Mr. Smith - Part Two
By: Tom Fowler

3.

Danny woke the next morning rested and refreshed. He was pleasantly surprised he was able to sleep as soundly as he did. Perhaps killing the bottle of bourbon after his strange guest left had something to do with that. After his usual breakfast of toast and coffee, followed by his morning shower and shave, he was ready to consider the bizarre events of last night.

Danny Mann was at the exalted stage of his profession that earned him the right to set his own hours and work at home when he wished. His radio network provided him an office here in Kansas City, but he did much of his work at home when not on the road. Danny was a very well known public personality, having made a name for him self in radio, television, and print journalism. Tom Smith was right. Danny Mann was a much respected and trusted old–time newsman with a loyal following.

So after showering and dressing, Danny stepped into his comfortable study and considered himself "at work." This morning's business was all–important. What to do about Tom Smith?

It was still hard for him to believe that last night was not just a dream. Maybe he was getting too old to drink a near–full bottle of Jack without suffering for it, but he knew last night was no bad dream. Tom Smith left the videotape in the VCR. Danny decided to watch it again.

Walking into the living room and turning on the television with some apprehension, Danny rewound the tape and pressed the PLAY button. Generals Grant and Lee were seated across from each other. Both men certainly looked like they had been through a long war, (Danny noted the mud on General Grant's uniform). He wished Tom had allowed a look at Traveler, General Lee's horse. He could tell that this was no TV or feature film, nor was it a documentary. It was just too…authentic. Hell, he thought, if it's real then it certainly is authentic. What else would it be? He was amused at his own thought.

When the surrender footage finished, which was extraordinary because Tom taped the whole ceremony, from the time the generals entered the Courthouse until the time they left, Danny braced himself to watch his birthday party. Both eagerly anticipating and dreading viewing it again, soon he was absorbed in it totally, his emotions taking him back through the years. Tom included a generous amount of footage of his mother. Danny couldn't help weeping. He loved his mother so and she was taken from him not a week after this party ended. Tom Smith, the thoughtful man from who–knows–where, had taped his mother at different intervals during the party. From cutting the cake to standing by herself in the corner, watching her son enjoy the nine–year old limelight. Finally, the taped party ended and there was only snow on the TV screen. Danny didn't remember Tom taping the surrender at Appomattox and his birthday party in their entireties, but last night did seem a bit of a blur to him now.

This taping of his party, more than anything else Tom said or did, convinced him of his legitimacy, for Danny remembered this party well and there had been no one there filming. Filming a child's birthday party in the 1930's was a rare thing, something only the very wealthy did. Danny's mother was hardly that, he thought bitterly. Spending the rest his childhood in a Methodist orphanage after a parent's death was not something a rich boy would have done.

So Danny was convinced that Tom Smith was an "alien." Funny, he didn't really equate that term with Tom. Alien, to his way of thinking, meant different and menacing. Tom was certainly different but not menacing. Lighting a cigar, he realized Tom went to great pains to prove who he was without scaring him to death.

It occurred to Danny that Tom and his fellow "citizens" could easily take over this world whenever they wished, as Tom stated last night. Why bother courting me if your goal is forceful domination, he wondered? Not a trusting person by nature, Danny kept looking for reasons to doubt Tom Smith. He could find none.

Tom Smith stated he would return when he was certain I could handle it, Danny remembered. After sleeping on it and weighing all of the pros and cons until lunchtime, Danny, over a simple lunch of chicken noodle soup and crackers, decided to trust Tom Smith, or whatever his real name is. When he saw Tom again, he would volunteer his assistance in introducing him to humankind. He would also try to talk him out of it.

4.

Friday morning arrived and Tom Smith had not reappeared, which surprised Danny somewhat. He expected him back again by now. But he hadn't returned and Danny once again wondered if wasn't getting a little too old to be drinking so much.

He worked at home all week. More and more he preferred to do his office work in the comfort of his own home. Also, this week he was hoping for Tom Smith to come see him again. He got his wish in the middle of the afternoon.

