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Blackman Boys
Part 3 – Rage, Rage Against the Spreading of the Light

by Eric Blyton

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Copyright on this story text belongs at all times to the original author only, whether stated explicitly in the text or not. The original date of posting to the MMSA was: 19 Sep 2006

Timmy Blackman lay face down on the floor of the living room, his chin cradled in the palms of his hands and his legs bent up at the knees while he absently kicked his bare feet together in the air. Every now and then he would reach down and turn one of the pages of the thick volume that was open in front of him. He loved the sound that the Sears catalogue made when he turned the pages, that crisp, crinkly sound. Timmy stared at the items listed on the page for long minutes before turning another page and finding more things to dream about.

Like many children in the 1950's and 60's, Timmy's parents bought his birthday present from the Sears catalog. Oh, you could go to a store and find something, but there was never as much stuff to choose from as there was in the pages of that magical book. Timmy could (and did) spend hours looking at all the wonderful toys splashed over the pages with smiling boys like him demonstrating how much fun they were to play with. Picking out his present was half the fun with each toy he tried to imagine what he could do with it, how much fun it was and weather or not he could play with it by himself or if he was going to need the cooperation of Michael and/or Mathew to really enjoy it. Timmy didn't mind playing with his brothers, but he hated when he was ready to play and he couldn't get one of them interested, so he avoided asking for presents that needed two or more players. He was in no hurry to make up his mind; his birthday wasn't for another month and he was quite happy to spend a summer's afternoon dreaming about all these toys.

After a while, he decided to venture beyond the toy section of the catalog just to see what else was there. He flicked through the section of boys' clothes, sighing as he recognized the sports jacket that his mother had purchased for him and made him wear to church. He giggled when he saw the underwear page; I mean; everybody wore underwear but to have your picture taken with nothing else on and to have everybody see it? Timmy bet that those smiling boys dressed in their briefs got teased at school over it. He grunted in disgust over the girl section with their baby dolls and frilly clothes, turning the pages as fast as he could. He wound up in the back of the catalog and after passing some boring things like tool sets, he noticed a few things that looked more interesting.

There were some pool tables, for example. Daddy had talked about getting a pool table and setting it up in the basement. Wouldn't that be fun, to be able to go downstairs and play pool whenever you wanted? Mathew was probably too young, though. Daddy was probably waiting for him to be a few years older 'cause a four-year old was too much of a baby to be playing pool. Anyway, no way that Timmy would get a pool table for his birthday he saw the dollar amount and that just wasn't happening.

A few more pages later, Timmy saw something that he had never considered but all of a sudden knew that was what he wanted. Spread out over two pages were pictures of shiny new telescopes. Last year in science class, he had learned for the first time about the planets. The textbook had pictures of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars and Timmy had been fascinated. He had gotten an 'A' in science that term and he couldn't stop looking at the pictures of the planets and stars. How much fun would it be to have a telescope in his own backyard where he could look at them every night? Could he really talk Daddy into buying him one for his birthday? He looked at the price it was more expensive than anything he'd gotten for his birthday before, but not that much more so. Plus, he was going to be eight; weren't you supposed to get bigger stuff as you got older? He thought about it for a long time, flicking back to the pages of toys as he considered his chances. Somehow, as fun as all that stuff looked, they paled in comparison to the thought having his own telescope.

He waited for Daddy to come home before saying anything to anybody. When Mr. Blackman was sitting in his chair and reading his book, Timmy went to the fridge and poured a glass of lemonade.

"I brought 'cha some lemonade, Daddy," he said, presenting it to his father.

"Well, thank you, Timmy," Daddy said. "That was very nice and thoughtful of you." He took a big gulp and set the glass down on the table next to his chair. Having softened him up, Timmy figured he better strike while the iron was hot.

"Daddy? I think I know what I want for my birthday," he said. "Can I show you?"

Daddy smiled and told him he could, so he got the Sears catalog and climbed up into Daddy's lap. He had marked the page, so he knew just where to open it. Pointing tentatively toward the picture of the least expensive telescope he looked up at Daddy, preparing himself for a gentle but firm rejection. Daddy looked at the telescope and then looked Timmy squarely in the eyes. The fact that he did not immediately shoot down the idea made the boy's heart hammer in his chest. Was there hope?

"You know that's a bit expensive, Timmy," Daddy said.

"I know, Daddy, but I really, really want it," Timmy said softly, making very sure to keep his voice from sounding whiny.

"I remember you looking at those pictures of the planets in your schoolbook, Timmy, but keep in mind that those were taken from the Mt. Palomar Observatory that's the biggest telescope in the whole world. The planets won't look near as big in a backyard telescope."

"I know, Daddy, but I'd still be able to see Saturn's rings, wouldn't I? And the Great Red Spot on Jupiter? And it would be MY telescope and I could look at them any time I wanted."

