WokeEye Tours Washington
A Reconstruction of My Deposition
To a Bunch of Government Cops
And Others Who Didn't Identify Themselves
by Bruce McEachin
[Conceived by Frederick Rustam]
On the Bus
I'd always thought that aliens from outer space were either figments of some people's overheated imagination or pathetic attempts to seek publicity---until I met an alien on the D4 bus. It was an Encounter of the Fourth Kind, I guess. At first, I thought he was just an oddball alien from somewhere in East Asia, not the extraterrestrial kind.
I'm Bruce McEachin. I used to be a harmless, law-abiding citizen. But because I got on the D4 that day, I'm now one of the Usual Suspects in an FBI database.
Yeah, I said a bus---a Metrobus. It was making its run through downtown on its way from Trinidad in NE to Palisades in far NW. The alien I met had boarded it at the Greyhound terminal near Union Station.
The bus was crowded. I took a seat next to a little guy who looked like a Filipino or Indonesian. He was dark-skinned, and had a wide snub nose. Although short, he was real husky, with broad shoulders and bulging muscles. These were somewhat offset by his spindly but knotted legs. His black hair was cut short, and he was sensibly dressed for D. C.'s hot, humid summer like most tourists in a white T-shirt, Bermuda shorts, and athletic shoes.
The back of his shirt had a picture of the Capitol dome and the words "Nation's Capital, Washington DC." It was the kind of T-shirt that's sold by street vendors in the tourist areas. On his lap, he cradled a big blue shoulder bag. I didn't know it then, but the bag contained all he'd brought with him from his "yacht." (Keep reading.)
He was older than me, in his late twenties, I guess. As soon as I sat beside him, he smiled and politely asked me, in accented but good English, "Pardon me, sir. Could you tell me where to alight from this vehicle for the White House? I wish to demonstrate my outrage."
That got my attention.... The D4 doesn't go by the White House. No buses do, now that terrorists are scheming against Uncle Sam. The Secret Service has turned Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Executive Mansion into an eight-lane asphalt "park" so nobody can get a truck-bomb close to the President's bedroom. Skaters love it, and so do the tourists, who can now cross the Avenue without being run over.
I mention this to remind you of the tight security that surrounds the President's Park, as the 64-acre White House grounds are officially called. Later, you'll see why I brought this up.
I told the tourist I'd tell him where to "alight." The D4 bus passes within a few blocks north of his goal. At 16th and K Sts., you're almost there. The guy seemed to want to talk about his planned demonstration. I wish he hadn't.
"I desire to express my outrage at President Clinton's behavior with Monica Lewinsky," he proclaimed. "And about his failure to be punished for it. I've been following this scandal in stealth orbit around this planet, and your President's conduct offends my world's traditional moral values. I've brought a sign made from..."
I didn't catch the technical term he used for his sign's material. He dug a small pouch from his bag and unzipped it to show me. In it was the folded "outrage" sign. It seemed to be some kind of foil.
"I'll wear the sign over my shirt as I demonstrate. This is permitted---no?"
I assured him it was, so long as he didn't use provocative words to express his outrage. I pictured him wearing a wrinkled old rag banner and marching up and down in front of the ceremonial entrance to the White House.... I also pictured him being photographed by the Secret Service from the mysterious cupola on the roof, the one that has their surveillance equipment. Soon, this tourist would be imaged, examined, categorized, and filed away in the database of potential threats to the President's safety. But I just couldn't picture a foreigner like him caring much about that routine.
I almost wanted to cancel my trip to Georgetown U., alight with him, and watch him demonstrating. It was summer vacation, and I was not in summer school there. Temporarily freed from law professors and their snide lectures, I was enjoying the amenities of my hometown.
"Where are you from," I innocently inquired.
"I'm from the planet known as [unpronounceable]. I've been in orbit around your world for some time, studying the language and customs of your unusual nation. Now I tour your magnificent capital city."
I didn't catch the lengthy name of his "planet," but it was enough to make me look around us in the bus to see if the other passengers were listening. They didn't seem to be; they were perspiring and probably ruminating about their own problems. The air conditioning wasn't working, and the street sounds through the open windows were loud.
