BY JAMES BARKER
Copyright is held by the author.
THIS WAS a mistake. We didn’t know these people. We didn’t even know their names. The idea to stop and visit them, unannounced, had come from a friend of my daughter, back in the U.K. Apparently, the friend had been adamant that we visit her parents in Napier, New Zealand, while touring the island. At the time it seemed like a great idea.
Now, sitting in our rental car, parked outside the gate of this enormous beachfront mansion, I couldn’t think of one good reason to call them. It was getting late. What was I going to say? I grimaced at my wife and son, and dialled their number.
When someone answered, I began to explain that my daughter knew her daughter, and we were touring . . . but before I could get any further, the woman asked us to come in for crawfish.
Crawfish. Did they expect us? Not that I could imagine.
Two minutes later, holding a bottle of wine, we were seated at a table placed diagonally in a huge empty white room. The ocean front windows were open and white curtains billowed around us in the ocean breeze. Everything in the room was white. The walls, floor and ceiling were pure white. The ceiling resembled an endless starry sky, with hundreds of intense little lights showing a hint of blue neon. The table cloth was white, and sparkled with gold threads woven through it. Long stem roses had been placed around two white platters. The roses were so deeply red that they could have been black. The rest of the table had rose petals scattered about.
Our host and hostess disappeared and we were left alone in silence. I looked at my wife and son and whispered “Does anyone know their names? Do they know our names?”
I picked up a rose stem. It was real.
Our hostess entered and set out three more white plates, smiled and sat down. The host added three wine flutes to the table, and poured something sparkling into each. I raised my glass to offer a toast, but our hosts were already eating.
Our wine was ignored. Attempts at conversation were likewise ignored. As pleasant as these folks were, there was no response to our small talk. I had the feeling we were here, but in reality, not here.
The white curtains continued to billow around us.
The crawfish/lobster was fantastic. The host admitted to harvesting them a few hours earlier from the sea bottom.
After our meal, the hostess smiled, folded her hands together and looked us straight in the eye. “Did our daughter tell you about our UFO event?” she asked.
UFO event? I didn’t know what to say.
I had never met her daughter.
“We were making out, up on the mountain, when the UFO came.”
Making out? UFO? I was speechless. I snuck a glance at my family to see their reaction. They both looked stoically at our hosts.
Our hostess described how the UFO descended on them with a blinding light, and soft white “beings” embraced them, smothering them. They were rendered unconscious. They lost track of time. They were gone for who knows how long.
Our hostess continued her story, but I could no longer hear what she was saying. Her lips were moving, but the only sound I could hear was the wind in those billowing curtains.
For some reason, I had an overwhelming desire to run. I wanted to run past those curtains, out the door, and not stop. I knew that if I got up, I wouldn’t stop running. I would run past our car, and keep running.
We listened politely to her story and gave our excuses as we left.
No one spoke in the car on the way to our hotel.
I don’t remember Napier, an “Art Deco” town that is supposedly wonderful to visit. It is a blank on my personal map of New Zealand.
I just remember those billowing curtains.