My battery died at a convenience store near Green River, Utah. I asked a guy who was driving a brand new BMW for a jump. He was wearing a pink polo shirt, and he was traveling with his sister. He looked at me, then he looked at my bug-splattered truck, and I could tell he didn't like the idea of our cars coupling up. In the end, basic decency prevailed, and he popped his hood. We couldn't find his battery. Maybe these new German cars don't run on batteries, I joked. He didn't think that was funny. It turns out the battery was in the trunk, but I didn't find that out till later, after I called Triple-A, and some drunk guy in a tow truck started my car. I was looking for the Utah Launch Complex. I read about it somewhere. There were rumors about UFO's. I pulled off the freeway and drove a few miles down crumbling blacktop. The main gates were thrown wide open. I stopped my car and got out. It was quiet except for the clatter of the wind in some aluminum-sided buildings up ahead.
The launch complex was surrounded by a prickly razor-wire fence and regularly-spaced floodlights. Any second now, I figured, some truck full of guards would come tearing out of the desert, and pin me down with machine guns. Even after I'd walked around the whole site, I still felt uncomfortable. Maybe paranoia has its own half-life. Maybe it'll linger out here, long after the last building rusts away. I parked my car on top of a hill and looked around. The complex wasn't very large, maybe 10 acres. I was parked by the blockhouse, a big cement bunker that must have been the headquarters. Slithering out from the blockhouse were aluminum tracks that had thick cables running through them.
The wire tracks criss-crossed the complex, rolling up and down, following the terrain.