Scene 7

Melody groaned. The room they had entered was even smaller, but with almost the same number of people. Now, however, instead of contained in neat, little rows, strangers were milling about or bunched up into tight, impenetrable groups.

“This is a nightmare,” she said.

“We'll just put in an appearance,” her mother told her, “and keep it short. We'll just stay long enough for your father to eat some cake.”

Melody's face crumpled. “One piece, right?” She knew if someone didn't impose some sort of limit on her father's cake intake he might possibly just stand there for hours shoveling the stuff into his poorly-shaved face -- nodding his head and making small talk just to keep up the charade of comradeship and the sweet treats a’coming.

“Yes,” Lonnie said, as if suddenly realizing the logic in her daughter's words. She tapped on her husband's shoulder, and once she had his attention, lifted a finger and mouthed the word “one.”

Bernie's crest-fallen expression told Melody that he understood the meaning.

The trio began to mill about the room, though mostly still huddled together. Bernie and Lonnie liked large groups of people and small talk about as much as Melody, although over the years they had learned to deal with it with a little more grace.

“It's mainly a matter of smiling, and responding positively when spoken to,” Lonnie had once told Melody.

Melody's eyes narrowed at the thought of it. Why people felt they needed to speak when there was absolutely nothing to convey, infuriated her. Yes, the weather is clement. We can all see that! No, I didn't see the big game! Did it have some bearing on my life?! If you have nothing to say then stow it. She valued quiet time over noise for just the purpose of filling a void. That quiet allowed her to hear her own thoughts which overall were much more fulfilling than someone's inane gadblastering!

Bernie placed his hand over his daughter’s mouth, just as Father Belesarius wandered over to the Jackson's inner circle. He had apparently done the same to each of the other visitors, but as fate would have it, chose the moment Melody’s thoughts were spilling out of her head to stop by and say ‘howdy’.

“Wot?!” Melody said in a muffled tone.

“Enough with the inner spilly talky talky,” Bernie said to her out of the corner of his mouth.

At first Melody scowled at him for his ridiculousness, but then realized what he meant.

“Good afternoon,” the priest said, his eyebrows raised. His tone indicated that he was asking for their names.

“Jacksons,” Lonnie said. “We’re neighbors of Mr. Rogers.”

“Ah,” the priest said. “From Mister Roger’s Neighborhood.”

Melody cringed. She expected this joke to come from her own father, although somehow he had missed the opportunity.

The priest slapped his hands together laughing heartily at his joke.

“Here comes the sales pitch,” Melody said under her breath, for which her mother shushed her.

“I wanted to thank you both for coming today...”

The girl’s eyes widened. Wait, she thought. Wut? Both? Am I being ostracized already for the handshake thing? Have a become invisible or is this man just blind?

The priest laughed again. “I apologize,” he said, looking at Melody, and making her wonder if her sudden stress was popping the thoughts into her mouth again like her father’s nervous snacking. “The three of you.”

He then pointed at Melody’s father, and smiled, exposing his over-sized teeth.


“Brrnnee,” Bernie attempted to say. “Onny ma fff...” However his speech was severely hampered by a recent mouthful of cake.

“It's just Bernie,” Lonnie jumped in, lifting her hand for the man to shake. “Only his former bully calls him, Bernard.”

“Ah, and you must be his lovely wife...”

“Lonnie,” Lonnie finished. She then went on to introduce Melody, who slowly began to melt into the background.

“Of course, of course. Dondra spoke to me of you often.”

Melody's eyes lit up. “Really?” she thought. “That's surprising since we never met.” She eyed the priest suspiciously, noting his salesman-like charm, and charlatan means of pulling information out of his victims. And you must be his lovely wife, trailing off, let the woman give you the information while pretending to simply being forgetful. What was your credit card number again...oh, um, it was just on the tip of my tongue.

Melody coughed and gauged her audience to see if any of that had slipped out. She was concentrating, so she thought she was safe. Good, no horrified looks. She spoke out loud at this point as a sort of test. “Sibilance, sibilance.” When this garnered her some odd looks, she felt satisfied that her former dialogue had thankfully remained in her head.

