Where is Manuel? I thought he was supposed to be helping you. “Manuel will be transcribing this tape grandfather. He is writing this down on paper like you asked. He was so excited that he stayed up all night writing your words. Let’s let him sleep. Do you remember where you left off yesterday? I can play the tape back if you wish.” Maybe I remember but go ahead and play that tape. “Let’s see. I’ll just rewind a little.”
Whose voice was that niòo? That was not my voice! “Don’t get excited grandfather. Everyone’s voice sounds different than what you hear inside. That is how all of us hear your voice. Really grandfather, it was you.” I will take your word for it but that voice was an awful voice. I do not like it. “Just close your eyes grandfather.”
I ask my father what is happening. Looking at the wreckage he finally says, “I think they found someone in there.” Could it be the angel papa? He gets me to crouch lower, “Maybe Chuy. Let us watch and see.” The doctor comes running up the road with his bag. When he gets to the three men they begin talking. People are crowding around closer. The constable is having trouble moving them back. The judge goes down. He says a few things and starts pointing at people. They begin to help the constable.
Meanwhile Mr. Hayden the doctor and the blacksmith step in closer. I cannot see it from here. I ask my father if I may join the crowd. He tells me no, “Whatever they are looking at will surely be brought out. We will be able to see it better than the crowd from here. So we will stay.” The judge joins the others. They all disappear behind the wreckage. Three of them come back up but the doctor stays hidden. They all have strange looks on their faces. None of them speak and just look down where the doctor is.
Then the judge yells to the constable and tells him to have someone bring up a blanket and something to carry a body with. The constable gives instructions to his helper. He runs off to town with a young boy that was standing next to him. The constable starts choosing people to help carry the body. Meanwhile the three men finally begin to talk again. The doctor stands up from the wreckage and they talk some more. Finally they all look at that crazy blacksmith. He says something we cannot hear. They look back down at the wreckage.
In a few minutes the constable’s helper comes running up the road with several boys. They are carrying two wood planks and a couple of blankets. The boys hands them to the constable and men. They come running up. The judge tells them where to put the wood. The planks are placed so that the crowd cannot see them. My father and I can see them perfectly. He holds off a cough and proudly smiles “See? I told you we would get a better look from up here.” I worry about my father. His sickness does not ever seem to go away.
The constable and his men place the planks on the ground next to each other and lay a blanket over them. A man folds the other blanket like a pillow and places it down. Then they go behind the wreckage and reappear carrying a small body over to the planks. It looks like a child! Only it does not look like any ordinary child. Never have I seen skin the color of his. The skin looks like the baby of a dog litter that did not survive. I look to my father. His is staring at the child frowning with his mouth open.
Is that the angel papa? He just stares, “I do not know what that is niño. I have never seen anything like it. Whatever it is it looks to be dead. Mijó. Do not look if this frightens you.” I am all right papa. I look back at the child’s body. It is horribly disfigured from wounds it received from the crash. The sight of this scene should frighten me but it does not. I have seen plenty of animals butchered for food but the wounds are not red. Not even the blood is red. It is almost green like the leaves in autumn. Even with the body disfigured like this, I know in my heart it is not a person. Its face and bulging eyes looks nothing like people.
The doctor is directing how to place the body. The men gently lay the body down on the blanket carefully placing its mangled head on the pillow. The doctor acts as if the child is still alive. They fold the sides of the blanket over the body covering its head. Leaving an opening for the face. Two men move to each end. They grab both boards and lift the body up. The doctor helps on one side by holding the blanket while another man does the same on the other side. The body is so small they have no trouble picking it up and carrying it to town. The constable and his helpers clear the people to make a path and follow along.
People get closer to the wreckage or keep wandering around picking up pieces of metal. I sit back and look down at my pieces. I ask my father what they are. He sits next to me. Looks at his metal rocks and says, “I have seen pieces of metal like this before. A canon will explode when it gets too hot or when it is overloaded. When the canon explodes it sends pieces like this in all directions. But I have never seen any such as these. They seem to have weight but are not heavy.”
So the flying ship was made out of this metal? Father looks back at the wreckage and says quietly, “We both saw the size of that ship. If it was made of this metal it must have been very heavy. How could something of that size be able to lift off the ground? If this was the same thing I saw several nights ago how could it move so fast? Whatever this is it is not of this world. And that leaves only God Chuy. Only God can do such things. That creature down there may be a child of God. Perhaps even an angel. That is the only answer I can think of Chuy. For now let us think about filling our stomachs.” He smiles and reaches for his sack.
He pulls out the burros unties the cloth and opens it on the grass. My mother made us carne de aœada burros. My favorite. My father hands me one and picks his up to eat. We say a little prayer and eat our meal. My father says, “Now. Is this better than standing out there in the hot sun?” I smile and nod my head yes while chewing my bite. We look out from the trees and see more people coming from all directions on wagons or horses. The constable and his helpers are in town. So the new people join in with the others. My father puts his burro on his lap and reaches for the water jug. He opens it and takes a drink. Then he hands it to me and I take a drink. I give it back and ask where these people are coming from.
He takes the jug back and closes it, “They probably are from Boyd or Rhome. I bet you could see the smoke from Ragtown. I mean Newark, or whatever they’re calling that town these days. Look. Some of them are putting bigger pieces on their wagons. They must be thinking they could melt the metal down and make something with it. The flat pieces would be good to mend chicken coops with.” We watch two young men try to move a big piece of metal from the wreckage. Then a couple of more come to help. They manage to move it but not very far. It will take a horse to move those. Some are stuck into the ground. More and more people start showing up. Just like everybody else they start looking around and taking pieces. There are plenty to go around.
