A chapter from Not From Earth
In the north of Mexico’s Caribbean coastline, Cancun has beautiful white sandy shores, all-night parties, and excursion adventures. James boarded his 4-hour United flight to Cancun with nothing but a Science Fiction novel called Ringworld and a single suitcase.
With no clue what he would find, he was ready for a break. He finished his book before landing, then after checking into his room at the Cancun Caribe, he went exploring. Outside, he found two large pools, one circular and the other with an oddball shape. Walking past the pools and lounge chairs, he was on the beach, a perfectly pure white carpet that led to the sparkling Caribbean Sea.
Smiling, James set off for a jog. A mile into his run, he noticed a rain cylinder about 30 feet wide. It was remarkable because there was no rain outside of the circle. James paused beside the aberration and walked in. Cancun gifted James a prestine ocean view shower. Then he spotted a curious girl on the outside watching him. James waved, and the girl laughed, waved back, and ran away.
Later that night, James followed a group of tourists to the Coco Bongo. Inside were sun-tanned kids dancing, drinking, and eating. James found a single small table and ordered Camarones Embarazados. Looking up, he saw the girl from the beach abberation walking past. She glanced at him, stopped, and returned.
“You were having fun today,” she said
“That was something. I couldn’t resist. I could see you laughing at me from inside the funnel or whatever it was.”
“ My name’s Maria.”
“Hi, I’m James. Pleased to meet you.”
“So, you look lonely, James. What are you doing in Cancun?”
“Oh, I just needed a break. I’ve been working too much. What about you?”
“I’m with some girlfriends from New Orleans. We come here to relax. It’s just a jump across the Gulf of Mexico puddle.”
Maria reminded James of Wendy, his 2nd-grade girlfriend. He almost made the tragic mistake of telling her she reminded him of a second-grader. “Would you care to join me for a lemonade?” James asked.
“I could tell you don’t drink. Two sober people in an all-night club in Cancun.” Maria pulled up a chair and sat down.
“This is an all-night club? What do we do?” James asked.
“We dance! Come on, let’s go,” Maria said as she pulled James by the hand and led him to one of the dance floors.
After three hours of dancing, drinking lemonade, and talking, they walked outside into the soft, warm air and toward the beach. “Do you know of any sites I should visit while I’m here?” James asked.
“Yes! You should visit the Chichen Itza Pyramid. It’s about a two-hour drive. What time should we go?” Maria asked.
“You would take me? That’s fantastic. I’ll get us a car tomorrow. What if we leave around 10 am?”
“Perfect! You will love this place. There are 92 steps to the top. Want to see if we can run up it?”
“I’m game. Should I walk you back to your room?” James asked.
“No, I’m with my friends. They are still inside. I’m staying at the Cancun Caribe. Can you pick me up there at 10?”
“That will be easy. That’s my hotel. Let’s meet by the circular pool, and I’ll have a car reserved.”
Maria headed toward the club, then she ran back and hugged him. “Thanks for not hitting on me. Can I bring a friend with us tomorrow?”
“Of course, the more, the merrier,” James said.
Maria found James in the lobby looking at a large map while talking to the hotel’s attractive female concierge. James turned and gave Maria a hug. “
My friend decided not to join us. She is pretty hung over. Are you ready?”
“That I am, and I’m excited.” James thanked the concierge and took Maria to the rental car he had waiting for them.
It was a two-hour drive, and they encountered native Mayans at each rest stop. The Mayans were generally short, chubby, friendly, and eager to sell food and Coca-Cola. Upon reaching the Itza Pyramid or Kukulcan, Maria raced James to the steps and began her count down — then, they were off. She was surprisingly fast but faded a little near the end. James slowed with her as they reached the top in a tie.
“You waited for me on purpose,” Maria gasped. “So now add chivalry to your list of surprising qualities.”
Standing just outside the top chamber entrance, the site was spectacular. “What is that serpent for?” James asked.
“Oh, the plumed serpent is symbolic of Quetzalcóatl (known to the Maya as Kukulcán), one of the major deities of the ancient Mesoamerican pantheon.”
“I’ve heard of Quetzalcoatl,” James replied.
“Actually, this pyramid was built over a preexisting temple,” Maria said. “The Spanish Conquistadors called it El Castillo. These ruins are evidence of a stunning ancient city that once centered the Maya empire in all of Central America.”
“Wow, you know this stuff. What do you do for a living, Maria?”
“I’m a high school teacher. I teach history. Were you a good boy in school, James?”
James laughed. “Not exactly. I barely graduated. I spent a lot of my high school days in the hall.”
“What do you do now? You have confidence and intelligence to go along with those good looks.” Maria’s hair was ruffled by the breeze, and a ray of sunlight lit up one side of her face.
Damn, she is gorgeous, James thought.
“Oh, sorry, I was distracted by my beautiful companion. What did you ask?”
Maria moved closer and stroked his dark hair. “I was just asking what you do for a living?”
“I’m a computer programmer. I managed to graduate from the University of Utah in Computer Science.”
“I’ve never been kissed by anyone at the top of a pyramid before. Are you going to kiss me, James?” Then Maria put her hands on her hips.
