I left Flagstaff, Arizona in the early morning on July 1 for the first day of my cross-country trip to Vermont, aiming for Roswell, New Mexico. On day two I would head for Amarillo, Texas. Taking the back roads on US 60, I was just outside of Magdalena, New Mexico in the afternoon when an abandoned house with a curious light over it caught my attention.
Pulling into a turnoff, I got my camera and headed to take a few pictures. To my surprise, a young woman emerged from behind the house, appraising me as I approached.
She was tallish, broad shouldered, dressed in hiking boots, tan cargo pants, and a blue chambray shirt rolled up to her forearms. Her blonde hair was pulled back in a pony tail and she had a square face, large mouth, and intense blue eyes. She was carrying a medium-size backpack and gave me a smile.
“Going past Socorro?” She queried. “Can I catch a ride to Roswell?”
Pausing, I expected her boyfriend to come bounding out of hiding, but no one else appeared. Instinctively I knew I should say no, but her smile broadened as she cocked her head in a silent plea. Agreeing to take her, I took my pictures, the first with her standing by the door of the main house, and the rest with the two structures in the afternoon shadows.
I attempted to draw her out during the ride, but she was vague about her backpacking across the States. Throughout the trip, she gave curt answers to my questions with an enigmatic smile. My traveler said she was from Europe and her name was Brita, but she refused to elaborate. Her coloring indicated Scandinavia, perhaps a Viking as she mentioned a desire to see Minnesota and the Kensington Runestone.
We made good time to Roswell and I turned onto Main Street, heading north. My passenger pointed to the left, indicating the UFO Museum.
”You can drop me at the exhibition.” Brita said. “After all, it’s Roswell.”
I pulled over and my passenger exited the car, taking the backpack from the rear of my vehicle. Walking around to my side she thanked me for the ride and said she might see me at the Cowboy Cafe. Suddenly there was a honk behind me and I realized I was blocking the street.
My hitchhiker passed a folded note to me through the open window. The car honked again, so I shoved the note in my shirt pocket and drove on to the Holiday Inn.
After checking in I reviewed the stock market’s ups and downs, and then showered and shaved. It was past six so I drove to the Cowboy Cafe, which was dim inside with a nice buzz in the half-filled dining room. I took a table by the window and ordered their specially brew, which was amber and tasty, a slight hint of citrus, Out-of-This-World Ale.
Relaxing, I scanned the surroundings for my hitchhiker, but no luck. I asked the waitress about a tall blonde in cargo pants, but she shook her head. Taking another sip of the cool ale, I recalled her note and found it in my shirt pocket.
I unfolded the paper and found one word printed in dark ink…