“Wake up. They’re back and they need our help again.”
I could hear Dad growling in a groggy fugue while she repeatedly bumped his shoulder nudging him awake.
“Well, go get my bag then. I thought you told them last time we were done with all that…”
“I did but this is serious.”
Mom trained us up early about unexplainable things. In fact, she was certain all could be explained if she just got a shot at interrogating the parties involved. She always quizzed us thusly -
“What are you going to do if a UFO lands on the golf course out back?”
“I’m to say, ‘Wait right there! I’m getting my mom and she’s got some questions for you…’”
Unidentified flying objects were never poo-pooed in our house. Mom, ever the romantic, was fascinated by the topic. So much so, I think besides A Wrinkle in Time and anything by Maurice Sendak, the book I most remember reading at a tender age (although forbidden to, I snuck it by flashlight under my bedspread) was Mom’s copy of Interrupted Journey. It is the story of Betty and Barney Hill, a married couple who were allegedly abducted from a rural country road in Connecticut and experimented upon by space aliens. The experiments they recounted under hypnosis stood my hair on end.
Science fiction had me in thrall. For an “active” child with a hummingbird span of attention, this was a miracle. I was dedicated to movies like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Plan 9 from Outer Space on our local horror flick channel late on Saturday nights. Robinson Crusoe on Mars still does it for me.
Me and my brothers: Typical homemade costumes created by Mom
So between Mom and me, anything super or extra natural, or even paranormal with all its idiosyncrasies, was worth poking with a stick. Still is.
“Mom, who’s out there?” I called out from my bed that night hoping to halt her sprint down the hall to get Dad’s doctor bag. She didn’t miss a beat.
“Just one of the golf course workers. He hurt himself. Dad’s going to take a look at it.”
“Oooh! Can I come see?”
“Nope. You stay there.” She didn’t even look in my room at me on the return trip with the bag and towels. They were the nice towels reserved for guests. I'd get whooped if I so much as dried my pinky finger on them.
Naturally, I planned to sneak a look if only I could kick my way out of the bed sheets.
I couldn’t move my feet or arms, just my head and eyes. The cats, my fat warm Siamese cats were pinning me down, one on each side of me stretched out the full length of my body, their bottomless Siamese blue eyes sparkling. They purred and calmed me. Funny, I never even felt them jump up on the bed. The frangipani tree blooming outside my window sent a sweet cloud of fragrance drifting in. I felt sleepy, like waves of warm water were rocking me, but resisted with every piece of me. Then I pinched myself in the thigh – Hard!
Oh no, this all was too good to let sleep get in the way.
I listened really carefully so I would remember.
The usual night sounds on this suburban golf course were just the lonely scree of night hawks and the wind slapping around the eucalyptus trees and Australian pines. Occasionally the putt-putt sound of gas fueled Cushman carts would jangle by carrying the night shift golf course workers to their assigned chores. Every once in a while, on a normal night, I could hear them talking in low tones with each other in foreign languages as they groomed sand traps, mowed fairways and moved the holes around on the putting greens. That course was “play ready” every morning by 7 a.m. with only tire tracks left on the wet grass telling the story of the night’s tasks done there by shadow workers.
The Cushman cart that brought the injured golf course worker to our back door that night sounded slightly off to me as it idled in our yard; more like George Jetson’s cartoon commuter jalopy. The headlights on the cart sprayed light across the ceiling of my bedroom, but it wasn’t the usual tired yellow color. The light was intensely white, and a shadow play danced on the ceiling. Dad and Mom rendered assistance to the person outside who was moaning in pain, their shadows and others, expanding and contracting...
“How did he get this? Mmm-hmm. Ok. As he came through? Ok. Well, I can’t stitch him up as you know, his skin is too delicate, stitches won’t hold, but keep pressure with these towels on the wound until you can get back. I can set the bone though. Mmm-hmm, yes, it’s painful but you guys can block that right? Do that now so he’ll stop making those sounds. The neighbors…”
And the moaning stopped. I heard some shuffling and a muffled wet crack and then Dad.
“Ok! That should keep you until you can jump again. Let’s wrap this up with an Ace bandage…Good. Done. Would you guys do me a favor and quit using that damn thingamajiggy until you work out the kinks? Too many of your guys get mangled in it still…Thanks. And maybe find another doctor who lives on a golf course please?”
And then Mom.
“Oh no, he’s just kidding. You are welcome anytime. Never mind about the towels! Come when you can stay longer, I have a few questions…”
Fabulous photo courtesy of deserttrumpet at Flickr, Creative Commons
Space alien trick or treaters from Family Album, Sissie.