One of these days, I’m going to get snatched, probed and eaten by extraterrestrials for no other reason than that I prefer spring water over the sludge that comes out of the tap.

Allow me to elucidate.

Once a month, I load up my empty five-gallon jugs and make the long haul to Cooper Spring on the Buckfield-South Paris line. Once a month, something bizarre, outlandish or perplexing occurs to turn a two-hour trip into a five-hour one.

I tell you, every trip to the spring — where the water is crisp and clean and sparkling with fairy dust — turns into some kind of Scooby Doo adventure.

One night not long ago, my wife and I were returning from the spring, full jugs sitting obediently in the back seat, when we drove past a car overturned on somebody’s front lawn.

“Jeepers, Velma!” I cried. “Did you see that upside-down car back there?”

“Sure did, Shag. Do you reckon somebody is hurt?”

“Jinkies, I don’t know. Looks like we’ve got another mystery on our hands.”

So, we went racing back, horrified by the thought that someone had crashed his car and was pinned in the wreckage. I dug a flashlight and medical kit from the back seat. Velma pulled out her Scooby phone and prepared to call for help.

We checked out the wreckage. There was nobody pinned in there and nobody was hurt. In fact, there wasn’t a soul around. This overturned car was not the result of a grisly crash but had simply been unloaded on the lawn that way — who wants to waste precious time easing a junk car down with hydraulics and cables when you can just kick it off the side and call it good? Maybe it is a Buckfield thing, I don’t know.

Another time, we were coming back from the spring when we happened upon a van parked in the middle of the road.

“Zoinks, Daphne!” I said. “Why do you suppose someone would just stop right there in the middle of the road like that?”

“I dunno, Fredster. Looks like we’ve got another mystery on our hands.”

Now hear me out, friends. I don’t like to meddle in somebody else’s business, and I especially don’t like to meddle on the back roads of Buckfield. But to my way of thinking, the only reason a person would stop his ride in the middle of the road like that is if he had some kind of medical emergency. Why, there could be a guy drooped across the center console and clutching his chest in cardiac agony. Or passed out unconscious. Or being eaten by whatever wild creatures roam the badlands of Buckfield. Who knew?

So I got out of my car, approached the van and peered in the driver’s side window. There was no one there.

Of course, the poor soul could have crawled into the back of the van in the extremes of his agony, so I peered back there, too.

Nope. No one. The van was obviously empty but I tapped on the window a few times, anyway, in case — you know — the dude was hiding in the glove compartment or something.

He wasn’t. There was no one in the van. No one beneath it, either, or in the nearby woods. There was no explanation for why the van had been abandoned in the middle of the road. Maybe it had simply stalled and the driver said “to hell with it” and walked away. Maybe the fellow was sucked out of the van by those E.T.s I mentioned earlier, or maybe he just grew sick and tired of driving and chose that precise spot to give it up.

Another time, just a mile or so from the spring, we came upon a dog trotting at the side of the road. Nothing unusual about that, I guess, but this particular dog appeared as though he were trying to lead us somewhere. He would gaze intently at us for a minute or two, then turn his muzzle back to the snowy path ahead.

“This way, knuckleheads,” he seemed to say. “I’ve got something to show you.”

One fine spring afternoon, on North Buckfield Road a couple miles from the spring, we were treated to the sight of a bald eagle feasting on the corpse of a dead deer in a cemetery. I mean, does it get any more “Hank Williams” awesome than that? The very sight of it made me want to wave a flag, drink a six-pack and fire off my Mossberg in celebration.

“Like, wow,” I exclaimed to my cartoon wife. “We’ve got to go back to get a picture of that.”

We did go back, but the bald eagle was no longer there. Neither was the deer. Who can explain it?

So, this past Saturday we were headed for Cooper Spring on an evening thick with fog, to the point visibility was down to about 12 feet from the nose of the car.

On Paris Hill Road, just a sneeze or two from the spring, we came upon an odd mirage. In the air above the fog, glimmering in the glare of an unknown light source, what looked like an army of snakes were swaying back and forth over the road.

“Power lines,” my wife said. “Those are power lines and we’re driving into them.”

She was right. A pickup truck, headed in the opposite direction, had taken out a utility pole, snapping it in half and bringing a transformer down into the road where it bled some type of oil onto the pavement. Electrical lines hung everywhere and seemed to surround us like the web of some massive spider.

The pickup truck, its hood smashed beneath the broken pole, sat in the road with its lights blazing into the fog.

“Does someone in there need help?” my wife asked.

“Don’t get out of the car,” I told her, steering us into a muddy field to get away from the downed lines.

It was a mystery, all right, but not the fun kind with cartoon characters and Scooby snacks. Do you jump out of your car and risk being electrocuted in a scene like that? Or ignore the possibility that someone might be seriously hurt inside the mangled truck?

Fortunately, we didn’t have to agonize over it for long. The driver scrambled out of his truck, walked through that maze of power lines and made himself scarce, paying no mind to the oncoming drivers who might be put in peril by the mess he left behind.

A short time after we drove upon that troubling scene, the area looked like a battlefield. There were firetrucks and ambulances, tow trucks and police cars, all with their throbbing lights attempting to pierce the thick veil of fog that just would not let go of the night.

When we were done talking with 911, firefighters and other drivers, we found a way around the crash site and to the water source, nearly running out of gas in the process. Just another trip to Cooper Spring that should have taken two hours but took 4½.

“Was it worth it, Velma?” I asked when all the jugs were full and we were headed toward home.

“Like, totally, Scoob. It looks like we’ve wrapped up another mystery.”

Seriously, we’ve got to stop talking like that. Sometimes I think there’s something a little stronger than water gushing out of the ground at Cooper Spring.

If you get my drift.

Mark LaFlamme is, like, totally a Sun Journal staff writer. Scooby fans can email him at [email protected]

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