At closing time the UFO center is quiet and pleasant as i go inside. It’s well air conditioned and comfortable. I think the basement used to be one of those public fallout or blast shelters in the nineteen fifties, so it’s really built.
I stand in the dark watching Milton doing something with the plastic ETs in the exhibits. I wonder if i could make my eyes glow in the dark; the truth is we havent begun to explore our powers because we’ve always been so busy concealing them, even to ourselves.
I step out of the dark alcove and go over to Ross and say, Excuse me.
It’s closing time, he says brusquely.
It’s Max Evans from yesterday, i say.
Well, he says with fluttering hostility. I thought you were playing hard to get.
Oh, i wouldnt do a thing like that. But i do have to go to school, you know…
Alright, kid. Cut to the chase. What do you know about 1959?
I thought you had something to show me.
Is that how you want to play it? He says as he puts his arm around my shoulders and walks me across the room. Then he says, I’m about to show you unmitigated proof that aliens walk this earth!
He digs in his pocket and roots around in there until he finds his wallet. As he pulls it open a panoply of credit cards wrapped in plastic tumbles out and he has to dig in there for whatever he’s looking for. Finally he brandishes an ancient black and white snapshot seamed with age and hands it triumphantly to me.
The photo is of a dorky little kid with Roy Orbison glasses and an ice cream cone in his hand standing in front of an ice cream parlor. It was obviously taken in the summer because of how he is dressed and because of the tables with beach umbrellas arranged to be just adjacent to the sidewalk.
Ross says, I was that boy next to that alien shadow. That close.
When i look at the photo again i see a shadow that could have been cast by one of the long, lean aliens that kidnapped Mulder’s sister in The X Files. Or it could have been cast by practically anything.
Now. What do you know about 1959? He demands.
Suppressing laughter i hand the photo back and say, The same thing everybody knows. That there was a sighting near this ice cream parlor.
Damn, he says, practically dancing in frustration. I thought you had something. Listen. I know you’re hooked. I can see it in your eyes. I could use a guy like you around here.
Minimum wage, he cautions. Long, hard hours. But just think of the rewards when we make the discovery of a lifetime. You smoke?
Good. I cant take any chances with my archives so close.
Archives? I say,in mild surprise.
Just the most complete collection of UFO facts and findings ever compiled. Right up those stairs.
You have information on sightings?
Look, i know this is a tourist trap cash cow but every penny i make goes into my research. Everything you want to know about extraterrestrials since 1947 awaits you behind that door.
Your archives, i say. Are they open to the public?
Oh, you’re hungrier than i thought. And you remind me a lot of myself as a confused, pained adolescent. Ever since then i’ve spent my entire life searching for aliens. And i swear on my sainted mother’s grave that one day i will stand in front of one of these creatures and say, ‘I told you so.’ Now what about my offer? What do you think?
When do i start? I say.
Maria is working at the Crashdown. It turns out to be providential that Izzie’s there, smiling pleasantly. Maria is so torqued out by Izzie that when she turns around she jumps and shrieks when she sees Sheriff Jim Valenti sitting at a table in plain clothes.
Sheriff, Maria says, breathing hard. What RU doing here?
I enjoyed the Coke so much i decided to have a meal, he says. Anything special you’d like to tell me about?
No, she says.
Well, the board says you’ve got corned beef hash.
Right. Sorry. Uh, yeah, Heavenly Hash special.
Izzie watches all this surreptitiously but is no longer smiling.
Is that what you recommend?
You seem to know a lot about what goes on around here so i’ll trust you.
Right. One Heavenly Hash special. Uh, to go?
No, he says after specious deliberation. I think i’ll eat it here this time. Oh, BTW the insurance company took care of everything. It’s good to have a strong, dependable institution like that on your side.
Maria is too terrified to even manage a word. Just a nervous chuckle. She walks over to the counter to get away from him but he follows her. Izzie continues to watch with paranoid attention to detail. It’s all she can do to keep from banging her head against the cheap formica countertop.
How’s your neck? Valenti says to Maria.
Yeah. That was quite a lick from that car the night of the festival.
Oh, that. That was nothing.
You seem mighty accident prone lately, though. Tell you what. Why dont you stop by my office tomorrow. You and i can talk.
Okay, Maria says in her smallest voice.
Oh, he says. I think i’ll take that order to go, he says.
Izzie sits across the desk from Topolsky. It’s time to go over the career planning questionnaire everybody filled out.
You said in our first meeting you wanted to be a supermodel, Topolsky says.
You work with what you’re given, Izzie says with a condescending smile.
That’s quite a jet-set career for someone who puts family first, craves security and stability and leans toward caregiving fields, Topolsky says as she hands the print out to Izzie, who pretends to study it before she hands it back.
Well, i never did trust computers, Izzie says.