“She was a very nice lady,” Melody then said, instead. It wasn't entirely a lie. She always seemed very nice in the car, anyway. At least the head which stuck up above the seats was always smiling. Be accommodating, she thought. She wanted to see where this priest was going with this.

He smiled at the girl. However it was the type of smile that one usually gave a little child to whom one didn't know how to respond.

Melody's eyes narrowed at him.

Father Belesarius retrieved a letter from the inside of his robe, and handed it to Bernie Jackson. “She spoke very highly of all of you.” He said this in such a way which seemed to make Melody believe that she suddenly wasn't included at all in the group of highly thought of people.

Bernie took the letter apprehensively.

“What's this?” he asked.

Father Belesarius shrugged his shoulders. “Her last wishes? A bit of advice? Some parting words? She gave this to me two weeks ago, and told me expressly to give it to the man who lived across the street. She said that you would know what it all meant.”

Melody rolled her eyes, but only to herself. She covered her face with her hand so as to not appear rude. “Why not give this to him in the will? Why all the secrecy?”

The priest didn't answer Melody, almost as though she hadn't even spoken. “I only know that she gave me the letter with the intent to pass it to you, Bernard Jackson.” He continued to smile at Bernie, making strong eye contact until Bernie began to dance uncomfortably. He then bowed, ever-so-slightly, and bid the Jackson's well on their journey.

“What was that all about?” Lonnie asked, eying the letter.

“It's probably a tear off sheet asking for a donation,” Melody added, watching the Father's every step as he moved from group to group. “I'm going to watch him and see if he hands a similar letter to everyone in the room.”

“Open it up,” Lonnie urged.

Bernie shook his head. “Not here,” he said.


“Because I have a feeling it's important.”

Melody shook her head but didn't take her eyes off of Belesarius. “That's what he wanted you to believe. I wouldn't go around making a big deal out of it.”

Bernie smiled. “Let's step out into the hall.”

Melody had already stepped away. At the buffet table she built a plate of a few small carrots and dip, and sneaked into a corner to inconspicuously eye her quarry..

Lonnie followed her husband, who quickly began to tear into the envelope.

“I thought you didn’t know Dondra at all,” she said.

“I thought so, too,” he said, pulling a single sheet of paper out of the once-sealed packages.

“Jackson –,” the letter began.

“Not so personable so far,” Bernie said.

“Read on, Father John,” Lonnie said, eagerly.

Bernie cleared his throat, and then moved the sheet of paper closer and then farther away as if in an attempt to find a sweet spot due to his slowly aging vision.

“Time to get your eyes checked, Bernie,” Lonnie scolded.

“Let me read it,” Melody said, coming up from behind and grabbing the paper away. “I actually wear the glasses with which I need to see.” She cleared her throat and then added, “It really is written tiny, isn't it.”

Lonnie grabbed the page into her possession, shaking her head.

“Thousands of years ago when giants walked the Earth...”

Melody smacked the page out of her mother's hand as if it were a lit firecracker about to explode. “Seriously,” she said. “That's how you start out a letter to an acquaintance?”

Lonnie picked the sheet up from the ground, and ironed out any symbolic wrinkles with her hand.

“Enough of the drama with this family,” she said. She then cleared her throat and began to read the page in its entirety:

Dear Jacksons,

Thousands of years ago when giants walked the Earth, technologies of which we no longer understand brought strange energies to the world...

“Blurred, indecipherable writing, here,” Lonnie said attempting to adjust her eyes. “Like it got wet or something. I can only make bits of it here and there.”

She continued.

...Ten thousand years of prominence , ten thousand years desolation, afterwards lunacy...

...Only in the great hands of the new dawn shall the meek survive...

..The King of the mountain has found his foothold in the eyes of the Beast... find your true path, you need only but listen to the Rite of Spring at the reflection of sunset.

“Okay, I have to give this one to Melody. This is a tad cryptic and on the weird side, and,” she continued hitting her husband in the arm, “it looks like she was right about that record.”

“You think?” The girl laughed. “Can we go to the record store now?”

Bernie and Lonnie, in unison, rang out. “Yes, we can go to the record store.”

It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode One

Melody Jackson

vs. The Message from Space

by BMB Johnson

Scene 7

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