slowly lost all color.
The ringing of the phone not only was incessant but maddening!
“Why, Clarisee? Why shouldn’t I answer the phone?”
She brought her breast close to his body, and it seemed to Clarisee as if she would emerge into those two eyes of darkness.
“Because…because…I need help too, Mark. Mark, I … I…need you, too. Please!’
Her desperation was apparent, but of no avail. Mark slowly backed away from the two people looking somewhat aghast at him. A look of barely subdued horror was upon his wife’s pale features.
Mark’s hand groped behind him in the darkness until he felt the familiar coolness of the ceramic receiver. The shrill alarm of the telephone that had echoed insanely through the museum of a house stopped abruptly and the sudden silence came like the dead-end of a car crash.
The long cord lazily unraveled from the stairway booth and fell indifferently to the floor: Mark brought it apprehensively to his ear; tiny, almost imperceptible, beads of sweat had formed along his upper lip and forehead.
“Hel…hel…hello…Mr. Getigard?…yes…ah, yes…what?…your drunk!….I say, you’ve been drinking, man!…yes…yes!…is that right?…what?…how dare you, you, you!…shut up!…no!…no!…no!…”
Clarisee let the two hands that shielded her mouth beneath her wide-eyed expression slump to her sides. She turned her head aside as if in shame. The in an unexpected moment of compassion, Bob Bellinger stepped next to his mother, cradled her in his arms, and provided a nest in which she could rest her guilty sobs.
It was an agonizing reach, for Mark, to place the receiver back into its cradle. The sardonic chatter of Dave Getigard could be heard rippling tin-like from the phone still. Then it abruptly vanished.
Mark rubbed his stomach. A continued nausea had progressed and he had gained a serious headache. He knew he wasn’t thinking too clearly, but he also knew he needed to be left along…quickly. His body suddenly became gripped with an aching pain comparable to an attack of stomach influenza.
Mark touched Bob on the shoulder. “Please take your mother upstairs, Bob. It’s getting late. I’ve got a busy day ahead tomorrow. It looks like I’ll be pounding the street again, son. You old man lost his job today.’’ There, thought Mark, I made a complete unbroken sentence, statement, in fact, but I don’t know for how long I can keep such a steady voice.
“Oh no, Pop.”
Mark just nonchalantly waved his hand as a polite token of silence.
“Anyway, I’m feeling very tired. But Bob, we’ll talk tomorrow. Son, we’ll work something out. I don’t know exactly what, but something!” He squeezed his son affectionately on the shoulder.
The boy brought his mother up from the floor. The perpetually hidden ‘bat’ tattoo on the bottom of her foot relinquished its secret in the light of the fireplace. Bob slowly led her into the parlor shadows when her pleading voice resounded: “Mark, oh Mark!”
Mark looked sheepishly at her. He was feeling very sick. “All right – all right – dear – please – please – go upstairs. Get some rest. Enough. Enough. Enough for today.” Mark waved his hand sadly through the air.
Now Mark stood there in the mellow glow of the floor lamp, examining the box; he looked as if in a state of agitation and anguish. The flames of the fireplace lapped about the logs dutifully issuing the fragrance of the wood. Suddenly the room seemed filled with the invisible presence of Mark’s grandfather. He could sense that presence in the forest fragrance of the burning wood; the nostalgic crackling of its combustion accentuated by the cruel whistling of the wind, snow, and sleet outside, making the sweet features of the grandfather fill every corner of the musty old room. And suddenly, he realized how much he had needed his grandfather. His guidance. His encouragement. His – his – love.
He gripped the old box earnestly. He could almost feel his fingers slip across the heavy wood to the sides as if to grasp the contents beneath. First, a vision of a pulsating heart, alive, moist, and dripping, only kept active by a unique stimulation that Grandpa Bellinger mystically affixed to it. Yes, yes, Mark could hear the throbbing of it beneath the lid – then – then he felt its wet, smooth surface under his quivering grasp. No! Now it was documents, insurance policies, funds….
Mark gritted his teeth and squinched his eyes to halt off a cry of pain and anguish! He had cried too much. Too much.
Oh, granddad, what did you leave us in this box? What is it that you felt so important? Money? A special invention of yours as a token of affection/ Just what?
Mark’s chest began to heave deeply again.
I dare not cry! I dare not cry!
Mark raced for the saw nestled deep into the cushion crack of grandpa’s armchair. He grabbed it and swung back to the box, placing the blade into the grove of cut loop; he began to saw in even motions; now and then, Mark would stop and wipe the tears from blocking his vision. He continued to work the saw.
The Grandfather Clock urged him on like the drumbeats upon an ancient slave galley. “Loud, confound you, why are you so loud?” queried Mark. And why did his oar on that ship seem twice as heavy, twice as grueling? Ah, still the clock was masterfully authoritive.
It was almost something of a comfort, that synchronizing sound, thought Mark, as his breathing grew heavier denoting the near completion of his job. He again wiped the tears away.
“What’s in the box? What’s in grandpa’s box?”
His thumb was slightly scratched and drops of blood spread over the curve of his skin; but Mark tried to ignore it, swearing:
“The box! The box! Oh, God, open the box!”
Little more! Little more! “Bob, son, I love you. Oh, son, I am sorry, my boy, my baby. Oh dear! My baby! Oh gosh, oh my gosh! Get this darn thing open! Help me! Clarisee! Clarisee! Oh!”
