"The Joiner" was a story printed in the second issue of The Twilight Zone comic published by Dell.
Sometimes those closest to us have the most difficulty in rightly seeing us as we truly are. This was the case with Alvah Petty, a mild-mannered bookkeeper underappreciated by his co-workers and mocked by his family. No matter how well he did his job or provided for his family, it wasn't enough for them. This void drove Alvah Petty to find company that could truly appreciate and respect him. How far would it take him? Far from home, and perhaps...into the Twilight Zone.
Cast of characters
- Alvah's boss
- brotherhood #1 (2 members)
- Order of the Purple Star (4 members)
- lab technician
- policeman #1
- policeman #2
- Royal Coonskin Society of America (3 members)
"Alvah Petty is a bookkeeper! All day long he is hounded and bullied by his superiors at the office! After office hours Alvah's shrewish wife takes over...Then, there is Alvah's obnoxious offspring, Clyde...But now and then Alvah escapes his tormentors...You see, Alvah is a joiner--a member of every lodge, and brotherhood in town... Here in another world, Alvah is a man od power and position..."
Story summaryAlvah Petty was a pushover. His bosses at his job bullied him, his wife scolded him and his insolent son Clyde demeaned him and used him for cash—and Alvah accepted all of it. There were places, however, where Alvah Petty was not seen as a wimp to be taken advantage of—and that was at the many lodges and clubs of which he was a member. There, he was seen as an equal and sometimes even a leader to be respected and obeyed! Of course, his family thought his memberships and brotherhoods were silly. They ridiculed him for the often outlandish outfits that he wore to the meetings and resented that he had found places where he fit in—places far from their domineering clutches. In fact, Clyde came up with a gag to pull on his old man that would shame him into staying home permanently!
A month later, Clyde began to put his devious plan into action. He started by showing his dad an advertisement that he claimed to have seen in a science fiction magazine. It was an advertisement for a new club:
- KNIGHTS OF THE GALAXY
- A congenial group with mutual interest in space travel, inter-
- planetary culture exchange and intergalactic exploration.
- Membership applicants apply at 555 Mercury Blvd.
- Thursday, 8:00 P.M.
Alvah excitedly excused himself to rush downtown to join this new club. It was then that Clyde revealed to his mother that he had created the ad himself and placed it into one of his magazines. There was neither any such group nor any such address! Mercury Boulevard actually led to the State Turnpike outside of town, luring Alvah out into the middle of nowhere. Mother and son both giggle with delight, satisfied they had pulled off a huge, embarassing prank on the poor man.When the father returned home late that night, however, he didn't seem to be disappointed at all. In fact, he was ecstatic about the wondrous new club in which he had been accepted as a probationary member! His confused son told his father that their was no such thing as the Knights of the Galazy. His father disagreed with his son—a rarity—and produced a membership card from his coat pocket! The jokester felt that perhaps the prank was discovered by his dad and the joke was now being turned around on him. He forcefully grabbed the membership card from Alvah's hand, but a sudden electric shock was sent through his body as he made contact! His wife berated Alvah for his unintentional cruelty. He had meant to warn his son that the card can only be held by the member of the organization to which it belongs, but hadn't the time. With that he went up the stairs to bed, leaving his family to discuss the odd incident before deciding that it must be some trick on Alvah's part.
If it was a trick, Alvah wanted to keep it going. A week later he told his family he was again headed to the weekly meeting of the Knights of the Galaxy, this time dressed in a strange metalic spacsuit! He explained that the getup was the official uniform of the Knights, made from an exotic material made from a special plant on Jupiter, possessing the softness of silk but the durability of steel. Hid family was determined to get to the bottom of this gag and Clyde followed his father in his car, out Mercury Boulevard and to the turnpike. In amazement, the oafish young man watched as his father drove off the road and disappeared! Confused and stunned, Clyde turned his car around and returned home to his mother.
Alvah's wife was waiting for him when he returned home that night. She demanded that her husband tell her where he had been that evening. He plainly told her that he had been at the meeting of the Knights of the Galaxy. He continued to say that he had met a three-headed gentleman from Venus at the meeting, then took a trip to the moon in a new space vehicle. With that, he wandered off to bed. His shocked family had no idea what to make of the bizarre claims. It seemed possible that the old man was going insane, but then they noticed something bizarre about the footprints Alvah had made on the carpeting. The dust residue was hard and gritty and very unusual. Clyde wondered where this dust had truly come from.The following day, Clyde took some of the dust to be examined at a chemical laboratory. The lab technician informed Clyde that the material consisted of cinders, meteorite dust and stone and iron particles just like what could be expected on a planetoid or the moon! Clyde's hunch was correct. If this was a hoax his father had orchestrated, it was a well planned one.
That night, at the dinner table, mother and son confronted Alvah. His shrewish wife ordered him to reveal the secrets of the organization, but Alvah said he was not allowed to according to the membership requirements. His son took a slightly different tactic. He expressed an interest in joining the club himself and asked his dad to take him to the next meeting. Alvah said that he wouldn't be able to attend that week's meeting because there was a special trip on the agenda—to attend an intergalactic convention light years from Earth!
The night of the meeting, Clyde again followed Alvah, this time with his mother in tow. Again, upon reaching Mercury Boulevard, Alvah kept driving straight at the turn to the turnpike, going off the road. This time, Clyde had decided to follow him! He had to know what was really happening.
Suddenly, a roadway that had previously been invisible appeared before them! It led them to an open field that was full of spaceships! They watched in amazement as Alvah clibed the stairs to one of the ships and was greeted by what looked like a green alien!His wife couldn't take any more. She rushed toward her husband, pleading with him not to enter the ship. Alvah either did not hear his spuse or had opted to ignore her and climbed aboard the saucer, which promptly rocketed off into the sky. His wife turns from fear to anger and promises to really teach the wimp she had married a lesson once he got back.
Of course, she wasn't aware that Alvah was on a ship headed for a star cluster over one hundred light years away! With the ship's overdrive engine, they would arrive in a matter of hours, but back on Earth, two hundred years would have passed. Chances were that Alvah would never see his family again. Meanwhile, back on Earth, his wife and son were being questioned by the police for driving the two cars off the road into a field. Mrs. Petty decided not to tell them the truth—whatever that was, knowing they would never believe her anyhow.
"No, they'll never believe her, for the only proof of Mrs. Petty's fantastic tale is rocketing across the uncharted gulfs of the Twilight Zone!"
Response and analysis
Notes and annotations
- Originally published in color
- Printed on newsprint, 10 pages
- This story is featured in the cover art of The Twilight Zone (Dell) 02 and The Twilight Zone (Gold Key) 26.
- Reprinted in The Twilight Zone (Gold Key) 26.
Notes and references
- Bob Klein and Mike Tiefenbacher. "The Twilight Zone no 2 (1961 series)." Grand Comics Database. Retrieved: July 14, 2009.