I was going to finish telling you the end of the murder mystery today but I can’t because today is my son-in-law Curt’s birthday. The murder will have to wait till tomorrow!
Curtis Neil Warden (not his real name) landed on earth on January 14, 1953. In earth years that makes him 58 years old. The location was Omak, Washington. It was the Omakians’ first sighting of an extraterrestrial.
They knew each other because Curt worked at Ralph Dodd’s farm in Redmond, Washington and most of my daughters rode horses there. Visiting Ralph Dodd’s horse farm was like entering the Twilight Zone, and one of its main characters was Curt Warden.
The farmer, Ralph Dodd, should someday be the subject of a book because that’s what he stepped right out of. He, too, was probably conceived on another planet. Bowlegged and nearly toothless, he was a heavy drinker, a horse whisperer, a philosopher, a fortune teller, a naturalist, a conservationist, and smart as hell.
Ralph, a lifelong bachelor, took one bath a year whether he needed it or not, but only at the insistence of the girls who rode at the farm. Unbelievably, he was so popular among the people of Redmond that one day they held a parade in his honor. The girls made him get scrubbed up and he drove his “Candy Gal” red convertible down the streets of a city joyously celebrating him with banners and balloons just like they had good sense. Lots of demented people were wearing T-shirts that read “Who the hell is Ralph Dodd?”
You need to know about Ralph in order to know about my son-in-law. Ralph was kind of a mentor to Curt and the other young people who worked or rode at the farm. Curt seemed to be Ralph’s “right hand”, and one could only wonder what distressing habits he was acquiring under Ralph’s tutelage.
Ralph didn’t approve of “hardware stores”, as an example. No matter what, if something needed fixing, it was to be repaired without intervention from the outside world. If, say, a saddle needed to be repaired, its “parts” would be harvested from a “retired” saddle. Nails were never purchased. They were recycled because rusty nails pounded out straight had a long life expectancy on the farm. When a fence needed critical care, it was time to head out and chop down a tree.
At the master’s somewhat bowed knee, Curt acquired a unique and artful kind of inventiveness for fixing things like saddles, space ships, and other modes of transportation. To this day, this odd skill keeps coming in very handy. One time, the Warden’s car broke down in Seattle after a Seafair event. In the back seat, little Neil had a ruptured helium balloon on a string. Thanks to a temporary repair using the string and a piece of the balloon, the car and the family all made it home safely.
These are some of the horses Curt couldn’t let go of. Any horses under his care tended to live long and prosper. When he got his own farm he took Peanuts and Elvis with him to live out their retirement years in peace and comfort. They made it into their mid-thirties. Hmm. Observing this gave me food for thought. Space aliens really take good care of old nags. This might someday include aging, broke-down, and deranged prospective mothers-in-law. It was something to consider.
Curt was about 21 years old when he and Susy started dating. He had purchased a new tractor, mechanical mower and baler and he began taking time off from working at Ralph’s farm to bale hay for farms in Redmond. At least that what he called it. Baling hay wasn’t what I called it, though. I think he was making crop circles. That may have been how he was communicating with other space aliens cruising around Puget Sound in order to ascertain whether we have too much rain for habitable life.
Susy is the 4th of 7 children in our family, and our house number is 4714. It’s odd that her and Curt’s first date was on 7/4/74. I mention that because their phone number is 425-747-5174. Note that the date is embedded in the phone number. Eerie, isn’t it? I told you. You gotta watch out for these illegal aliens. We probably can’t pronounce Curt’s real name but I bet there’s some sevens and fours in it.
Just before Curt and Susy were married in 1977, he bought a small house on an acre of land. Too late, he realized it wasn’t a big enough landing pad, so shortly after, they leased 70 acres, and started a horse boarding stable. To help support it, Curt got a semi-truck and started hauling freight to California.
He’s been trucking ever since. He drives big 18 wheelers across the mountains delivering provisions to the planets in Eastern Washington where no man has gone before. And whenever the trucks break down, he just gets out some string and tattered balloons and he’s on his way again in a jiffy. It just isn’t normal.
Another weird thing about him is his spectacular kindness to mothers and mothers-in-law. To everybody, actually. No wonder adoring dogs and horses fall all over him.
Curtis Neil Warden, or whatever his name is, may come from another planet, but whatever we do, we must keep him here.