Abyss & Apex : May/June 2004: Grey Head and Them Big Black Eyes

GREY HEAD AND THEM BIG BLACK EYES Illustration

Grey Head and Them Big Black Eyes

by Ryan Robert Mullen

 

All the kids draw them with those big black eyes. Most our evidence is done in crayon. Some in washable marker. We like to get it from the kids—real little kids, without cable.

Boy do you feel like a creep going in those dark after-hours classrooms, poking around with our flashlights against faintly familiar objects of childhood. It just ain’t right to conduct serious business with them alphabets up on the wall. Somehow, there is a feeling like murder happened there—something just awful. All we want is the pictures.

We have slow nights—nights were all we get is those damn this is me, this is my house, mother, father, sister, cat or dog. We get a lot of monsters too. But it is the aliens we are looking for, the aliens we want to see. Sure is something when your light bounces against that big oval with them scary old eyes—like one of you should react or something. They look like they know secret things about you—even the blurry watercolor ones. We remove the masking tape with latex gloves—it is a professional operation. We take kid’s drawings and put them in Mylar comic bags with acid-free backing boards.

Another good thing about the way kid’s draw is that it’s how the aliens really are—not some interpretation or abstraction of alien, just alien. Children are not artists, they are illustrators. Always that big grey head and them big black eyes—the way they are in most the movies. The way they are when we were scared and saw them in the dark behind our bedroom windows or running deep in the woods or leaning over that little creek we once bicycled to all alone. Kids draw them good—they don’t get creative. They don’t have them talk English. Kids use the black crayon and make those eyes dark and big like when they look at you. Kid’s draw the facts: here is my mom, here is when we went camping, here is the alien that stands in the corner behind my door. In the last thirty-five years we have collected 216,035 alien drawings—roughly 80% from children who have not yet entered second grade.

When we get a good picture we have to ask their mother for permission to have a “discussion” with their son or daughter. Kids love to talk shop about aliens—kids keep no secrets about aliens, usually they’ve been telling their loved ones about them for years. The things they say would make you shiver—they talk about aliens like eating a candy bar, only much more carefully. The kids want to talk about the aliens because they think you’ll make them go away. Which is what we’re trying to do—eventually. We’re working on getting that permission from the mothers. They keep asking us, “So you want to talk about aliens with my kid?” and we say, “Yes, ma’am,” and they tell us to go to hell. When you do get the okay from mom it’s her that’s wants to do all the talking—she’ll tell us all the awful things they did to her but when we ask what they looked like they have to think too long. You can’t be sure with the mothers if they really remember or just want you to tell them how sorry you feel for them. But the kids will sit there and eat candy and tell you the spacemen have three big fingers and are naked. We’ve talked to 128 kids of the 216,035 potential candidates. These kids talk about the aliens like talking about dead grandmothers—something that was there but is not anymore.

Then there are the children who saw one last night—who, during the conversation, tend to start to cry. These children are the bed-wetters, these children like to sleep in mommy and daddy’s bed, these children do not want to go to ever bed. These are the boys and girls who will always score well on tests but lack the motivation to run companies, create revolutionary new products, or be interested in politics. We watch these kids. These kids grow up to have substance-abuse problems and rarely marry. These kids spend nearly their entire conscious life playing video games and watching science fiction—watching aliens be shot, stabbed, nuked, punched, karate-chopped, or annihilated by a human virus. There is nothing we can do but hire them. When we show them their pictures they will sit and sit and sit—staring into the dark circles created by their own young hands.

We may never prove anything to anybody else.

__________

Born in 1981, author Ryan Robert Mullen has been published in well over forty print magazines and electronic journals, including Diagram, nthposition, minima, Hobart, Identity Theory, First Class, and Retort. He has written the biweekly column “Danger Planet” for Get Underground since 2002. Ryan also founded Cancer Press — a small DIY publishing company. As an interviewer for Word Riot, he has worked with such authors as Nick Mamatas, Neal Pollack, Kevin Sampsell, Steve Almond, and Zoe Trope. He currently works in a Learning Center founded to assist Huber inmates and the homeless obtain GED diplomas. Ryan lives in Northern Wisconsin with his wife and their little baby. 





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