"Let me think about this, Timmy," Daddy said. "It is a lot of money to spend and I'm not totally convinced that you won't just look in it a time or two and then leave it in the garage. I'm not saying no, but I'm also not saying yes. Understand?"

"Yes, Daddy." Timmy knew better than to push the issue by insisting that he would use it all the time. He'd gotten his father to consider it and that was really the best he could have hoped for.

Later that evening after the boys had finished clearing off the table, Daddy tapped Timmy on his shoulder.

"Come outside with me for a bit, Timmy," he said. Wondering what was up, the boy followed his father into the backyard. Mr. Blackman turned off the porch light and pointed up to the heavens.

"There are lots of things in the sky besides the planets, Timmy," he said. And lots of them you can see without a telescope. Would you like to learn about them?"

Timmy was astute enough to realize that his father was testing him to see how interested he was, so of course he said yes. Daddy spread out a blanket on the grass and lay on his back. Timmy snuggled up next to him, enjoying the warm feel of his father's body next to his.

"Let's start with something easy," Daddy said. "See those three bright stars there in a line? Those are the belt of Orion, the Hunter. And those three below are his sword."

And as Timmy lay there, Daddy showed him the rest of the stars in the constellation. It did require a bit of imagination to see a man made up of the star pattern, but Timmy found he could do it. Then Daddy started telling him a story, of how great a hunter Orion was and all the things he did, but how he was eventually killed by a scorpion but then the Gods put him in the sky. Timmy was fascinated; it made the stars that much more interesting to know the story behind them.

"Show me another one, Daddy!" he begged. Daddy pointed out some other things in the sky that were part of the Orion story the bull Taurus that he had been hunting, his two dogs (and pointing out the Dog Star Sirius, the brightest star in the sky) and even the seven sisters that Orion had been chasing, the Pleiades. Timmy could have stayed out there all night laying next to Daddy in the warm summer night, but his father told him that it was time to go inside and get ready for bed. Before they got up, Daddy asked Timmy to point out all the constellations he had showed him and Timmy got every one. Daddy was especially pleased that he remembered the name of Rigel, the brightest star in Orion.

The next night, they were back outside again. Timmy pointed out the constellations he had learned again and then Daddy showed him some new ones and told him another story.

"How do you know all this, Daddy?" Timmy asked as he rested his head on his father's chest.

"You know Grandpa Joe was a fisherman, right? Well, he used to take me out in the boat some nights and in between setting the nets, he'd tell me all these stories about the stars. It was great because there were no lights out on the water, so every thing was perfect for looking at the sky. It's a pity that the streetlights here don't make it as easy, but we can still see most of the stars. One night, I'll have to take you camping out in the countryside so you can see what I mean about a dark sky."

And so it went for the next couple of weeks. Michael and Mathew came out once or twice, but they got bored and went back inside to watch TV or read comic books. Timmy was glad; he liked having something that was special to just him and Daddy. Of course, some nights were cloudy and they couldn't see the sky, but the ones that were clear made up for it. Timmy didn't bring up the telescope again; even if Daddy decided not to buy him one, he just enjoyed looking at the sky. But eventually Daddy himself brought it up.

"Timmy," he said one evening after telling him the story of Hercules, "You know my birthday is a few weeks after yours?"

"Yes, Daddy."

"Well, you don't know this but I always wanted a telescope as well, but something else was always more pressing. I spoke to your mother she said that if I wanted, rather than her buy me something for my birthday, I can just take the money and put it towards a telescope. If we combined the money from my birthday with the money for yours, we could get an even better telescope than the one you asked for. But if we do that, it would be yours and mine together to share, you understand?"

"Oh, wow, Daddy that would be so great!" Timmy was blown away. He had not even dreamed of owning one of the bigger telescopes in the catalog.

"If you're okay with it, then I'll order one tomorrow. It'll be here in time for your birthday and you can have it then."

Timmy could hardly get to sleep after that and the next couple of weeks passed with agonizing slowness. He looked at the catalog when Daddy wasn't around, trying to guess which model he'd be getting. His best guess was the one model just above the cheapest one. There was a big jump in price, but it was nearly twice as good. The most he could hope for was the 7 inch one just above that it wasn't that much more expensive, but he didn't think Daddy would go that high.

Eventually, his birthday rolled around. The day started with Daddy coming into the boys' bedroom and giving Timmy his birthday spanking. His father playfully put him across his lap, eased his briefs down and gave him nine light slaps on his bare behind (eight years plus one to grow on!). After that, he helped get things ready for his birthday party. In addition to his brothers, he invited eight other boys from school and one cousin who he liked a lot. Mom and Dad had planned a really fun party all sorts of games and other things to keep a dozen little boys happy and active for a few hours. At last he was allowed to open his presents he got some cool toys and stuff from the other boys and his brothers (as well as some clothes and such from his aunts and uncles including a couple of packs of underwear with a picture of an immodest boy in briefs on them). He thanked everybody, but he was looking for the grand prize. At last Daddy brought it up from the basement.

