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  Ellen Davignon: Lives of Quiet Desperation

Sentinel Streetlights

July 15, 1997

Do I look nuts to you?  A bit wild-eyed maybe, or a smidge off plumb from time to time, even quaint. But...?  Oh ALRIGHT!  I'll give you eccentric, if you'll accord me the benefit of the doubt re: my quest for a UFO, and discount the rumours that I've started selling the hair on my legs to a European wig-maker.  Lately, though, even I have to admit that my most recent preoccupation calls my mental balance into question.

It's the street lights, of course, the new streamlined ones that they're putting in all the subdivisions.  Well, even the old lights, to a certain degree, but with them, you have to squint your eyes and used your imagination a lot more.  With the new ones, all you have to do is look at them and it's right there, plain as day.  Perhaps I should have said, plain as night, because that's when they seem to come out.  Or to be more conspicuous, anyway.

Just between you, me, and the gatepost, I think they're aliens, sent to watch over us. 

No, don't ask me the mechanics of their inception: that's not my department.  I don't know where they come from or how they infiltrate the City supply depot or why they seem to feel their presence is necessary.  What's more, I don't even care.  I'm a columnist, not an investigative reporter, and I can only share my observations with you and ask that you draw your own conclusions.

It all began a couple of weeks ago, as the timing of my evening constitutionals began to coincide with the going down of the sun. Even as I set out from our warm, bright home on my continuing quest for a taut, well-tuned body, the world about me suddenly grew caliginous, and stygian shadows began to menace my vulnerable and chubby little person.

Instead of striding boldly forth, stretching limbs and spirit, I began pausing at each street corner to peer ahead, fearful and hesitant, my eyes straining to identify territory grown unfamiliar in its mantle of darkness.  I took to carrying an Oh Henry in my pocket, clutching it  as a talisman against the terrors of the unknown.  From time to time, I nibbled at its comforting contours, sedating my anxiety but cranking back the taut and well-tuned a full turn.  My chin lost its clean, decisive line, becoming soft and blurry with indecision; my leg muscles grew mushy with misgiving.

Suddenly, and with no warning, it happened.  As I scurried down the road, darting from curb to curb, pausing often to look behind me and to gnaw at my chocolate charm, I heard a low thrumming.  My heart stuttering with dread, I cast about in the gloom, seeking the source of the undulating drone. It appeared to be emitting from a tall, slen- der structure, immediately off to my right.  I turned to squarely face the danger head on, and as I did so, I heard an audible 'blink' and forthwith, a soft white radiance poured down upon my unprotected head.

For a long moment I was held in thrall, stunned by this development.  The thrumming had strengthened and become an discernible melody, a paean of praise and thanksgiving and, yes, of comfort, and as it calmed the sympathetic and erratic humming in my veins, I tentatively raised my face to the light.  It was then I realized that I was in the presence of a Being, not of our world.

As my dazzled eyes grew accustomed to the brilliance about me, finally I was able to focus upon the entity, the Paladin, as I have come to think of it.  Them.  For there were many, each curved in graceful protection at regular intervals as far as eye could see, all along the roadway where I had stepped out each evening with such vigour, where I now slunk and dithered. 

The Being - MY Being, for I had a sense of oneness with it - had a tall, slender body, rising some 30 feet into the air before bowing over to gaze down with glowing orbs into my upturned countenance.  As I stared back, open-mouthed, I observed a bulging, skull-like head, rounded of brow and narrow of jaw.  Its large eyes dominated the upper portion of its globed cranium and even as I watched, the light emanat- ing from these optics was changing in colour and tone, from an icy purity to a warm and rosy luminance.  A tapered, unlighted mandible framed the mouth, a shallow orifice shaped in a gentle, questioning "Oh?"  I mouthed the syllable back into the lambent glow: "Oh!"  And added an, "Indeed!"

I stood below my guardian, my Paladin, for several long moments, observing and being observed, before I realized a sense of being passed along from one sphere of illumination to the next.  Here and there, a dark area revealed that one of the entities had not yet attained its energized state, but in several instances, the moment I paused beside its slim form and raised my face, I heard, felt, the muted song and seconds later, saw the wink of caring and safekeeping.

Bathed in rays of custody and feeling fortified, I walked on, secure in the knowlege that the night no longer held any terrors for me.

So?  Whaddya think, nuts or no?  The worst part, is that I have to tell you that I've begun talking to them as I walk along.  "Hello," I say.  "How are you tonight?  And your friend down the way, what's his problem?  Raven poop on his radiation cell!  Isn't that the limit, the darnest things come out of the sky... oops, sorry, I don't presume to tell you about things in the sky...."

Oh alright, I'll GIVE you nuts.......

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