A Speck of Light by John Wentworth Chapin

As the closing credits roll for Spinal Tap, I click off the VCR and TV. Bobby is stoned past the point of giggling. He grunts and says, “That’s true, you know, what they said about the drummer and spontaneous combustion.”

I’m still staring at that little spot in the center of the television, waiting for it to wick out. It’s an old one, rabbit ears and all. I need new friends or something.

“My grandfather knew a guy who died of spontaneous combustion,” Bobby says. “Wait, no, my grandfather died of it. The whole inside of his truck got crisped.”

No, he probably didn’t, I think. I wish we were at Bobby’s so I could take off, but instead I just stare at my TV. Out of the corner of my eye, I see him digging around in the ashtray.

“Is your wife coming back?” he asks.

This startles me; I wonder what he knows about Heather. I turn to look at him. He’s offering me a tiny wedge of juice-soaked paper wisping thin smoke from the dim ember. He doesn’t know anything about anything.

I turn to look back at the TV, but the light has winked out. I take the roach from Bobby gingerly and hold it to my lips. I want to tell him she spontaneously combusted, but I don’t. I kill the joint instead.


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Filed under John Wentworth Chapin

8 responses to “A Speck of Light by John Wentworth Chapin

  1. Len

    nice job of weaving in and out and building tension. felt like a lot longer piece than it was, which is a good thing.

  2. There’s great character interaction here, John. I like the differences between the two. Well done.

  3. Good job playing with knowing vs. rumors. What Bobby knows about Heather probably holds as much weight for him as the average urban legend.

  4. This seemed like high school kids in their parents basement until he asked about the wife. How sad.

    Well written.

  5. Kim Hutchinson

    Touching and well written. I like that he decides to say nothing.

  6. Telling cross-section of an evening. The tension ebbs and flows. magnified and diminished the way words and actions are when stoned. Great stuff. Peace…

  7. I like the little spot in the centre of the television! (earth? universe?). I like the way this plays on the mind when the narrator, startled, turns to look at Bobby. Great characters. Thanks.

  8. Pingback: Week #33 – Spontaneous combustion | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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