Night and Power
William D. Facteau

The night the lights went out, we went out. Wandering. Exploring. Seeing what our town looked like without power (now we had the power, us boys).

We came to a gas station that was totally dark, without power. Empty of cars. Empty of power to pump gas. Empty of people except for an old man with a flashlight. He sat in a plastic chair, by the pumps. He pointed his light at us. We laughed at him, an old man, powerless. He pointed a gun at us and told us to get the hell out of here. We ran away, laughing. Even weapons had no power over us.

We came to a grocery store. Dark, without power. People were buying flashlights and bottled water and boxes of corn flakes. A voice was shouting "No credit cards allowed. Only real money." Money was power there, but we didn't need money. In the darkness, ducking the scanning flashlights, moving fast through the aisles, we took what we wanted: candy bars and beer, Halloween masks and potato chips.

We came to a circle of cars. Headlights pointed into the middle. Loud music. Dancing. We moved in for a closer look. Wearing our masks, we were unknown. We had our beer. We had power. Bottles were being passed. Men and women were drinking. There was laughing. There was a fight. Men and women were kissing, hugging, and doing other things in the dark spaces between the cars. A man noticed us. He pointed at us, laughing. They came and took our beer. They took away our masks and put them on, pushing their faces at each other, laughing. One of them held out a bottle to us, still laughing. We backed away. Now they had the power. We didn't. We turned and ran.

We came to a liquor store, front window broken out. People inside, dark people, moving in the darkness. A man ran out with bottles in his arms. Two men carried out a cash register. Other men came out with cases of bottles. Booze. They had power in numbers. We had no power there. We went on down the street.

We came to the 7-11 store, the place that sold hot dogs and ice cream bars. It was on fire. People were running out of the store, carrying things. After a while, the fire came out of the store's broken front window and started reaching, reaching high into the night sky with fingers of yellow and orange. We decided it was none of our business. We went on.

We came to a check-chasing store. Broken glass was on the sidewalk. We went inside. One of us lit a match. Scattered papers, an empty safe. Farther on, in a back room, another match showed us a man lying on the floor. He was staring up at the ceiling. Blood was coming out of his head. The blood was dark on the white tile floor, like a shadow. Somebody was coming. A flashlight. Power. Too much power. We ran. Somebody yelled. We ran faster. We ran all the way home.

We huddled together in the darkness. Listening. In the distance, we heard screeching tires, music, people shouting, maybe gunfire.

Then the power came back on. The light came back on. The Playstation 3 came back on. The Grand Theft Auto game restarted.

We heard sirens from the direction of downtown. We heard megaphones commanding, garbled words, but powerful. Gunshots followed. The shots were not all that close, but we were all sure we had heard gunshots.

More sirens, coming closer.

We ran to the window. A fire truck roared past. Then a police car. Power was being reestablished out there. The lights had reestablished the power.

We decided to go back to playing Grand Theft Auto. We focused on the game, not one of us saying out loud that we hoped our parents would come home soon.

Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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