The Blue House in Austin has a front porch, a back deck, and -upstairs off the single bedroom- a terrace. Asked what he was reading, my friend Mister Chu paused, and said “Barnes. Julian. Nothing to Be Frightened Of. That is the title of the book, not what I think of it.” Asked what I did think of it, he paused again, this time a little longer, and said: “He is inestimable. I cannot by any means estimate him.”
The first sentence of this book with the good title is: I do not believe in God, but I miss Him. Overall it seems to be about death or dying or not being here or what we think of those things (or what Mister Barnes does anyway) and Mister Chu read it a few years ago whilst living elsewhere (no terrace). Subsequently people of importance to him have, by circumstance, themselves died, and thus he has decided to read the thoughts of Mister Barnes again to see how they sound coming into the filter of his now altered head.
It seems he takes it more seriously than he might have done previously, although he is stuck on page 12, where Barnes quotes Gautier to the effect:
The Gods themselves die out
Stronger even than bronze
Théophile Gautier (1811 – 1872) was a French poet and critic, a storyteller, and it is likely true that Mister Chu finds him hard to estimate also. Of more immediate concern however (and thus also his stumbling at page 12 over Mister Gautier’s appearance) is the fact that just last week Charles Hickson was reported to have died at the age of eighty. Mister Hickson was known to Mister Chu as a man who reported that he had encounteredaliens, been abducted, measured and assessed by them one night while doing nothing more than fishing on October 11th, 1973 with his friend Calvin Parker on the Pascagoula River.
In an interview with a local news station nearly thirty years later Mister Hickson said that both men saw a large UFO hovering behind them.
“It was some type of craft, it was 30 or 40 feet. There were three things they weren’t human beings. I know now they were robots.”
Hickson said they took them on their space craft and examined them with strange, oblong instruments, later releasing them unharmed.
Just hours after the alleged abduction Hickson and Parker were recorded while sitting in a holding room, not knowing anyone else might be listening:
Parker: “I almost had a heart attack, I ain’t shitting you.”
Hickson: “I know it scared me to death too.”
Parker: “I was standing there right now just crying, I can’t help it.”
Hickson: “I know it. I couldn’t take much more of that. I tell you, I need some more pills or something or go see a doctor or something. I can’t stand it. I’m about to go hog crazy.”
Hickson died in Gautier, Mississippi.