The e-mail message was cryptic. “Hello. I might have some information you will want to hear.” No further explanation; just a telephone number.
“Any hints?” I wrote back.
Three hours later a second e-mail waited in my inbox. “What? Sorry. I thought you wanted information. UFO. No reply is necessary.” The man sent his telephone number again, and his name. At his request I haven’t used his real name; he’ll go by Marty.
Marty answered the telephone, his voice that once sang with a Navy choir was scratchy and weak. Doctors removed half of a lung from cancer and damaged his vocal chords removing a lump from his thyroid. Marty is 67 years old.
But he didn’t want to talk about himself; he wanted to share something he’d kept hidden for 59 years.
Marty was eight years old in 1949 when his father took him to the Pickwick Hotel at the corner of 10th and McGee Streets in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The hotel sat next to a Trailways Bus Company station; a high school friend of his father was stopping there on his way through town.
Marty doesn’t remember the name of the man who walked into the hotel and greeted Marty’s father, but he remembers he was in uniform.
“This man was in the service,” he said. “I can’t tell you what branch.”
The three went to a room in the hotel and, as the adults sat at a table and talked, Marty sat on the bed and tried to entertain himself. After awhile, he started paying attention to the conversation, and the men noticed.
“They said, ‘whatever you hear, stop remembering,’” he said.
Then Marty heard things – classified things.
The man had worked at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico; site of the atomic bomb test. He said whenever the military tested a new missile there, Unidentified Flying Objects would appear to observe the launches.
“He said when they shot a missile up to test it this thing would come up to it and fly around it,” Marty said. “These things would come up, circle it and – swish – go away.”
Then Marty’s father asked a question and his friend’s voice dropped to just above a whisper. But Marty heard everything.
“Pretty soon my dad said, ‘I heard a rumor about Roswell and a (UFO) crash,’” Marty said. “My dad’s friend got real serious and he said, ‘I can’t talk about that.’ But he said it did happen and it was real. This man talking to my dad positively confirmed what crashed in Roswell was true and legitimate.”
Soon after, Marty and his father went home and didn’t discuss that night for months.
“After that my dad – six months later – said, ‘I want you to come with me tonight,’” he said.
Marty’s father took him to a UFO meeting in Kansas City.
“Those people were as squirrelly as squirrels,” Marty said. “My dad just sat there and chuckled. He said, ‘what you saw tonight was horse hockey. You know the truth and we can’t talk about it.’ And he never mentioned it again. He wanted me to know the truth and what isn’t the truth.”
Marty’s father died at 51 in 1961 and neither he, nor Marty, ever mentioned the strange conversation in the Pickwick Hotel.
“This happened years and years ago and I was sworn to secrecy,” Marty said. “I’ve never talked about it.”
Copyright 2008 by Jason Offutt
Got a scary story? Ever played with a Ouija board, heard voices, seen a ghost, UFO or a creature you couldn’t identify? Let Jason know about it: Jason Offutt c/o The Examiner, 410 S. Liberty, Independence, Mo. 64050, or email@example.com. Your story might make an upcoming installment of “From the Shadows.”
Jason’s book of ghost stories, “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” is here. Order online at: tsup.truman.edu, www.amazon.com, or visit Jason’s Web site at www.jasonoffutt.com.