My story begins just at the precipice of a fierce brumal witching hour—once upon a Christmas eve ‘twas—when all the good folks of town were buried deep within their warm beds and innocent dreams, while I kept a solitary vigil on the bitter black coldness that crept through the walls of my tiny abode. It has always been my custom at this time of the night to sup upon a meager meal of fast food while reposing before the flickering electric glow of my wide-screen television set, which dominated nearly a quarter of my cramped and cluttered living room. The ponderous books that populated my domicile were of little solace to me nowadays, so I ignored them in favor of the happy, rich and beautiful people who lived in vibrant colors, replete with music and laugh track, upon my remote controlled television set. In the absence of any foreshadowing that this midnight might be different from any other dead of night, I fastened myself firmly into the soft
cushions of my recliner, food tray in lap, and turned on the idiot box.
Now it may appear, at least to the skeptical if not gentle reader, that my leisurely nocturnal activity is a boring tale to tell, and usually it is; but on this forlorn night my hitherto drab existence was thrown into utter turmoil by just an easy rap, tap, tap upon my living room door. It was such a quiet knocking that I nearly missed it, except that it was so persistent. I was reluctant to abandon my freshly prepared cuisine of Big Boy’s Frozen Liver with Onions and Spinach, but as the rap, tap, tap was so incessant and there were still five minutes to go before The Dumbest Ever TV Commercials began, I decided to leave my easy chair—half out of irritation and half out of curiosity—to inquire into who it was that could be so bold in disturbing my late night mealtime television ritual.
Upon opening wide the propylaeum to my lonely sanctum, I was astonished to find a living and breathing female attached to the dainty knuckles that had so earnestly beckoned at my threshold, her slender frame shielded from the raging winds of the brutal winter night by only the flimsiest of fine cloth. I stared for a long moment in stupid wonderment at this beatific manifestation, who was smiling at me with all the warmth of a noontide summer sun, before I gathered together my wits and gulped out a “Yes?”
“How do you do, kind sir,” she replied, apparently unaffected by my penetrating question. “My name is Felicity and I belong to the Church of Our Lord’s Stigmata. We are in your neighborhood to ask if you’ve heard of the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
I heard her say something about “we.” I glanced beyond her radiant beauty, into the dreary midnight, to behold two large adult males standing nearby and watching intently my communion with the faithful purring feline. I recalibrated my initial measurements of this curvy creature’s seemingly fortuitous appearance at my doorstep, and then replied to her already forgotten words with an inquisitive “Huh?
“Have you been washed cleaned of your sins by the blood of our Savior, the Son of Man and Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ?” Her alabaster round cheeks flushed a crimson red in the frigid night air as she spoke these words… and the tiny nostrils on her pixie nose flared out.
“Jesus Christ, indeed,” I thought to myself. Behind me the television triumphantly announced the upcoming premiere and exclusive airing of Poe</i><i>’s Tales of Mysterious and Imaginative by the Parson.
“I’m not interested in religion,” I told her and then I closed my humble door.
Ere I was able to saunter on back to my favorite worn-out chair, my hopes for a silent night were put to rest, once more, by the damnable rapping that came a-tapping at my chamber door. I spun about, marched to the doorjamb and yanked it open. I was flabbergasted to discover a wee lad standing precariously at attention on my welcome mat. He was dressed up in a crisp tan uniform and adorned with a bright green sash, which was full of shiny merit badges and slung across his narrow chest. His arms were glutted with Christmas wreaths and his face reflected my own bewilderment. I spied out the terrain but I could in nowise discover the vixen prophet of salvation and her two brethren, so I turn my glare back upon the little late-night do-gooder and incisively inquired of him, “What?”
He stammered out his introduction, whereupon I learned his name was “ba… ba… Billy,” and he was soliciting funds for his civic troop while spreading some good Christmas cheer.
“Bah, bah, humbug,” I replied and showed him the door without any further ceremony.
No sooner had I cordoned off the breach then did the haunting rap, tap, tap refrain from it. I wheeled the accursed turnstile open and was now confronted by a bearded, balding, denim clad fellow. “ My name is David,” he announced, and then he asked me for a small monetary donation, “to help save the baby whales.”
“I gave at the office,” I lied, and I would have slammed the bulkhead in his face but he had his foot in the door. I took my kid gloves off, looked the fellow straight in the eyes and said, “Look bud, David, I ain’t interested. Okay? Now get lost!” and with a shove I closed the trapdoor behind him.
Rap, tap, tap rejoined the door.
I creaked open my entrée and there before me was a humanoid figure, naked and translucent silver and gray—male or female I could not discern—, its smooth torso and appendages were thin and elongated, except for the huge bulbous head which crowned the creature. The pure and unblinking black eyes were aimed straight at me as it extended an open, three-fingered hand in my direction.
“Take me to your leader,” a hollow and reverberating voice pleadingly commanded.
“We have no leaders,” I elected to speak for humanity, and I broke off the communication by fastening down the space hatch.
I stood for a beleaguered moment at this gateway to the universe, waiting for the seemingly inevitable knock that some mischievous fate had deigned to visit upon my solitary encampment on this yuletide eve. There was only silence. Even the television was quiet. In the eerie absence of sound my mind began to reflect upon the curious procession of visitors that had come calling on my private residence. Soon, as if in some proverbial dream, I found myself recalling the faces of my former friends, school chums, and erstwhile lovers, and all of our days of high adventure and lost innocence when we, my former companions and I, scoured the kingdom in search of any new discovery, or whiled away our hours over a mug of beer or a cup of tea discussing the so-called mysterious of life. I began to wonder at what had become of my old allies and all of our days of yore, and, finally, I puzzled over what had become of me.
Just then my reverie was disrupted by the nagging rap, tap, tap. I looked hard at my battered fortress door, trying to pierce the wooden veil with my eyes or imagination to discern what mystery guest awaited me on the other side. The infernal television resumed its distracting noise, heralding some new cure for the bothersome rectal itch of hemorrhoids that was so sure to intrude upon one’s consciousness at the most inopportune moments of life. Slowly, I swung open the portal, trying desperately to insulate my heart against the shock I felt so certain was there. What could be more supernatural than an alien? Ed McMahan with the winning Publishers Clearinghouse lottery ticket? My mother, may she rest in peace, to tell me to clean up my room? God, or the Devil, coming to claim my immortal soul? The suspense was killing me.