Of Venusians and Coffee

by Mac Tonnies

A few days ago I was hanging out in LatteLand reading "Looking for Orthon," a sociological study and critical biography of the late saucer contactee George Adamski. Among Adamski's many claims was that various "space people" worked secretly among Earth's scientific and industrial complex. I was musing on the idea of human-looking "aliens among us" when I saw the back of a blond-haired woman standing in front of me, facing the espresso bar.

I watched her carefully pour the contents of one coffee cup into another and back again as if working with chemicals. As if on cue, the woman swiveled to look straight at me. She was probably in her 50s (or 60s); her face had the taut quality associated with cosmetic surgery, and she wore big black sunglasses that made her look a bit like the cover illustration from "Communion." She was hauling a large tourist-grade tote.

After asking one of the baristas to keep an eye on her tote, she used the restroom and returned to sit down next to me at an adjacent table. She was still wearing the sunglasses, and smelled strongly of perfume. I kept reading, but the woman's presence was oppressive; she was practically looking over my shoulder (LatteLand is a small joint, and both of us were probably lucky to get seats at all).

Then she started asking me questions. "Where is the Truman Museum?" She had a European-sounding accent, but I couldn't place it.

"That's in Independence," I said. "About a thirty minute drive."

"You mean it's not here? I thought it was here."

"Well, not in walking distance, but it's not that far away."

She proceeded to ask me about exactly where downtown Kansas City was in relation to the Country Club Plaza, then abruptly changed the subject: "Where is a hardware store?"

I thought she might be asking about Restoration Hardware, an upscale home decorating store across the street (and she seemed to agree with me for a moment), but she made it clear she needed an ordinary hardware store. I didn't know. Then she asked for a drugstore, and I was able to provide her with directions to the Osco Drug on Main not far from my apartment. By this time she had finally taken the dark glasses off.

She thanked me and, tote trailing behind her, left the coffee shop.

I don't think this woman was one of Adamski's space people (or any other sort of alien being). I think she was a synchronicity: her demeanor and overt mystification were straight out of some "B" movie about invading saucermen. As such, she served as a living, breathing illustration from "Looking for Orthon."

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