I look around and see at least a hundred cars, their headlights, gawking like spectators at a cage-fight, all staring down into the rocky canyon that drains its dust into Area-51. Julie stands next to me, her hand in mind. I can smell the tequila on her breath.
She sways a little at the edge of the cliff. “Roy, how many aliens you say you seen?”
At the edge I lean up to the invisible line that says, ‘any further and you’ll regret it.’
“I never said I’ve seen aliens. They were dreams, Jules. Dreams of this place, the smell, the wind pushing you into a deep dive.”
“Hold me Roy, I feel like the world’s tippin’ over.”
Julie’s been with me since Ohio. I’d stopped in a classic music store, one that still sold albums and cassettes. My old van’s player still worked and I needed tunes for the road. She’d been paging through a stack of Beatles and Bon Jovi records. I said I was headed west to join the protest. I winked, and she blushed, and I made room next to Reggie, my beagle and we were off. Four days later here we were; Reggie still begrudged losing his seat.
I think about nudging Julie over the edge.
Instead, I slip my arm around her waist and pull her into a hip grinding embrace. Her dark hair flies around my face and she moans into my collar.
“Roy, I want to see aliens.”
I retreat from the edge, pulling her with me, as car horns around the canyon begin to peal out a blaring celebration. “What the hell?”
“That’s weird music, Roy.”
Not for the first time do I think of slapping the stupid out of her. “There. You see that? Way up high, above the horizon. Them diamond lights that are spinning in a circle. You see that?”
“Roy, are those…”
“… Aliens? Naw, prolly just some toy drone someone’s playing at, trying to fool us.”
“Are there suppose to be so many of them?”
I blink and realize my focus has been too narrow.
Julie won’t shut up. “I seen lights like that at a concert in Cincinnati, once, they…”
“Shh now,” I tell her. “You smell that ozone smell?”
“Ozone? What’s ozone…”
I can feel the hair stand rigid on my arms, on the back of my neck. I can handle most things, strange things, and this is no different. But my hair is standing regardless—like electricity running down my scalp, down my back and into the granite rock beneath my feet.
“I feel funny, Roy. Like the time I was barbecuing next to a pool and someone plugged in a boombox and I walked through the water and my feet and whole body started to buzz.”
Shit, I say to myself. We got to get off the rim of this canyon. “I don’t think those are drones, Julie. I think something’s wrong with the air. The ground and the air and the bones in my legs. I hear humming in my head.”
“Roy, is that blood dripping down your nose?”