Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.
For most of his childhood, he is nocturnal. He awakes, even before he is old enough to read, and seeks out illuminated objects in the house. Telephone dials. Digital clocks. His mother will pick his up and place his back in his bed.
In his teens, he become preoccupied with the streams, ponds and tiny swamps concealed in the forests near his house. He travels like a detective along the paths through the trees, holding a plastic flashlight the size of his forearm. He waits until after The Tonight Show is finished to disappear. He likes watching the comedians like David Brenner and Robert Klein – they’re suburban and cerebral and they don’t swear or make jokes about smoking weed. Those things make him uncomfortable.
He’ll crouch near the winding narrow streams and listen to the dark sounds: the water’s soft muttering and the things in the trees. One day he realizes that should he encounter anything out here, be it an angry hippy or a ghost, he would be at a tremendous advantage. He knows the ground better than a 18th century native guide.
One of his favorite games is to recede so far into the shrubs and ferns that the absence of light becomes almost convenient. The same dark exists when his eyelids are tightly closed as does when they are wide open. The leaves obscure the moon, leaving only a mist that reminds him of the light. He thinks about the black and white moves that start at 2AM on PBS. A Midsummernight’s Dream with Victor Jory. Wuthering Heights.
He stays out for no more than an hour. Any longer seems indulgent or risky. He’ll return home and eat the chicken sandwich his mother leaves in the fridge for him.