We heard a political pundit say the other day that this year’s presidential race has been the most unique campaign in history.
I disagree. The most unique campaign I ever witnessed began at the Seafare of Williamsburg restaurant about six miles from Jamestown, Virginia at Christmastime in 1997.
Brenda and I were the dinner guests of the sheriff of Henrico, Virginia, and his wife. The sheriff had hired me as his chief deputy sheriff about two years before.
The sheriff was a kind, generous man, but he was a bit eccentric.
We were enjoying a fine dinner of sea bass, and light conversation was flowing, when the sheriff unexpectedly interrupted our meal. He said, “Pat, did I ever tell you about the UFO and my dog?”
Brenda and I quietly put down our forks. We looked at each other, but said nothing. I only shook my head.
The sheriff’s voice took on a serious tone. At first, we thought he was joking. His wife looked uncomfortable.
“I remember it well,” the sheriff continued. “It was a bright, moonlit summer night. I saw a large unidentified flying object hovering silently near my farm outside Richmond. Whatever was inside landed near my cornfield, snatched up my dog, and killed it.”
The sheriff said the spacecraft had landed on the country road just outside his house. He said the ship emitted some kind of strong “pull” that drew him toward it, although he managed to resist it.
“I didn’t go inside the vessel, but within minutes I found my dog dead, smoking and singed,” the sheriff finished in a somber tone. Not wanting to appear rude, Brenda and I visited a while longer, although our appetites were long gone. We then said goodnight and headed home. The sheriff never spoke of the story to me again.
Two years later, I unexpectedly received a telephone call from a reporter from the Richmond Times Dispatch. At that time I was working for the governor of Virginia, in Richmond.
“Mr. Haley, are you aware the Sheriff of Henrico County is seeking a seat on the Henrico Board of Supervisors?” the reporter asked.
“Yes, I know he was running,” I replied, wondering what that could possibly have to do with me. I soon found out.
“As you know, the general election is only four days away,” the reporter said.
“Yes, I know,” I responded.
“Do you mind if I read you something the candidate just told me?” the reporter asked. “I would like you to comment on it if you will.”
“Go ahead,” I replied cautiously.
According to the reporter, the sheriff’s UFO encounter had been the subject of gossip for years, and recently resurfaced as the local election season was drawing to a close. The sheriff said he never publicly disclosed what he saw until now because he felt no one would believe him.
The reporter went on to say, the sheriff had recounted his UFO experience with little hesitation, and said the sighting had occurred Aug. 9, 1966.
According to the sheriff, at about 10:30 that evening, the sheriff’s German shepherd, tied to a chain out back, began barking loudly, so he went outside to investigate. After turning him loose, the dog ran to the edge of an adjacent cornfield.
According to the reporter, the sheriff said, “I happened to look up and there was that UFO right above the cornfield, it was just hovering right up above the power lines about 200 feet in the air. The craft made hardly a sound.”
The sheriff had then said he ran back inside his house to get a flashlight, and when he returned and shined it on the craft, the UFO turned slightly, emitted a burst of light and “took off like a bullet, just tremendously fast.” Then the reporter said the sheriff had told him, he rechained the dog and went to bed after the craft disappeared, he got up about 5 a.m. the next morning, and went out to check on his dog. He let it run loose for a few minutes, but the dog didn’t come back.
The sheriff said he canvassed the area, but the dog was nowhere to be found. Then, when he returned home, he was startled to find his dog lying motionless in the middle of the road just beyond his circular driveway. The dog was dead. The sheriff described the dog as looking like it was almost sleeping, and told the reporter, he assumed that his dog was killed by whoever, or whatever, had been inside the UFO.
Then came the question. “Is that what the sheriff told you and your wife three years ago in Williamsburg?” the reporter asked.
“He told us something similar,” I responded, not wanting to lessen whatever chance the sheriff had in the election.
Four days later, the sheriff lost the election. By a landslide.
I learned an important lesson. If you have ever seen a UFO and you are running for political office, keep it to yourself. At least for four more days.
Pat Haley is a Clinton County Commissioner.