won’t believe your eyes when you see this Monty," Alec
shouted as he burst through the patio door ahead.
twinkle-eyed, ruddy-cheeked inn keeper, a lumberjack of a man,
approached the sphere and gesticulating creature in wonder,
without hesitation. Like Alec, he walked around the event,
poked it with his finger in several places, and stared for
several minutes at the shifting patters of color that swam
across the face of the hairy little animal sitting improbably
on top of shimmering blue air.
Alec," Monty intoned in a slow pronouncement, "what
we have here is a extramundane event if I ever saw one."
"I can’t believe my own
eyes Monty. It just came flying onto the patio about ten
minutes ago. And I have a real boffo vibe that it’s trying
to communicate with us…or me…or someone here."
"Nothing wrong with your
peepers kid," Monty assured, "but I wager that’s
the strangest eye anyone in Hawkins Falls has ever seen!"
Monty called his Maitre d’
and Executive Chef to the patio. They gaped, squinted, rubbed
their eyes, and refused to venture much beyond the patio door.
Thirty minutes after it had first appeared, Monty’s lawyer
arrived and formally certified that they had a
"situation" on their hands.
Then Police Chief Cook arrived
in his new, shiny black, turbo-charged cruiser. Then more
police came. Then the County Sheriff, five more police cars,
and a regional SWAT team arrived. Four hours later, in the
early evening, two expressionless FBI agents appeared in silvered gray
sedans that bristled with antennae. Soon after, the police set
up barricades around the patio and posted guards at the stairs
and all café entrances. Alec, Monty, and the other witnesses
were sequestered in Monty’s office only after much stomping
and shouting and colorful protestations from Monty about his
rights to move freely in his own café.
About ten o’clock, after several cups of
coffee and some hot ham and cheese
sandwiches sent up from the kitchen, a mousy man who flashed a
CIA badge and a buxom, toothy-grinned Army general glided into
Monty’s office as if they owned it. Ceremoniously, they
introduced themselves to the dispirited group as the
"official situation commanders."
"I am General
this is my associate, Dr. Rand Crink, my big brain guy who..."
"Look here, you
potentates," Monty exploded, "I have a café to run
here and I don’t care if the Third Person of the Blessed
Trinity is sitting on my patio! It’s my patio and I’ll go
there or anywhere else on these premises without leave from
the government." Monty could have continued his invective
and indignation much longer, but his lawyer leaned over and
whispered in Monty’s ear. The usually voluble
innkeeper fell silent and fumbled with his watch fob.
"Mr. Sturm, I understand
your confusion and anger about this…umm, situation. I’m
sure you understand that this…matter…is extremely
sensitive, a matter of national security—shall we say, a highly confidential engagement."
General Cynthia Gomez smiled
too much and continued. "As the Army commander responsible
for…umm…special investigations, I could…how shall I say
this…have you all boiled in oil if I believed that would be
in the best interests of our great country. But actually, all
we really need to do is have a bit of a chat with each of you
individually and sign a little paperwork. Then we’ll set
everything up so that the whole café can stay open—except
the patio." Alec thought this all sounded reasonable. He
envisioned preparing a large Swiss cheese and avocado omelet
back at his apartment, and then calling his
friends and parents with the incredible news of the day.
Monty started to protest again,
but his lawyer gently took him by the arm and firmly nudged
him over to a corner for some more private whisperings.