I know exactly what happened. Hoop got it in his head Sturgis was extraterrestrial. He said, an alien is living inside Sturgis. Used those words. I told him, that ain’t the case.

I consider Sturgis to be a ding bat but Hoop to be a bigger one. I don’t know what the word would be for one step up from ding bat but that’s what Hoop is,. My bad that I didn’t piece together the train of thought Hoop had boarded or I would have warned Sturgis. I’m tight with both of them.

The thing was, Fred Barlett’s kid had gotten hold of that goddamn remote-control drone again. He’d been flying it over the neighborhood fucking with people’s heads the entire week before. I think Hoop may have even known that. But he comes out onto his porch that day and sees the drone hovering twenty feet above Sturgis. I was posting a mail box, took one look and knew it was that little shit Terry Barlett. Even called out to Sturgis, and asked if I should run get my 22 and bring it down. Sturgis didn’t say a word. He’d gotten his medicinal weed filled the day before and was staring up at it. Now, I guess the angle was such that from where Hoop was standing, the drone looked to be a lot farther up in the sky than it actually was and Hoop made the assumption Sturgis was communicating with a mother ship.

Hoop had been far into UFOs for years, going to conventions and what not. He’s in his den after work every night watching videos and paid over a grand for that telescope of his, a Questar. He’ll sit out at the cemetery, charting what he claims to be alien spacecraft motion. I joined him six months back, took a look through his view finder and knew exactly what we were looking at. I said, Hoop,. I was in the Air Force, and sure as hell, that’s a weather satellite. He started making those disapproving clucking sounds. That’s why his wife left him, according to her. Delma said it had been the shit he did with his mouth, all the noises he made, not the fact he was into UFOs or whatnot. But Delma was a side order of burnt toast to begin with so who knows.

If you really want the painful truth, the whole two hundred block of Gatesboro Avenue long ago lost its fucking mind. Everybody cooks up in their trailers. Everybody. I’m Father O’ Malley with my Budweisers. But the point is, Hoop had been waiting for that moment to run with the football and he did run with it but toward the wrong goal line.

I think one problem is half the time Sturgis LOOKS like he’s communicating with a mother ship and to be fair I could see why Hoop, with that mindset of his, might draw that conclusion. I wouldn’t have but I understand it. On second thought, I take that back. I don’t understand it.

Hoop took it upon himself to monitor Sturgis’ behavior. I’m keeping a diary, he told me. Told several people that. Everybody was whatthefuckever Hoop. I think the Sheriff has the notebook now and is piecing it all together. He wouldn’t take my word for it.

At some point, Hoop figured Sturgis, the alien, needed to be dealt with. However, he didn’t mention that part to anybody, just ran him over with his four-track. He probably meant to actually kill Sturgis but ended up only breaking his ankle. That’s when Sturgis came hobbling after him with the hoe and that’s why Hoop is sitting up there in intensive care at the moment. Fortunately, Sturgis gouged out what amounted to a teaspoon of brain matter and the doctor is saying Hoop is going to be fine. When I visited him yesterday, he was sitting up eating a cheeseburger and told me he knows now Sturgis isn’t an alien. I said, oh that’s good, Hoop. He told me yeah, because an alien wouldn’t have come after him with a tool as primitive as a hoe. I didn’t say shit I just listened to him chew.

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