Danny was at his desk drinking a coke and reading the morning newspaper around 2:00PM when the doorbell rang. He knew who it was before he heard Tom's "voice" from outside.

"Hello Danny," he heard Tom say at the same instant the bell rang. He realized that he had not heard anything. It was Tom's telepathy. Never in the twenty plus years he lived here had he ever been able to hear anyone speak from the front porch with the door closed.

"Tom?," Danny wondered aloud.

"Yes, may I enter."

"Sure. Don't suppose I could stop you," Danny replied, matter–of–factly.

"I wouldn't want to intrude if not wanted," Tom said, seriously, as he appeared in front of him, sitting in the big leather visitor's chair.

"Of course you're welcome. If you can read minds then you know that already." Tom smiled a friendly smile as Danny said this.

"Of course, you are right. You have decided to assist us." It was Tom's turn to be nonchalant.

"Yes, I have, but I don't know exactly how to go about it.

"I realize that, but I believe that a person such as yourself can figure out a way. If helping us is still the goal."

Danny hesitated before answering. "Have you read my thoughts this week?"

"No. I wanted to respect your privacy, plus I found out something that disturbs me a great deal. I find that associating with human beings subjects me to human temptations."

"Associating with me does this?," Danny asked, concern showing in his voice.

"No, not you, really. I have been mixing with humans all week, incognito, of course. I find myself developing the same fears and weaknesses as you. Dancing too close to the flame, as you would put it."

Danny hesitated again. "Tom, I believe what you have shown and told me. I want to help you. I will find a way to introduce you to my people if you wish, but you must know by now, if you didn't before, that it will frighten most of them greatly. I don't think you'll receive a warm welcome."

Tom thought a moment before replying. "I think you are right. Observing you for thousands of years from afar did not teach me what being here one week as a secret visitor did."

"I'm glad you didn't read my mind and try to influence my thoughts. Only the last couple of days have I been able to think this through."

"I know."

"Still want a public introduction?"

"No. Your people aren't ready. Don't be offended but I have learned that humans do not recognize the truth about things well and cannot think things through properly."

Danny Mann, the veteran reporter, chuckled. "You're familiar with religion?"

"Yes. A sad and excellent example." Tom Smith had not realized until now how introspective his new friend was. He realized also that his civilization harbored many misconceptions about these people. Misconceptions that could prove to be dangerous should the two societies begin to interrelate. Perhaps our cultures are not so much different after all, he thought to himself, and perhaps we do not know everything. Tom smiled at Danny and reached across the desk to take hold of his hand, "I think that it would be wise to leave things as they are. You won't see me again. I believe I should go. Good–bye, Danny."

Danny felt a warm squeeze before feeling nothing. Tom was gone.

5.

Danny spent all of the next week at the office downtown. He was in no mood to be alone just now. In his time he sat on many a story for one reason or another, but never one like this and none of them permanently.

Only after he was gone sometime did Danny realize the only tangible evidence he had of Tom Smith's existence was the tape, and he realized no one but he would ever recognize it for what it was. To anyone else it would be just another videotape. Only in retrospect did he realize just what an act of friendship the tape represented.

Tom Smith knew well what the two tapings would mean to Danny. Danny would not view the tape very often as it was always an emotional experience for him to do so, for more reasons than one. The original tape he kept in a safe deposit box. He kept a duplicate in his study for viewing. He was tempted from time to time to record his experiences with Tom Smith and place them in the safe deposit box with the tape, but he never did so. He did not want to break the trust with Tom.

It would be easy for him to think this was all a dream. It certainly seemed like one, particularly as the weeks and months passed by. Tom said good–bye as quickly and unexpectedly as he had said hello. Normally not a sentimental man, Danny wished their last conversation could have lasted longer. He knew, though, that drawn out good–byes were neither his style nor Tom's. Still, he had spent so little time with the remarkable Tom Smith over the course of two short visits.

But how extraordinary those visits were!

The End

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