Deja vu. James tried thinking of an excuse. Then he decided the truth would be more interesting, and Maria was still standing with her hands on her hips.
“Well, when I was in the second grade, a girl asked me that same exact question. I wanted to kiss her, but I was afraid, and I pleaded with her to run so I could chase her.”
Maria laughed. “I know, James. I had no problem recognizing you, and I still love you chasing me. My name is Wendy Maria Patterson. I grew up in Utah. We went to East Millcreek elementary school together.”
“Are you kidding me!? I wanted to tell you last night that you reminded me of Wendy. But telling a lady, they remind you of a second grader would be crazy. I cannot believe this. What are the odds?”
“I still have a crush on you, James, and I’m still waiting for an answer.”
“Ok, run down the pyramid, and I’ll try to catch you,” James said. Then he pulled her close and finally kissed her.
“That was worth the wait, James.” Then they kissed again.
Driving back to Cancun, their car broke down. “This is not a good place to be alone in the dark, James. We need to find a way back. We can’t stay here in the car.”
James popped the hood and jumped out. Wendy found a flashlight in the glove box and brought it to him. “I’m no mechanic,” James said. “The car’s not overheated, and our gauge says we have gas. If I remember, the nearest town is about 5 miles.”
“Let me try to start it while you watch,” Wendy said.
“Ok, good idea. I’m ready. Give it a crank.”
“See anything?” Wendy yelled.
“No, the starter cranks the engine, but I can’t see anything.”
Then two men pulled up in a black pickup. They got out and walked toward the rental car. “Having problems?” the taller one asked.
“Our car just stopped. No idea what’s wrong,” James replied.
The other man walked close to Wendy and stared at her too long, so Wendy moved to James’ side. “Don’t be afraid, sweetie, the man said as he followed her.
“You guys sound American. Where are you from?” James asked as he grabbed Wendy’s hand.
“New Orleans. Hop on in, and we will give you a ride for $200 or some fun with your lady friend.”
“Now, Jake, that’s no way to treat these people. Just get the guy’s wallet, and we will be on our way,” said the bigger of the two.
“Oh shit!” Wendy said as she clung to James’ arm.
“I had a couple clowns try to rob me in Chicago. It did not go well for them.” When James smiled, it startled the little thief, Jake.
James felt Wendy shaking, and that really pissed him off. “Get in your truck and hit the road, assholes!” James yelled.
The larger asshole ran for their truck and pulled out a gun. But as he turned, another car approached with headlights on high and stopped. The man put the gun back on the seat of the truck.
Then a beautiful lady left the car and walked toward them. James recognized her immediately.
“Does anyone need a cab?” Juni asked.
James burst out laughing, and Wendy spun toward him in surprise.
“Gentlemen, my ride is here; now, get lost.”
The tall jerk reached back for his gun, but it was gone. With that, both thieves desperately climbed into their truck and left.
“Yes, ma’am, we need a ride back to Cancun. That was perfect timing. Those two hoods were attempting a stickup.”
“Oh, my!” said Juni. “Well, get in, and I’ll take you back.”
“How much will it cost?” James couldn’t help himself.
“What? I’ll pay for it!” exclaimed Wendy.
“You can’t afford me, so no charge this time,” Juni said with a smile.
Alien humor, James thought.
They gathered their belongings, locked the broken rental, and climbed into Juni’s mysterious cab.
“This car looks new,” James said. “Do you rescue people in distress often?”
“Not often, at least not here,” said Juni. “But we make good money at Galactic Cab, driving tourists to the ruins.”
“Galactic Cab, that’s some name.”
“Do you two know each other?” Wendy finally asked.
After a long silence, James said, “We do indeed. I met Juni at Woodstock in 1969. How have you been, Juni?”
“Fine, sir. I do remember you now. Is your name James by any chance?”
“Good memory, Juni.”
Exhausted, Wendy snuggled up to James and finally stopped shaking. The ride back was uneventful as Juni dropped them off at their hotel.
Before entering the large entrance doors, James walked back to the cab and leaned on the door. “Thanks again, Juni. That could have ended badly.”
“You are welcome, James. Those two are killers. We had to act.” Then the alien drove away.
Once inside the hotel, Wendy asked James if she could stay with him. “My room is crowded with girls, and I’m still scared from what happened.”
“Of course, Wendy. That was a bad situation.”
“I’m just wondering, why were you so brave? Do you have defense skills or something?” Wendy asked.
“Not really. I’m kind of a wimp, normally. But they reminded me of Sammy, and that just pissed me off.”
“Oh, yeah, Sammy, the bully. How did you remember his name?”
“I guess I never forgot it. But I think we were blessed today with that guardian angel. That was just amazing timing. It is beyond weird that I knew her.”
Once in bed, Wendy snuggled close again. She stirred up emotions James had not felt in a long time. She is irresistible.
They made love twice that night and went for a long run on the soft sand beach at Cancun in the morning. James looked to the sky and shouted, “I think you want me to save this planet, Juni!”
Wendy heard him but asked no questions. My James has always been different, very different.