Can anyone actually buy peace or happiness? Perplexed by the loss of job and fiancé, Timothy Ray makes a symbolic purchase of the sun for a dollar to try to right things in his slightly off course career trajectory. When he stumbles upon a brilliant, cascading sunrise and then a chance meeting with a statuesque blonde he feels his life is about to change for the better but his new girlfriend is a spy, working for a contracted data mining firm.
Timothy responded to a faint sound in his sleep, it was distant and it caused him to turn. His hearing attuned to the discord, it was the damned giggling again. Forcing his eyes open, he listened intently. No sound other than a clock ticking. Then a cat cried. Tossing his covers off, he slipped into slippers, grabbed a flashlight from a drawer and bounded out his kitchen door.
They’ve got to be there. They even startled the neighbourhood cat. Timothy chugged along, breathing heavy, stabbing pains shooting through his barely protected feet. “I’ll get you, you bastards!” It was still dark and a few lights were on in houses across the woods, peering at him like eyes. He surmised it was early morning. His alarm hadn’t gone off yet. “Fuck it.” It was his usual catch phrase lately, for everything, whether it was burnt toast or another bill he feared he couldn’t pay. Timothy heard a stir in the woods to his right. He smiled but it wasn’t happiness that flashed across his face. He was invested in catching the bastards, his job be damned. He’d take a sick day. Why worry about serving out his last few days for a company that was shipping American jobs to India?
The hunt continued, Timothy fumbling in the darkness. He nearly fell over a rock but grabbed a thin tree trunk to regain immediate purchase. Leaves chattered underneath his feet as if they were cheering him on. A bird of some kind wailed from above, mimicking human language as if a parrot. Timothy’s mind filled in what he thought the bird might be saying: Over there! Over there!
The pursuit continued until Timothy entered a small clearing. Trees and rocks circled the barren ground as if they respected it. Flashing his light on the ground, Timothy wondered about the unusual spot. Maybe it was just his mind getting the better of him but he imagined some kind of ritual taking place. Perhaps his intruders were into some kind of craft. Maybe they burned things in this circle. It was a horrifying thought and Timothy imagined the stray neighbourhood cat possibly falling victim. No! You’ll pay for your crimes. Desperate, Timothy shined his flashlight this way and that with no regard to the beam’s influence and that it was entering into homes across the way. A few more lights clicked on in the homes, more eyes focusing on his crazed witch hunt.
Okay, why aren’t you helping me? Timothy’s face soured. He realized it was a selfish notion. What did these distant neighbours have to do with his robbery and decaying lifestyle? At that instant, Timothy recalled a phrase he heard in church as a boy. It was about helping yourself. If you helped yourself, you’d be helped. He wasn’t quite sure if it was even a phrase. He’d become disenchanted with religion and Kevin teased him about his agnostic stance on more than one occasion; one conversation became very heated. “Well how on the Earth do you think the birds, bees and plants got here? There’s a grand design, even right down to the beer you’re swilling.” They didn’t speak for a few days. Timothy had been taught to believe in evolution over creationism. Right now, standing alone in the woods, Timothy began to consider a third option, an intentional design possibly initiated by a creator such as a God or maybe by some grand purveyor of the universe which interweaved with everything and everyone but remained invisible and shapeless. Kevin might even have an explanation for this. But Kevin wasn’t here at the moment to ease his despondency.
I’d sure like your assistance right about now. Not that I won’t do my part. Timothy shrugged his shoulders and clicked off the light, the beginning rays of dawn were cascading over the wooded area. Some spots glistened from the golden rays and it appeared as if leaves were on fire, glowing gold like small treasures. It was grand; possibly a grand design after all just as Kevin said.
What power the sun had, turning darkness into light! Maybe he hadn’t really noticed or appreciated it before because he was always dashing off to work, annoyed and immersed in traffic and other mundane ventures.
But where were the girls? He was certain he heard them, not in his sleep, but in his waking moments. His hand gripped the flashlight tighter with determination. Maybe they couldn’t exist in the light and were vermin who needed to scurry back into a dark, concealed vestige.
If so, it was a small moment of victory for Timothy Ray. He took comfort in thinking the evil couldn’t enjoy the golden moments of light. He dropped his flashlight and raised his hands skyward, inviting the light to wash over him. He mocked himself after a moment. Well, if this isn’t self love I don’t know what is. He chuckled. If Kevin could see me, he still wouldn’t believe it.
