the Last U.F.O. Report

by James Bronson


Chapter 2 - You Never Know

            Death Valley, California, one of the hottest places on earth.  Home for fools, miners, and Canadian snowbirds (tourists trying to escape their freezing winters).

            I had heard that NASA used the hot desert floor as a training ground for astronauts preparing for life on Mars, but I never heard that it was a popular rest stop for the space patrol.

            Before leaving the coffee shop, I glanced back for one last look at Jennie.  She smiled and waved goodbye.

             “Wake up, dummy,” chided prune face.  “She’s a single mom with three kids.  She works two jobs just to live below the poverty line.  And, of course, she’s looking for a big tipping sucker like you to take her away from it all.”

            “How do you know?”

            “Why else would an attractive woman be stuck in Baker?”

            “Maybe she is waiting for her winning lottery ticket to clear the bank.”

            “Look son, I’ve been married three times, and I understand women.”

            “All right, old timer, let’s get to it.  What is it women really want?”

            “To be rich enough that they don’t have to put up with foolish men like you.”

            “Gee, pop, I thought it was true love.”

            “You remind me of those idiots in Washington that thought the aliens came to earth to lend us a helping hand.”

            “OK, then why did they come?”

            “You’ll find out soon enough.”

            We decided to take the old man’s beat up Jeep.  It was set up with the big fat low pressure tires that one needed to avoid getting stuck in the soft desert sand.  Two large canvas water bags hung off its side and two five gallon gas cans filled the cargo area.  It made my rental Honda four-door sedan look like a kid’s pedal car.  Of course, I hadn’t been planning a side trip across the burning desert.

            “Out there, it’s 120o in the shade,” said the old man.  “Unfortunately, there is no shade where we are going, and my heavy metal cruiser’s air conditioning just blew a gasket.”

            “Look, I don’t get paid extra for heat stroke.  Can’t we just do a teleconference?”

            “The aliens won’t use phones and won’t touch the internet.  To them, our security is a joke.  Anything we say, type or text is broadcast across the universe.”

            “You mean that they get cable pay-per-view for free?”

            “Of course, but it all started with I Love Lucy reruns.  In fact, if they hadn’t picked up the old Lucy shows on their home planet, they would never have visited Earth.”

            “Wow, Lucy wasn’t just a star…she was Earth’s ambassador to the stars.”

            Climbing into the Jeep was like jumping into a frying pan.  Without even a ragtop, the sun heated the seats to extra crispy.  The old man pulled out a couple of Indian rugs to cover the brown vinyl seats.  They made the heat tolerable.  Still, it was like sitting in a steam bath.

            Once we got moving, the flowing air helped keep me cool.  I was able to read a highway sign—Death Valley, 5 miles.  I looked over at old prune face.  His attention was 100% on the road ahead.  My curiosity had gotten me in trouble before.  I should have told the old man to get lost.  Jennie…looked pretty good to me.  An air conditioned hotel room, a soft bed, and her--even if I had to share it with her 3 kids.  We could send them to the pool so that we could be alone together, nude bodies and cool sheets.  Again, the old man interrupted my fantasy life.

            “Wake up—we’re going to Death Valley, not Disneyland.  You best listen to me if you want to come out the other side.”

            “Look old man, I’ve been in tough spots before.  When the shit hits the fan, I’ll handle it.”

            “You’ll be in the hot steaming shit this time.”

            “Well, I hope I don’t come out with a prune face like yours.”

            “You should be so lucky.”

            At this point, we both started to laugh at ourselves.  Two macho men trying to out macho each other.

            “Look,” said the old man.  “I know it’s overboard, but where we are going, you never know.”

            “Good one, professor.  The old Boy Scout motto, Be Prepared, is bullshit.”  It should be, In Life, You Never Know.

            The old man pulled over to the side of the road.  He reached for the closest water bag.  “Drink on it, boy.  I knew there was a reason that I wanted you to tell this story.”

            For a moment, I felt a connection.  Maybe it was fate that brought us together, maybe it was my turn to get the big story…

            …then again, maybe the old guy was nuts, driving me out into the middle of nowhere only to tell me that his alien friend had already left town.

            In life, you never know!

            A single mother, working two jobs, with 3 kids living at the poverty level might just be the woman that I need to turn my life around.

            The moment passed.  We were back on the highway.  The old guy made a sharp left onto a dirt trail.  The Jeep bounced like a rodeo bull on dirt grooves probably put down by some old mule train decades ago.  From the highway, we must have looked like a dust storm receding into the infinite, vast, waterless desert.

            I was excited.  What’s next? I thought.  I was back in the moment and holding on tight.  Then I noticed that the old man had a strange gleam in his eye.  He started to chuckle to himself.  He turned to me and said, “Hold on, junior,” then continued to chuckle.

            That’s the thing about these old crazy guys…you never know.


Next Chapter


 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10



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