In retrospect it was brazen and ill advised to just walk up to a journalist and announce himself but that's exactly what he did.
I had written an essay about the people’s tendency to fill in the blanks with wild speculation when they don’t have enough facts. I had quite a few calls and letters from readers telling me of their sightings of the mysterious “flying man”, which proved my point.
I had the day off to recuperate from Mother's big Easter weekend. While eating a bowl of cereal, I turned on CNN to hear George Bush talk about Reagan’s re-election. God, I’m so glad I don't live in D.C. anymore, that whore of a town.
I heard a knock on the door and opened it to find a man with a hopeful expression holding a newspaper clipping.
“Victoria Ball?” he asked in a mild baritone, and I nodded cautiously. He looked normal enough, of average height, with a moderate muscular build. He went on about how impressed he was with my article and claimed he was the flying guy but stopped when he realized how outrageous he sounded.
“Why don't I show you,” he insisted, gesturing towards the back yard.
At that point I should have slammed the door and called the police, but there was an honesty about him that made me reconsider. I slowly closed the door and locked it, then strolled to the rear door half expecting him to climb over the fence in a ridiculous costume. I would point, laugh, then hand him his crushed ego on a plate. I stood at the sliding door waiting.
“Up here.” I heard a voice, and looking up, saw him levitating above the thirty foot pine tree that filled the small yard. As he descended, he pushed aside a branch and it snapped back hitting him in the face.
Oh yeah, he's for real, I thought in bewilderment. He landed with a sheepish grin, brushing pine needles out of his clothes and dark brown hair.
“So, it's true,” I managed at last. Of course I wanted to ask him a million questions and cordially invited him in. He demurred, so we sat on the porch. I fetched a sweater and my notebook which he disapproved of with a deep frown.
“What's your name?” I began, in a conversational tone.
“Neil,” he answered simply.
I expected an egotistical nutjob instead, he was polite and intelligent with his answers but revealed little. He was about thirty, with short hair and neat clothes hinting at military or police but something in his hazel eyes was too gentle for that line of work.
I could tell he came from the Midwest by his accent, saying "warsh" instead of "wash". In addition to flight he claimed to have exceptional strength and reflexes but declined to demonstrate.
He questioned me as much as I did him. The reason for his visit, he said, was to test the idea of going public. Now that was crazy. I could handle this weirdness, very little fazed me, but the public? The media would have a feeding frenzy.
“I was hoping you might help me with that,” he confessed. It was an audacious idea.
“I'll have to think about it,” I replied. He seemed disappointed and glanced down at his watch.
“I think you're going about this the right way.” I said, trying to assure him so he didn't disappear for good.
“Let me run this by my editor and see what he thinks. Can I contact you later?”
“How about I call you in two weeks?” he proposed. I agreed immediately and wrote down my number. It was dusk and cold so I invited him in again. He smiled but insisted he had to leave. I followed him as he walked around front and waved awkwardly as he drove off in a green Olds. I swore as I neglected to get the license number.