The exasperation in my voice was palpable. “What part of ‘I saw one’ don’t you understand?”
Bill, the target of my ire, peered over the rim of his glasses. “Indulge me, won’t you, by telling me again where this, uh, encounter took place.” There was a hint of amused contempt to his voice.
I added a few more volts to my stare. “As I’ve already explained ad nauseum, my encounter, to use your words, took place on a clear, sunny afternoon about 25 miles north of Paris, and it was as real as your cynicism.”
Bill snorted derisively. “Oh, I’m sure it seemed real. Frankly, I think you’d been overindulging on cheese and wine – that stuff plays havoc with the imagination. Next you’ll be telling me that you saw Jim Morrison, Django Reinhardt and Edith Piaf busking outside Pizza Hut in the Rue de Rivoli!” He guffawed, spraying beer-infused saliva over the table.
“Oh, how very droll. I know what I saw; it couldn’t have been more than, oh, 60 feet away. And before you say anything, it wasn’t Venus, Jupiter, marsh gas, the International Space Station, a satellite, meteor, aeroplane, helicopter, weather balloon, drone, lenticular cloud, temperature inversion or Jeremy bloody Corbyn on a spacehopper. Got that?”
Bill recoiled slightly, taken aback by the force in my voice. “Well,” he said at last, “I take it that you have photographic evidence to back up this claim?”
I shuffled uncomfortably in my seat. “Well, yes and no. I did take photographs but I, um, seem to have misplaced them.”
A nasty little smile played on Bill’s lips. “How convenient!” He paused to reload his verbal missile racks with smugness. “You know, I’m almost disappointed. Then again, seen one grainy, out of of focus photo, seen ’em all!”
I sat back in my chair, letting the zephyr that wafted in from the sea cool my fevered brow. “It’s highly inconvenient, but I don’t suppose it makes much difference, does it? If my word’s not good enough for you then nothing will be.”
Bill’s expression softened a little. “Listen, old man, if you’d claimed to have seen a flying saucer then I’d have believed you without a moment’s hesitation. But a Citroën GS Birotor? That’s just too much of a stretch.” He tapped his empty pint glass on the table. “It’s your round, isn’t it?”
Note: In spite of what Bill – and perhaps Arthur C. Clarke before him – might tell you, the GS Birotor does exist, and you can read about it here
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