Alien Abduction Abduction
by Charles C. Cole
Some years ago, my retired parents, with my sister Adeline, lived in practical isolation down a 300-yard gravel driveway in the middle of a 40-acre woodlot. As Mom was preparing dinner one night, she noticed they were out of milk. Dad offered to go and pick up some during the commercial. Highland Variety, the local convenience store, was two miles away.
When Dad hadn’t returned, thirty minutes later, Mom called me. I lived in the neighborhood. She feared the worst, and she asked me to call the store for her. We lived in a small community where the people at Highland Variety knew my parents by name.
My parents never carried cell phones. Though they never admitted it, I was certain it was because each had become resigned to growing increasingly deaf.
I recall hearing Dad’s battery-operated alarm clock — a backup for use during power outages — going off one night. I had been visiting for a game of cribbage and could hear the beeping from their bedroom. They couldn’t. I brought out the alarm clock and held it directly to Mom’s ear. She just smiled sheepishly and shook her head.
The folks at the store hadn’t seen Dad, though they nicely asked us to call them back when we’d figured things out.
At about the same time, Dad walked back in the door at home. I was on the speaker phone with Mom at the time.
“I’m back,” he called out. “Who’s on the phone?”
“It’s your son.”
“Everything all right?” he asked.
“You tell me,” Mom said. Then she spoke to me. “Talk to your father before I say something I shouldn’t.”
Dad approached the phone. “Everything all right?” he repeated. “You have a fight with your wife?”
“No, Dad, we’re fine. Actually Mom called me. She was worried about you.”
“What for?” he asked. “What’d I do now?”
“You left the house about a half-hour ago to get milk, and you’re just now getting home.”
“No, I did not. I only left about five minutes ago.”
“Dad,” I said, “look at the microwave oven.” He paused to look at the display, then he burst out laughing.
“Very funny,” he said. “That’s a good one: moving the clocks ahead. Did your mother put you up to this? You must have flown down here as soon as I drove by your house.”
“Go down to your bedroom if you think I changed the clocks,” I said. “You think I’m going to change every clock in the house? What’s your watch say? You left a half-hour ago.”
“Okay, I admit, I get easily distracted. And I’m a dawdler. And I like to gab with that cute single mother behind the counter, but that doesn’t give you a right to play with my watch. When did you do that anyway?”
“Dad, in all seriousness,” I said, “I didn’t move any clocks ahead. You’ve been gone for nearly an hour, worrying Mom half to death. Where have you been?”
“I went to Highland Variety and came right back,” he insisted. “Gone ten minutes, tops.”
“They haven’t seen you,” I said. “Mom had me call.”
“You called, looking for me?” he asked. “That’s embarrassing.”
“Mom thought you were in a car accident.”
“Let me think this through,” said Dad. “I got in the car and I drove off. I remember going down the drive.”
“You’ve gone to the store hundreds of times. Are you thinking of some other time?”
“I started the car and I went somewhere.”
“Where?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I thought I knew,” he said, genuinely confused.
About this time, Adeline, who had been living with my parents for months until she could find a job, got on the other extension. She truly believed in a world manipulated by mischievous, unseen supernatural forces. “It was an alien abduction,” she said.
“For heaven’s sakes!” said Mom.
“Everybody, calm down,” I said. “Dad, you must have some idea where you went.”
“I really don’t.” He sounded so sad.
“Where’s the milk?” asked Mom. “He didn’t bring in any milk.”
“Is there milk in the car, Dad?” I asked. “Adeline, go check the car.”
“I just got out of the shower,” she said. “My hair’s still wet.”
“I’ll check,” said Mom.
“It’s probably on the front seat,” said Dad. “I always put it on the front seat.”
“Where it leaves a wet spot,” said Mom as she left the house.
“It doesn’t either,” said Dad, then he gasped, as if he’d just awoken from a nightmare. “You’ve got to listen to this!” he said. I could hear him playing with the radio they kept on the kitchen counter by the toaster.
“Listen to what?” I asked.
“The radio!” he exclaimed. “There was the craziest program on, and I was so engrossed. I never heard anything like it!”
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Just now, while I was driving the car.”
The front door banged as Mom returned. “There’s no milk in the car.”
“Is that what happened, Dad? You got in the car, you started the motor and you turned on the radio?”
“Right. And this guy was talking about alien abductions. That’s exactly what he was talking about.”
“I told you,” said Adeline.
“And then what happened?” I asked.
“It was right here in Maine. This married couple was going somewhere on Route 95 near Bangor, after a party.”
“You just heard this, just now?” I asked.
“So you were in the car listening to the radio?” I asked.
“So you never left the driveway!” I said.
“Of course, I did.”
“You never left the driveway! It’s the only thing that makes sense.”
“I guess that’s what happened, sure,” he said, quiet and thoughtful. “I was so caught up in the abduction story that I just lost track of time. And then at some point, a commercial I guess, I must have turned off the car and come back in.”
Mom sighed. “And nobody thought to look outside to see you sitting in the dark.”
Copyright © 2014 by Charles C. Cole