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(A true life fubar in the New Mexico desert.)

 
We weren't looking for trouble...just trying to have another peaceful kegger like we do every year.

* expect plausible denial

 

 

 

YBrosArea51.jpg (59333 bytes) I said" Hey, bro - toss me a cold one and slide that Mossberg over here".

 

 

 

 

 

I know, we look ridiculous don't we? You're thinking this is just a spoof, a heap of bullshit or some such nonsense. Fact of the matter is, it wouldn't matter what we looked like or what we said, nobody would believe us - we know that because we've spoken to everyone from the local police right up to the US military (more about that later). We're at the point where we just have to laugh about it - doesn't mean it didn't happen - it just means no one really gives a shit (and those that do are counting on it that you won't believe us).

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Call me M (on the right) and that's my little brother J (on the left) - he lives out here (Arizona now, Texas at the time of the encounter) and I live in New York. For the last few years I've been visiting him during the summer and we've pretty much used these visits to get up to date on the latest offerings from our favorite brewers as well to test out a few recipes. All this takes place during our NM Walk-about (yes, inspired by our friends down under) - well in our case it's really a "Drive-about". We pack up J's Ford with an ample supply of assorted sundries, our camping gear and a little insurance. The objective here is simple - relax under the desert skies while we catch up on the family news, get in some decompression time and settle the score as to which of us makes the best Chili, Arroz Con Pollo, Shrimp Scampi, Paella and of course - who can drink the most without crossing that threshold into the twilight zone.

 

Before I continue on, I just want to make it clear that we are two very ordinary, middle age guys – I'm a father (three great kids)  and I’ve been working with computer systems for over twenty years and J is a Fully Licensed Electrician.  We’re not prone to hysterics, don’t have hallucinations and both of us basically lead very normal lives.  A truck load of beer and Spano-American food is not the sort of thing that leads to visions of flying saucers and little green (gray) men. With that said, I will continue...

 It probably started with the goggles. We always got a bit jazzed during the weeks approaching “the annual food/beer fiasco” and last year was no exception. Time was spent planning the menus, selecting the beers, arranging the “vague at best” path we would follow through West Texas and Central NM. As this was going to be the third time we made this trip, we were toying with the idea of having Tee-shirts made, or hats or something along those lines.  For whatever reason, J comes up with this idea to bring “night vision goggles” with us so that we could get a good look at what goes on during the desert evenings. Although I was pretty sure that the only thing I would be doing during the evening is sleeping it off, I figured what the hell – why not? Well, I’ll tell you why not – do you have any idea how expensive that equipment is? We nixed the plan and decided to spend our money where it would net us the most good (yes, beer and food). All was not lost however, and shortly after we dismissed the idea of getting those NVGs, J finds two pairs of goggles that cost him a grand total of $ 28 ! The downside was they didn’t work and they were really just kids toys, but we laughed our asses off just imagining how stupid we’d look walking around in them (of course, you don’t have to imagine – just go to the top of the page).

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Evening of Day2.

J plays his trusty Fender and sings Bob Dylan's "We Ain't Goin' Nowhere" as M dances and sings along. A perfect end of the day.

 

Like I said, it was a simple plan – drive until you don’t feel like driving anymore, camp, eat, drink, talk and sleep. Repeat plan for five days. What could go wrong?

 Day 1 found us camping outside of Carlsbad NM – we’d done about 450 miles that day – started down in San Antonio Texas and took I-10 north west to US 285 and up we went – pretty mundane driving but fun – the adventure had begun. After all the driving we took the easy way out as far as dinner was concerned – J had prepared a nice Chile concoction in anticipation of  “first day long-haul fatigue” and we didn’t have to do much but heat it all up and enjoy it (along with a series of Rolling Rock’s finest). Life was good. The tent was up and we were spent. Day one ended and everything was just as I’d imagined it would be. That was the only night that met my expectations.

