The rest of the evening was very personal and very intimate, not any of it the kind of thing a person shares with anyone else. At some point, however, the subject of Roger came up again, and that little discussion I don't mind sharing.

We were discussing the last time we were at Roger's.

"I know you've known Roger a lot longer than I have, Sally. There's been a question nagging me since that night. It's probably nothing, but do you remember that remark by Margo Sawyer that Roger was, 'taken?' What do you think she meant?"

"I really don't know. Roger does not have any romantic interests that I know of. But then, Margo is an insider and surely knows more about Roger than I do."

"An 'insider' Sally? What do you mean?"

"Well it doesn't really mean anything. It's just how I refer to those people who are apparently much closer to Roger than acquaintances like you and I. They seem to know things about him the rest of us don't. You know how Roger makes comments sometimes that seem, well, a bit mysterious. I don't know. Perhaps mysterious is not the right word, just because I'm not sure what he is referring to. Those I refer to as insiders always seem to know what he's talking about.

I wondered if Roger's recent revelations to me made me an insider. I also wondered if Sally was aware of Roger's strange claims.

"Sally, do you know where Roger is from?"

She gave me a very strange look, as though she were trying to look into my mind through my eyes.

"What do you mean, where he's from?" She asked.

"I mean originally. Like where he was born?"

"I have no idea. He's lived all over the US, and I guess in a few other countries as well, but I have no idea where he is from originally. Roger is a mystery, for sure."

"You know what, Mark? I really do not want the mystery solved. Maybe I'm just a sucker for romance, but I kind of like that mysterious element about Roger, and there is plenty of it. For example, though I'm not sure exactly what to think of this. I once mentioned Roger to my grandmother, who asked me some things about him, then told me she new him when she was younger, then immediately described him to me—looking exactly as he does today."

"I wonder how old he really is," I thought out loud. Then to Sally:

"I can tell you something about Roger you may not know, and I'm very curious to know if you do or not. The only thing is, it might take some of the mystery away. I won't tell you if you would prefer not to know."

"How can I tell without knowing what it is?"

"I'll tell you this much. It's something Roger told me about himself, something fantastic. It is so fantastic, if you didn't know Roger, you might think he was suffering some kind of delusion."

"I don't know, Mark. I don't know if I want you to tell me or not. Unfortunately I have a woman's curiosity, and suspect I'll not be able to bear the suspense if you don't."

"I can promise you this. If I tell you, it won't make Roger any less mysterious, but it might change the nature of the mystery. How's that?"

"Alright, then, Mark. Please tell me."

"Roger says he was not born in any state or country on this planet; that he was not born in this world at all. He claims he was born on a planet of some star system in some galaxy that is not even known on earth.

"He told me a lot more about why he's here and such, but the main thing is Roger claims to be a non-earth human being. He also claims there are human beings throughout the entire universe who systematically evade the earth, hiding their existence from the people here."

"Mark, if anyone else in the world told you those things, I would tell you he was a crackpot. I just cannot believe Roger is a crackpot. What you've just told me, and what I know about his age, if my grandmother was correct, convince me there must be something to what Roger says. I'm still not sure I want to know any more about it. Roger wouldn't be Roger without the mystery that surrounds him. Perhaps that sounds weird to you, Mark. Well it is."

She shrugged. Then a very thoughtful look came over her face.

"Mark, are you an insider, then?"

"Sally, I don't know. I'm certainly not an insider like Margo. I have no idea what the 'Roger's taken' comment meant. It was Roger who chose to tell me about himself. I suspect some people have just known Roger longer, and as he comes to know them, he reveals more about himself to them.

"I think that's all I meant, Mark. I certainly don't think there is some kind of secret inner circle or something. Perhaps I'd be an insider if Roger thought I'd like to know more. I really don't, though. I just take him as he is, mystery and all, and he certainly is not hard to take. I adore him."

"There is something else, Sally. Roger said there are other's like him... what should I call them?... non-earth humans?... aliens?.... He says he knows some of them, but not all of them. Do you think any of your 'insiders' could actually be other non-earth humans too?"

"You've decided then that what Roger has told you is all true?" Sally asked.

"Not exactly. I've decided, so long as I have no evidence to the contrary, there is no reason to doubt him. I've thought a lot about that question, though. Perhaps it's all a fiction, an elaborate play, a metaphor for some truth he's trying to convey. Perhaps Roger does not expect it be believed as a literal fact. But there are the very real mysteries, like the one you told me about. I never would have guessed the age he must be if what you tell me is true.

"If it is all an act of some kind, though, what would be the point, and who would it be for? As far as I know almost no one knows about Roger except for your 'insiders' and few others like you and I."

"Mark," Sally asked at one point, "do you suspect anyone in particular might be another, what did you call them, 'non-earth humans?'"

"No, not anyone in particular. Almost any of them could be. I don't think Ruth Sparberger could be one of them, but would believe it if I learned that Margo, Franz Wolfe, Peter Sterling, or Joel Rice were one."

"What about Ned Carpenter or Rena Rice."

"Don't ask me why, Sally, but I just cannot see either of them as non-earth humans."

Sally looked thoughtful for a moment. "Then if Joel Rice were a non-earth human, he'd be married to an earth human. Do you think that's possible?"

"Well I can't see why it would be impossible, but I don't know very much about those things. It does seem unlikely though, doesn't it?"

"Yes it does," Sally said.

I'm sorry if the continuity of all this seems a bit choppy, but the actual conversation did not occur as a single one, so this account actually pieces together several snatches of conversation that occurred throughout that wonderful evening.

The following does not really belong with the rest, but I'm including it because it relates to a future event that does relate to all the other conversation. It did not seem very significant at the time, but it will.

Sally had not attended the shindig at Peter Reddington's a few weeks earlier and she had asked me about it, and the surprising fact that both Roger and I had attended.

I told her about everyone I could remember being there and had just mentioned the following:

"Oh yes, Joanne Fitzgerald Tylor was there. Roger took her home, I mean, to his home."

"You mean the feminist?" Sally asked, wide-eyed.

"Well, if you had seen how she was falling all over Roger, you'd never have guessed she was a feminist. By the way, Sally, do you know anything about her?"

"Are you interested in her too, Mark?"

"Well she is very pretty," I teased. "I'm interested, but not that way. I'm curious about why Roger was interested. It seemed more than his usual interest in intelligent attractive women."

"Well, I have no idea why Roger is interested in her. I know her, though. It was not really fair of me to call her a feminist. She got involved with some libertarian group that calls themselves individualist feminists and of course she ended up tagged with that label, in spite of the fact those so-called libertarians came to despise her. She wrote what she thought and it did not follow their party line, so they did everything they could to hush her up, threatening her agents, her publishers, and even their distributors. So much for the libertarian's view of freedom of the press.

"Well, Sally, perhaps she's not really a feminist, but she seemed to be defending her book, No More Cops, pretty well when discussing it with Roger."

"Are you sure, Mark? I happen to know she's about to publish a new book. It sounds feminist, but is actually very anti-feminist. I think the title will be Woman Power. If feminism was really pro-woman, perhaps her new book will be the first truly feminist book."

You've never seen that book, because it was never published. I actually did a review of the book—that was never published either. As we would later learn, Roger was the reason it was never published. But that is another story for another time.

—Mark Halpern