We are in the monsoon season here in Northern Arizona. Clouds billow dark and ominous. Lightning flashes. Thunder echoes from the mountains, sounds like artillery landing ever closer. Then the evening skies clear, transparent all the way to Andromeda.

Summers are mild up here. It’s not even as warm as Los Gatos. When thermometers hit 90F, the residents complain like San Franciscans about the abominable warmth and the stream of miserable visitors from Phoenix who come up here to enjoy the thirty degree decline in temps.

The blonde haired girl and I sit on our deck and watch cloud shadows morph across the mountain forests. The last of the snow has just about melted up there at 12,000 feet and if the gods want to land they can disembark their UFOs in sneakers.

We drink our beverages, eat our meals, rock in our chairs, and wait for the apocalypse.

Of course, we have UFOs up here. Flying orbs. Dark shapes in the sky. The blonde haired girl took me on a UFO watching tour in Sedona last year for my birthday. We saw lots. And now we’re only 20 miles north of there. Their skies are our skies. Aaloosaktukwi (Hopi name for the mountain right in front of my house) is under a giant vortex, they say. White people who wear turquoise jewelry say it's a portal to another dimension. The Hopi don’t have a word for “alternate dimension.” They say the mountain is where the Kachinas descend to earth. So, I'll have a court side seat to that event.

When we go to the ruins at Waputaki or Montazuma’s Castle someone inevitably asks, “What happened to them?” meaning the cliff dwellers. The Hopi guides, now wearing their National Park Service uniforms inform all us uninformed and PC white people that - “what are you talking about? We’re still here. Here I am.”

When the Phoenix Lights appeared in 1997 the media focused on the government and the military. Why weren’t fighters scrambled? Even the governor was flummoxed so he made a SciFi show of it - then apologized and admitted he was as clueless as the rest of us.

But the Navajo and the Hopi, the Zuni and the Apache - they laughed at the TV news crews.

“Got to be kidding me,” said the one native American interviewed by Phoenix local news - maybe the only Native interviewed. He said, “We’ve been seeing them for centuries.

I can see the mountain as I write this. It’s framed by thunderclouds and raked by lightning. Easy to imagine a Spielbergian craft emerging in technicolor glory from the blackness.

The blonde haired girl and I sit on the deck and watch the mountain until dark. When the stars come out the bats start feasting on bugs and the neighbor’s dogs start howling.

You don’t need binoculars to see the UFOs. In fact, my guess is that using binoculars or a telescope to spot them would be like using a telescope to see a comet. Waste of time. Best place to see a nearby comet is from a window seat in first class over the ocean on an international flight. I know this from first hand experience.

When the UFOs come it’s not subtle. You don’t have to ask yourself - “is that one?” because it’s pretty clear.

What you ask yourself is - “what am I seeing?” because it doesn’t fit a normal human’s standard operational world view.

When my niece got married three years ago we flew from California to the wedding in Arizona. She got married in a place called Fountain Hills, about 90 minutes (with traffic) out of the PHX airport. We got there at dusk and coordinated with my mom to pick her up and we’d all drive to the wedding hotel together. One of the roads up to Fountain Hills is a long-straight-Close Encounters-movie-poster sort of road that disappears at the base of a mountain in a perspective point in the distance.

As I drove - not at all the only car on the road for miles - there was a small but definite bit of traffic - the sun went below the horizon and it became dusk. We were talking about how my niece had decided to get married on my dad’s birthday, in honor of him. His death hit her very hard - she was his first grandchild and probably his favorite. And as we discussed this two bright - not so bright - but you know - bright enough to be noticed - two bright lights came from behind us as if from the two rear corners of the car - over our heads, and moved quickly over the car in formation to a point over the mountain in front of us - and then stopped dead. Like - they could have been airplanes but after going over the top of us - at some height, not very close - again, could have been planes - until - they got to a place over the mountain right in front of us and then quite obviously came to a complete halt.

I don’t know if anyone else saw this. I suspected they were moving dead away from us, and that’s why they appeared to be not moving. But no - they just stayed there over the mountain that we were heading toward, glittering.

Even when we made the left to leave the highway and head to the Casino Hotel - they just stayed there and I heard my mom telling the blonde haired girl - “He always said he’d take care of her…” Meaning Dad to my niece.

Stuff happened at the hotel that resulted in Blondie and I getting the Presidential Suite instead of our reserved standard room. Nobody knows what. The people at the hotel were as flummoxed as we were. They typed on their computers and looked puzzled and called back to the home office, where someone was probably doing the same thing. After a long while, during which they were clearly trying to change our reservation to a normal room - and failing, over and over - they finally gave us the keys to the suite, and that’s where the family of the bride gathered for breakfast and lunch before the wedding. (I mean, this was a hotel room with a conference room attached - clearly for medium-sized business meetings - 30 people fit in there comfortably- and I was only charged for a regular room plus I got the wedding attendee discount. I think it cost me $79/night.

The morning of the wedding it hailed. Little ice stones fell from the sky. It hailed so hard it looked like the ground was covered in snow and the bad weather clearly necessitated a change in wedding plans. Even though none of them cared for the game, the couple decided to get married on the first tee of the Fountain Hills golf course - in honor of my dad who had a very serious golf addiction for most of his adult life.

Hail means wind and thunder. Hard rain and lightning. There would be no vows taken at the tee. Everything was moved inside to the club house where they put the white-rimmed dias up against a huge glass wall that looked out over the first 3 holes of the well manicured course.

