New Mexico


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#28

Roswell, NM

May 6, 2007

 

My Home Town

By Andelko Bulatovic

 

Old Timers’ Balloon Rally. A good name for me: Old Timer. I am an Old Timer now.

 

I told Bill Glen about a year ago that I wanted to fly again, one last time. Bill is a retired school teacher, who flies hot-air balloons and runs the balloon rally that takes place here in town each May. He’s one of the ones who know my story. “Well, I don't know, Andy,” he said, “it’s not much like the ballooning we do.”

“It'll be something different,” I suggested. “Maybe people will enjoy it.”

He looked at me, perplexed. "You still can't go home, right?”

“No, I can’t go home.” The drive unit of my ship is a lump of slag that sits on the mantel next to a souvenir mug from Taos. “Just want to go up again and fly around, one last time.”

“Well, sure, Andy, I understand. It’ll look kind of crazy – but I hear there’s guys that do that. I mean with weather balloons, as a stunt. That's what we'll say it is, if you don't mind.”

“Thanks, Bill,” I said.

 

It was not easy at first, blending in here. After those initial years spent in various peoples’ basements, my hosts got tired of hiding me. They set me up with a little house on Hobbs Street and told people that I was from Eastern Europe. The cover story worked reasonably well, and gained me some sympathy at the time as a refugee from Communism. Andelko Bulatovic is what they came up with for a name, something suitably foreign-sounding from the Albuquerque phone book. Eventually everyone just called me Andy. Over time, my English improved, and people seemed to more or less accept me.

The Chamber of Commerce guys called on me to help them out, from time to time – whenever they needed to perk up tourism a bit, basically. I’d get some of the pieces of debris from my ship out of the attic and scatter them around in various places for people to discover. A few times they tried having me put on my old space gear, liberally daubed with glitter and fluorescent paint, and visit some outlying ranches. I scared some folks and got shot at a fair amount, but no one ever reported these encounters as we had hoped, so eventually we gave up.

Once, when I went to the hospital to have a hernia repaired, the Chamber director at the time made a movie of the whole thing that he later sold to some TV program as secret government footage of an alien autopsy. I was pretty ticked off by that, but on balance, the Chamber treated me all right. And the alternative to playing ball with them was probably a real government autopsy at some secret installation, with my bits and pieces ending up floating in formaldehyde in jars in some basement in Langley or Quantico. So I can't complain.

 

People were pretty amazed around town when it was announced that old Andelko Bulatovic was going to fly with helium filled balloons at the Old Timer’s Balloon Rally. As a newly revealed extreme sports dude, I rated an interview with Ashley Meeks, a reporter from the Daily Record, our local paper. “In my old country we are doing this often when I am a young man,” I told her solemnly. Mixing up your tenses makes you sound foreign, and then no one questions whatever you say, since they don’t want to sound culturally insensitive.

 

In fact, in my old country, we did often fly in this way. The main point was to get out of direct contact with the planetary surface -- that way the tachyon drive could be engaged without inadvertently taking a big chunk of the planet with you; and at your destination you could materialize at a few thousand feet and float down gently out of the sky, instead of materializing inside a tree or a fire hydrant, or getting shredded by just being too close to the surface. The flotation pods were a beautiful and elegant way to accomplish this for individual travelers, and like many, I came to love flying with them, simply for its own sake.

So, however inadvertently, the government has been telling the truth all these years – our spacecraft really were just weather balloons.

 

The weekend of the Old Timer's Balloon arrived. A large group of friends and acquaintances showed up on the soccer field at the New Mexico Military Institute ("The West Point of the West") to help old Andy relive the rituals of his native land, or possibly kill himself in the process. Not that I think anyone wished me ill -- but it's a small town, and people hate to miss out on anything interesting.

The moon was still bright in the night sky when we met at 4 AM. Jennifer Youngblood and Rocky Rodriguez over at our local Airgas store had collaborated with Bill's balloon rally group to provide the helium gas for me. I was a bit nervous as we inflated the spare flotation pods salvaged from my crashed ship so many years ago, but they were all still in good shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the inflation of the pods was complete we all stopped for a group photo. Then I got into my harness and my crew began attaching the flotation pods to me. The wonderful buoyant feeling of the pods was still familiar, after all this time.

 

 

 

 

UFO investigators would have us believe that Earth is the focus of extensive interest and scrutiny from galactic civilization. That's ridiculous, of course -- primitive societies are common as dirt, and most of us try to avoid them. However, it is true that Earth, and particularly Roswell, have enjoyed more than their share of extraterrestrial visits. This was due to a typographical error.

In the Spiral Arm Tourbook, on page 12,934, there is a listing for Xyfldsf’s Lodging and Tachyon Recharging Center #2 (“Last services before Andromeda”) with the jump coordinates 13230-23241-232323. Actually, as I later had many years to figure out, the last three digits should have been 423, not 323. 423 would have taken me to Xyfldsf’s for a good night’s rest and the free continental breakfast. 323 took me to the outskirts of Roswell, New Mexico, at a point about 200 feet in the air – much too close to the planetary surface for a tachyon jump, so that my drive unit turned to a molten lump, and my flotation pods all burst, and I fell out of the sky like rock. Since that time, several other travelers have materialized in the same place – a few managed to re-engage their drives to jump away, while others perished. There were a score of these in the 50’s, but they’ve tapered off since then, probably indicating that the Starship Association has corrected the typo in subsequent editions of the Tourbook.

 

 

 

 

My hearts were pounding with excitement as the last of the floatation pods were attached to my harness.

I released the rope that held me to the ground, and after 60 years, I soared up again into the skies over Roswell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continued....