Banjo Music

Speeding along a road winding through the Ozark mountains, swerving now right, now left, I clung to the steering wheel in grim desperation. The sun setting beyond the dust clouds over Kansas gave the woods a surreal orange glow. Behind me, creeping relentlessly closer, the alien hovercraft followed my every turn. I was lucky it couldn’t fly  above the treetops but even my antique Corvette with a decidedly modern V8 engine couldn’t outrun it forever. My arms ached, my head pounded, my vision narrowed to a tunnel. I wasn’t sure how much longer I could keep running.

I thought back to the day before when I had picked up the red 1962 Corvette from the detailers. It was the culmination of two years of patient restoration, hunting for parts that hadn’t been made for decades, careful matching of paint, repeated attempts to repair damage to the fiberglass body and a complete engine rebuild. There wasn’t another one like it on the planet. I had headed south from Kansas City to visit my cousin in Arkansas and decided on a detour through the Mark Twain National Forest to put my newly restored ride through its paces. Truth to tell, the Corvette wasn’t much for handling curves but for raw power it was unmatched.

While passing through a stretch of farmland just before entering the woods I noticed the hovercraft. It was shaped like a classic flying saucer, but the dust it kicked up showed that it was using a forced air plenum for suspension. I slowed down to see the hovercraft better and it pulled alongside me. That’s when I noticed that the driver was clinging to its controls with four purple tentacles. It had a single giant eye that kept looking  away from the road to see the ‘Vette.

Then its passenger started waving all four tentacles as it trying to flag me down. I had no idea what to do but when the passenger lifted up a tube and pointed it at the road just ahead of my car I got a little nervous. I got more nervous when a beam of light lanced out from the tube and blew a cloud of  dirt and gravel in the air beside the road. I hit the gas and the eight barrels of my two Carter AFB carburetors opened up with a deep-throated moan. I was plastered back in my seat and the hovercraft fell back.

Within minutes I was in the forest, driving hell bent for leather along a two lane road overshadowed by a canopy of trees. The hovercraft tried to follow but it wallowed like a drunken walrus through turns and I managed to stay ahead. I had no idea what I was going to do but I was headed further from civilization by the minute.

Needless to say, I didn’t get away. The alien had a partner in another hovercraft that had raced ahead and found a clearing where it settled down onto the asphalt and blocked the road completely. I stopped just short of the grounded spaceship while its companion caught up from behind. I got out of the car and was contemplating running into the forest when one of the aliens from the roadblock spaceship sidled slowly toward me with tentacles held high in what I hoped was a nonthreatening way. I stopped and waited until it got close, then it stopped too

“Dang, son,” the alien said, “that is one sweet ride. Buford had one helluva time keeping up with you in them trees.” If they had learned English from television broadcasts it was clear the only station they could get was KDFW in Dallas/Fort Worth.

“Buford?” was all I managed to squeak out.

Buford himself slithered up to me from behind. “Ya sure gave Billy a run for his money,” said the alien. Billy waved a tentacle from what was apparently the driver’s seat. “Alls we wanted was to get a good look at your ‘Vette. Ya wouldn’t be interested in sellin’ it, now wouldya?”

In an hour we had reached terms. I had enough money to buy myself an island. Say Australia. And Buford and Jimmy were busy tucking my one of a kind ‘Vette into their mothership, which had to happen after dark, of course. I wondered where they’d get gasoline for it but that wasn’t my problem.

Billy let me drive the saucer back to Kansas City. To compare it to a drunken walrus was to insult the walrus. I kissed the ground when I got out, sure I never wanted to drive a dirt-loving pig like that again. I was thinking Ferrari (the company, not the car) as I waved goodbye and Buford and Jimmy sped off in the direction of Aldebaran.