as BetsyM (AnitaLife)
Complete, March 3, 2006
No Spoilers. NON-slash, true to the spirit of the series.
RIP Bill Maxwell.
Bill Maxwell towered down a Whitney High School hallway on the way to meet his school teacher friend Ralph Hinkley. He draped his suit jacket over his shoulder at a jaunty angle and his dark aviator glasses wrapped his face despite the dimming corridor.
Most of the regular students had long departed the school and in their stead were gaggles of “adult ed” participants, chatting and disorderly as any of the teenagers who attended Whitney High during the day.
Bill padded his way toward Ralph’s office. Instead, he found himself stopped in his tracks by a large yellow poster positioned outside one of the class rooms.
A safe place for abductees
Amidst “Basket Weaving”, “Intro to French for Travelers”, “Power of Positive Thinking”, “Think Your Way to Wealth” and “Yoga” this one class offering held Bill’s attention like a welded rivet.
A crudely drawn black and white UFO loomed at the top of the poster and waxy Xeroxed sketches of familiar-looking aliens graced the borders. Despite the rendition of the craft and creatures the shock of recognition shot through Bill’s blood like a slap of C-Oh-2.
Did Ralph know about this group? Bill knew that the “Green Guys”, as he like to call them, had not appeared exclusively to Ralph and himself. What if there were others, others with red suits? How had these people drawn such a close renditions of the beings and the ship that Bill and Ralph had actually encountered?
Something else propelled him toward the meeting. Bill would never admit to himself or to Ralph or Pam, but he had always been deeply uneasy about his relationship with “T.H.E.M”. Some part of him had a vain hope that perhaps this group could help, but that was a long shot.
Bill looked up and down the hall which was now empty as classes began. When he was satisfied that no eyes were upon him, he cleared his throat, pursed his lips and ducked into the room flaunting a failed attempt at being casual. Many emotions were rushing through his chest, but he felt anything but casual.
Ten or so adults sat in a broken circle of school desks, desks that didn’t suit their post-teenage bodies. One woman was weeping softly and a man was consoling her as others drew close, some patting her back in solidarity. Bill felt that he had intruded on their privacy and that walking in was a huge mistake. What the heck was he doing here anyway? He didn’t even believe in UFOs, did he?
“Welcome” said a friendly man, who handed Bill a paper with UFO encounter information on it and more drawings of aliens.
“Ah, yeah, ah…” Bill sighed, looking at the paper and thinking about the best way to escape.
“Please, sir. You are among friends. Have a seat and join us.”
“I’ll just…” he tried to extricate himself, but the friendly man had his elbow and corralled him into the circle.
“We all understand. You’ve come to the right place if you’ve had an encounter. We’ll help you come to terms with your experience. Please…”
Bill reluctantly plopped himself into a desk/chair combo as far away from the others as possible. His long legs banged painfully against the struts of the desk. He could not believe he was here, about to listen to this drivel.
Softly the friendly man began the meeting. Names were not necessary—anonymity was crucial for all concerned, to prevent the possibility of ridicule from family, friends and business associates.
“Everyone must feel safe here” he told them. “You’ve all had too many incidents where you were frightened or threatened, so let this place be your haven.”
For the next hour Bill listened intently to many remarkable accounts of encounters with alleged extraterrestrial life forms. The heart rending testimonies depicted midnight meetings, strange experiments, mysterious pregnancies, life time involvements with aliens and inexplicable abductions.
“…the lights from the ship blinded me…”
“…the probe felt hot, like a poker…”
“…then I was floating above the yard…”
“…I was completely helpless. I couldn’t move…”
“…said they didn’t want to hurt me…”
Some of the stories sounded familiar, others sinister, others stood outside the realm of anything Bill could consider real. But, then, hadn’t his view of reality been shattered to bits over 3 years ago and then any time the Green Guys deigned to contact him and Ralph?
The soft voice of the moderator gently broke into Bill’s thoughts.
“Sir, if you’d like to share a story, feel at ease. This is the place for you to take care of you.” His fingers touched and formed an inverted ‘V’.
“Yeah, I, well, I never used to believe in any of this, this stuff.” He ran his hand over his mouth in a few sharp swipes and adjusted his neck.
“We’ve all had to re-evaluate our beliefs.”
“Well, I’ve had, um, encounters with, you know, little Green Guys.” he accompanied his statement with a little circle of his forefinger and a sort of whistle.
“The green ones are friendly.” said one of the participants, a disheveled man in his mid-20s who had said he had been abducted repeatedly.
“Please, let’s not interrupt each other” said the moderator. “Go ahead.” he prompted.
“Well, there…out there…in the desert…my car…I couldn’t steer and then…then it stopped.”
“The car stopped?”
“Yeah. Just stopped. Everything cut out. Zilch.”
Expectant eyes were upon Bill as he rubbed his eyes.
“You can feel safe here if you’d like to continue.”
He couldn’t tell them about the suit. That was right out. What was he doing here? He didn’t know. Could this bunch of touchy feely support groupers really help him at all? He didn’t think so. But, then who could he turn to?
He pointed to the flyer and burst out, “I’ve seen these guys!” There was a gasp from a couple of folks in the group.
“Excuse me,” said a familiar voice at the door of the classroom.
Ralph Hinkley shook his head and stared with disbelief seeing his friend amidst the UFOers.
“I’m sorry to interrupt.” he told the group and then beckoned to Bill as he might to Rhonda or Tony, “May I see you please?”
Bill catapulted from the room and followed Ralph into the hallway.
“Bill, what the heck were you doing in there?” Ralph demanded in hushed tones.
“Oh, I was just checking out the whack jobs, you know, they think they’ve seen a bunch of little green guys, that’s all.”
“Bill, you of all people should know…”
“C’mon Ralph! You can’t take any of that stuff seriously! Government conspiracy! Grey Guys. Green Guys. White rooms. Lights in the sky…”
“You were supposed to meet me at 7:00 so we could go over a few of your scenarios. Now, I was grading papers and I lost track of time…”
“Losing time is often reported by abductees.” said the friendly moderator, who had followed Bill to see if he could help.
“No, I… Look, I’m sorry I had to interrupt your session, but I had an appointment with this man, which he missed!”
“I’d like you to get in touch with me.” he handed his card to Bill. “I think I can help you.”
Bill took his card and hung his head with shame as Ralph seethed in his direction.
“Would you excuse us, please?” Ralph requested.
“Certainly.” he said and then added to Bill. “My office hours are on my card.” Concerned, he glanced at the partners and returned to the group.
– – – – – –
Bill continued the night with feinted scoffs against the “carrot crunching, anti-government, rubber-room candidates” that were members of the UFO Encounters support group.
Ralph and Pam ignored his rants and tried to concentrate on potential cases for the suit.
Underneath his jacket, tucked in a pocket in his vest, Bill kept the card given to him by the support group leader.