Mike's home! They brought him back last night, right to the place where they snatched him!
"Of course they brought me back," he said on our walk this morning. "I paid for a round-trip on that airport shuttle limo. And for one on Southwest Airlines, too."
Maybe. But I think all the signs point to an alien abduction. The facts are these: One morning a little over a week ago (though it seems like a hundred years), Jeannie and Mike and I drove to a Howard Johnson's motel way out by the edge of town. We pulled into the parking lot and sat there with the motor running. Then for some mysterious reason Mike got out of the car just as a white vehicle rolled up and stopped right in front of us. At first I was scared, because it looked a little like an Animal Control truck, and I thought they might be after me again. But they took Mike, instead, and before I could scratch my ear they were gone.
"We were gone--to the Orlando airport, where I got on a big jet airplane. Geez, dog, unclench!" he said.
I asked where this "airplane" took him, and he said something that sounded like "Missouriandkansas," which seems as if it could be somewhere in a galaxy far away.
"It's two-and-a-half hours away," he said. When we got home from our walk, he showed me a picture of what he called sure-fire proof that I was blowing things out of proportion. "Look--I took this from my window in the plane on the way there. It's one of the hydroelectric dams on the Tennessee River."
"But you could have taken it from outer space--from a window in an alien spacecraft, isn't that right?" I inquired.
"In a science fiction novel, maybe. But I was in a Boeing 737 at 36,000 feet. Here's another picture. This one's of St. Louis, which is in Missouri. I snapped it as we were getting ready to land there. If you look closely you can see the famous Gateway Arch between the bottom and middle bridges."
Gateway, schmateway. "Not too convincing, boss," I said. "From what I've seen on TV, those alien machines have some awesome spying power. Got any pics that you took on the ground?" He showed me this one, which he said was of a house in a town called Leavenworth, Kansas, close to an Army post where my sister Bonnie lives:
"Holy crap!" I cried. "Aliens! And they've grabbed somebody's cat!" Though that's not always such a bad idea. "So show me where Bonnie supposedly lives."
"I don't think I got any of the outside of her house. But here's one of the house next door, which I took yesterday morning from my bedroom window."
"You've got this thing about taking pictures through windows, haven't you?" Hey, I just call 'em as I see 'em.
To which he replied, "I took this one from her front porch. It's the park across the street, where they had a big Christmas tree lighting ceremony last Friday night. You can see their porch flag hanging right there on the left."
I said great, but that I didn't see the Christmas tree, so he produced another:
I studied the guy in the foreground. "That's not you, is it? No way is that you." Mike reminded me that as the duty photographer, he rarely gets to have his own picture taken.
I asked if there was any other compelling photographic evidence that he was not in a galaxy far away, and he showed me a few more. This time they were from a city called Kansas City, Missouri (though part of it's actually in Kansas, just to confuse).
"The first thing you notice as you drive into KC," he said, "is that roller skating on city streets is highly illegal. Most places have a war on drugs. Theirs is on skates."
"And here's the skyline as you get close to downtown."
Then he showed me the City Library's parking garage, which he said reminds him of my friend and fellow blogger C. Lee McKenzie's website. I have to agree with that observation. (Click the link to see if you do, too.)
Finally he said that he and Bonnie visited a place called the National World War I Museum:
I was still skeptical. "You could get these kinds of pictures from Google," I said. "Don't you have a single photo of you, right there--boots on the ground, as they say?" He thought for a while and then replied that there was one that Bonnie had taken and e-mailed to him. It was from the Christmas tree lighting in the park: