Then the Moth Showed Up

Did you ever have to hold the flashlight for your dad while he worked on something? Man, I hated that! When you’re a kid, flashlights seem to want to point everywhere except where they’re supposed to.

I was about twelve, the old man was working on his old truck, and when dark-thirty settled in, he yelled for me to bring the flashlight. Oh, jeez. Here we go.

He was cussing, twisting bolts, and busting his knuckles, while I tried to keep the flashlight aimed where he was working. Every few seconds, it would, of its own accord, drift downward, and he’d yell, “BOY!” When my heart would start beating again, I’d point the flashlight back to where he was working.

Then the moth showed up. Cool. I chased it with the flashlight beam, not noticing the old man had stopped twisting the bolt. Round and round it went, zigging and zagging, gone and then back.

“BOY!” the old man bellowed. My brain ceased to function, and what I did next will live in the annals of boyhood blunders for eternity.


The face a boy sees when he points the flashlight in his dad’s eyes.

“What!” I yelled, pointing the flashlight into his eyes. The look of sheer rage in those pale blue eyes almost made me wet my pants! I was gonna die.

An angel saved me from certain death.

“Guys,” mom sang from the porch. “Supper’s ready.”

He blinked and then raised a greased-streaked hand to shield his eyes. I dropped the flashlight, and bolted for the house.

When he came to the dinner table, he placed the flashlight beside my plate, grinned, and said, “You dropped this, son.” One could never tell what thoughts lurked behind his grin, but most of the time it turned out they weren’t good thoughts. And, him calling me son instead of boy was equivalent to mom using my first, middle and last name; I’d stepped in the deep stuff.

I looked up at him thinking, I’m not gonna live long enough to be a teenager.




  1. Sherry Mashburn said

    I can see this playing in my mind . . . a little boy mesmerized by a fluttering moth while the dad looks on in utter amazement that said boy is not paying attention to the job at hand.

    • Amazement… yeah, that’s what it was! Gotta look at it from the right perspective!

  2. Gary said

    Lucky your still with us Charlie.

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