by Carl Wells
The curious encounter was reported to me by Mortimer Phipps, one of our neighborhood’s milder and more sensitive residents. Mortimer is a splendid graphic artist, an owner-trainer of three talented hamsters (“The keyboard tricks are impressive,” says his wife, Bea), and a lover of cashews, spicy beets, and fog — morning fog only. (“Fog later in the day,” he says, “is off-putting, as it interferes with the calm appreciation of afternoon and evening hues — it just isn’t right!”) Mortimer, while often irked by certain of life’s peculiarities, is generally reliable as to facts, and as are so many of our creative, self-employed folk, quite practical at base. The following account is how he told it, as best I could get it down.
I had been taking a lazy Sunday afternoon walk through Glen Canyon. I wasn’t expecting anything unusual to happen — and then it did. A silver, saucer-shaped craft zipped across the sky and stopped short, hovered shakily, and, with its engines making a high-pitched whine (I was reminded of the dear dentist of my youth, Dr. Alfred), it settled slowly onto the grass about 50 feet away. The hatch opened and two little green men climbed out. (I say green, although perhaps aggressive — or at least assertive — avocado might be closer to the actual shade, and I say men, as my strong impression was that they were male, but, given that these were my first space visitors, I couldn’t know for sure.)
They hurried over to me. The taller, skinnier one wasn’t quite as fast — he walked with the aid of some sort of cane-like stick that faintly glowed French scarlet, or perhaps you would say the color was more morning berry? — wait, maroon ascending! No, no … oh, let’s just call it red.
“Greetings, Earthling,” the shorter one said.
“Hi,” I said. “You speak English!”
He looked annoyed. “What, you want to speak something else?”
“No, no, it’s just that —“
“Okay, then,” he said. “Let’s move on.”
It seemed that diplomatic relations weren’t getting off to a good start.
“So are you by any chance Mr. Park?”
“No,” I said. “I’m Mr. Phipps.”
“Not Mr. Park?”
“Do you know Mr. Park?”
“I don’t think I know anyone named Park.”
“What did he say?” the taller one asked, cupping his hand-like thing near his head — there must have been an ear there somewhere.
“He’s not Mr. Park and doesn’t know him.”
“I’m just wondering,” I said, ”Why are you looking for Mr. Park?
“We want to meet him. Our research says he’s friendly.”
“Has a good spirit,” said the taller one.
“And he’s — how do you say it? — easy going.”
“He sounds great. I’d like to meet him myself,” I offered.
“I’m surprised you haven’t,” said the shorter one. “He apparently owns the whole area.” He spread his ropey arms in a wide arc — a trail of sparkly stuff (naughty purple? Auntie’s plum?) stayed in the air for a few seconds.
“I don’t think so,” I said. “This is City property. I’m sure I would have heard about—“
“We gotta go,” said the shorter one, looking at what I suppose you would call a watch on what I suppose you would call his wrist.
“I understand,” he said impatiently, rolling his eyes. And they did actually roll.
“You’ve already told us you don’t know Mr. Glenn Park.”
“You said Mr. Glenn Park!”
“So Glenn Park isn’t a person, he’s a neighborhood. I mean, it’s a neighborhood. Here — Glen Park. It’s—
“R-i-i-i-ght,” said the shorter one. I could tell he did not believe me whatsoever. “Look, we really gotta go.”
“Wait!” I pleaded. “You’re in Glen Park! You’re—“
“What’d he say?” asked the taller one.
“He said we’re in Mr. Park.”
The taller one shook his head sadly. They both hurried back to their ship.
Just before he closed the hatch, the shorter one turned toward me and shouted, “Hey, you don’t happen to know Mr. Valli, do you?”
“Who?” I asked.
“Valli,” he answered, sounding irritated. “Mr. Noah Valli.”
“Oh, man,” I muttered, and buried my head in my hands.
“Heitz?” he shouted. “Mr. Bernie Heitz?”
I didn’t even look up as they flew off.
Mr. Wells lives in an area he believes to be Glen Park, though it could also be Area 51. The mapping is uncertain.