Scene 14

Mr. Rogers' parlor was immaculately kept, and gave one the impression that he spent little of his time here. The furniture was covered with fitted plastic. Early American style. The wallpaper was red and white with raised, fuzzy designs. Melody, who noticed this first, began to stroke at it with her fingers until she was rudely interrupted by a nudge from her mother.

“So, Rogers,” Bernie said in a manner that one with a briar wood pipe between his lips might have spoke. “What do you make of all of this Valdulta business.”

Mr. Rogers shakily entered the room carrying an elegant tea set on a silver tray. He offered each Jackson a cup.

“I'm not entirely sure I know what to think anymore. Was it Dondra at all? It sounded like her, and her message seems to be verified by your little machine there.”

“But what were her exact words,” Lonnie asked him, taking a sip of the hot tea. “They might take on a new meaning, now that we have some facts on our side.” She then pointed to a little covered bowl and added. “Oh, are those sugar cubes?”

“Help yourself. And I do have to admit I was paraphrasing a tad.” He took a small cookie from the tray, placed it in his mouth and sighed. He then put the cookie in his lap. “Dondra,” he said, “was always a little bit odd, I have to admit. I always knew there were lots of things about herself that she wasn't telling me. I knew she worked for the government, but never what agency, or projects or any of that...” He looked at Lonnie and Melody sincerely. “But it wasn't like she was trying to mislead me. I think it was more to protect me.”

He picked up the cookie and earnestly took a bite from it this time.

“Protecting you from what?” Melody asked bluntly.

Mr. Rogers looked over to the girl, slyly. “Now, that's a very good question,” he said. He sighed. “I had always assumed it had to do with some sort of national security. You know how them feds are, thinking everything they do is so important and that some other government wants to exploit it. But I think she, or at least the team she was on, discovered something that they wanted to keep away even from our own government.”

“Rogers,” Bernie jumped in. “You don't know the half of it.” He then went on to explain the mysterious package, the record, including, to Melody's complete annoyance, the entire retelling of his adventure on the phone with the shopkeeper.

“I don't understand,” said Mr. Rogers. He looked over to Melody. “Why would she send you these things?”

Melody shrugged her shoulders. “Like I know,” she said. “I never even met the woman.”

Mr. Rogers rubbed his temple as though he were trying to remove one of his age spots. “Maybe she saw a fieriness in you that would protect the secret but keep it also from burning out.” He pulled a small notebook from the back of his pocket and flipped a few pages into it. “Here's the notes I scribbled down when she made contact with me that night. It was about Midnight, almost exactly...the witching hour they say. I was just flipping through channels looking for a clear signal...wasn't anything in particular going on – and in comes this message through the speaker.” In a whispered voice, she says, “'William....William...' sort of soft, but with an echo. She sounded distant. I responded, 'I hear you. God, Dondra, is that you? I miss you.' but I think the communication was only a one way affair because she started to talk over me.

“She said 'Dark Matter is everywhere. There is a life to it. It is God, William. Dark Matter is God. It is unGod. It is everything that is. It is the Val Dull Tah! The Val Dull Tah Tran Zen Tree! Help her William. She is the key. When the time comes you will know.”

Mr. Rogers closed his notebook. “There you have it,” he said. “I guess that time has come, but I must admit I still don't know what any of it means.”

Melody turned to her parents. “Dark matter is God, Dark matter is unGod.” She pinched her face up at this. “What exactly is an unGod? Is that your, whatchercallit...the Devil?”

Bernie grimaced at his daughter. “Yeah, like you don't know who the Devil is. Don't play dumb.”

Lonnie shook her head. “I don't think any of that was meant to be taken literally.”

Melody raised a finger. “You said this came over the radio. I mean, how do you know this wasn't a prank. Or for that matter, who's to say this wasn't some radio program you picked up on. William is a fairly common name. If it had said 'Peter...Peter...random crazy stuff mildly pertaining to your life,' you probably wouldn't have paid much attention.”

“Well, I fully agree with you there, girly,” he said. “And I was almost content to think it was all some wish fulfilling dream, except that I had actually taken notes...and now you confirmed the name Valdulta.”

Melody shook her head. “Yeah,” she said. “I had forgotten about that part.”

“I had first assumed that this Val Dull Tah Tran Zen Tree was the 'her' she was talking about. But now I think it's you, girly.”

Melody pulled her lips back so thinly that they were nearly transparent. This was an attempt to keep her from speaking her thoughts, specifically what she was thinking at the moment: “If he calls me girly ONE MORE TIME. I'M GOING TO SCREAM!”

“So what now,” Bernie said, impatiently. “Are we finally getting that backhoe?”

“Bernie,” Lonnie said. “If it's dark matter, you can't just dig it up. I think it has to be dealt with with more subtlety than that.”

“So, nothing? We're doing nothing?”

“There's no gray with you, is there?” Melody said, shaking her head. “If we can't blow it up, go put the popcorn on! Might as well watch TV.”

Lonnie hugged her daughter around the shoulder but was quickly brushed off. “We have now confirmed that this land is, let's say, special. What we do or not do is something that we're going to have to figure out.”

“I will help you any way that I can,” Mr. Rogers said.

“I appreciate that, old man,” Bernie said.

Lonnie and Melody looked at each other, then Melody turned to him and said. “I think we're going to need everything you've got.”


It Happened on Lafayette Street

Season One: Episode One

Melody Jackson

vs. The Message from Space

by BMB Johnson

Scene 8

<= scene two Scene four =>

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