I considered bolting from my seat and cutting my bus trip short. But there was something about this little tourist that kept me from doing this. He had an air of sincerity about him. I decided to play along with his ridiculous claim to be an alien. I hoped he wasn't crazy *and* dangerous.
It was the time after the impeachment effort by the Republicans had failed. The media were still full of the big sex scandal, and the local tourist industry was hoping it might bring more people from the hustings to the city so they could see where all this fuss was taking place. Why, they might even see the President as he swept by them in his limousine, smiling at his good fortune.
This tourist introduced himself as... a long, grandiose name that ended in what sounded like "WokeEye." I guess it was Wokai, or something like that.
He said he was the eldest son of a wealthy family. (I'm an eldest son, too, without the wealth.) He came to our solar system in his family's yacht. He seemed proud that his father trusted him with it. My father was less trustful about my using our family car.
As he talked about himself, I became convinced that it wasn't in his interest to demonstrate in front of the White House. I figured he'd blab to passing tourists what he was telling me, and some darn goody-goody citizen would report him to a uniformed gate guard.
I leveled with him and tried to discourage him with White House security-tales about the weird visitors they'd grabbed. That didn't work. Finally, I agreed to accompany him if he'd forget about the demonstration and just act like a well-mannered tourist. He seemed to agree with this proposal.
At the White House
We got off the bus at the 16th St. stop and walked south, through Lafayette Park, across "Pennsylvania Ave. Park," between the hulking antivehicle barriers, and across the sidewalk to the stout ornamental fence of the North Lawn. Facing us, but set back from the sidewalk about two hundred and fifty feet, was the famed alban palace. Between its North Portico and the fence was a large lawn that was too green to seem genuine in this droughty Washington summer. On the lawn, a circular fountain spouted water. Just like the postcards.
At first, WokeEye seemed satisfied just to be near the source of his moral outrage. "Where is that infamous room opening off the Oval Office?" he asked me. I pointed out the West Wing and said that was all we could see from outside the fence.
Suddenly he became energized. He wanted to approach a gate guard and ask for an appointment to see the President! He said he wanted to set him straight about his moral responsibilities!... Well, that did it for me. With difficulty, I hustled him from the scene before he could do anything so foolish and get us both confined in the booby hatch for "observation."
On an impulse, I invited him to stay at our home, which was far from the White House up in D. C.'s North Chevy Chase neighborhood. Even then, I half-believed that he was an extraterrestrial. I guess I hoped he was and if so, I wanted to "debrief" him, as the military guys say. My parents were themselves touring, vacationing in Scotland with some of our distant relatives and shivering in the balmy Scottish summer. I and my brother had the house to ourselves. I figured that WokeEye would be long-gone before they returned.
We walked down to E St. to view the mansion from the south side of President's Park. We got to feel a big olive-drab-and-white helicopter thunder over us and land on the South Lawn. But we couldn't tell from that distance who was arriving. We didn't see Buddy the dog among the disembarkees, so I guess it wasn't the Pres.
"Your aircars are very loud," commented WokeEye. "I'm a pilot. I would like to fly one of those big, noisy machines."
For a horrible moment, I was afraid he'd try to squeeze through the thick iron bars of the fence and head for the idling chopper on the lawn. I know that sounds funny, but already I was getting this "alien's" vibes, and they were disturbing. He seemed to be a man of action, impulsive and determined. This was no place for an impulsive stranger. If I had only known, then, just how determined this guy was... But let me continue.
"Uh, why don't we head over to the Smithsonian," I suggested. "They have a lot of interesting stuff to see. We could drop by the Commerce Department Aquarium; it's right over there," I pointed. "If you like fish, that is."
With some difficulty, I got WokeEye away from the White House before he could take the official tour inside it. I steered him toward the less-stimulating tourist attractions. Little did I know what a burden he would become. I guess if you're a spoiled elder son from a distant planet, you're less restrained as a tourist in an easygoing place like Washington, D. C. He sure was, anyway.
