Cathy, nine years old in 1959, stands in the doorway of the Neves house in Arcadia, tiny fingers clasped in Uncle Angus’s huge ex-boxer hand, staring at the giant orb that just landed in their back yard. Ralph is in Del Mar, racing. Midge—Nanny to me, but I’m not born yet—went to lunch with some girlfriends.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Angus says. “God help us.” Angus, Midge’s brother, was a pretty successful professional boxer. Now he lives with one sibling, then another, because he never found another way to make a living. Cathy calls him her angel.
The two of them stare, sweat mingling between their two palms, for they don’t know how long. “Spaceship,” Angus finally says. “At first I thought Ralph must be playing a joke, but it’s floating. Not even Ralph could pull off a stunt like this.”
“Gary, Craig,” Cathy yells. “Hurry.”
“Boys,” Angus booms. “You’ll want to see this.” The boys, wavy hair and big eyes, are astonished as Angus and Cathy were when they first saw the huge metal orb.
“What the—?” Gary says.
The orb whirs, but not loud. The sound is gentle, continuous. They all see it, together. This is not somebody hallucinating.
“What should we do?” Cathy says.
The orb hovers for four hours, enough time to get sort of used to it. They take turns checking at the windows, to see if it’s still there. Craig is the one who discovers the orb rising steadily into the sky, until it vanishes. The lawn beneath it is burned, splotchy yellow and tan.
“What the hell happened to the lawn?” Midge asks when she returns home. “You are facacta,” she says when she hears the answer. But all four of them insist the orb was real. They saw it. They will continue to insist for the rest of their lives. “Angus was drunk,” Midge will say, “and you kids were crazy. You still are.” One night in the mid-1980s, Midge finally concedes, “Who knows? Maybe it was true. I’ve lived long enough to believe anything.”