The fifth Friday of the year meant nothing to anyone other than Dillon. He’d designated it as his right of passage day. He never assigned an actual date, other than the fifth Friday, and he never explained what event had happened or what he’d achieved on that momentous day.
Everyone who knew Dillon simply accepted that each year, on the fifth Friday, Dillon would be unavailable.
What constituted unavailability depended on who you were and what your relationship to Dillon was. In most cases, and to the average person, Dillon seemed to simply be non-existent on that day. It was almost as if there never had been a person named Dillon.
When his friends discussed the phenomenon of his sudden non-existence and equally sudden reappearance words like alien abduction, ectoplasmic dissolution and the fourth dimension always creeped into the conversation.
Once, one of Dillon’s friends suggested that, perhaps, Dillon wasn’t mortal, but rather an alien himself transplanted from his own planet to spy on the earthlings and once a year he’d have to return to make a report.
Another friend suggested that, since the disappearance on the fifth Friday began when they were all in high school, maybe Dillon had a relative who was mentoring him in some special way. That idea, obviously, was met with derision by the remainder of the group of friends.
But the relative idea seemed to stick. It was thought, in fact, that Dillon could possibly have a wealthy relative who required a day each year of family time to keep Dillon in the will.
Twelve years of fifth Friday disappearances had elapsed. On the thirteenth Dillon not only didn’t disappear, but he called each of his friends and asked them to meet him at the local bowling alley.
Not only was everyone shocked to hear Dillon’s voice on the phone, but the idea of meeting at a bowling alley seemed to everyone to surpass all levels of credulity.
They all did, however, assemble as a group as requested.
Upon arrival they discovered an empty bowling alley except for Dillon and one other person who seemed to be very young and very old at the same time.
Dillon asked all to take seats, but did not introduce the other person, who remained standing to the side of the alley as Dillon picked up a bowling ball and guided it along the path until it hit the pins in a perfect strike.
Everyone remained silent and watched as Dillon repeated the feat twenty-three consecutive times without pause.
As he prepared for the twenty-fourth time Dillon turned to the unknown person, they nodded to each other, then Dillon threw the ball down the lane.
All eyes were riveted on the ball as it repeated the perfect strike. Everyone was so focused that they noticed nothing else. But, once accomplished, Dillon turned to his friends and acknowledged their applause.
At that point there was a sudden, and unusual, sense that the other person was gone.
Everyone, but Dillon, looked around the now empty space that only minutes ago had been occupied.
Dillon joined his friends and accepted their congratulations, but offered neither explanations nor acknowledgements of any other person there that day.
In future years, on the fifth Friday of the year, Dillon always invited his friends to the bowling alley for a friendly game, but never disappeared again.