Chris Ringler and the $1,200 Alien

So, if you have ever met me in person then you know that aside from my dashing good looks and rapier wit that I am a storyteller. The problem here is that while I have a lot of stories I only have like, four that are classic, hands down great stories. The real stuff that makes people like me who are not that interesting seem pretty boss. Well friends, I am about to give you one of those stories for freesies, meaning i am about to make myself far less interesting, but it happens.

Once upon a time I worked as a clerk at a convenience store. This was the late-nineties and I was just at the end of my college career and still at home and just sorta floating through life. I didn’t like the job, didn’t like dealing with drunks, but i liked the people I worked for and worked with and needed a job so there ya have it. I worked at a small store near where I grew up and it wasn’t that much work, wasn’t that much stress, and was generally ok, the bonus being that we didn’t sell lottery so that made things pretty simple.

Now, for those that don’t recall, the mid-nineties were all about aliens and UFOs and the like. This was the hey-day of X-Files, the release of Clutch‘s self titled album, and the era of the alien autopsy (which, I have to confess, I sorta thought was real, or maybe wanted to be real, I dunno, I can be pretty gullible) so culturally we had alieums on the noggin. Alieums being the countrified way to say alien. I was also digging on the space invader thing and went so far as to have a couple t-shirts with aliens. One was an Alienware shirt that I still have and it has a pic of a short, fat headed alien on it and the other was a take on the Absolut vodka ads and had an alien in a bottle and it said Absolut Alien. Corny stuff, for sure, but this was after my ripped jeans and flannel days so I was doing the best I could here.

So here I am one night working the late shift at work, which meant it was a Friday or Saturday and I was doing the 5 – 1 AM shift, when we were busy with the party people. So I am working alone at the time, before the third shift guy comes in, and I am hanging out, whiling away my shift. I had one of my alien shirts on, for some reason I think it was the Absolut Alien one but I cannot swear to it. But I am standing there behind the register hanging out and these two guys come in. They wander around the back of the store and go to the coolers and get some beer grab that and come up front. So I look at one guy’s ID and as I am looking at it one of the guys, and these are some country bucks, two big guys that are a bit grubby, and are all about jeans as all occasion fashion, well one of the guys looks at me and says –

“So, you like aliens?”

I look up at the guy and he’s smiling as I am ringing them up and I wasn’t quite sure what to say so I wrinkle my brow and reply –

“Uh, sure.”

“You ever seen one?” And this really threw me because how on earth was I going to see an alien? And if I HAD I would like to think I would have better things to do than ride cashier at a convenience store. Just saying. So I look at them and they are smiling and I am utterly dumbfounded.

“Uh, no, no can’t say I have.”

“Well, you wanna see one?” And what do you say to that? What do you honestly reply to that question. And then who DOESN’T want to see a darn alien? Seriously, if someone had an alien, just, whatever, hanging out, and asked if you wanted to see it are you telling me you or most folks would turn it down? Heck no. So I sorta shook my head in disbelief.

“Uh, of course I want to see it. Where is it?”

“We got it in the barn. It’s twelve hundred bucks if you wanna see it.” I sorta coughed. I was making maybe just over minimum wage and there was no way I 1. had that much money or 2. would pay it. Alien or no.

“Uh, I don’t really have that much. What does it look like? Where did you find it?”

“Twelve hundred bucks and we’ll show you.” So at this point they are smiling and I am intrigued but then there is the notion that they have some farm animal or cousin all made up like an alien in their barn. Or maybe they were going to just snatch me and make me their alien. Maybe there was an underground slavery ring and aliens were the lure. Again though, as tempting as it was, I had to turn the offer down.

“Yeah, I just don’t have that much. I’d love to see it but can’t afford it.” Shrewd businessmen, they lowered their price but it was still far too high, so again I turned it down.

“Well, it’s yer loss, man. It’s pretty cool. Yer gonna regret it.” And saying that they left and never returned.

For some fifteen years I have been trying to figure out what exactly I missed out on. I mean, it was clearly a hoax, right? Who the heck has an alien in a barn? I dunno what they were up to other than trying to rook a noob but it was weird, nonetheless. And how can you not wonder what if? What if they did have something, maybe not even alien but something different, something strange, something unnatural? And I will never know, and it’s probably better that way because it wasn’t a good investment, a safe investment, and the story is better as a story as opposed to a – the time I was held captive by crazy rednecks who I thought had an alien in their barn – tale. What they had, and how they came up with a value of $1200 will always be a mystery for me but then sometimes the mystery is better than the wisdom behind it. Still, it makes you wonder, doesn’t it, about what the heck those goons had there in their barn, and whether it really was worth the  money or not.

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