My father and I finish our burros and have another drink. There are so many people that they are beginning to get close. My father puts everything into the sack, “Come on Chuy. Let us move further up into the trees and have our dessert in peace.” I follow him up to a more secluded place and we sit down. He reaches into the sack pulls out the peaches and can opener. He puts the can between his legs and opens it. He hands me the can while he puts the opener back into the sack. I wipe my hands on my shirt and reach in to take a piece. It is slippery and difficult to grab but I get one out and put it into my mouth. Mmm. I love canned peaches. They are sweeter than the ones off the tree.
We happily eat our peaches while watching everyone roam around looking for pieces of metal. We can still see most of what is going on from where we are. The judge and constable come walking up to the edge of town. They look at the large crowd that has gathered. They just talk with each other and watch. We finish the peaches and my father takes a drink of the juices in the can. Then he hands it to me, “You finish it.” I thank him and have a sweet sip of the juices. I want to enjoy it and not drink it all at once.
I take another sip and we look out from the trees. People are milling about but things are settling down. Most of the fires have gone out except for what is left of the tower and windmill. Mr. Hayden walks up to the judge and constable. They begin to talk. Then the constable calls over his helpers carrying buckets of water. The men and boys walk up to the tower. The constable sends other people into town. Soon most of the townsfolk are helping to put out the fires. Other people keep roaming around looking for metal pieces. My father says to me, “Come on Chuy. We should go help. Go through the trees. Let’s go.” He hands me the sack. I finish my peach juice and throw down the can slinging the sack over my shoulder.
I follow my father through the trees when he stops and tells me to be quiet. He quietly tells me to crouch down. He looks up the hill. I am beginning to be afraid and it must look that way on my face because my father tells me, “You stay here while I go up. Just keep out of sight.” No papa. I want to go with you. Please do not leave me here. He whispers to me, “Okay. Follow close behind and try not to make any noise. You better leave the sack here. It will make noise.”
I pull the sack off and put it on the ground. My father moves his fingers for me to follow. We make our way up the hill and hear voices up ahead. My father looks back points to the side and sneaks in that direction. Following him up to a rock sticking out of the ground we crouch behind it. My father whispers to me, “It does not sound like Spanish or English. It must be one of them Germans or Frenchies but I cannot tell. We should get closer.” Mt father begins to move around the rock when a man suddenly pops up out of nowhere in front of him. My father holds his arms out to protect me.
We silently look at the man. I can see him under my father’s arm. The man’s clothes are light blue and shiny but still look like cloth. There is no belt and the shirt is connected to the pants. I have never seen boots like that before. The man does not look like he wants to harm us. He smiles and moves his arms for us to follow him. My father thinks. He looks at me and nods his head okay but keeps one protective arm out while I walk behind him. The man carries no weapon and does not seem angry. Maybe this is the way they dress in big cities.
We follow him up to a small clearing where three others are standing. They are dressed just like him. We stop in front of them. The man is by my father’s side. We stand trembling in front of them. My father suddenly drags me to the ground. We are on our knees when my father hysterically cries out in Spanish about being a good Christian and raising his family properly. He begs that no harm comes to me and offers his own life in return. Our eyes look down at their feet and I am beginning to get scared.
The person in the middle is a woman. She squats down and looks silently at me as my father is carrying on. Her skin is white. Her long yellow hair is tied back like my mother’s. The lady softly lifts my head with her hand and smiles. She turns to my father and begins to speak in Spanish. Reassuring him that no harm will come to us. After my father calms down she quietly tells him that there is no reason for us to be afraid. They are here in peace. She gently takes hold of our arms and we slowly stand up.
Not so much afraid anymore I ask in English if she is an angel. My father tries to silence me but she waves her hand it is okay and answers, “It is something like that. But I thought you spoke Spanish my child. If you like we could speak in this language instead.” No. It is all right ma’am. My father speaks better with Spanish. She returns to speaking Spanish, “All right then. The child asks if we are angels.”
The lady invites us to sit down on a dead tree trunk and keeps talking, “We once made this world our home. Putting it in simple terms. Yes we are what your people call angels.” My father trembles and quietly prays. The lady reassures him, “This does not mean you should be afraid. We are not here because of you. Please understand. We did not know you were in the trees. We thought everyone was at the wreckage or in town. When you walked up we were unprepared and it was too late for us to hide.”
“Excuse me grandfather. Are you trying to tell me that you met space Martians? Like in the movies? This is very hard to believe. Are you telling me tall tales?” Do not disrespect me niòo! I am telling you everything in truth as it happened! When have I ever lied to anyone? “Calm down grandfather. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to call you a liar. It’s just a fantastic story that’s all. If you say it is true then I believe you. I swear.”
“What’s going on? Is he all right?” Manuel! Where have you been? You cannot sleep the entire day. You should be here helping Elias. “But I did grandfather. I didn’t use a typewriter and wrote the words by hand. Like you told me. Grandfather. You have a very interesting memory.” Did you write down Elias’ words too? “Yes, grandfather. Just like you said.” “Wait ’till you hear what’s next.” “Oh yeah? Well don’t let me stop you. Keep going.” “No, he’s breathing heavy. We’d better stop. Grandfather. Do you want to rest and do this tomorrow?” Yes. I will finish the story then. Could you bring me some more water? I want a drink before I nap.