In the Museums
I'll try to sum up our next few hours in a few words. The first one that comes to mind is: *trouble*. WokeEye was as unrestrained in the Smithsonian museums as he had been at the White House.
At the Commerce Dept. Aquarium, he put his face to the glass of the fish tanks and made faces at the fish as if he were trying to communicate with them---until a guard came over and asked him to stop smearing. This didn't faze him at all; he still wanted to see the rest of the tanks. He liked fish.
At the Museum of History and Technology, he continually ignored the signs about not touching the exhibits. Fortunately, we managed to avoid guard-trouble, but WokeEye got some tourist laughs when he became part of one exhibit: I had to pull him down from the climbing irons on the big steam locomotive. He wanted to get an engineer's view. And, to pull him away from the neat do-it-yourself exhibit of personal computers, I almost had to go behind the exhibit and yank some power cords. (How did he know the QWERTY keyboard?)
He was more restrained by the time we toured the Natural History Museum, next door. But when he saw its Hall of Gems and Minerals, he went a bit haywire. The valuables there are securely confined within alarmed exhibit cases, so the guards just saunter through the meandering hall checking things, and they're often absent. This is a nice arrangement for ordinary, well-behaved tourists, but not for mischievous "aliens."
When I finally tore WokeEye away from the showy gems and minerals, I was frazzled. Several times, I thought he would try to steal some bauble that particularly impressed him. When I reminded him the exhibit cases were alarmed, he matter-of-factly declared this to be no problem. He claimed he could go through the glass, and leave no trace of his theft! I should have followed up on that claim, but in the chaos that followed, I forgot about it.
He virtually ignored the Hope Diamond, but was enraptured by a rare 13.7-carat peach-colored sapphire from Sri Lanka. I was afraid he might "go through the glass" to get at it. But he didn't do that. He said he'd have to get a tool from his bag to do the job. The bag was stashed with a personal property custodian on the first floor, thank God. All the visitors to the museum have to do that.
It was getting late, so we had to skip the Air and Space Museum. Who knows what trouble WokeEye might have gotten us into, there. He wanted to visit the Zoo, but picturing him in action before the confined animals, I pleaded weariness and took him to my home via subway and bus. He seemed to enjoy the underground rush-hour crowds. He claimed that most of his own world was underground because it was so hot and dry on its surface. I smiled indulgently and figured he was just an illegal immigrant from East Asia---a wacky one with a cockamamie story.
At Home in Chevy Chase
We live on Beech St., the same street that columnist and perennial officeseeker, Pat Buchanan, grew up on. It's a quiet residential street with a stream-valley park on its south side. My brother and I used to play War and other kid games in the park. I'm sure Buchanan did too, but that was long before my time.
My younger brother, Angus, was still in high-school. He was thrown for a loop by the extraterrestrial claims of our guest. At first, he smirked at WokeEye's blithe story, but he too-quickly came to believe it, especially after the guy began showing us some of the technological wonders from his shoulder bag. I've been warned by Uncle's minions to keep mum about these, but I can assure you that what he displayed for us would bring even Carl Sagan's edifice of superior anti-UFO logic crashing down.
Example: the banner he planned to wear at the White House. When he removed it from its pouch, it unfolded into several square feet, all by itself. And there wasn't a wrinkle on it!... It was some kind of supermetallic foil. (Didn't we hear about that stuff in the Roswell Incident?... I shouldn't have mentioned it.)
Then he started talking again about stealing things. He claimed to be an honorary member of his world's Guild of Thieves. ("A thief?---and he's outraged by Clinton's minor indiscretion?") I wondered. ("The key word here is `honorary,' I guess.")
"The pin-tumbler lock is a primitive mechanism. Any skilled thief in your own world should be able to pick one. This device of mine simply makes it easier."
He said this as he flourished a thingamajig, then demonstrated its utility on our domestic locks, including the ignition lock in our car. I politely refrained from inquiring about its effectiveness on the newer-type locks, where the tumbler pins are rotated as well as pushed up.
By the end of that fabulous day, we were more-or-less convinced of WokeEye's bona fides as an extraterrestrial alien. But we slept on it, determined to resume our exciting debriefing of our guest the next morning as we toured more places. I figured that, with Angus helping, I could keep WokeEye out of trouble at the Zoo and other tricky places like the dignified memorials, the two big cathedrals, and the sacred Capitol building with its touchy security.
Unfortunately, our grandiose plan collapsed when we awoke to find our alien visitor missing. He hadn't even stayed for breakfast.
"Where is he?" asked Angus, naively. I'd told him about yesterday's events at the White House. How disappointing younger brothers can be. "Guess," I replied, cynically. "He's probably pursuing his great moral mission down at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Jeez, I wish I'd taken the D2 bus yesterday, instead of the D4."
This anguished Angus, who hadn't seen enough extraterrestrial miracles, yet. I pictured him seeking to become an honorary member of WokeEye's Guild of Thieves---an unsuccessful one who would disgrace our family with his alien-inspired criminal ambitions.
"We've got to stop him."
"No, Little Brother. We've got to *avoid* him and hope to hell the Feds don't link him to us." I pictured the FBI Hostage Rescue Team besieging our house and torching it when we were too scared to emerge and fall on our faces in the parched grass of our lawn.
We sat on pin tumblers and needles for the rest of the day, waiting for some word from our troublesome guest. Angus, who was slowly turning into a pedant like our professor father, reminded me that a third of the tourists visiting Washington stay with relatives or friends while they're here. Right.
I read a book while keeping Fox Cable News on the TV, with the sound muted. Every time I looked up, I expected to see "BREAKING NEWS" displayed. Angus retired to his infonaut's den and surfed Web news sites. And probably sites on lockpicking techniques, too.
Our problem didn't exactly resolve itself the next morning, when Mom's cellphone on the vestibule table rang.
"It's probably somebody who wants an appointment to see a house," declared Angus. Mom was a Realtor with a capital R.
"Oh no it isn't. I know just what it is: trouble with a capital T."
But I answered it, anyway. I was right. It was Trouble, alright ---wacky, determined-alien, out-of-control-tourist Trouble.
"Hallo, Bruce. It's me, your friend from another world."
His jovial voice didn't assure me in any way. In fact, I panicked at the sudden thought of the Feds intercepting this transmission. What if they'd discovered him and were "surveilling" him right now?
"Where are you, WokeEye? Please don't go back to the White House. You'll get us all in big trouble."
He ignored my question for reasons which became evident, later.
"Don't worry, Bruce. I don't have to climb over that big fence."
My interpretation of this claim was very unsettling.
"Can you and Angus meet me at the western edge of the golf course in Rock Creek Park---at, say, about noontime?"
Oh, hell. Why there?... I wracked my brain for the possibilities.
"What'll happen if we aren't there, WokeEye?" I had little hope of discouraging him from his planned adventure, and I was leery of coaxing the details from him on a cellphone. By now, I was all but convinced that we were being listened-to, if not by Uncle, then by some technical hobbyist/snooper who might just decide to become a national hero.
"Well, if you aren't there, I'll just have to hide in the woods until I can get to the bus terminal and back to my yacht."
This explanation scared the bejeezus out of me, I'll tell you. There was no stopping this guy. But maybe we could salvage our reputations by speeding him back to his yacht---wherever that was.... I believe he mentioned a West Virginia mountain as his landing site.
"You see, I plan to..."
"Don't tell me! We'll be there with the car."
"Oh, good. Can I drive it? Your primitive groundcars are such a compelling challenge."
I hung up.
"What's he doing?" asked Angus.
"Golfing," I replied, facetiously. But I knew he wouldn't be there to do that. He had another game to play.
In Rock Creek Park
Washington's Rock Creek Park is 1800 acres of forest, bike trails, horse trails, picnic groves, and a few roads. It sprawls like a bloated serpent who's eaten too much real estate from the Potomac River to the Maryland state line. You could hide an army in there, but it's patrolled by mounted Park Policemen, who can theoretically go anywhere within it in pursuit of evildoers. The public golf course is east of the creek, and the East Valley Trail for hikers is nearby. That's what Angus and I used to reach our waiting-place at the edge of the links.
