Telescope – story fragment

A boy saw a comet one night and begged his father to get him a telescope. He sat up late whenever the moon was in its smallest phases and stared at the constellations in the deep black Ohio night. Four months later he turned 11 and he got only one present, a five-inch refractor telescope.

He saw the red of Antares, the blue of Betelgeuse, and a cluster of stars that had been only a pin-prick before. He saw Mars cross the sky, night after night, then spin backwards, then forwards again. He watched the skies for four more years.

It was an unusually clear September night, when a few chilly gusts had come down from Canada and cleared out the summer haze. It was after 11, and his little neighborhood was nearly pitch black. He saw a tiny dot in Orion that seemed to be moving south, fast. He swung his scope around and zeroed it in with the wide-angle, but he couldn’t keep up with it. He set the scope ahead of it and dropped in a bigger eyepiece. He held his breath.

The dot raced across his narrowed field of view, and in that instant he saw that it wasn’t a dot; it was a triangle. He stood back up and looked with his eyes, and blinked. It looked bigger. In the next few seconds it grew to the size of a bright star, as though it were falling to earth. Then the dot, the triangle, changed direction. It took a long left curve, then stopped and zigged right, and headed back to the top of the sky. He could clearly see its triangular shape with his naked eye. The triangle continued to grow. It became as big as the moon and kept growing, faster. It looked almost like it was going to come down right on top of him. He thought about shelter, but he couldn’t take his eyes off it. It was as big as the old church steeple now, and pulsing with a blue glow. It was right over him, the size of a tractor trailer, at least, but still with no sound. The hair on his arms stood up, but not from fear. There was a crackle of electricity in the air and he felt dizzy. Then the triangle–it looked more like a pyramid now–swept on past and disappeared over the oak grove by the pond.

He went back in the house. He got his dad’s army flashlight and binoculars and pulled his bike out from behind the shed. He could be at the pond in five minutes, and in the fields outside of town in eight. He was gonna see if this thing really was what he hoped it would be.

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William C. Hardy

In the spring of 2010, Heather and I took Jade to New York City to see Wicked. We stayed in a hotel just off of Times Square and spent a few days finding whatever we could see around Manhattan for free or nearly so. One of those excursions was to Greenwich Village and the Flat Iron, and aside from exotic cooking supplies, a beautiful children’s book shop, imported silk lanterns, a cute little boutique second-hand clothing shop, and premium cupcakes, we found a cultural icon.

The Chelsea Hotel has been home to Mark Twain and William S. Burroughs, Stanley Kubrick and Uma Thurman, Frida Kahlo and Jasper Johns, as well as Tom Waits, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, John Cale, Édith Piaf, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Vivian Stanshall, Rufus Wainwright, and of course, Leonard Cohen. Just sitting in the lobby was … kind of spiritual.

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My website, with more images and writings: williamchardy.com