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The Secrets of Singapore Valley

p. 9 of 10



          It is not in dispute that on September 26, 2019,  Bob Grisby arrived, after punching himself in at the entrance gate below,  at a home in front of which Pierce Rhenshorn had recently been shot in the head;  or that Grisby’s arrival there fell sometime between the first responding officer’s own,  and that of a whole swarm of cops minutes later.  Or that, by the time the back-up got there,  Grisby was having trouble explaining how he and Rhenshorn knew each other.

          Today,  Grisby insists that he has never killed anyone by a shot to the head;  that he never re-visited sites he associated with victims;  and that the murder that finally got him apprehended was not his own.

          But once he fell under police investigation, the dungeon underneath his backyard—the entrance to which he had camouflaged into the floor of his tool shed—was promptly discovered.

          “Well you know—it upset me a lot. This was outside my plan. But as soon as they got suspicious of me, it was over.  I lost control, and then it was only a matter of time until my dark self was discovered. 

          “I even felt like Pierce was laughing at me one last time—‘Oh you know Bob,  he can’t go for a drive without getting caught.’”

          At the station, Bob was confronted with evidence from his dungeon. His response when checkmated was, first, to fall silent.

          “I had to reflect. They had gone down into my dungeon and taken photos of my little world.  I had never meant for anyone else to see that—it was just supposed to be for me and the girls.  And now,  it would be on the news.

          “So I was never going to have another ordinary day, at home or at the store.  And I would never go down to my dungeon again.  I had this feeling of exile.  I was losing my whole world.

          “And I kept asking myself what it meant, my getting caught.  Was I not as good as I thought I was?  Was I really this much less clever? 

          “But the thing is, it was only a freak accident I got caught. I couldn’t have known the police would be at Pierce’s home when I was going there, because I didn’t know he’d been killed. It shouldn’t have happened at all.

          “Anyway, because I was caught, I get to talk to you. I get to choose the author of my legend.”

          “I’ll tell your story as best I can,” I said,but we’ve only got so long here.”

          “Yes, but I was thinking—what if you kept visiting me?  You could write my biography!

          “Why would I write your biography?”

          “Meredith,  let me tell you what I was thinking in that interrogation room on the night I was caught.

          “I was figuring that my world was gone.  Over forever.  Meaning, no more respect at work. No more backyard cookouts.  And no more secret dungeon time. 

          “And so I figured—then why not also no more Bob?  I mean, that guy I spent my life pretending to be—why not throw that act away too?  And answer the truth to everything, and be what I really am.

          “That is why you should write my biography, Meredith.  Because whatever you ask me, I will tell you the truth.  I will hold back nothing.”

          I looked into his eyes. 

          He said, “I did not kill Pierce.”

          I said, “How old were you when you started downloading?”


          “Did you choose to go through with it, or did you have to?”

          He just stared back at me, and I saw that he didn’t know. 

          His eyes were black pools.  And I didn’t know whether his darkness had always been inside of him and had bloomed on its own,  or whether he had made little choices wittingly,  while recognizing that he didn’t have to.  Out of perversity and contempt and curiosity.  Out of lust.  Out of loneliness. For fun.

          Was it like that?  Or was there nothing there but a ravenous force?

          He regarded me.

          I nodded at him,  and thanked him,  and ended our interview.


          I checked out of my hotel and got back on the road. It was dark and streetlights were going on as I was leaving Singapore Valley, and passing local landmarks in reverse.

          His conceptual grasp of taking responsibility for brutality was inadequate, but he was his own path.

          I watched the road and resolved to forget him.  And right away, I was returning to Arielle,  and I could not leave her. 

          It seemed impersonal—mostly destined.  The world I had lived in since Arielle’s murder was just my understanding of events.  I couldn’t know why it had happened,  but Grisby’s mind, or Tanov’s, was just one of many factors converging, and all of those factors have to be.  His choice to download had nothing to do with creating this world.  And he was never free to curse himself or not, because in the scheme of things his path was already there. 

          It is just how it is,  I was thinking as I drove south on Bear Road, toward the overpass to 190.  I would continue visiting her grave, and remembering the fear and pain she’d known in her last days,  and never rest until I felt her at rest.

          That is what I was thinking as I turned onto a span of Bear Road that snakes between two fringes of woods—a graft of another ecosystem onto the desert that somehow creates the sense, in moments, that you are deep in a natural forest.  No other cars were on the road.  And then suddenly, one hundred and twenty feet in front of me, there was a UFO.

          It was there.  It was smooth and round and metallic.  It was floating three feet over the ground,  neatly slotting between the trees that marked the edges of each shoulder.

          I pulled to the side and turned off the ignition.

          I got out of my rental and walked toward the object.  It was disc-like and perhaps forty feet across.  It hummed and glowed and seemed perfectly at ease,  as if levitating.

          I have never been fascinated by reports of UFOs,  and I have no agenda or theory to espouse. 

          At no point in my encounter—as measured from the moment I spotted the craft while driving—did I feel alarm.  Rather, all through the event (at least as I remember it),  I felt perfect trust and acceptance.  While it was happening,  it did not seem astonishing.

          I approached on foot.  It was not turning.  A solid dome rose out of the center of the ring. I did not see any windows in the dome.  The hovering object was glowing white,  yellow,  purple,  blue  and  pink,  but was actually none of those colors at all,  and was giving off two bands of pitches—one audible,  and one so low I absorbed it through my feet.  The air was wavering,  but cool and scented with pine needles.

          When I was almost to it,  I reached out and it smoothly drifted sideways.

          I stepped after it,  still reaching.

          It slid across the air again.  And then, as I felt it preparing to whoosh off, I closed my fingers around the air and pulled down—and, as though it was perched on the fulcrum of a see-sawthe vessel tilted upward forty-five degrees.

          Then I drew back my arm and opened my hand,  and the UFO swept  across the sky.  Or so I inferred.  I did not see the moment between when it was there and when it was gone.

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The Secrets of Singapore Valley

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