Lights in the Night

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Chapter 2: Marysfield

West Texas can be such a beautiful place, that is if you like the desert, no people, and wind, never forget the wind. Don’t misinterpret me, there are some lovely places in the Big Bend, regrettably, this story doesn’t take place in one of those. If you can think of the end of the earth, go about five more miles and you will be getting close to where this story takes place.

At one time the area held more promise; people could always run a ranch. Of course, not everyone thinks of ranching as a glamorous way to make a living. Something about ‘castrating’ season tends to make the whole cattle business a little too unsophisticated for most people. Although it paid for many families to send their kids to college; unfortunately, those kids would never come back. Cattle made some little towns almost a comfortable place to live if you like small. Remember, it takes a lot of dirt to grow hamburger in its original packaging. A person might love to drive an hour and a half on Friday to head into town; if this sounds appealing, this would be a place for you.

That was then, this is now. Most of the small towns west of the Pecos were persevering despite hard times. The banks hadn’t taken over all the spreads, some were surviving, scraping a living out of the Texas grit and brush. The price of beef is always fickle. The prices for everything else seem to always be going up. It didn’t take much for the little hole-in-the-wall places to begin to resemble ghost towns.

Marysfield was one such place. Some might compare it to an inflamed cyst on the backside of a longhorn. To others, a little piece of heaven. Some might even call it quaint. The major problem is not enough people are in the latter category. Past few years, Marysfield found itself on hard times.

Some would confess that out in the brush country there was a certain kind of peacefulness. The problem is; most days, you would experience more going on, out in the wilderness, than you would see in the downtown area of Marysfield.

Of course, calling it downtown might be a little generous. Roughly sixteen commercial buildings spread over four sides of a crossroad with a blinking light to manage traffic. The major metropolitan establishments still available were the Texas Savings and Loan and the Eddington General Store slash Hotel, both multi-story buildings. Another corner housed the one and only gas station, with the obligatorily attached barbecue smoke house.

For some unknown reason, most everyone in Texas understands the truly best barbecue must be somehow attached to a gas station. This eatery was also the only real social gathering place for about a three-hour drive in any direction.

It is another mystery, to people that are from away, the propensity for Americans to measure distance in time. In America, when one says three hours away, it is almost a challenge to make it in less time than stated. Speed limits are for suckers and should be viewed as mere suggestions. Hell, when you can leave a built-up area and not run into another person for an hour or so, what is the real difference? There isn’t much difference between going seventy-five miles per hour or a hundred and fifteen miles per hour. Who are you hurting? As long as no cattle wander out into the road everything should be fine. Of course, that does happen from time to time. It never ended well for the two-thousand pound cow or the people in the two-thousand pound car. Instant hamburger.

Back to Marysfield, the last prime real estate, the last corner of the intersection, housed the sheriff’s office and town hall combination. All the other buildings in “Down-Town” were boarded up or burnt out. Not that it exhibited all the signs of a war zone, more like a boxer that lost a fifteen-round fight, three times in a row, on the same day. You might say the place had fallen on hard times but that would be derogatory to hard times. Little happened in the area.

Down the road a bit, to the south stood a military base. People stationed there never left the base. The business about their goings-on considered most secret.

Thus, the stage set, one cool fall Friday night not too long ago. Things were hopping at Junior’s.

Another little-known fact about Texas. A person would be amazed by the number of businesses called ‘Junior’s’. Specifically, barbeque joints.

Three people drinking beer, represented a hopping Friday night at Junior’s, throw in the occasional takeout BBQ to eat at home. It was nearing closing time. Tonight, that appeared to be about one in the morning, as things were rather lifeless in Junior’s.

‘Old Sits’ burst into the place knocking the little bell on the door off the spring. With a hyperventilating thick Eastern European accent shouted, “You need to come out and see this, there is no way you will believe it, I think we are being invaded!”

Now, most nights you need a better story than that to drag hardcore drinkers away from their favorite past time, drinking beer. Nonetheless, it was not the end of the little drama taking place. After the bell flew off the spring attachment, it proceeded to bounce around a bit before stopping under one of the barstools.

In series, ‘Old Sits’ burst through the door, shouted his warning, proceeded to vomit his last three meals, projectile style, into the restaurant; finally dropping, like someone shot him in the ass with a tranquilizer gun. Even the hard-core drinkers took notice, one of them even rose long enough to kick the aforementioned body to check if it breathed.

Junior first to respond, “What the hells?” waving his towel in front of his face. “What is that god awful smell?”

A tall skeleton served as Junior’s body. Miraculously untouched by the decades of consuming his own BBQ. He moved towards the rag covered, emaciated body now spread face down in a pool of the contents from his stomach.

Now time could be spent on describing the events as they unfolded inside Junior’s, but the inciting incident of this tale happened outside. In the night sky over Marysfield, an awe-inspiring display of flashing lights took place. At the same time, a tall young man, his shaggy hair pulled back into a man bun, cappuccino complexion, and handsome face featuring an aquiline nose, stood pumping gas into his white F150. The Ford at once glowed as gold as the lights in the sky, as if it had been infused with the energy the lights emitted.

All this would have gone completely unnoticed and undocumented if Billy and Ellie had not been out late cuddling. He needed to take the rather flushed faced Ellie home before they got caught and she got a beating. Teens, they were, of course, both out when they were supposed to be home. That is a side of this story for later.

Billy and Ellie were in a minor state of shock, but much better off than the fellow laying in his own vomit. Billy possessed the presence of mind to film the lights. Most can appreciate people, especially teens, are never without their smartphones, even in Podunk little towns in West Texas. Most of the hayseed towns was within cell coverage.

Now if you asked Ellie’s father, what he thought of Billy, you would have gotten a string of obscenities that would make a Marine proud. Ellie’s father would be wrong about Billy. He enjoyed more foresight than many kids his age, not sending the film straight out over the internet and into everyone’s clutches free of charge. Billy emailed clips to a few news agencies, trying to sell the footage.

Rather than go into the list of fine outstanding media establishments that turned Billy down, we will jump to the semi-respectable, some might say rag, British media company that bought his video. Of course, they put his pictures up on their website, and in their newspaper on their front-page, bottom right corner. The story lost the headline to a pair of conjoined twins. The tabloid, saved the video for some unknown reason.

A couple of other papers ran the story, but it was never headline news. No one was concerned about West Texas after all. Respectable news organizations never catered much to the UFO crowd.

Now, this is where the story gets interesting.

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