Thomas Doty – Storyteller

Coyote & Friends

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And Make No Lights
by Chet Nickerson

On a moonless night in the mountains, the quiet and the darkness engulf everything. One can shelter there, in a canyon, in the velvet blackness beneath an impenetrable evergreen canopy, hidden from all the world. The darkness can be so complete that one can see absolutely nothing, not the ground below one's feet, not the sky above or the branch two inches in front of one's face. One cannot see one's own body, or the imminent abyss.

You inch forward, feeling with your feet, and pee close to camp. You breathe softly and a snapping twig sounds like a thunderclap. Lost in thought, you come to with a start and touch your body to see if it still exists.

Far in the lowland distance, an automobile's headlights scar the night and the hiss of tires echoes up the canyon. Those in the car, their movements, their existence, are utterly exposed for miles around. When the auto stops and its lights go out, you cannot help but mark that spot in the darkness. You remain aware that that auto and its inhabitants are still there, somewhere within a circle bound by foot travel and time, and you await their departure. The silent darkness is your home now and the noise and light of an unknown automobile strikes you like a violation. A foolish violation, for watching from the darkness may be -- who knows? Yes ... what other Watchers must there not be in the night? Watchers who must have marked your spot in the darkness as well. These answers, like those you came here after, lie in shadows; so you join these hidden eyes in secrecy, and make no lights.