Timothy walked with purpose back home, confident he had chosen a new, informed path; maybe not literally but figuratively. He felt transformed and wondered if the cackle of the girls was not a taunt but an invitation, in some roundabout way, to right his journey.
Everything happens for a reason. It was another favourite line of Kevin’s who believed in synchronicity and that there were no coincidences. Attuned to light, love and hope, Timothy entered his bedroom and rummaged through a drawer where his phone and iPad resided, switched off for the night. His ex had taken the big screen TV and computer. He reflected it was for the better because if she had left them the robbers would have stolen them. No coincidences.
He still had the means to connect with the outside world despite everything that happened and Timothy was determined to make use of it. He Googled, searching for every fact he could find about the sun. It was almost 93 million miles away but people had to wear sunscreen because its glorious rays were determined to reach them, no matter what. It gave us vitamins. It even gave us the intangible; it was a favourite metaphor for hope.
It was too glorious to be ignored so Timothy set his mind to honouring it. He wondered how he could make a connection being so far away. Then he recalled people paid to have star systems named after them. It seemed a ridiculous idea. People paying for something they really couldn’t own. How could anybody own far away objects in the sky? He scratched at the stubble on his chin. Maybe it wasn’t so crazy because it gave the owner’s some kind of hope or gratification that they were connected to the grandness of the universe.
Timothy cupped his hands together as if in prayer. “I know I don’t have much to offer. I would like to buy the sun for a small sum. Would a dollar do?” Sun glinted through the window and onto his bedspread before disappearing. Timothy took it as a sign, a cosmic nod. “It was a pleasure doing business with you.”
The private negotiation would not suffice. Timothy needed to tell the world. What better way to self-broadcast than the social media sensation called Lifestream.
He posted: ‘I’m feeling great today. I just got a great deal on a wondrous light. I bought it for just a dollar.’
As soon as Timothy posted the declaration he felt anxious. Was it a good idea to broadcast the selling price? Now everyone would want what he bought. He read his post again and smiled. He had been cryptic, never referencing the sun by name.
A reply to his post appeared a few seconds later: ‘Sounds great. Wishing you all success the day may bring.’ The post was by someone named Maggie, a woman he barely recalled befriending on the site.
“Wow!” Timothy rubbed his hands together. Already people were sending him positive messages, near strangers at that!
Timothy phoned into work, made a veggie smoothie and changed into fresh clothing. When he returned to Lifestream, he was notified that fifty-three people had responded to his post. Lightheaded, he scrolled through the comments.
‘Some light! I wish I had bought it!’
‘Can I go shopping with you? I can’t find anything for a dollar, even at the Dollar Store!’
‘May the blessed light wash over you, Timothy.’
‘May the light be as glorious as you can imagine it to be!’
Timothy couldn’t place the responders as anyone he had ever corresponded with prior. He vaguely recalled befriending them but nothing other than a passing ‘hello’ was ever said between them.
Suddenly and miraculously all these positive people were on his side for a change. If only his ex could witness this. For a moment, he played with the idea of reposting his message on her Lifestream page, that is, if she hadn’t already deleted him from her ‘life’ network. The responses made him rethink. He should be generous with his new find.
“I guess I seized the day.” Timothy clapped his hands together; it was a gesture he hadn’t made since he was a teen in reaction to some new experience he was introduced to when life really was a joyous adventure.
Feeling anything was possible instead of improbable; Timothy opened his front door and inhaled deeply. A cry came at his feet.
Timothy scooped the grey, mewling creature into his arms.
“So, are you finally ready for a home?” Timothy rubbed his chin against the cat’s furry face, feeling great relief the stray hadn’t met a fiery demise.
Tim grabbed the cat’s paw and made a waving motion toward the universe. “Together my new friend, we’ll transform our lives. Just you wait and see.”
About Gary Starta
Gary Starta began writing as a journalist where he covered the police beat, town meetings and interviewed local artists. His inspiration to tell stories did not stop with newspaper reporting when he began writing fiction in 2004 at the very strong suggestion of a girlfriend. Now, with 17 books written, he foresees many more stories on the horizon whether they be contemporary, romance, thrillers, sci fi/fantasy or murder/crime.
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