We got there shortly before noon and watched the golfers from among the fringing trees for awhile. It was already hot and humid.
"I don't see him anywhere," said Angus. He said it a bit loudly, because he was wearing the earphones of his skateblader's radio. He was tuned to a local all-news radio station. We had a feeling we'd hear something on it about our missing tourist.
We didn't pay much attention to the buzzing approach of a lightplane. We should have. But when it made a pass over the golf course at low altitude, it got our attention.
We looked at each other. "WokeEye! That's gotta be him!"
A queasy feeling suddenly developed at the pit of my stomach. Now, I knew what our alien meant by not having to climb the White House fence.... He meant he intended to fly over it!
The plane, a silver Cessna with a red stripe, made another pass. This time, the pilot cut back on his throttle and dropped for a landing on the rolling surface of the golf course. Several golfers ran to get out of the way. One of them shook a club and cursed the taxiing plane. It landed without plowing across a flag-marked green or getting mired in a sandtrap.
The pilot revved up the engine and headed toward the western edge. Angus and I, our baseball caps pulled down over our faces, ran out from the trees waving our arms. The plane made straight for us, stopping in the band of rough next to the trees.
Even before the pilot emerged, we recognized him. He killed the engine and hopped from the plane. Then, ignoring the gawking golfers, WokeEye strode calmly over to us, smiling to beat the band.
"He did it," I mumbled. "That sonofabitch did it."
"Did what?" asked Angus, who was still slow to get the picture.
WokeEye came up to us seemingly without a care in the world.
"Hallo, my friends. I have given the White House a demonstration they will not soon forget. Let us go and celebrate this accomplishment."
I wanted the details of this demonstration, but we hustled WokeEye away from the parked aircraft and across the East Valley Trail toward the creek.
When we reached the creek shallows near the parking lot where we'd left our car, we heard the siren of a Park Police car. We sprinted up the trail, screened by bushes and trees. Then, we stopped and watched the cops enter the parking lot, get out, and begin pointing in the direction of the golf course. There were two other cars parked in the lot, their drivers not in sight, so the cops couldn't be sure which one was "involved."
"Forget the car," I advised. "We've got to cross the creek and go up the hill into the woods on the other side." WokeEye just couldn't stop grinning with satisfaction as he ran along with us. He was having fun with the primitives on this planet, but I no longer viewed this as mind-boggling.
We were lucky the cops decided not to wade the creek to get closer to the golf course. So they didn't see us escaping up the trail. Didn't want to get their neat uniforms wet, I guess.
Finally, we got far enough away from the scene of the crime that we could splash across the creek, cross the road, and scoot into the trees that covered the western ridge of the park. Luckily, we soon found an old, abandoned bridle trail that was in good enough shape for hiking. There are several of these in the park.
As we began puffing up the hill, under the tree canopy, we heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter. It was probably the Eagle, a Park Police chopper. I've seen it at night, stabbing the trees with its powerful searchlight, looking for bad guys who mistakenly think the park's a good hiding place. It probably has infrared, too, but I doubted that was much good in summer daylight. (Was I right?)
"What the heck did you use that airplane to do, WokeEye?"
"Hey!" yelled Angus. "It's on the news, now!" We stopped while Angus digested the news report that doomed us all. WokeEye just smirked, content to allow Angus to announce his good news. For the McEachin brothers, though, it was real bad news.
"Oh my God!" Angus proclaimed.
"What?!---you dork!" I screamed. I wanted the facts, unpalatable as they might be.... I was almost sorry I'd asked.
"He shit-bombed the White House!"
We drilled WokeEye with our incredulous stares. "Tell us you didn't do that," I demanded.
"I did. It was my own excrement. I made a bag from the banner I'd planned to demonstrate with." As Angus and I stood frozen in horror, he added, "That should give them something to analyze."
