Fire Fly : Memoir of a Reluctant Superhero
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.
The article I’d written was really about the tendency to fill in the blanks with gossip when people don't have enough facts. Imagine my surprise when 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 just returned from Mother's big Easter weekend exhausted, dropped my overnight bag and car keys on the side table and 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.
Hunting for a snack in the fridge, 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 lean muscular build. He went on about how impressed he was with the article and claimed he was the flying guy but stopped after realizing how outrageous he sounded.
“Why don't I show you,” he insisted, blinking childlike eyes and 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 laugh, crushing him completely, then hand him his ego on a plate. I stood at the sliding door waiting.
“Up here.” I heard a voice, and looking up, saw him levitating ten feet above the large 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 a tape recorder, of which he disapproved with a deep frown. It’s easier for taking notes, I explained, and he shrugged consent.
“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. I guessed he was about thirty, with short hair and neat work clothes hinting at military or police but something in his hazel eyes was too gentle for that line of work.
We talked for over an hour but he didn't reveal much. I knew he was from the mid-west by his accent, saying "warsh" instead of "wash". In addition to flight he claimed to have exceptional strength and reflexes but declined to demonstrate.
The reason for his visit, he said, was to test me with the intention of eventually going public. Now that was crazy. I could handle this because 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 the patio.
“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?” I continued. Neil tensed then looked at his watch.
“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 for a moment 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.