 Day 2 started off just fine – we slept like drunken babies and at 7:00 am or so I woke up and prepared the Café Bustelo and Ham, cheese and peppers omelets. J was most appreciative and after breakfast he cleaned up while I packed the truck.  We had decided to make it a light driving day – a slower pace and not so many miles – we figured to camp somewhere up by Taos and a 300 mile day is pretty easy on the senses.  We made a few stops along the way and by the time we hit the outskirts of Taos, we were still feeling pretty good. We gassed up and picked up a few things just on the north side of town and set up camp. We were quite pleased that we would actually get to watch the sunset while we cooked and kicked back – everything was perfect – so perfect that we decided it was going to be “Corona Night” – it would go very well with our evening’s choice – Arroz Con Pollo.

 

It was a beautiful night and the moon provided enough light to give the surroundings  a soft cool glowing look. This is what these trips were all about. Dinner was outstanding and after an hour or so of playing music, talking and drinking, we decided it was time to turn in. We put out the fire, cleaned up a bit, went to the tent and then slipped into our sleeping bags. Sleep came easy and quickly.

I was awoken by a variety of loud sounds –  and not the kind you’d expect to hear in the desert. Breaking glass, footsteps, things being moved around. I knew we were in trouble. I reached over in the darkness and shook J. I whispered “shhh, someone’s outside the tent” – J said nothing. The sounds from outside had stopped – it was perfectly quiet. J crept out of his sleeping bag and peeked out of the tent flap – he turned back my way and shook his head – indicating that he could see nothing. But that didn't mean we were safe. We knew we had to get ourselves together and fast, but it was difficult seeing inside the tent and I didn't want to use our lantern because that would give us away for sure. The goggles! These cheap-shit night vision goggles had two little lights on them - one at each end of the lenses. I put mine on, switched it on and presto - I could see. I tossed the other pair to J - perfect. We could see well enough to move around without making a racket.   Seconds passed. We listened. Another few seconds ...nothing but silence. I went from being startled to being angry and finally to being bold. I was now out of my sleeping bag and fully awake - I said, “Hey Bro, toss me a cold one and slide that Mossberg over here” I did not bother to whisper this time. He did just that. I cracked open the Bud (backup beer kept in tent) and chambered the 12 gauge (number 4 shot) round. J quickly unpacked his Colt Python, took a swig from my brew and we stepped out of the tent.

The campsite had been visited – that much was obvious. With our idiot goggles lighting the way, we took it all in. The coolers had been moved, some were open, food was lying on the ground – the tin foil wrappers were open. Ice was all over the place. We couldn’t see anyone and didn’t hear anything. J started walking the perimeter while I began picking up the ice and food and placing it back into the coolers. Farthest from tent was our number 3 cooler and I could see that it was lying on its side – its little wheels standing out in the moonlight. As I walked over to it I notice that something was directly behind it – almost hidden. From my point of view it looked like a stuffed sack. As I got closer, I thought I could see a boot or a foot of some kind. I checked the Mossberg – the safety was still on! “Idiot” I said to myself. I switched it off and continued walking towards the cooler.

“J, you’re gonna want to see this”, I yelled. He came over and looked down. I thought his eyes were going to bug right out of his head. “Now that’s something you don’t see every day”, he said casually and we both started laughing. It was kind of crazy laughing though because I think we were both pretty spooked.

Something you don't see every day.

M ponders the situation - the dying alien has collapsed into  the number 3 cooler which houses the cerveza stash. Would it have survived if it could have opened the bottles?

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Lying next to the cooler was a body. Not the kind of body we’d ever seen before. Smallish, grayish, super-sized head. The left arm was missing at the elbow and a tourniquet was wrapped around the upper arm. I knelt down for a closer look. The creature appeared to be alive. It made small, almost involuntary movements and stared up into the sky. The entire scene was freakish – this badly wounded little guy/girl/thing, lying in the dirt with Corona bottles surrounding its body. Suddenly it just seemed to die. Couldn’t tell for sure, but all movement stopped. We weren’t sure if it had actually been breathing to begin with but it became obvious that it was not breathing now. And it was limp and motionless. I was fascinated.

“There’s more of them”, J said. “Don’t turn around, don’t look at me”. I stared straight down at the dead creature and waited. “They’re coming over”, J said quietly, “two more, look the same as this one, no weapons, cautious but they’re coming”.

“They’re right behind you, looking over your shoulder, what do you think I should say?”, said J in a soft voice. Try “boo”, I said, clearly, I had no idea what to do. The creature directly behind me then put its hand on my shoulder and leaned down to look me in the eyes. There was something familiar clinging to the side of its face (“what the hell is going on” I thought).  I was paralyzed . . . and then J yelled “Boo” and things got crazier. The “something” clinging to the side of its face fell off as the creature shook its head in response to the loud yell from J. Things seemed to move in slow motion – I followed the falling object as it hit the ground in front of me – it was a shrimp (there would be no Scampi for the Brothers Y on this trip).

At this point all hell broke loose… I could hear J holler  "Jesus, two more of them coming up behind you". I looked up just as he raised his Colt and, in one swift motion, I stood and turned to face the two new intruders as I shouldered the Mossberg. “GET YOUR SKINNY LITTLE ASSES IN LINE!”, J roared – his voice booming in the night. They froze in their tracks - and then, much to my complete amazement, these four little creatures lined up “two by two” and just stood there staring at us. Adrenaline was pumping. We were extremely tense. No one moved a muscle. We knew at any moment something could trigger a confrontation and we had no idea what the outcome would be. A New Mexican standoff so to speak. The creatures would not take their eyes off our faces – maybe the goggles confused them. A moment passed. We relaxed a bit. Fingers slipped away from the triggers. We were standing toe to toe with extraterrestrial beings and we had zero idea as to what to do next. I took a deep breath, then another and I realized that I was sweating - on a cold desert night.

 And then, the magnitude of what had just taken place hit me like a sledge hammer . . . the Jumbo Shrimp had been compromised, the Coronas had taken a serious hit and our menu plans were worthless now. Even with all this going through my head, I managed to compose myself enough to realize that we still had a lot to deal with. My thoughts were interrupted, “Now what?” J asked. We were both still pointing our weapons at the four visitors – and they just remained motionless and stared up at us.”Hmmm...Klatu baratta nikto?” I asked, and we started laughing a bit. And then we started to relax. Little by little our tensions eased and we lowered the guns.

 “Do you remember the time our cat jumped up on the kitchen table and starting eating the birthday cake…”, I asked J. He smiled back at me – “of course I do – that’s why we changed her name to ‘CakeEater’ ”. We talked about the years we spent living in a rented house in Queens NY. We laughed out loud as we remembered all this silly shit that we’d thought we’d long since forgotten –a home movie about the “Zombies”, the band rehearsals that terrified our downstairs neighbors, hiding from the milkman because we owed him money…we talked for what seemed like hours. After a while, something kept nagging at my consciousness (and J’s too) – we’re forgetting something, something important. This fact kept popping into our conversation as the "good old days" stories became less meaningful, less important until finally we both realized that we’d lost track of where we were and what had taken place just moments ago.

 And that’s the way it went. The two of us lost in old memories while our little companions made their getaway.

 All four were gone. No trace. The odd thing was though, they left the dead one with us. We couldn’t figure out why they would leave evidence of their existence but hey, obviously we weren't understanding much of anything at that point. We looked closer at the dead one. “Looks like ‘Lefty’ wasn’t up for the trip.” J said. He was right – very right, because this thing was decomposing quickly. "Yep, she's going Brown-Betty on us, that's for sure", I said. Already it looked as if its bones were turning to liquid because it was losing its shape and taking on a very sack-like appearance. AlienMelt1.jpg (6538 bytes)  

Going "Brown-Betty".

Death does not become her (it). Shortly after taking the A Train, our visitor from space starts getting ripe on us. Try to picture a mannequin made out of squid.

 

“I’ll get the camera and take some shots before it turns into a tuna-melt”, I said. I did just that. Several shots showing J and the creature were taken with my digital camera.

 “Let’s pack up and get this body to a police station - if we don't, nobody will ever believe a word of this.” J said. Without giving it much thought, we scrambled around and gathered our things together.

Packed up and ready to go.

The sun was coming up and we were hitting the road. We couldn't help but laugh - gee whiz, our own official space-pal! Whew! It sure was stinkin' up the truck and we wondered "how long it would last in the back like that?". Our only option was to use the ice from the coolers and we both knew that was really not an option.

PackingUP.jpg (26722 bytes) Last thing into the truck was the alien – we laid it out on top of the coolers in the flat-bed and covered it with some tarp.We propped the little thing's head up just for fun - entertainment for the our neighbors on the road! Off for the highway – it was early morning and the sun was just coming up. As we drove from the campsite, we started thinking about exactly what we would say to the police…I mean, we have the body right, we have the pictures…how could they not believe us? Then paranoia set in.

“What if they keep the body and lock us up for a while until they ‘figure out just what kind of a body it is’? Shit, I would probably do that if I was a cop. Might take the body straight to a hospital so that a doctor could take a look at it.”, J said. We both thought about that for a while. “Are we going need to get a god damned lawyer before we mention this to anybody?”, I said. We both thought about these things as we approached the main road that would take us south to Taos. Lawyers, police, jail, dead bodies, spacemen, ridicule, alcohol testing, drug testing, family checks, “suspects” …

 The more we thought about it, the more disgusted and frustrated we became. Maybe we should just call “the newspapers”?  Maybe we should just dump Lefty on the side of the road and continue with our vacation? What at first seemed like a  “surreal experience” that would bring us our 15 minutes of fame and make for interesting conversation, had suddenly become a royal pain in the ass.

 “I say we pick up as much ice as we can get our hands, throw it on top of Lefty, get on I40 and drive straight to Area-fuckin’-51! I figure it’s about 700 miles or so. I think we can make it.” – this was my brilliant plan. No cops, no stops (except for gas), no newspapers and no damned lawyers. Simple plan part 2. J was skeptical – “That’s the plan? Drive to Area 51? You consider that a plan? Then what?” I was stumped of course. “Then what”, I repeated. “Then we see what happens!” – another brilliant idea. “Oh”, J said, “I didn’t realize that you had thought this all out so thoroughly – okay, West it is.”. And off we went.

Simple Plan Part Deux :

Compared to the previous evenings activities, the run to Area 51 was fairly uneventful. We were heading west and as the sun traveled from behind us, to above us and finally in front of us we did little else but speculate on what would happen when we got there. There is one little incident that may be noteworthy (and a possible source of verification) so here it is...

One of our biggest problems was the uncertainty of things - could we even get past the guards? What kind of security would we encounter? Who should we ask to speak with?  Would we be arrested by the military? Our assumptions as to how we would be received painted quite a bleak picture. That predicament, coupled with the rotting 80 lb. cheese blintz rolling around in the back of the pickup, almost kept us from dealing with the real issue at hand - meals.

As tempted as we were to pull over and fire up the grill, we resisted and we kept on rolling ( just like that crazy bastard Kowalski in Vanishing Point), we were doing some serious driving. We "got game" so to speak, and nothing was going to slow us down. Nothing.

Well, almost nothing. * Because this is a factual account of what took place, a document chronicling  our observations, actions and thoughts, I will resist the impulse to go for a cheap laugh by way of crude bathroom humor. With that said, I also feel that it is important for the reader to understand that at this point in time (12 or so hours into our desert run) we'd been sitting in the cab of the pickup and absolutely  gorging ourselves on Slim Jims, Potato Chips (Smokey Bar-b-Q flavored) and the remains of the Chili from day 1.  All the preceding was washed down with a steady flow of cold coffee (the driver) or Coors Light (the navigator).   By the time night fell, either of us could have gotten a part-time job as an acetylene torch. I was afraid to light my cigarette.

We decided that at the next gas station  (no pun intended) we would get out an stretch our legs a bit. Maybe we could pick up a few cans of sterno and cook while we were driving - never heard of that being done, but that doesn't mean that it can't be done. We discussed the logistics and decided that it should be possible if we prepared the cabin of the truck correctly. We started feeling better about everything, The good mood didn't last very long.

We pulled into the station at around 7:30 pm, parked the pickup on the side of the building, flipped a coin to see who got to go first and then made two commando raids on the bathroom (we wonder if they shut that bathroom down). I went into the station to see if they had any sterno and to pick up some additional items while J moved the pickup over to the pumps and started filling her up .

I noticed an older woman (in her 60s?) behind the counter and I nodded in friendly fashion as I walked towards the refrigerator section. I picked up a six pack of Coke, two sixes of Bud,  a box of Snickers,  a box of Twinkies, two boxes of Slim Jims and an air freshener. Then I went to counter to ask the woman about the sterno and to see if they had any ice left (I didn't see any in the store).

I carefully placed my stuff on the counter and was about to ask about the sterno when she said "Now this place may be  in the middle of Nowheres-ville Arizona, but I'm originally from the coast of Maine and if I didn't know better, I'd swear you just came back from a day of deep sea fishing.  What on earth have you been up to?".  Her voice sounded a bit odd. Up to that point my attention was on the counter (trying to NOT knock things off it), I looked up at her and she was pinching her nose closed.

I took a moment to think . . . should I tell her?  No, just get the sterno. Think fast. "Well ma'am, it's a long story and  I was wondering, do you have any...". "General, General!!", the old lady screamed and looked out the window of the store.  What the hell was going on? I could hear a dog barking and growling. I heard a man yelling (it was J). I saw the little old lady  making her way towards the door. I followed her and we hurried outside.

At the pumps I saw J waving his hands and hollering "Get back! Stop!" (and a few other things that I will not put in print). In the back of the truck I could see a dog (General) lunging back and forth, barking and snapping.

"Whew! What IS that smell?", the old lady said and then she yelled "General, get the fuck out of that truck!". " What the hell do you have back there fish-boy?", she asked as General hopped out of it and ran over.

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"Well, it appears to be some sort of aberration... hmmm, an abomination, maybe a genetic anomaly...", I started to ramble. She cut me off with, "Well, what ever it is, it's really turning me off. So shut up with your scientific mumbo jumbo, just pay up and get the hell out of here before I call the troopers." I said "Okee dokee" and back into the store we went (while J checked out the situation in the truck).

I paid her, grabbed the packages and hustled out of the store. As I left I tried to smooth things over (hoping to keep her from calling the troopers) and said "sorry for upsetting the General but...". She looked up, gave me a suspicious look and said "I'm gonna count to three...". I took off.

"I think we should get going NOW." I said to J as I hopped into the truck. He started the engine.

" I think the pooch bit our friend's hand off, I can't find it. Maybe it simply melted away...not sure what's going on with our buddy back there but it sure isn't good. I wish we had a big garbage bag or something, the smell is killing me.", J was not pleased. "I don't think we should stop again" I said. I figured that once we were moving the smell would be behind us.

Driving and more driving. Exactly where was Area 51? We weren't sure but at the time we didn't realize that this "secret base" was as easy to find as a drunken imbecile at a Yankees game. We knew it was north of Las Vegas and we knew we could Take I 40 to Bullethead City and branch northward somewhere around there. It was just that simple...we followed the signs at Bullethead City - 163 north to Vegas. No problem. In Vegas we stopped briefly at a self-serve gas station (no incident at this place)  - J got out and spoke with someone (I could see them laughing) and asked about Area 51 - common knowledge I guess. "You won't believe this", J said. "Take 93 North", he was smiling.

"What are you smiling about", I asked, but he wouldn't tell me and he just kept chewing on the god damned Slim Jims. We picked up 93 North in Vegas and drove in silence (we were pretty burnt out at the time). 93 North eventually intersected with 375 ...

ETHW.gif (2885 bytes) "I can see why you saved this little surprise for me",   much to my surprise 375 is now also known as Extraterrestrial Highway (so much for the "mystery"). Obviously we were on the right path!  We branched on to ET Highway.

Now all we needed to do was head west and find some MIB or something like that (yes, this was our next step in the plan)! 

Driving along the ETH was uneventful until we reached the Warning Sign. It was a bit creepy to see this because suddenly our little adventure was taking on a whole new feel. Once again, we started questioning the wisdom of our plan.

I need to give credit where it is due - we were Slim Jim powered for most of this desert run and by the time we reached this section of the road we still felt good enough to pose for a few shots! Maybe it's the spices, maybe it's the oily preservatives - we may never know, but I will state for the record that we could never have accomplished this on something like ordinary deli-meats.

I hope this squashes any rumors that we are some kind of gourmets or some such shit.

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We were slowly rolling down the road when we noticed the first white van. It was off-road, sitting atop a light rise on our right. We stopped, tried to get a better look at the driver but it was already starting to get a bit dark and we couldn't see much of anything (no, this time those goggles would do us no good). We continued on for a few minutes and that was when a second vehicle appeared on our left. We stopped again. This did not feel good.

We were about to move out when a SUV appeared right behind us. We looked back just as its headlights came on, J turned to face forward and said "the Van on the left is coming over, I guess it's showtime."

"You are trespassing on government property. Step out of the vehicle, kneel down and place your hands behind your heads with your fingers inter-laced" - the voice said. It was one of those little mega-phone things and the voice sounded ridiculously loud considering they were only a few feet away from us. We did as we were told.

We were kneeling on opposite sides of the truck. The smell from the back of the truck was pretty impressive. I could see the silhouettes of some men standing at the rear of the pickup and I said "Okay, we're doing just as you said but we need to talk to someone in a position of authority.  There's a dead alien in our truck - we know it sounds crazy, but it's true.". Then J said "We didn't know where to take this. We just want to speak to a scientist or someone that has some experience with these things. We weren't sure what to do with it!". They did not speak to us.

We stayed on the ground for what seemed like a half hour. We could hear the men getting in and out the truck, talking in low voices, talking on radios and finally we were approached.

"Okay, both of you get up but keep your hands behind your heads" (no mega-phone this time). I was stiff as hell and exhausted. I could see J through the windows of the pickup. J told the man closest to us "we need to see someone soon - the alien is decomposing real quick." .

More radio chatter. A few minutes passed.

"Return to your vehicle, start the vehicle and follow the white unit that is positioned in front of your vehicle. If you do not do as you are told, you will be arrested. " we heard over the mega-phone.

We got into the truck, "Well, at least they're taking us seriously - shit, my arms are killing me!" I said. "Yeah, but this feels bad to me. I thought they were going to 'off us' for a minute there. They didn't even ask us any questions - what the hell is this all about?" J said.

Like I said, it had gotten dark and we found ourselves blindly following the lead van as it took off into the night (there were no lights on this road). After what seemed to be a mile or so, the van veered off the main road and made a right turn on to a dirt road. We trailed along this dirt road for another couple of miles and then stopped as the van came to a halt in front of a large iron gate. This gate appeared to be the opening in a high fence that ran to the left and to the right for as far as we could see in the dim light. There were several soldiers at this gate and it appears that they were expecting us.

No sooner had we stopped at the gate, when a soldier came over to the driver's window (which was open) and said "Shut off the vehicle and hand me the keys. You'll wait here until we receive additional orders." At this time we saw the white van start up again, turn around  and drive off into the night. The soldier had his hand on his pistol - we did exactly as he said and he took the keys and walked back to his post. Wait for orders? Lefty was rotting away in back and we were going to wait for orders? Fortunately there was a pretty decent breeze that night and it was carrying the stench away from us - if not for that it would have been unbearable,

So there we were, me, J and the alien. And 20 feet away stood the two guards in front of the gate. There were lights around the top of the fence immediately above the gate, and as our eyes adjusted we could see that the gates opened on to another road that also lead into the night but (we assumed) probably lead to the small lights that seemed to be coming from what appeared to be a small building complex a few miles away.

We were going nowhere. No where. "How much longer do you figure we're going to have to sit here?" J said and then he added "I'm starving, but if I eat one more Slim Jim, I'm gonna puke - no offense to Slim Jims, they've been very good to us these last few days.". We'd been sitting in the pickup for almost an hour now. It was 8:30 or so. The longer we sat, the more depressed we became. We need some inspiration.

"I think we should crack open the remaining Coronas and make ourselves a decent meal" I said, "I don't think they're  going to shoot us for making paella and the food is going to go bad if we wait any longer. Any thoughts on this?".  We decided it should not be a problem but also felt that we should inform the guards of our intentions being that we'd be moving around outside of the pickup.

"Hey Sarge, is there a problem if we set up camp and make some dinner - we're starving over here?" J said. The guard smiled and held up our keys "Be my guest but stay where we can see you  - you could be here for a while". So, with the soldier's approval, we set up the grill in front of the pickup (stench free environment), rolled out cooler #3 and got to work.  The very act of cooking seemed to lift our spirits - well, that along with the Coronas that we managed to salvage. Within half an hour, the air was filled with the smell of chorizos, chicken, olive oil, peppers and onions! Yummy. Uncle Ben's 5 minute rice (with some Saffron of course) pulls this all together in a way that belies its pedestrian marketing claims.   We stuffed ourselves - this was the first real food we'd had in over 24 hours. "Those poor guards must be salivating over there" I said - I was quite pleased with the meal and quite drunk. "Yep, that was one hell of a meal. Life is good.   Hey, want to do so some singing?" J said as he went up and got his Fender.

"Hey Commander, this one's for you!" J yelled and we broke into a version of The Byrd's Mr. Spaceman - I accompanied J's guitar playing with the an improvised Uncle-Ben's-5-Minute-Rice-Box Maraca. Was it really sounding good or was it the Coronas? We'll never know. We drank and sang for quite some time and the stress of the last few days seemed to wash away in a sea of Coronas.  Exhausted, stuffed to the gills and stinking drunk, we both nodded out right there on the ground.

A voice startled me out of my deep sleep “... trespassing on government property, if you do not leave the area immediately, you will be arrested. Get into your vehicle, you will be escorted to the main road. Make a left on the main road and continue until you reach public property. If you fail to comply with this directive you will be arrested.”  I thought I was dreaming. Then I felt someone shaking me...it was J, "Wake up M, the hits just keep on coming." he said in a pissed off but controlled voice. 

I felt like shit. My head hurt and every bone in my body ached (sleeping on the ground gets old when you get old).  I understood that something was wrong and quickly replayed the previous night's events in my head. "Okay, give me just a second, what's going on now? Maybe we should..." I was cut off mid-sentence by a blaring voice -  “This is your last warning - you are trespassing on government property, if you do not leave the area immediately, you will be arrested. Get into your vehicle, you will be escorted to the main road. Make a left on the main road and continue until you reach public property. If you fail to comply with this directive you will be arrested.”

I stood up slowly and looked in the direction that the voice came from - over by the gate were four soldiers.  The two from the night before were gone and these four were not very friendly looking. They were holding automatic rifles and one was also holding that god damned mega-phone.

"Look in the back of the truck" J said and he did not hide his disgust. So I did.

Everything was there, the tarps, the coolers, the gear etc. - it all looked good, very good, too good. Clean it was, spotless in fact and the "dead sea monster smell" had been replaced with the sweet odor of some of some industrial cleanser. It was quite nice. Of course our  travelling buddy was gone. Not a trace of it remained. "Let's get out of here - if you want we can stay and try to get some answers but I think it could go bad for us." I said. "That is correct!" J snapped. And in spite of everything that had happened, we started to laugh. 

We both had one thought on our minds as we drove back along the ETH and, as if on cue we both verbalized it at the same time - "What's for breakfast?"

* our camera had been "cleared" - all pictures had been deleted.

 

 

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