A Note from the Author
I met Dr. Linda Deltare during a birding festival at West Virginia’s New River Gorge in the spring of 2010. I was struck by the enthusiasm of this elegant, elderly lady who was following a constellation of plain old Starlings at the time. She looked away from her binoculars and exclaimed to anyone in earshot, and that would be just me, “Did you see how they responded to the leader’s chip call!?”
Since no one else was nearby, and since I was uncertain whether her question was rhetorical or not, I felt obliged to respond. “No, I didn’t. To be honest, I’m not that tuned-in to communication behavior in flight.”
She started an animated ramble about it until she stopped herself short, apologizing. “I’m sorry. I get carried away by that sort of thing. I have been interested in communication theory since my college days, part of my Master’s work and doctoral thesis.”
“Oh, please go on,” I told her. “I may not know much about it, but I’m interested. I love learning new things about bird behavior.” What I said was true. I was interested. I never lied to Dr. Deltare - or almost never.
So we had a nice conversation about this and other similar avian topics as we worked our way back to our group of fellow birders. We then encountered each other on and off for the next few days, establishing a comfortable acquaintance. At the end of the festival, we exchanged the typical farewells. “I hope we run into each other again some day at another birding event.” I meant it. She impressed me as a smart, pleasant and interesting lady.
Curiously, we did run into each other, time and time again over the next few years, at almost every birding event I ever attended! I saw her at the Cape May Maygration in New Jersey. I saw her at the Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge in the North Carolina Outer Banks. I saw her at Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania, at Merritt Island in Florida, at Magee Marsh in northwest Ohio, and again at the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Our little acquaintance gradually grew into a warm friendship. We shared each other’s cell phone numbers and email addresses. So after that, I was not as surprised to see her at other birding events, as we both obviously shared the hobby and passion. But really, looking back, it was a little weird seeing her everywhere I went.
One day, she even showed up in my home town of Winston Salem, at one of our regular Audubon activities at Bethabara Park. I was really taken aback at her presence, surprised at how far she must have come for such an unimportant event. After an enjoyable morning of birding, I asked her to join me for lunch and she readily accepted. It was then that she finally unloaded the burden she had been carrying, and for whatever reason, she had apparently decided to hand it over to me.
“Ferd,” she said with a coarse cough, while lighting up a new cigarette using the dying ash of the one she had just finished, “I have something very important I need to tell you. I have never told another living soul what you are about to hear, but I am so old now, and I don’t have long to live. I simply have share what I know with someone I can trust. From the first time I met you, I felt you could be that person. Over the years of following you and getting to know you better, I am now convinced you are the one.”
“Well, gee, thank you,” I said, not knowing exactly how to respond to that.
“No. Don’t thank me. This is nothing to be thankful for!”
I looked at her expectantly while she gathered her thoughts.
Eventually she started, “I have been working for the government for a very long time, initially against my will and always under duress.” She proceeded to spin a fantastical tale about an alien from space, about government conspiracy, about technology and large corporations, about danger to herself and her family. She told me how she was the only one who could communicate with the alien. She called him by name. I nodded understandingly, wondering where she was going with all this craziness, and listened patiently to her very interesting story. We sat there for hours while she told her tall tales, a long story spanning decades. At times she became visibly anxious, and she frequently looked over her shoulder in a comedy of suspicion. I was absorbed and fascinated by the energy of her story-telling, and frankly, by the story itself. She spun a good tale! Lunch turned into dinner. When she finally finished, she said, “I know this must be very difficult to believe, and I will find a way to provide you with evidence, but the government has me under regular surveillance, and now I’m afraid they will have you under surveillance as well. They probably already do. I’m sorry.”
Now, I have heard this sort of thing before. I am a doctor for god’s sake. I had made my diagnosis hours previously. This was a classic case of Paranoid Schizophrenia, heavy on the paranoid with a solid persecution complex, and clearly out of touch with reality with a fascinating, complex delusional construct that was consistent with her obvious intelligence. The only part that didn’t fit was her awareness that this would be difficult for me to believe, and that I would need evidence. I find that most Paranoid Schitzes aren’t that aware of and sensitive to the viewpoint of others.
She handed me two sealed letters, which she made me promise to not open until both she and her sister were dead. She made me put them in my pocket immediately. Then, after looking over both shoulders, twice, she placed a funny little pyramidal object in my hands, and closed all my fingers around it. “Guard this with your life!” she said, with a very intense look in her eyes. “And never say a word about it to anyone!”
I promised her I would do as she asked. After that was settled, she seemed visibly relieved and strangely worried at the same time. “Promise me again. Don’t show those letters or the trangula to anyone. To anyone! Hear?” I assured her again it would be our secret, and I meant it. I was only a friend, not her doctor, but I always honor confidences - or nearly always.
But I now feel I must unload this stuff myself. Linda is dead, and someday I will be dead, too. The story must be told.
She gave me those two letters. I will include the first one as the first Appendix to this book. This is the letter where he/she explained how after her death I would come forth with her “documentation and evidence” to bring the “discoveries, secrets, and lies” “into the light.” The second letter contained very specific directions to a very specific location. I followed those directions. I went to the place where the evidence was supposedly hidden, and I found no such thing. All I found in the safe was a toy spaceship and an old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figure.
Now all I have are the words of a probable Paranoid Schizophrenic, and I did have that interesting little pyramidal object. But it would be crazy of me not to tell her story. I know too much.
So here it is, as it was told to me by one who was there.