It was one of those strings of good weather days that are so rare here, absurd and surprising. The few clouds that had been grazing earlier were gone, vanished, blown away or drawn up into the deep unshifting blue of the sky. The clean high sunlight and clear air pulled out extra textures in everything: there were more leaves on the trees, more blades of grass (each one catching its identical, individual glaze of reflected sunlight), more ripples and glints on the lake’s rumpled surface, more submarine shifts below it.
I was coming around the lake, finishing the first lap of a walk. A guy was coming the other way, walking towards me, his dog moving back and forth in front of him at the end of a leash. He was in his late 20s or early 30s, of slightly below-average height, stocky and muscular, walking with the straddle-legged walk of short, muscular men, arms bowed out slightly. His nose was large but thin: a hatchet in miniature, a witch’s nose. His skin was slightly tan, and there was a day’s worth of stubble on his chin and mild acne along his jawline. His shirt had an image of the state of Ohio on it; across the image was the word “Ohio.” He was smiling and saying something to me.
“What?” I asked.
“Did you see that?”
He came nearer to me and stopped, pointed past my shoulder towards the sky. “D’you see it? Do you see it?”
“There was a seagull in front of it, but now – there. Do you see it. Or a hawk or something. Way up there.”
Way up, nearing the high central sky where the blue was heaviest, something small and white was moving, steadily, linearly: a cylindrical shape with a single fin on its back end.
“What is it?” I asked.
“See now you’ve seen it,” he said. “My wife and I saw one on the way here.” He looked around for a moment, as if for his wife to confirm his story.
“Yeah…” I said.
“We saw one on the way here, and I’ve seen them before. It can’t be a plane, it’s not leaving a trail behind it.”
“Yeah, I dunno…”
“What do you think it is?”
“Yeah I dunno, it’s definitely not leaving a vapor trail…”
“I’ve seen them all over.”
“Maybe a reconnaissance drone?” I said and laughed. “I dunno.”
“Looks like a little Pez dispenser shape. Yep, now you’ve seen it.”
I was still looking up into the blue sky: burdenless, unsmudged, faultless as a new chalkboard, the sun burning out all the blackness of space and all the other besmirching stars, so that all that remained was the unechoing cathedralized blue, falling up and up. I couldn’t see the flying thing anymore.
“They’re all over,” he said. He shook his head. “It can’t be a reconnaissance drone,” he said, but didn’t elaborate.
“Wow, yeah, I dunno…” I said.
“Well now you’ve seen it too,” he said, and started to walk past me.
“Okay,” I said with a laugh, and started to walk away.
“Hey what’s your name?” he asked.
“Ben,” I said.
“Ben, I’m Dan,” he said, and looked back up into the sky. “I’m glad you saw it. Now you’ve seen them too!”
“Yup,” I said, laughing again.
“The little white, Tic Tac up in the sky!”
“Yup,” I said.
“Alright,” he said. “Thanks Ben!” And he walked off with his dog.
He had just started his walk, and I was only in the middle of mine. I would have to see him again.