The page is white and the cursor is blinking. It’s time to write again, and I don’t know where to start. This is like a scene out of some film noir where the down-on-his-luck writer in a rumpled suit sits struggling in front of an old Smith Corona typewriter—except that I’m in bed, naked, with my laptop.
Just think, I can go anywhere. That, after all, is the beauty of writing. I can take something quite mundane and elevate it or do the exact opposite by attempting to make something extraordinary and mystical seem everyday and downright normal. I could be brutally honest and reveal something I have never told another human being and risk being viewed as ‘crazy.’ So many choices. So, what the hell, I think I’ll go with that last one.
When I was 11 years old and living in Scottsdale, Arizona, I was abducted by aliens.
I know. Just sit with that for a moment. Like I said, I have never told anyone this before. Well, I tried to tell my mom once, but she couldn’t—or wouldn’t—listen. I liken it to when a child confides in a trusted adult that they’ve been molested and that person cannot or will not have their world uglied by such an illusion-shattering reality, so they just shut down and close off and refuse to listen. My mom was a wonderful woman who loved and supported her gay son, but having and dealing with a gay son is very different than having and dealing with a gay son who has been taken aboard an alien spacecraft. So I quickly learned not to talk about it.
Honestly, the day it happened (yes, it was during broad daylight, not at night like in the movies) seems, as they say, just like
yesterday. I remember absolutely everything in glorious yet cursed detail. My sister, Vicki, was sick. She was on the couch, watching lousy television. Back then there were four TV channels—ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS—and daytime TV consisted of horrible soap operas, even worse game shows featuring ‘celebrities’ who played scenery-chewing next-door neighbors on poorly written sitcoms and annoyingly progressive children’s shows. Looking back, my sister was not sniffling or sneezing or puking like I usually did when I had a cold or flu, so it recently dawned on me that she was probably suffering from severe ‘female problems.’ She was quietly moaning and rubbing her abdomen while sipping Vernor’s Diet Ginger Ale and watching The $25,000 Pyramid. This is why I had to walk to school alone that day.
There was this field that we cut through on the way to school. There’s always a field, overgrown with weeds that serves as a shortcut. Every town has them and ours saved us a good eight minutes and, more importantly, kept us from having to pass by, and inevitably duck into, the Circle K. If you’re not familiar with Circle K, it’s a convenience store not unlike—in fact, exactly like—7 Eleven. It’s a great place to buy Bubble Yum, Toffifay, Now & Laters, beef jerky or look at photos of Kiss and Aerosmith and Cheap Trick in the latest copy of Hit Parader or Creem magazine. It was also a great place to stupidly spend all your lunch money on crap and lose all track of time and be late for homeroom. So we usually took the shortcut.
I was about two-thirds of the way through my eight-minute walk across the field when the ground started to shake. This was not a violent, rough shaking but rather a buzzing, controlled one. This wasn’t an unbalanced washing machine, loudly banging and knocking, shimmying across the basement floor during the spin cycle thanks to a waterlogged bedspread. No, it was a subtle buzzing, like a fancy electric toothbrush held to various parts of your body out of pre-teen curiosity. I felt the tingle first in my feet and then it traveled up my legs and into my entire body like warm bb’s in my bloodstream. Suddenly, I couldn’t move. I remember thinking, “This is a heart attack.” I was 11, so that really didn’t make sense, but neither does being paralyzed by unseen aliens.
The next thing I knew, I was in a gold room. Now, when I say gold, I mean gold. Imagine an operating room but literally dipped in shiny, reflective gold. It was like chrome, but seen through a jaundiced eye. I was lying on a cold, gold table and what happened next I can’t really describe to you. Not because it was so horrific, but because it never happened. None of it did. See, I made it all up.
And that’s the beauty of writing, no? And more importantly, reading. We can go anywhere and do anything. I apologize to anyone out there reading this who may have actually been abducted by aliens. When I was 11, my no-nonsense math teacher returned from the holiday break and announced that he and his dog had been abducted during a hunting trip. He went into terrifying detail and drew all sorts of weird things on the chalkboard. I will never forget that because, like I said, he was so not the type to make stuff like that up. But I am, and I did. Or, who knows, maybe it really did happen and this is the only way my psyche can deal with it. Anything’s possible, right?