Saturday, June 13, 2015

I Saw the Light, I Saw the Light. Still, There Was Darkness and the Rest of the Night.

It was December of 1998 when I saw the blazing orb fall to Earth.

No. I wasn't dreaming about flaming globes of Sigmund. I didn't make a note and leave it on my nightstand. I was wide awake, driving down the two-lane highway behind my parents' house. But I'm getting ahead of myself. It's not like Val to start a story with the action. I'm out of my comfort zone. Let's back this non-beeping vehicle up.

December of 1998 was our first Christmas without my dad, who passed away in April. I had gone out to help Mom wrap gifts. Genius was just turning four, and The Pony was a tiny splay-legged colt, not even galloping around the paddock yet. I left Genius home with Hick, but The Pony tagged along because...well...who would leave a nine-month-old baby in the care of Hick? Even BEFORE they knew he would later drive a toddling Pony around the grounds in a milk crate zip-tied to the handlebars of a 4-wheeler.

We finished up around 10:30 p.m. I put The Pony in his car seat in the back of our Suburban, and headed up Mom's road to get on the stretch of highway that had divided our family estate since I was in high school. Eminent domain, people. Progress marches on. Mom always stood at the kitchen window and waved, even though she couldn't really see inside my car in the dark. I could see her, though, so I always waved back.

Just as I was pulling out onto that highway, a shooting star shot across the sky. Only it was CLOSE. It caught my eye coming over my uncle's house, which was across the highway. Right above his house, moving to my left, sinking lower and lower. By that time I was on the highway, and that bright orange softball-sized blazing orb curved down over the roof of Mom's house, where it would have landed in the side yard under my old bedroom window.

This was in the day when normal people didn't carry cell phones. At least around these parts. There were car phones that you carried in a zippered pouch and got out and plugged into your cigarette lighter, if your dad had worked for Southwestern Bell all his life. And cordless phones for the home were as big as shoe boxes. So when I saw this fireball cross over Mom's house, where the trajectory meant that it could only have landed in her side yard, I wanted to let her know. It might start a fire, you know. The weather was kind of misty and foggy that night, not freezing, but you never know how a fireball in a dead grass yard is going to act. I knew Mom would be waiting for me to call her when I got home. I would tell her then. It didn't occur to me to turn around and double back. Hick had already called looking for me, because I was out so late. Besides, The Pony needed his beauty sleep.

I was rushing a little more than normal. Perhaps going more than the speed limit once I got on the interstate highway. Before eminent domain ate up more citizen land, we used to take a short cut to connect to our county highway from the interstate. It was a little blacktop road by a boat shop. The access on the highway was not yet limited. In order to not interfere so much with traffic flow, we would signal our right turn, and pull onto the shoulder, using it as a kind of exit ramp until we came to our turn. That way the two lanes of northbound traffic didn't jam up while we slowed to almost a stop to make our treacherous turn that dropped off about 10 feet on either side, with no lines or side markers.

The fog had settled in. My left hand dropped to hit the right turn signal so I could ease onto the shoulder for my turn. No. My mind told me not to do it. I looked in my rearview mirror. No traffic. I guess it wouldn't matter. But we always used the shoulder. Still. I didn't do it that night. And when I got to the turn-off, there was a black car parked on the shoulder, just before my turn. No lights. No driver. I would have plowed right into it if I was on the shoulder. Funny thing about hunches. Sometimes they're nothing. Sometimes they're something.

As soon as I got home and carted The Pony inside, I called Mom. "Hey! Check outside, through your sliding doors. Is there a fire or anything out there?"

"Oh, just a minute. I've already pulled the curtains." Let the record show that, because my dad had worked for Southwestern Bell his whole life, we had no shortage of telephones in that house. Mom was on the avocado wall model with the extra long cord that reached every nook and cranny in her family room. "No. I don't see anything out there."

"Well, right after I pulled out onto the road, I saw a flaming ball of fire come over Gene's house and it headed right for yours, and went down over the roof into your yard."

"Oh, my. I don't see anything. I'll go out there and look tomorrow. But you're all right? And Little Pony? I've been worried about you."

"We're fine, Mom. We're in for the night."

"Me too. I love you all. Have a good night."

I don't know what that blazing orb was, but I have not seen another one. Mom never found any rock or charred area in her yard. I know I didn't imagine it. Too bad The Pony was too young to be my witness!

Yeah. That's my story of seeing strange lights in the sky, Catalyst. Not the UFO kind of lights. That's just top secret government operations, you know. Like the four-foot chickens and seven-foot cows at some research facility around Overland Park, Kansas, back in the late 70s/early 80s, according to my college buddies. They even drove me out there to see some late at night. It was kind of like those ne'er-do-wells in Carrie going out to gather pig blood. Creepy. Let the record show that I did not see any four-foot chickens or seven-foot cows, which was explained away by: "Oh, they must put them inside at night so people don't bother them."


  1. Dad recently passed away/ flaming orb lands in Mom's yard/ Val's hunch saves Pony's and her life.

    Probably just a coincidence.

  2. I say, NO coincidences in this thing called life. You had an experience.

  3. Ancient Astronaut Theorists would say it was a sign. Of what, I don't know, but it's still a cool story!

  4. I love it that so many things in life are unexplainable. Makes it all so much more interesting.

  5. joeh,
    I have not seen a flaming orb since then. day on the way to school a year or so later, we smelled my dad's pipe tobacco in the car as we passed that area going southbound. He always mixed his own, Kentucky Club and some kind of cherry, maybe Captain Black, and kept it in a tin like this:

    I used to pop the lid off that can and breathe it in. It smelled better before it was set on fire and traveled through the lungs!

    The experiences find me when I least expect them. Except the one time I asked for one, and it happened.

    Better than the goocher that Teddy and Vern and Chris and Gordie got when all four quarters came up tails on the way to Back Harlow Road to find Ray Brower's body.

    Yeah. Like how come I could not find one scrap of bacon in my green beans, after I put a whole half pound in the pot, and Hick had some before I did?

  6. My dad also smoked Captain Black, and all his shirts had holes in them from the embers.

    1. My dad's shirt had holes from that time his climbers slipped out of the wood of that telephone pole, and he slid to the ground while hugging it for dear life. Come to think of it, his stomach flesh also had holes in it. And lots of splinters. Thank goodness for the heavy denim of Levi red-tab jeans.