Through the Forest
I scarcely recall our twisted path through the woods of Rock Creek Park. At first, we used the bridle trails. Few horsepeople use them, now. Horse riding has mostly moved to the suburbs. That was a blessing.
After we heard another helicopter join the Eagle to search the area around the Cessna, we accelerated our already strained pace. A few times, we had to get off the trail and into the bushes when a chopper flew over. They were definitely searching the trails. Once, that happened when we were in an area where there were a lot of briars. Ouch!... But it was better than capture.
As we made our way like a band of guerrillas to the upper part of the park where we could emerge and head for home, we dug the whole story out of WokeEye.
He had used all of yesterday to get some leaflets printed up and to journey into Prince George's County, Maryland, to Hyde Field. Where he got the money for the long taxi ride, or for any of his nefarious purposes, I don't know and I don't want to know.
He spent last night in a motel near the small private airport. This morning, he went there and waited for a plane owner to warm up his aircraft. Then he just clobbered the guy, jumped in, and took off. Simple as that.
"I could see that he wasn't much hurt," WokeEye explained. "That fellow got up and ran after me as I took off."
He headed up the river toward D. C. I'd told him about the restricted airspace around the White House, so he kept to the river, with the FAA air controllers forcefully reminding him that the river airspace was only for airliners using Ronald Reagan National Airport. I can imagine their reaction when he suddenly turned north across the Washington Monument grounds toward the White House.
The Daredevil from Outer Space took precious seconds to circle the Monument, exciting the tourists waiting to use the elevator, then headed for his rendezvous with destiny.
Can you imagine the uproar this jape caused?... I read that the Air Force keeps an interceptor ready at Andrews AFB for such a "contingency." But WokeEye said he never saw one.
At the White House, the Secret Service guards supposedly keep some shoulder-fired Stinger antiaircraft missiles. Years ago, when a disturbed Army guy from Ft. Meade buzzed the Executive Mansion with a stolen helicopter, the guards came out and blazed away with shotguns. It said in the paper that next time this happened, they'd be ready with something more lethal. Later, a nut in a lightplane crashed into a big tree at the one corner of the mansion, but nobody had time to fire anything at him.
WokeEye knew all this. His timing was exquisite. He circled the White House once, at low altitude. While the guards were unlocking their boxes of Stingers (I guess), he flew over and dropped his... "bomb." He miscalculated a little, though. It missed the roof but fell squarely on top of a limousine that was parked just outside the North Portico. The bag came apart and spattered its contents on the luxurious, custom-built car.
As he overflew the sidewalk, WokeEye threw out some leaflets that condemned Clinton for his moral failures. They rained down on the tourists who were seeing the Seat of Power for the first time. I didn't ask what was printed on them. I knew all about polygraph tests, and I didn't want to be identified as a co-conspirator.
Safe at Home?
To this day, I'll never know how we escaped "surveillance" in the two miles or so of difficult terrain we had to struggle through to get to Beech St. and Oregon Ave., close to our home. It was the most fatiguing and unnerving hike I've ever taken. To avoid people who might remember us, we kept off the paved bike trail and used the dusty old bridle trails instead. Fortunately, we didn't meet a mounted cop, even though we had to go close to their stables.
We had to wait in the woods for the traffic on Oregon Ave. to slack off, then we crossed the road and rushed into the small stream-valley park that hugs a tributary of Rock Creek. It's the park across the street from my house. We used the hiking trail there as far as our house, then we casually ambled out of the trees and across Beech to home. Even there, we could hear the helicopters sweeping the park to the east. They had an angry sound.
It was now early evening. It had taken us some anxious, sweaty hiking to get back home---a forced march, so to speak.
"What do we do, now?" asked Angus. "Our car is still in that parking lot. It's just a matter of time before the cops figure it was there for the escape of the Mad Bomber."
"I know," I admitted. "I should have left you two and walked back to the car. The cops might have questioned me, but since I would have come from the west, I could have claimed I didn't know anything about the golf course. But it's probably too late, now."
