Ragsdale wobbled, spun around, and drew his arm back to throw a punch. “Jim, sorry to surprise you,” Delores said. She cupped his arm with her hand, and they both struggled to keep their footing.
“Damn, Delores. You’re lucky I didn’t kill you. What are you doing here? I thought I told you to stay in the car.”
“I got worried about you, sweetie.” She pulled herself to him.
“What the hell was that?” Ragsdale asked
“I heard it too,” Delores said. They both peered in the direction of the sound that grew louder. It seemed as though someone was groaning in the area where he’d dropped his flashlight.
“Jim, let’s go to the car.” She tugged on his arm, but he did not move.
“Someone could need our help.” He started pacing slowly towards the groaning, Delores reluctantly in tow, clutching his arm. They were aided at first by a slight parting of the clouds that allowed a little more illumination by the moon. But just as quickly as the desert had lightened, it got pitch-dark again. The reluctant lovers proceeded slowly toward the sound, feeling their way amongst the cacti and mesquite bushes.
Jim saw a very faint light that he thought might be the flashlight, but hoped that it wasn’t, because it was moving. He started to say something about the flashlight to Delores, but stumbled and fell on top of something.
“Are you alright, Jim?” Delores asked, reaching to help him up.
Jim looked up at her as starlight flooded them. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
Delores’ eyes looked past Jim and she recoiled and screamed. Jim turned his head to see what he was lying on and stared into two huge black eyes that blinked.
* * *
Marcel waved at a man driving by on the street in a pickup truck pulling a small boat, called out something in Cajun French, sighed and began. “About a year before Uncle Jesse died, he told me about what he’d found out in the desert. He said it was part of some pod one of the two spacecraft was towing. He said he turned in most of the stuff he and a sheep farmer had collected, but that he kept some of the things to protect himself in case the government ever came after him. A couple of men came to his home in Roswell a few days after the crash and told him that they were with the government and that he had withheld a flight suit. They threatened him, so he gave it to them. It turned out that the two men had lied about who they were and were not government agents. The day before Uncle Jesse told me all of this, the same two fake agents had showed up at his house on Ozia-Skyline, just up the road. You get back on Bayou Blue road, cross Highway 90, and Ozia-Skyline is about a mile down on the right. You go to the end of the street, and it dead-ends at his old place. Anyway, the fake agents asked for the rest of items from the crash. Uncle Jesse freaked out because the two agents looked exactly like they had looked in 1947. He said they looked like paintings of Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Edison and hadn’t aged any since 1947. How can that happen? Uncle Jesse lied to them and told them he had no souvenirs from the crash. The two men barged into his house, searched it and said they’d be back.”
“He actually told you that the men were the same agents from 1947?” Mel asked, swallowing another oyster that Marcel handed her.
Marcel nodded. “The next day he came over here with a sack of raw crawfish he caught across the canal behind his place, and he handed me another sack. He told me to hide it and not to open it until after he died. I put it in the attic that night.”
“You’ve opened it?” Mel asked, waiting for another oyster as Marcel stabbed the shell with his knife.
“I forgot about the sack until about a month after Uncle Jesse’s funeral. When I remembered, I waited that day until dark. You see that string and door above your head? That’s a ladder that leads into the attic. I got the sack from there and went into the shed in back of the house and opened it.”
“I’d prefer to let you just see it. It’s in the house; follow me.” Marcel led her through a gap between the house and a utility room to the rear of the house and into an enclosed sun porch. A sack rested on a Formica-topped table. “Go ahead,” Marcel urged.
Mel untied the string at the opening and turned the sack upside down. Her jaw dropped.