Star Gazing

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Short story about two teenagers trying to find entertainment in a very sleepy town.

Submitted: August 19, 2017

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Submitted: August 19, 2017

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Star Gazing

 

Levy my best friend is mad about astronomy, no matter what it is, if it has got anything to do with the stars, he is into it. His room is not like the room you’d expect from a sixteen-year-old, although he likes hard rock, there are no posters of bands or even sexy female rockers, his entire wall space is dedicated to just that, space. There are pictures of almost every spacecraft that has ever left our planet, and he has a large collection of blow ups of pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. Needless to say, he has an extensive library on the subject too, and there are some nice models of rockets on some of the bookshelves. Today he invited me because his latest asset had arrived; a brand new telescope with an enormous focal length, whatever that is.
I was glad Levy had asked me to come over. It meant I wouldn’t have to spend the night at home, where the highlight of the evening would be watching a rerun of one of those seventies’ series my father liked. Sometimes, I think, television was invented just to give people in towns like ours an alternative to murdering the neighbours, because there is nothing else to do. The joke is that in case of a nuclear war people should flee to our town, because everything happens here thirty years later. That’s an exaggeration, it doesn’t happen thirty years later, it just doesn’t happen period. It is a dead end town on the edge of the desert. The only claim to fame there is, is the fact that Gwen Lansford, the buxom actress that stars in some fifteen horrors movies, lives in a villa at the bottom of McCabe’s Rock at the outskirt of the town. All local people know this, but they hardly ever see her, because she doesn’t even do her grocery shopping in the town itself, and she probably stays home watches at night too, because there is no nightlife.
When I stepped into Levy’s room he was sitting on the bed, polishing the lenses of his new telescope with a piece of cloth.
“Isn’t she a beauty,” he said and held up the new optical instrument.
“It looks strange,” I said. “Squat. I thought you said it was long.”
“You’re such an ignoramus,” Levy said with hurt in his voice. “It is really special. Its focal length is incredible. Especially for an amateur telescope.  They used this special mirror system inside, so they could keep the thing itself short. With this thing I can see that zit on your forehead from a mile off.”
I wasn’t impressed, and didn’t react.
“You’ll see later on. We’ll give it a try McCabe’s Rock. I’ll show you some incredible stars, and who knows, we might even see a nebula.”
“Sure, “I said lukewarm. I didn’t know what he was talking about.
Ten minutes later we were on top of McCabe’s Rock, where Levy mounted the telescope on a heavy tripod, He started scouring the sky. The lack of moisture in the atmosphere made it possible to see thousands of stars.
“Have a look, “Levy said. “You can see Mars over there.” He pointed his finger at a region that didn’t look any different from the other regions.
I Walked over to the tripod and squinted through the lens. Suddenly the sky exploded into a couple of million little specks. The telescope really made a difference.
“The big light in the middle, that’s Mars,” Levy explained.  “I’ll find you some other interesting stuff.”
He pushed me to the side and for twenty minutes he showed me stars he could name and a nebula. It was okay, but I couldn’t muster the enthusiasm my friend had for that stuff.
Finally he said: “Here have a go yourself. I’m going to get some Cokes from the car. Then he walked away. I looked though the telescope again, but got bored with it almost immediately. I decided to have a look at my friend so I turned the telescope around and pointed it in the direction of the spot where the car was parked. It was tricky to aim the telescope, because when I looked through it, I saw I had missed the car, but instead had found a light. I couldn’t see what it was, it was completely out of focus, so I started turning the rings in front of the eye piece. Suddenly it all sprang into focus. The telescope was pointed at a lit window, a bedroom window, and in the centre of the images there was a woman, getting undressed. When she had slid out of her dress, she turned around and walked towards a walk-in closet. I recognized the face, it was Gwen Lansford, she looked terrific.
Five minutes later Levy returned with the two cokes. When I heard him climb the path, I trained the telescope on the sky again.
“Seen some interesting stars?” he asked, as opened a bottle before handing it to me.
“Yes, I did,” I answered. “There is something to this star gazing after all. I must get myself one of these things.”

Bert Broomberg 19-8-2017



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