Years ago I met a time traveler.
I tried to deny this. Why? Because it was such an impossible situation. I also felt I would be considered “crazy” if I told anyone about what had happened to me. No matter what, I could not push the memories of what happened out of my mind even though I tried to do exactly that.
In 1990 I was driving westward by myself in my brand new sports utility vehicle packed with boxes of my belongings. I had divorced my wife in New England and left quickly with boxes of my belongings jammed into my 4X4. The experience was a desperate man running away from considerable pain.
After crossing the wide open spaces of America for several days I ended up driving to visit the Grand Canyon. It was very early in the morning as I made my way through the vast Navajo Nation, a Native American reservation spanning portions of the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
Due to persistent nightmares brought on by the emotional trauma of my ending my marriage so unexpectedly and leaving Massachusetts, I had not slept well the night before at the only motel on that highway where tourists have no choice but to stay when they are visiting Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Well before dawn something in my dreaming abruptly awakened me and I could not get back to sleep. So, I hurriedly checked out of the motel and got behind the wheel of my 4×4 to continue driving westward. I was reeling from the fears caused by dreaming about my impending death.
My fears faded quickly when I was distracted by a young man hitchhiking on the side of the road standing next to an old pickup truck. He wore tattered and dirt-stained cowboy attire that suggested he had just survived a particularly rough journey. His tight blue jeans attracted my attention as if he had intended for me to notice his crotch as I rounded a bend in the highway. His cowboy hat caught the soft yellow light of sunrise in an eerie way that made him look otherworldly.
Should I stop? Should I just drive by and let him stand there alone? I set aside all suspicions and common sense regarding the obviously risks of picking up a stranger in a very isolated area at an odd hour.
I made the choice to stop driving and talk with him. He walked over to my SUV and spoke to me through the open driver’s side window in what seemed to me to be an unfamiliar accent. He told me his first name was Vincent. He had a Navajo surname and explained that he lived there on the Navajo Reservation. This was the first face-to-face interaction I had with another person in the four or five days I had spent on the road driving westward alone away from New England.
He smiled with embarrassment as he told me he was out there alone so early in the morning because his cousin’s pickup truck ran out of gas on his way from Kayenta. I knew where Kayenta was. I had stayed overnight there in a roadside motel.
I evaluated him as he looked at me. I instinctively felt that this young man could easily overpower me. He could punch me in the face with his large hands through the open driver’s side window and then steal my 4×4 and all my belongings. But as I imagined the worst possible outcome I saw him shake head in silence to indicate “no” as if he were assuring me he would not hurt me.
I was intensely lonely after ending my marriage and driving by myself for several days. Vincent was powerfully built and strongly masculine. I knew I was no match for him. I glanced at his crotch involuntarily. I took a chance and invited him to get in my 4×4. When he was seated next to me in the passenger seat I was dazzled by how well he filled out his blue jeans.
As we rode together he explained that he was headed to his cousin’s house in Tuba City. Once again with embarrassment he smiled as he told me his destination was at least an hour’s drive westward on that two-lane road. I was already heading in that direction. He knew that. I knew he knew. There was nowhere else for me to go. I had made the choice to stop and pick up this hitchhiker. Now I had to go with what was going to happen.
As a white man from “Back East,” I definitely felt out of synch with him. I concluded that this young man was not what he claimed to be and that he had chosen to wait there by Highway 160 at sunrise for some much larger purpose. I felt as I listened to him that Vincent seemed to have been waiting there by the side of the road for me to arrive. He seemed to know I was going to arrive that morning at a designated time.
He asked me what I considered were carefully-worded questions. He had apparently asked others those exact questions several times before this morning. I felt that he was trying to evaluate my willingness to listen to what he told me. I knew that he saw my glancing at his crotch. Perhaps that convinced him I was someone who would spend time with him, listening to what he had to say.
He talked about his work with me and I politely listened. He said he was traveling around the Western States trying to find someone who would pay attention to him and help him. He said he had met with a lot of rejection and indifference. He told me he believed he was disregarded and dismissed by the people he talked to because he was an indigenous man.
As a result of conversation I found Vincent was seeking someone to reveal details about his work. He never actually expressed things directly, but I gradually accepted that he might be a time traveler. Why did I conclude that? Was I was on his agenda that morning? He had already told me that he was traveling around trying to get people to pay attention to him. I used sarcasm when I said to him that I felt he had made the right choice in wearing tight blue jeans if he wanted to attract attention. But I was being totally honest.
He laughed and put his large left hand on my right shoulder. At that moment I felt an odd sensation that I can only call a “connection” to Vincent. I cannot explain what it was. He merely touched my right shoulder. But the message I got from Vincent when he put his hand on my shoulder was that he and I were supposed to meet that morning. I accepted that I was “nobody” to him, but yet it seemed essential to him that I would arrive as I did on that lonely two-lane highway and stop for him and listen to what he had to say.
Here are some possible answers I accepted as true that morning:
- He had traveled from the future to interact with me, specifically, on that day at that exact time.
- He urgently wanted to convince me that I should tell people about his employer–a top-secret time travel agency.
- He was in danger of being killed by adversaries.
I convinced myself that meeting Vincent was all very straightforward and natural. I saw him hitchhiking on the side of the highway. I stopped to give him a ride. And I listened to all that he told me on the one-hour drive to his destination in Tuba City. He asked for my help to reveal information about his employer.
Nothing else happened between us and I dropped him off in Tuba City. Vincent seemed very smart and I believed he had drawn conclusions about me. For one thing, he obviously could tell I felt sexually attracted to him. How could I not feel that way? Vincent was highly masculine and had the vibe of being a natural and strong man who accepted how well he drew the attention of other men to him. He may also have felt I was fantasizing on that drive about getting naked together with him in a hotel room by the side of the highway.
At that point in my life I was deep in denial about my feeling sexually attracted to men. Like many others have also done, I had chosen to marry a woman so I could prove to myself and to the world that I was straight. I was a liar. I had to admit that. I had to make changes in my life. This one morning spending a short span of time with a Navajo named Vincent felt like an awakening to me.
That is the true story of how Baja Clavius: Moon Men Deep Inside came to be. The book I wrote was based upon events in real life–an accidental meeting I had with a man from another place and time.