Sometime near the middle of last month, I received the following e-mail. The name of the sender was listed as JM. In the subject area was the word SKY.

I have something of monumental interest that I might choose to reveal to you; but, I have to be sure that you are the one.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 28, 1997, I saw something in the sky. One other person saw this as well. I have reason to believe that that person was you.

Please think carefully. Were you somewhere near where the borders of Idaho, Washington and British Columbia meet on that fateful morn? Did you see something unusual in the sky?

Please do not mock me. I assure you I am very serious.

Magoo

Because of the signature "Magoo", I immediately pegged this note as playful trickery. Having spent many of my formative years in and around the town of Metaline Falls, a tiny hamlet tucked away in the mountains of north Pend Oreille County, the name Magoo was more than just a familiar nickname.

Magoo, before he was so deemed by the townfolk, was Leon Magee, a geologist at one the nearby mines that florished in the area in the early 1940's. A tragic accident occured -- a calamity caused by Magee's miscalculations -- which killed twelve of the thirteen men in the mine. Magee was the only survivor.

In the years following, insanity ensued, and he was said to have returned to the mines -- some said, to die; others said, to exit the cave at midnight, during the full moon, to commit trickster-like acts of thievery, petty vandalism and bizarre practical jokes. For many years, whenever something unusual or bad would happened -- truck wouldn't start, machinery at local cement plant broke down, power tool disappeared -- people would say, "Magoo did it!" or, the more popular, "Magoo got'cha!"

The e-mail was obviously from an old friend, who was having too much fun with his new computer. Still, I couldn't resist playing along.

Mr. Magoo,

I've heard much about you, and suspect that you have some marvelous tales to tell. I invite you to tell them on the pages of my new online magazine The OTHER Spokane. I know my readers would love to hear of your moonlight excursions.

Sincerely,
Stik Mann
Editor, The OTHER Spokane

I immediately imagined monthly installments of the Mysterious Utterances of Magoo.

I suspected that the writer of the note was a certain, long-time friend of mine, a local business owner in Metaline Falls. This excited me greatly, as I would have thought that this person -- unique and very intelligent -- would have thought such a project too frivolous to waste his time on.

I waited for the first part of his imaginative, experimental work.

Sir,

I asked you not to mock me, yet you do. If I was not nearly convinced that you are the one, I would discontinue this conversation.

I must tell you the following in order to convince you of the enormity of my plight: Your life is in danger.

So, please, sir, I ask you again. Did you see something unusual in the sky in the early morning of August 28, 1997?

Magoo

I have to admit, I was a bit freaked out. I no longer believed the letters came from my friend from Metaline Falls; it simply wasn't his style. Furthermore, I had had little contact with anyone else from that area for quite some time. I hadn't even been near Metaline Falls in over two years, when Phopaw, Arp Xigar and I went on a climbing/camping trip....late summer....1997....

"Magoo",

It occurs to me that I did see something in the sky, while on a camping trip in the area you described. But, I assure you, it was nothing supernatural, as you seem to be implying.

There is a way to end this: I'm calling your bluff, Magoo. Describe to me, in detail, what it is that "we" saw in the sky that night.

Awaiting your response,
Stik Mann

Nearly a week passed before I received a reply. I anxiously opened the e-mail so to read Magoo's confession to this electronic skulduggery, and perhaps the revealing of his true identity.

I, in no way, in any of my prior mail, implied that what "we" saw in the sky was of supernatural origin. You said it. Not me.

But perhaps you attached some supernatural significance to a natural phenomenon, as did I. Perhaps after a night of stargazing that crescendoed with a brief but spectacular meteor shower, you looked about you and realized the sky was much brighter, as did I. And perhaps at that moment you were struck with an intense awareness of your place in the universe, and felt as if some mystical godbrew was being poured into your soul, as did I. And perhaps as you were about to raise your hands in praise, you saw a fiery red ball of a meteor moving strangely, slowly, perfectly horizonally, and low in the sky, leaving behind a yellowish, flame-like tail.

As did I.

I did indeed experience what "Magoo" described. Considering that I told no one of this, there was only one explaination: someone was watching me.

My friends and I were camped on the saddle between Ambercromie and Hooknose mountains. Phopaw and Arp were each zipped up in their separate pup tents; I was out in the open, planning to sleep next to the fire. Because of the position of their tents, I know that neither of them could have seen me, neither could have seen any revealing gesticulations or the wonderment in my eyes -- which would have been necessary to presume my inner state, as "Magoo" so accurately has done.

Someone else was there. Someone was watching me.

Okay, so maybe you did see what I saw. But do not try to deceive me by saying we shared the same emotions. You may have seen the meteor, as did I. But I was standing in an open field, with my head stuck up into the guts of the universe; you were hiding in the bushes, spying on me.

Why?

Nearly two months passed before I heard from Magoo again. Then...
Read the next exchange of e-mail.