The sky was black with storm clouds, but as the couple mounted their tiny lace-rimmed stage, the rain and hail stopped.

The service began. The DJ stopped the wedding march music. The minister said wedding things. They took their vows. And at the moment - literally at the moment Eric placed the ring on Krysten’s finger, a gap opened up in the clouds and a strong beam of yellow white light streamed down from above as if the finger of God himself. The light illuminated a leafy green tree on the course. And as if on cue - a huge white heron landed in that tree, in that beam of light.

The two hundred wedding attendees saw it, and gasped as one.

The bride and groom couldn't see anything from where they stood as they were absorbed in each other and they presumed the Ahhs and Awws from their guests were in sympathetic appreciation for this new nuptual bond when in fact, we were absolutely frozen in rapt awe.

Things like this don’t happen in real life. What was it Twain said - "the difference between fiction and real life is that fiction has to make sense..."

If it was a Netflix movie we all would have hit return and given the thing one star.

We had just exited real life. All of us.

My mom leaned over to me and pointed to the sunlight, the great white heron and the leafy tree and she said - “That’s your father doing that, you know. He said he’d always take care of her.”

When the minister pronounced them married, the bird took off, the clouds closed and the light dimmed, and it began to hail until the golf course looked like a landscape in Antarctica.

At that moment I was wondering why my dad, with whom I was always very close, never said to me before he died that he’d always take care of me? In fact - I distinctly remember him saying the opposite. That I should take care of my self and don’t expect anything from him.

Or maybe now that I’m older I know that what he really said was that I “could” take care of myself - I was capable - and thus he would not worry about me. He had bigger fish to fry.

And so I sit on the deck with the blonde haired girl and our occasional visitors and I think about my dad, Blondie's mom who just passed last year, all the loved ones lost to this time frame. I think about the vortex on the mountain and the Kachinas returning through the portal to this dimension to lead their children home.

And the lights in the sky move. As if on cue. Like it’s planned.

There’s one we always see at dusk. It moves south to north; it’s to the north west of us. It appears like a sort of firework - something dim that bursts into hot white brightness - then takes off toward the north like a shooting star - traversing 10s of miles - maybe more - slowly dimming dying out.

Like clockwork, when the last of the sun hits the horizon, it moves like a rocket on rails. Same spot in the sky - northward to our mountain and the Grand Canyon beyond. We tell our guests to look for it, and so far, it appears every time.

“What is that?” they say as if we should know.

Three nights ago we had over some old friends from California who now live here in Arizona. They stayed with us for three days, and each day we drank wine (some of us, bourbon) and watched the sun set - and then the bright ball of light shoot toward the north.

They don’t believe I don’t know what it is.

We stayed outside later. By 10P we had seen plenty of things. Bright flashing lights that moved in formation - circled each other - made 90 degree changes in their paths.

It’s really difficult not to get freaked out by these things. When you hear about them you imagine it’s cool - but when you see them happening - sometimes as if just when you mention them - it gets too real for people.

There’s one we saw for a long time. Three bright lights came from different sections of the sky and met to the north east of us, low in the sky, all three abreast. Then the one in the middle circled around the one to the left, and the one to the right shot off parallel to the ground at high speed and disappeared. The one that circled slowed down and began to move westward and slightly south until it reached a spot forward and above us. It stopped right in the constellation of Cygnus (we had our phones out with the Astronomy app so we could prove that “star” did not belong in that constellation).

And it hovered there near the star Deneb. And when I say “hover” - I mean it did not sit there rock solid in the sky. It wobbled back and forth like it was negotiating some stiff winds.

Occasionally it would jerk right or left or up or down.

I had my high power green hand laser and shined right toward it to see if it would shine back.

It didn’t.

But it did jerk away from my light beam a couple times, to our great delight and amusement.

“Your pissing it off,” my friends said. “We’re all going to get the anal probe tonight. Cut it out.”

So I thanked it - we all did, the frightened pups we are and we went inside. Right around bed time when we shut off the lights and retired, I went outside via the door we have to the deck in our bedroom and looked up and it was still there - fluttering like a weird bug next to Deneb.

That night I had a dream.

In the dream someone very familiar to me visited me in my bedroom - woke me up (it was broad daylight outside as it is here at 5:30AM, oddly not frightening at all) and she handed me a folio of paper. The folio was of post cards - all attached, accordion fold - and I let it unfold in front of me. Upon each card was a lot of official looking writing/typing. It was data. The only thing I clearly remember about it was that in the upper right corner of each card was a date.

This blonde haired woman, with whom I am quite acquainted in dream space - said to me: “We have proof. We know you don’t want to believe it, but we've counted all the times he's helped you and you ignored him. Maybe you’ll believe this. Anyway - we're not insulted.”

I asked who it was helping me while I scanned the cards. Each one denoted an “infraction” against me.

Honestly - I didn’t want to read them. I didn’t care. Nobody's helping me - I thought to my dreamself.

The being knew I didn’t care - but she did. I figured, this is life. Oh well.

Nope - I asked again - “who is it?” but I got silence. Telepathic silence is terrible because when nobody is speaking, your brain can be numbingly quiet. And they use that quiet to make their point.

She made a gesture toward me that I knew meant, “go ahead, wake up now.”

I also knew it meant, “Wake up.” Like, even when you're awake.

Always looking out for me.

In my time, I will do the same for my loved ones. I vow.

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