Return Engagements: Book Three (Part Seventeen)

The World War II intelligence network that was being formalized as the CIA was put into action over Roswell some time in September. It didn’t take long for them to conclude that one of the “saucers” had been removed from the crash site. It was also obvious that it was removed with a truck, which then headed north. What seemed to take time was making a decision on what to do about it.

Anyone seeing the debris near of Roswell easily understood that it was otherworldly. Those people’s bosses, on the other hand – the Generals, Senators and other assorted potentates, thought the people ringing the alarm were merely excitable plebs, so they didn’t bother to respond. Even when the demands for decisions didn’t stop, they couldn’t be troubled to go all the way out to New Mexico. And so everything was strapped onto trucks and sent to Wright-Patterson Airbase in Ohio. That was when the high and mighty, one by one, came to visit and were convinced. But even after that, there remained a belief among them that the spacecraft had come from the Russians, who had captured a large number of Nazi scientists after the war.

There was a great deal of difficulty involved with the question of what to do, mainly because people committed to an opinion (like Generals devoted to a specific enemy) become neurotic in their defense of it.

I presume the final decision was made by Truman, but I’m certain that the man tasked with finding the missing spacecraft was Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, who had just been appointed to to run the new CIA. Hillenkoetter got started right away, but couldn’t give it a lot of personal attention. Mainly he put people on the case and got periodic reports. His bosses didn’t know what to think of the whole thing anyway, and didn’t press him terribly hard.

Investigation methods were less elaborate in 1947 than they are today, but the people conducting them were every bit as clever and determined. More than that, they tended to be more effective, since they didn’t have to channel their thoughts through pre-set procedures and models: they could think for themselves, focusing directly on facts and goals. Soon enough, they had a rough outline of the type of truck (from the wheelbase) and the timing of the incident was fairly clear. Quickly they had agents questioning people at truck stops and inspecting vehicle registrations in twelve states, trying to find candidates then eliminating them one by one.

* * * * *

Since it was a nice day, we walked from the diner to my apartment, maybe two miles. Along the way, I explained to Martin what I’d been doing since arriving in late winter, also laying to rest any of his concerns about Renn. He asked a few questions, but mostly let me talk. Then we switched over to a running dialog on the various things we saw. I probably enjoyed it as much as he did, since this was my history too. And the joy of it cleansed me in some way, washing away my mental overload.

Soon enough we hit the corner of Michigan and Randolph and passed the newsstand that used to stand on the southwest corner, and looked through the various newspapers and magazines. To save a trip to Irving and Cicero, I picked up my usual out of town papers.

We kept walking and talking, but I started getting a funny feeling, and so we sat down on a bench next to the Illinois Central station… precisely where the Prudential building would stand during my lifetime. I started leafing through the papers, and there, in Dorothy Kilgallen’s Voice of Broadway column, was my photo of Renn, in front of the probe.

This is much larger than Broadway,” the column began, “and you must hear about it.”

Oh my,” slipped out of my mouth on its own. Then I handed the paper to Martin.

Oh my, indeed,” he added.

* * * * *

As it turned out, I did have a bit of experience with what Martin termed childing… in fact I think a fair number of us do.

Jim and his parallel (wife) were on a long-term childing cruise, along with thousands of others like them, and their children. Their “cruise ship” was a very large O’Neil cylinder. That is, it was a tremendous, spinning can. If you’ve ever seen the Babylon 5 science fiction series, you’ve seen an O’Neil cylinder. That fictional one was five miles long, and Jim’s was probably both longer and wider.

The spin of such a cylinder is to create gravity, making the inner surfaces of the cylinder excellent approximations of planetary life. Jim’s childing cylinder was essentially a collection of towns, suburbs and farms.

The childing cylinder was on a twenty-year orbit between several solar systems, and would-be parents could rendezvous with it almost anywhere along its path. They might remain for an entire orbit, something more than one, or perhaps only part of one.

Young parents and young families in our societies have a tendency to cluster. It’s simply easier and more convenient to share resources, and perhaps more than that, to go through the same challenging experiences together. It’s an easier way to bear and raise children… to child.

We usually do our childing in certain areas, centered around something like a church or neighborhood, or within a tight social group. Jim’s people, and many other worlds along with his, simply take the model a couple of steps farther… because they can.

And so, Jim and seemingly a large percentage of people like him, take a generation out of their expansive lifetimes and devote it to the closeness, camaraderie and mutual journey of childing.

* * * * *

I’m not sure how long I sat stone-still next to the Illinois Central station, but I know it was interrupted by another wave of calm that Martin sent over me. I smiled just a little, reached over and squeezed his hand in a gesture of thanks, like I would with a close friend. I was now able to collect myself, but I did it slowly. For whatever reason, my recovery from stresses was slower on this trip that it had been on the others, or at least it was different from the others.

I tucked the newspapers under my arm and we headed north to my apartment. I don’t think we said a word till we got there and sat down at my kitchen table. Then Martin turned to me with a smile on his face.

You have time, you know.”

I looked at him, not at all sure of what he meant.

You’ve made lots of very significant decisions in your life, yes?”


And so long as you have sufficient facts in front of you, you can make those decisions in what, a few minutes?”

Something like that… presuming I have the pertinent facts.”

Very well then, once you’re feeling normal, how long would it take you to go through the primary options in from of you now?”

Once I thought about it directly, I saw that I had all the facts I really needed, and that I was wasting my time and happiness in a sort of doom-loop. “Minutes,” I answered, finally absorbing his point.

Then something else occurred to me. You know, on my very first trip, the young lady who brought me made a point of telling me, ‘It’s wasteful to jump to dark imaginings.’ I believed her… I knew she was right… but it still triggers in me sometimes.”

May I ask you a question?” I looked at him and was met with a sublimely sincere face.

Yes, of course.”

This is something I’ve heard from people who grew up in adverse worlds, and I’d like to know if you find it true as well.”

Go on.”

When you remember good moments of your past, are they exactly as they felt to you at the time, or do you somehow not recall the fear and anguish that accompanied them?”

I thought about it for a couple of seconds then erupted with, “Yes! That has very definitely happened to me. I recall certain moments and feel great about them, but if I think back carefully, I recognize that it wasn’t so pure at the time… there were also dark feelings, but they didn’t transfer with the primary memory.”

He smiled. “Thank you for the confirmation. And I’d like you to consider that the darkness didn’t stay attached to the memory because it was of the ambient, not of the experience itself.”

That was a revelatory moment for me. He had given me a way to separate out, almost to quantify, the dark ambient we live in.

So, what I experienced at the time was tainted with the ambient, but my recollections don’t carry the ambient.”

Well said.” Martin was smiling again. “Can you see now, how difficult your ambient is on this planet.”

I nodded my head, yes.

That’s also what it’s too easy for you to get into dark loops of imaginations. Once the ambient features too strongly in your inputs, it can guide the whole stream of thought.”

Buy Now On Kindle


Paul Rosenberg