Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Lost in Oil City -- post by Katee Fontane

"Look!" I exclaim, "Another one!"

It's the fifth shooting star I've seen in half an hour. There are so many of them tonight; I assume it has something to do with the meteor shower that's coming up in a few days. We're lying on the hood of his car, fingers intertwined, whispering secrets and watching the twinkling sky. He brought me here the first time we ever really hung out, when it was midnight and neither of us wanted sleep.

"I know this place," he said, "It has these towers with these red lights that kind of pulse."

I'd never seen anything like them. There are at least six huge towers, all with dozens of pulsing ruby red lights. The towers are almost invisible in the darkness, making it seem like enormous glowing gemstones are floating in the air.

This is our place, this highway bridge in the middle of nowhere. It's 1:30 in the morning and cars fly by every now and then. Frogs croak from trees in the woods on either side of us and mosquitoes bite at us every 30 seconds. It's noisy and slightly uncomfortable, but it's all that we've got. Generally we can stay there for a few hours until a police officer tells us to move along.

"Owwww, bright lights!" he says, shielding my eyes from the blinding headlights of an oncoming truck.

"Is it a cop?" I ask, squinting through his fingers.

The truck slows down and comes to a stop next to us.

"Now, I know it's a purty night an' all, but this is hardly the place to be watchin' the stars, innit it? Y'all need any help, ma'am?" asks the driver in an accent straight out of O Brother, Where Art Thou. He's got a trucker's cap on over his mullet and he seems friendly, but I'm a little wary nonetheless.

"No, sir, we're just lookin' up at the stars. We don't get to see many of them. We're from Shreveport," I add.

"Well, bless y'all's hearts. I tell ya, y'all should go up to the dam over yonder. It's a purtier sight, and ya ain't got to worry about cops er nothin' over there," he advises us. I didn't even know we could drive up on to the dam. He tells us to go up two stop lights and turn left, and we thank him and wish him a good night.

"That guy is my new favorite person ever," I announce. Auguste agrees with me. We find our way to the dam, but there's a fork in the road. One road that seems to lead to where we want to go says that it dead ends and Auguste doesn't know if he'll be able to turn around. Whilst we mull it over, a white truck speeds by and honks at us. It looks as though our new friend is trying to show us where to go. Admittedly, I'm getting a little creeped out.

We follow and find a whole big parking lot and an incredible view of the lake and the stars.

"Thank you so much!" I say to our guide.

"Yer welcome, ma'am. I just figgered I'd tell you, since it's a more gooder view and all."

"Yes, sir, it is. Like I said, we're from Shreveport, we don't see many stars."

"Well, this place ain't got a goddern thing in it, prolly never will, but we got these here stars. It's a good place to get lost in."

We all look up at the sky.

After saying goodbye, Auguste and I lay there for another half hour or so, excited about our new discovery. It's silent out here, but the mosquitoes have gotten worse, thanks to our close proximity to water. We decide to call it a night and make a mental note to bring bug spray next time. I don't mind the bugs so much, really. I can put up with almost anything if it means getting lost in the night sky.

Thank you to Brian at everythingshreveport for the use of the lovely shot of Fireworks - Rockets Over the Red! For more on why August 2007 is a fine time for stargazing click here. There's even a back-to-school star party at Sci-Port on August 12.

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