© — I have three invisible friends: Billy, Howard, and Natisha. Billy, Howard and I met by a roach coach at a rest stop near Elko, NV. We were just standing around, eating chili dogs, and got to talking. Turned out we had a lot in common. Natisha would join us a little while later at Camp Winnarainbow.
We were born coddiwomplers, and we enjoyed traveling together. However, my invisible friends were by no means easy to travel with. One time, at a TSA checkpoint at the Spokane airport, Billy and Natisha thought they would have fun with the security agents. They considered being invisible as a great opportunity. Billy and Natisha started making off-color jokes about taking over the plane. I asked them to stop, but they continued. I tried and tried to get them to be quiet and just move on. I got louder and louder. I ended up shouting at them, repeatedly, which was just embarrassing. Howard slipped through pretending he wasn’t with us. We finally got through security, but Natisha started doing this weird dancing thing around the well-armed agents. Billy left his shoes behind.
We ended up on a beach outside of San Diego. I’d been there before, so I acted as the host. I ordered a full round of cocktails and laid out towels on the beach for us all. Those three had gotten Slurpees, so I ended up drinking everything I had bought; at least I took home four tiny umbrellas. Natisha went for a walk, south towards Tijuana. She never did return that day. It eventually got dark, and we walked back to the car discussing what might have happened. We called the police, but without some motive for her disappearance, and as she was an adult, the police did nothing.
Years later, Billy, Howard and I ended up at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, being my second visit there, but the first for Billy and Howard. It’s a great place, and extremely well done. Billy liked the otters; they’re all a little crazy. Howard went for a frozen yogurt in the cafeteria, but was basically refused. He kept asking this kid for a large strawberry yogurt, but was simply ignored. Apparently, this dude had a thing against invisible people; they’re not protected under the Civil Rights Act, as you know. I ended up buying the yogurt myself, but Howard was by then so upset that he just let it sit there, melting.
We walked the aquarium, checking out the exhibits. We were in the middle of the jellyfish section, and guess who shows up. Natisha. Swimming in a tank with over 100 translucent sea creatures. Gulping down mouthfuls of zooplankton. We decided to leave her there; she looked sublimely happy. This is how I will always think of her. Floating in perfect sea water, talking to perfect strangers.
Billy, Howard and I walked back to the car, happy for Natisha. We laughed and sang and danced and prattled on. We told those we passed all about Natisha, honoring her. The police were particularly interested. Today, I still go on and on about Natisha while walking the lawn at the sanitarium. Billy and Howard understand.
Robert W. Hansen
Copyright – Robert W. Hansen – 2016