Then, suddenly, the lock, almost unexpectantly, dangled for a moment in the eroded loop, and like a miniature drunkard, staggered off and fell to the pedestal, then to the carpet. The clock magically, triumphantly announced the beginning of the hour with vibrant, melodious chimes.
With fury, now, Mark flipped back the old lid on its scratchy hinges. He tearfully gazed upon a black ‘something’ – no, by the feel, it seemed like cardboard; like coarse hide – no – no – leather; the jacket of a – a – a book! Grandpa’s novel?
Mark tried to detect the greatly faded ‘gold’ lettering on the cover: O-L-I-E….ah, no, no, he couldn’t read it (“…darn, why do I cry so?”). “ The book must be ancient?’’
Swiftly he turned the cover back. “I can’t see,” he hysterically whispered between jagged sob of anguish. “I – I – can’t make it out! Granddad, I can’t see what it is!”
He tried to dilate his eyes trying to make better visibility. Then he ran his fingers over the smooth super-colander finish of the first page.
He would try to read. First column. First paragraph. It says…
“In a beginning created by the Alueim were the heavens and the earth. Yet the earth became a chaos and vacant, and the darkness as on the surface of the submerged chaos. Yet the spirit of the Alueim….”
Steve Erdmann – Independent Investigative Journalist
I was out that night looking for the meteor shower in Riverside Park, New York City, but NYC was totally overcast and I didn’t even see a “blink” through the cloud cover.But Arizona got “the blast,” at 40/minute.
I had to wait 33 years for the next greatLeonid Meteor shower, which came in December 1999 when the Leonid Meteor shower, which i saw from the Great Oval in Central Park and got some of them on video.
The Night of the Eta Aquarid
One night in In May of the year 2000, I was flying a T-tailed Piper Arrow II RT in the dead of night from Boston to Essex County – Caldwell Airport, New Jersey, which is just a few miles outside New York City.
It was about 9:30 p.m., flying in the black of night over Oxford-Woodbury, Connecticut. The sky was black , but visibility was unlimited and I could see the stars. the land was black, but I could see the lights of highways, occasinal street lights, and some house lights in the little sleepy towns below.
As I flewwest, homing in on the 310 radial of a VOR beacon in Carmel, New York, I glaced down at the landscape passing below my aircraft.
Suddenly, as I was making out the coast line of Connecticut to the south along Long island sound, I was very surprised as I looked down at a brilliant luminosoity on the gound, which made no sense to my ratiional mind.
As I looked at this puzzling sight, I thought I saw “a lake on fire” or “fireworks underwater (?).” I was mesmerized by the sight of it what looked to be a fiery lake, adn I thought of an amusement park or somesuch thing as the possible cause for this most ununusual never-before-seen phenomenon.
My eyes stayed fixed for several seconds on the rainbow of brilliant streaks of light emanating, as it seemed from beneath the waters of the small lake, until the fiery lake disappeared under my left wing.
When I looked forward again, I could see diffuse green and yellow bands of light wavering over the dimly lit landscape and I was puzzled by the effect illuminating the hilltops of Connecticut when it had been pitch black just 10 seconds before, except for street and highway lights, 6500 feet below.
I looked for the light source and looing south, I could see “late afternoon sunlight,” shimmering in long Island sound and the Atlantic ocean farther south.
I could see all of Long Island as a black mass floating in a sea of silver light, and when I raised my gaze to the sky, I thought I was looking at the sun. My brain went “bonkers,” and slipped into cognitive dissonance for a moment as i said to myself :
“Did I miss the dawn? … Am I on my way to Holland?” <simultaneously Thinking of Lindberg + “Holland Tunnel”>
I glanced forward once again to see the land was still dimly lit with now brighter green and yellow “tiger stripes” wavering cross the Connecticut hills. I could see 2 “rectagular lakes,” which later turned out to be local reservoirs.
Looking back at “The Sun,” I noticed that it had dropped a couple of degrees in declination and now had a white aura surrounding it, so my next thought was “O my God, It’s a Supernova.” but as i thought it, I saw the luminosity drop nd stop twice move, vertically, like a spider sometime “drops and stops” suddenly while hanging on its silken thread.
The object was now lower than before and the aura around it looked like was boiling, at which point it leapt and streaked right toward me and an intersection with my airplane’s line of flight, ‘bouncing” twice (like the bouncing ball in old cartoons) and covering a distance of 50-75 miles in two “hops” lasting only 2 seconds in duration.
the object was now nearly upon me and realizing it was meteoric, I scream or yelled out loudly out “METEOR!” to alert my co-pilot and my passenger in the rear seat, a USAF Tech Sgt. named William Larrea.
The object seemed to slow down suddenly and changed color and shape from bright white roundness to a long fiery green and red object, shaped like a black apple see, with a ruby colored “belt” or ring around its center and a “ruby knuckle” like ajewel on a ring, and spinning/rotating like a beacon.
My inner voice said “Don’t stare at the ruby belt ’cause you’ll miss the rest of it!”
So, I broke my fixation on the spinning ruby belt to take in the rest of it, which was a green color of every possible shade and hue of green from lime green to Kelly green and the saw a 100 foot long acetylene torch like tail , and as my flight line was on a collision course with the streaking object, I said to myself:
“If I fly through that tail, it will shear my wing and ‘Bang!, ” my plane will explode and the NTSB accident report will only say “pilot error.”