WokeEye turned on the TV, hoping to see a ground-view of his deed. On the hour, it wasn't the lead story, but they did have a tourist's video of the Cessna. We had a few laughs while watching the report--- especially when they said that the dropped bag, "contained an unknown substance which is being analyzed."
We laughed until they displayed a grainy photo of the pilot taken from the White House. It was WokeEye, looking out the Cessna's side window and enjoying himself immensely. The photo was probably purposely degraded so the Secret Service's photo-surveillance capabilities wouldn't be revealed. Nonetheless, the image they released to the media was good enough to make it tricky for WokeEye to get back to his yacht in West Virginia.
After the Feds analyzed the evidence, they'd guess "what" had bombed the Executive Mansion, and they'd be after that alien like a bunch of coonhounds who hadn't been fed all day. The Secret Service, the ATF, the INS, and the FBI would be in competition for the prize. This was not being viewed as a prank. It was undoubtedly seen as the terrorist act of an evil extraterrestrial. That made it a Priority:One case.
We wanted WokeEye to go before we could be charged with harboring a fugitive. Given that he was an alien, Angus and I would probably be subjected to some kind of Star Chamber proceeding, and maybe just... disappear. ["Sorry ma'am. It looks like your sons just ran away from home."]
"Okay, fellows. I understand," said WokeEye. "I've had a good time visiting your city. I better go somewhere else, now."
"Somewhere on another planet," suggested Angus, untactfully. But, I know my brother. He was probably planning to download that Secret Service image of WokeEye from the Web and put an enlargement of it on his bedroom wall next to his Star Wars posters.
We decided that *now* was the time for leave-taking. After looking around to see if anybody was snooping, we escorted WokeEye up Beech St. to the E6 Metrobus stop on Western Ave. We gave him directions to the Greyhound bus terminal and wished him well. Despite his self-indulgent troublemaking, we couldn't help liking the little guy. We'd have preferred to continue debriefing him about his world and the places he'd seen, wonders that humankind might not experience for centuries.
But we reluctantly decided that "deniability" was more important, now, than satisfying our curiosity. Little did we know about all the witnesses who had put Angus and I together with WokeEye. As a law student, I believed myself a sophisticate who had a grasp of law enforcement realities. I really only had a television-viewer's knowledge of it, though.
When we arrived back home, our hopeful ideas of escaping any blame for Operation Crap Bag evaporated like water on a summer sidewalk. The Feds were waiting for us. WokeEye had escaped---we hadn't.
What can I say, now?... We were put through Uncle Sam's wringer and squeezed dry. I, the almost-lawyer, was greatly annoyed and demanded my rights. Angus, the cool kiddo, actually enjoyed being the center of official attention. He couldn't wait to tell his pals about his experiences. But that was not to be.
We spilled our guts, hoping for lenient treatment. We received it only because Uncle was dealing here with a living extraterrestrial. The matter was swept under a thick carpet of secrecy. The Federals actually gave Angus and me TOP SECRET security clearances so we would be officially bound to silence. And---wouldn't you know it?---Angus wanted to use his new clearance to find out what was going on at Area 51. He was quickly set straight about that possibility. For us, there would be only *one* secret.
The hardest thing to tell the Feds was WokeEye's name. They just didn't believe that I'd phoneticized the last of his many names and had forgotten the rest. I guess they figured that "WokeEye" would taint their records, sounding as it did like an evasive alias.
By the time our parents returned from their vacation in the "auld country," our situation on Beech St. was back to normal. We had restored the ransacked house to its careless normality. The only memento of our amazing adventure was tacked to Angus' bedroom wall.
"Who's that pilot?" inquired our mother, who missed nothing new in her house. "It's not a very good picture."
"It's some crazy foreigner who bombed the White House while you were on vacation," fudged Angus. "They never caught him, though. He had some smart people helping him."
Story copyright © 1999/2000 by Frederick Rustam <frustam@CapAccess.org>
Artwork "Buzzin' the Cap!" copyright © 1999/2000 by Romeo Esparrago <firstname.lastname@example.org>