Lauriate Roly recalls a compelling story from an unlikely source.
By Lauriate Roly
Hughie was a hermit. He was about sixty years old at the time. He was completely uneducated, couldn’t read, nor write, and how he managed to survive was a mystery.
He lived in a tumble-down shack, without walls and almost no roof. The only furniture he had comprised wooden crates which served as table, chairs and a bed. He owned a small Quebec heater on which he managed to cook food enough to keep him alive and which he used to keep himself warm. He never owned a radio. Never owned books, magazines or newspapers; but he couldn’t read anyway. He took any job that would pay him enough to buy food. and if there was any spare left over, he used it up faithfully in the local tavern. The “spare left over” was always sufficient to help label him the town drunk, whenever he went to town.
Nobody would ever waste their time talking sensibly to him. In fact, completely the opposite; they always ridiculed him and made fun of him and he was the constant victim of their horrible practical jokes, which often sent him to the local clinic for patching up.
In spite of all these shortcomings, I liked him very much. He was a pathetic character but he was a sincere and loyal friend to me, or anyone who cared enough to understand and accept his faults and who would try to help him in any way possible.
He lived in what was known as the cottage country part of the Laurentians. He was completely alone all week long, but on week-ends the city folk came around and he would go from door to door looking for work, a handout, or just a friendly word or smile; maybe even a drink.
He seemed to spend a lot of time at my house because my family and I felt sorry for him and tried to make life easier for him. We would give him food and clothing and even money – what little of it we would have to spare.
We were week-enders too and because Hughie liked us, he paid particular attention to guarding our place while we were back in the city.
One week-end, late in the summer, Hughie and I were sitting on a fallen tree having a can of beer when he said, “You know Lariat, I seen the strangest thing last Tuesday night”.
He proceeded to tell me he was sitting on a rock, on the beach, studying the stars. Suddenly there was a thing, “about the size of that coffee table up in your parlor, and just about the same color”. It was a kind of phosphorous green color. He told me the thing just suddenly came over the lake as if it sprouted out of the mountain. He said it floated around in the sky like a piece of paper in the wind. It moved from one side of the lake to the other. No sound. It would stop and then start up again. It moved around slowly, stopping now and then, looking around, “like a hawk trying to spot something to eat”.
It did this for about fifteen minutes when a small light came speeding up behind it. The light stopped dead behind the bigger one. Then from out of nowhere more small lights came flashing in at high speed and stopped abruptly where the other small light stopped. Then the little ones seemed to go into the big one. Then they all sped out and darted off in all directions at great speed. The big “coffee table light” just continued to move slowly in different directions above the lake. Then before you knew it, the little lights came speeding back, from all different directions to meet together in one spot, near the big one. Then they all split up again. Sometimes forming a V and sometimes a circle. This lasted what seemed at least an hour. They sped together around the lake, “one way and then the other – so fast you could hardly see them move- like humming birds”.
Naturally, I was more than a little surprised to hear Hughie tell me this story, because in the early fifties, I had been noticing little stories in various papers about what were called flying saucers. Radio news broadcasts made reference to these strange flying objects. Hughie’s story was all the more significant because I knew full well he would not have heard or read any of these reports. He never heard a radio unless it was on in one of the cottages he visited or perhaps overheard in one of their cars. None of the locals I knew would take the time to discuss anything so mysterious with the likes of him. They considered him a complete simpleton.
So, I took it all in and wondered. How could Hughie know about this stuff unless he actually witnessed the event and saw it with his own eyes?
I could just visualize him, sitting all by himself, on a rock by the side of the water, wondering to himself just what the devil was going on.
He told me, at first he thought it might be from the headlights of cars climbing the steep roads on distant mountain hills and their lights would reflect off the low clouds in the sky.
Time passed; but every now and then, Hughie and I would stop and relax on that same fallen log, still enjoying a can of beer. He would fade into a quiet lull from whatever we were talking about, and quietly, Hughie would tell me that story again. Word for word, the same way as he told me the first time.
Born in Montreal, Lauriate is bilingual; his mother a Geordie from Newcastle on Tyne, his father a French Canadian Quebecer. Lauriate has traveled widely and has lived in Europe. His involvements are primarily of a creative nature focused on Music, Graphic and Literary Arts in the communications fields of Advertising and phases of the Entertainment business through television and film production.