"This was just too big to wrap, Timmy," Daddy said, "But I don't think you'll mind."

Mind? Timmy was stunned. The box was HUGE! Forget the 7 inch telescope he considered out of reach, Daddy had bought the 10 inch one! All of his friends were very impressed as he opened the box and they saw it inside. It would have to be assembled, but Timmy could hardly wait to do that. All his fiends wanted to plan sleepovers so they could look in his telescope, but Daddy was firm that it couldn't be tonight. Timmy was just as glad he wanted it to be just him and Daddy at first.

As soon as his guests had left (and he made sure to thank them all for coming) he and Daddy were putting it together. Michael was actually somewhat interested and helped put it together as well, while Mathew was content to play with some of Timmy's new toys by himself.

"Is it okay if I look in it some tonight, too, Timmy?" Michael asked as he helped tighten some of the screws in the tripod.

"It's half Daddy's telescope, too, remember," Timmy said, "so you really don't have to ask me. If you ask Daddy and it's he says okay, then it's okay. But it's okay with me, yea."

"That's my big boy," Daddy said, running his hands through Timmy's buzzcut blonde hair.

Along with the telescope, he also got a really cool set of star charts and a couple books on astronomy. They showed him where and when he could find the visible plants Jupiter would not be up until long after his bedtime, but Saturn would be there. At last darkness fell and they took the telescope outside. Daddy turned it first toward the crescent Moon. Timmy was blown away by the craters and the mountains they looked so close! He made sure and let his brothers have long turns looking, too and even Mathew said about how neat it was. Next up was Saturn and sure enough, there were the magnificent rings! After seeing that, Michael and Mathew went back inside, but Timmy stayed out with Daddy for hours finding and looking at things. He got frustrated because some of the things he really wanted to see were close to the horizon and the street lights made them too hard to see. Timmy found himself wishing for a blackout.

Eventually, Daddy told him that it was bedtime and he went reluctantly. Michael and Mathew were already in their beds and they both agreed that Timmy had gotten a really cool present. He was half expecting them to be jealous, but he was careful not to brag about it and also dropped hints that Daddy would probably by them each a nice present when their birthdays rolled around just to be fair.

For the next week, Timmy was out in the backyard every night. He was learning to find things on his own so Daddy didn't always have to be there. Sometimes he'd see something really cool and he'd go in and get Michael and show him (Mathew just wasn't interested after the first couple of times) and his big brother was nice enough to come out and share in his excitement. If anything frustrated Timmy it was that Daddy was firm about bedtime and that so many things seemed to hover on the horizon, washed out by the hateful streetlights. One of the things Timmy most wanted to see was the Andromeda Galaxy, but he was unable to penetrate the glare on the western horizon. Eventually, he decided to take action.

Michael had a slingshot, but he never used it. Timmy had sort of taken it over so Michael didn't notice when his brother hid it under his bed one night along with some steel ball-bearings. Mom was away for the weekend visiting her sister and after an hour of telescope viewing, Timmy went to bed with his brothers. He made himself stay away, biting his lip when he got too sleepy. He knew that with Daddy being by himself, he'd read for a bit and then go to sleep. Watching the clock in the faint moonlight that streamed in the window, Timmy decided that enough time had passed. He took out a hidden T-shirt and shorts from under the bed and slipped them on over his briefs. Slingshot in hand, he stole out of the room and went to the back door. Daddy had locked it, but he turned the knob and it opened silently. Feeling a bit more confident now, he made his way to the gate and onto the back street. Timmy stood in the shadow of a leafy tree and took aim at the streetlight. He pulled back the slingshot and let it go. The steel ball flew through the air and crashed into the bulb. It exploded with a popping sound and Timmy retreated under a low bush, heart beating from an adrenaline rush. How lucky was it to take it out on the first go! While it had made some noise, it was not nearly as loud as Timmy had been expecting. He counted the ball-bearings in his pocket, if his aim was like that every time, he'd be able to plunge the whole street into darkness. He moved down to the next light this one took three shots before he put it out, but on the third one he got it with one again. He reversed direction and went after the two on the other side of the house. He used up five shots with that, but he had two left. Timmy decided that they would be best used on the streetlight in front of the house. He had avoided it because it was more open there, but making that one go out would be worth it. He stood by Daddy's car and aimed. The first shot was just off; ricocheting off the pole. He took out his last bit of ammo and lined it up. Up into the air it went, right into the thin glass. The street went dark and Timmy smiled. Oh, he knew that the electric company would come and