“Aha. But skip to the UFO crash.”
“Hrm. How much you know already?”
“I know something crashed near Roswell, in 1947. And that people had seen weird things in the sky before that. Lights. They definitely found some bits and pieces of wreckage, but the government said it was a scientific balloon, and the ufologists say it was a spaceship and that there were alien bodies besides.”
“Good. So, the thing of it is, there really was a scientific balloon.”
“Wait.” I frowned. “What?”
“The Boov pod hit it on its way down. Lucky shot. Destroyed the balloon and its payload.”
“So the wreckage…”
“Was debris from the balloon. Then the koobish pod hits the ground, ricochets another eighty miles, finally stops after crashing into the water tower they’d built in my backyard. Wasn’t damaged much. The pod, I mean, not the tower. The tower was totalled, and the city abandoned it—they never much liked our arrangement anyway. Somethin’ about paying an Indian for land that rubs white folk the wrong way.”
I gave the Chief a look.
“Don’ mind me,” he said. “Old habits. So—when the government says the crash was a balloon, it’s ’cause they mean it. Didn’t know about the spaceship. And they get real tight-lipped about it ’cause it’s a top-secret balloon, meant to keep an eye on the Russians. Meanwhile, I’m tryin’ to tell my superiors that I have a flying disk and an alien in my basement, but everyone acts like I’ve gone nuts. Post-combat fatigue, I think they called it at the time.”
“Did they ever figure it out?” I asked.
“Eventually, a bit. They looked at all the evidence from the crash and saw things didn’t add up. So they came calling, lookin’ to see if I’d been tellin’ the truth after all. But by then I’d finally had it with the army. Had a lot of other grievances. So I played the crazy Indian bit to the hilt, had the pod hidden inside my little stage prop, an’ acted like I was all too happy to show it to ’em. They yelled at me for wasting their time, yelled at each other a bit, never came back.
“I spent the last sixty-some years trying to figure that spaceship out,” he said. “Got it up in the air once.”
“Yep. Programmed it to take me up to about five thousand feet, make a loop, an’ come back down in my own yard. Well, twenty miles from my own yard, as it turned out. That was a long walk.”
“You programmed it? How?”
“Punch cards. That’s what we had in the fifties, instead of CD-ROMs. Paper with holes in it.”
“J.Lo says you took good care of it.”
The Chief seemed to study me for a second.
“Rumor is, the Boov will be surrendering soon,” he said. “And leaving.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said. I looked out the window as if I’d be able to see all the Boovish ships crowding around the Arizona border, or the Gorg closing in. “J.Lo knows, too.”
“When’s he goin’ back to his people?”
“I don’t know that he…that he’s decided anything. We haven’t talked about it.”
“I should probably get back,” I said.
When I neared our camp I saw J.Lo backed up against the car in his ghost costume, facing some guy on a dirt bike. Pig was hissing from a window. I broke into a run. Was this guy threatening him? Did he know J.Lo was a Boov?
J.Lo saw me approach.
“Finally! I have been trying to tell this person I do not speak his language,” said J.Lo, turning momentarily to the man, “but he will not to leave me alone.”
The man wheeled around.
“Latest edition!” he shouted. The Nose Celebrity Weekly! Which Two-Timing Skunk Gets Dunked for Hot Hollywood Hunk? Which Leading Lady’s Rankled After Getting Tanked and Ankled? Only the Nose Knows!”
At first I thought he was mentally ill, so I was going to give him a little something. Then I noticed his canvas bag full of newspapers. That was new.
“Spielberg Wheels and Deals Over New Spiels as Studio Execs Fix to Nix Pix! Special insert this week: revised map of the United State of America!”
I didn’t have a clue what the rest was about, but I wanted the map.
“How much?” I asked.
“A buck ten,” he said. “But for you? Because I like your face? A dollar.”
“What do you mean a—you mean a dollar dollar? As in real money?”
“I don’t got time for haikus, kid. You got the dollar or don’t ya?”
“Everyone around here just trades stuff,” I said. “Money isn’t worth anything.”
“It’ll be worth something someday. You want this paper or not?”
I asked him to wait as I rummaged through the car and found a dollar in change. I hadn’t saved any paper money. Later J.Lo and I sat down in the shade and looked over The Nose Celebrity Weekly.
“What does it say?” asked J.Lo.
“I don’t believe it,” I said, flipping through the pages. “It really is a paper about TV and movie stars. These people don’t even do anything anymore.”
FILM STARS CONTINUE TO WAIT
FOR SOMEONE TO MAKE MOVIE
NEW HOLLYWOOD (FORMERLY SCOTTSDALE)—American actors fill their days with activities such as smiling and waving at cars as they anticipate the eventual restart of the film industry.
“Before the invasion I was working on a buddy comedy about a talking dog that fights crime,” said heartthrob Evan Vale to The Nose, outside the Lexus dealership he calls home. “If Good Cop, Bad Dog never gets finished, it’ll be like the aliens have won.”
Good Cop, Bad Dog Executive Producer Marty Allen said filming would resume soon. “As soon as we can get Tom [Stone] back in the director’s chair, we’re good to go.”
Director Tom Stone is currently a potato farmer in Holbrook and could not be reached for comment.
RECORDING ARTISTS TO PERFORM
AT “LIVE ALIEN 6”
SEDONA—America’s musical artists, seventy percent of whom live in the northern Arizona town of Sedona, will once again hold a benefit concert to raise awareness of the alien invasion.
The concert, called “Live Alien 6,” will feature more artists than the previous five “Live Alien” shows, and for the first time will have a working sound system and be open to the public.
Pop sensation Mandi, who is expected to sing her new single “This Land Is My Land, This Land Ain’t Smekland,” will host the event.