Letters From Dreamy Draw
In the morning, a new black car came up the driveway with two men. Everything in the city is covered in a layer of dust yet this car was so new and clean that it was able to reflect the desert around it. I couldn’t tell you the make of the car, its sheen was too distracting to make out specifics. The men were middle-aged, very average looking and wore ill-fitting rumpled suits. As Uncle Ralph and I came out to see what was going on the men stopped our questioning with a series of odd questions of their own. Had we heard or seen anything the other night? Yes, we had heard a noise and saw the light from the fires but didn’t tell them we saw the spaceship and we left out any mention of the bodies.
That’s when they started asking some rather odd things. What did we have for breakfast? What did each of us have for dinner two Saturdays ago. What are the rules of baseball, do we recognize the Vice President, the starting shortstop for the Yankees, a starlet? They asked us if we knew about the sateleets, or satellites or something I’ve never heard of. Do we like the taste of cherries?
One of the men held out his hand to show us a coin. The colors of the world around us started changing, my stomach flipped and turned I thought I would vomit. It felt as though the earth was tilting and I might fall over. As I got my footing back the two men were no longer in front of me and Uncle Ralph was no longer next to me but yelling from the back porch. The bodies were gone. Running to the end of the driveway to look for their car it was clear they were long gone as any dust dust from their departure had long settled. My watch stopped. I still haven’t been able to fix it. The sun was overhead. We must have lost about three hours of time.
We hiked the butte behind the house to see the monstrosity of a spaceship was no longer there but the scars on the earth remained. We are dumbfounded. Despite the markings in the hard ground it was difficult to see how anyone could believe us now…
Robert didn’t hesitate to open the last envelope. There was a postcard of an animal skull laying on rock with a baron sky above. “A great place to stay!”
Please keep these letters to yourself as a secret. It’s probably safest if no one else knows. It’s better if no one knows that we know. Everything has changed since we last saw each other. Ralph has just dropped me off at the station and I’m not sure if I had the state of mind to even say goodbye, I can’t say if I spoke aloud at all as I got on the train. I see all the smiling faces of other people looking so put together, thinking that they understand the basic assumptions of the world around them, but they haven’t seen the strangeness beyond the normality and nothing I could say could convince them otherwise.
It reminds me of when I was a small child. I would feel as though adults were acting differently when I was in the room but they were out of sight everything would change. I thought they would be planning how to convince me that the way I was seeing the world was reality and that what was true to the world was what was outside of every room that I was occupying. I thought real reality, the real world, only extended as far as my house. I had trouble shaking the thought that perhaps everything I experienced was a creation in a new environment just before I came in to observe it. I couldn’t get it out of my head that it was possible that the entire world had been created the night before, that my memories had been implanted in that time to root myself into that false reality. I thought the baby voices and behavior of my parents was evidence that the world was an artifice.
This had bothered me for days until I realized there was nothing I could do except immerse myself into this reality until I forgot the truth. The world might be a stage, but I would have to suspend my disbelief because I didn’t have an option to leave the stage or go to another stage. I would have to act along until I forgot I was acting. Once I forgot I was able to be at ease. I’ve been reminded of the artifice and I’m sorry I’ve brought it on you, too. I hope we can both act our way into forgetting about the act and be at ease again. I’ll see you in a few days. Sincerely, George.
Robert stared at the letters. That was all of them. He muttered to himself.
“Well, I’m never going to visit my distant relatives, now.”
It was in that last letter that George mentioned his trip to Arizona for the last time. He and Robert remained good friends until George got married and moved to Cleveland. The two drifted apart but Robert could tell Dreamy Draw was a ghost that haunted him no matter how George tried to reclaim his life.
Something changed in Robert, too. It was as though the words in the letters had a power over him. George’s account of the men with the coin were always in the back of his head and when it would move to the front of his mind he would feel a sting in his neck and a buzzing tone just behind the eyes. Over the decades George’s letters remained in a shoe box in the back of Robert’s closet and he wouldn’t take them out in order to avoid the buzzing and stinging.
The memories from them faded into the darkness of repression as Robert thought less and less of George. After his trip to Arizona George was never sick, not even a tickle in his throat or a sneeze. He chose not to notice this anomaly. As they grew grey and bald and hunched over with age eventually they both forgot about each other and the letters in the back of the closet.
Uncle Ralph faded from the world as his land was swallowed up by urbanization. Perhaps he moved further into the desert. Perhaps he was institutionalized for talking about aliens in Dreamy Draw buried under the dam. Perhaps the men came back and took him to be another piece in their collection.