The Night Came Calling – Luke Timp

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We ask each of our NSLF interns to write a reflection on something they have learnt during their internship. Luke turned in this short story and we thought it appropriate to share with you all.

  “There’s something about the Moon that just trips you out. I swear. Just looking at it makes you feel weird.” Oscar stated, eyes wide in disbelief.

“Weird? The Moon? She’s a soulstress, that’s for sure. Decadent and depraved, maybe. Weird, surely not. Alive, most certainly.” I replied.

Oscar tipped the thick film of ash building up on the top of his cigarette out the window of his car. He was taking me for a drive. He had said earlier that he had been meaning to show me a place with a view for a little while now but hadn’t gotten around to it. I was always down for some earthly exploration. So it was natural that I found myself in the passenger seat of Oscar’s car, a place that felt almost as natural as my own bed. Of course we were driving. Like all good fiends, speed had become an addiction of sorts, one to add to the ranks. And we were speeding, all right. It was the perfect place for a conversation; two big bodies tucked into a hulking metal incarnation birthed in the frothy resolve of pure, unadulterated science and strapped into plush seats with all the power of a thousand sun gods roaring for hellish action at the tips of our eager fingers. It was truly decadence and depravity all in one, wrapped perfectly together in a tight little unit with the balance and harmony one only encounters in strange yogis who claim to have seen nirvana. All that power packed into four or five tons of machine and filtered into ready availability for any fiend that happened to get in. It was something truly rare and wonderful.

To be honest, I preferred bikes. There was just that much more freedom. What did Thompson say? It never got fast enough for me. The only real way to test your mettle was by riding it with all the pretensions stripped back, a feat only bikes could achieve. But then where would we have our lovely little conversations? Certainly not on bikes. Picture that! Two fiends screaming obscenities at each other in a crude attempt at conversation, words lost to the wind, and the pure speed of the situation making the poor schmuck who drew the short straw clinging for dear life on the back of the motorcycle appear to be little more than a ragdoll to the average passer-by. Oscar and I were men more cultured than that. Our adventures over bitumen, and off, had made us privy to the formal ways a road conversation should take place – in the comfort of a car, radio on, windows down, and with one hand on the steering wheel and one firmly clasping the gear stick.

It was the only real way to converse. I had found that by pushing myself to the outer edges of existence moments became crystallised. The usual overlapping of instinct and emotions dissipated like road signage in the rear view. Eyes forward. The only thing visible on the horizon the clear sense of what was what. No more confusion. No more bewildering lament. The only real, distinguishable thing, in these ephemeral moments, true wisdom. Insight. The knowledge resulting from deep introspection, where like stars aligned in the blinding night sky, your feelings, thoughts, and instincts come together in an awesome pastiche, revealing to you the way forward. What you must now do. The Ancients used to call it the Path. Different religions see it as a step forward on your Walk to higher consciousness. I like to think of it as the Reason why I speed.

The only way to truly know yourself is to come to being in the wake of raw nerve ends and fried brain cells. Raw and burnt, stupid and hurt, awakening from the stupor of life as if from a dream – that is where you will find a clear, thinking mind. That is where you will find the strength to go on, if you so choose. That is the power of vulnerability. It is key to realise, also, that different people take different routes to achieve a clear mind. Some people base jump. Others run triple marathons up hills and through deserts. Still, others find themselves hanging upside down, attached only to a blistering mountain side by archaic ropes and pulleys. There are even those amongst us, the scariest and craziest of all, who take sobriety for a full swing, peachy and content with their herbal teas and classical music and conservative being. For Oscar and I, speed was our route of choice. We had each taken different paths to get there in life, but having found each other we were now united by speed. Brothers in Speed. In Speed We Trust – and all the rest.

“Alive and breathing baby. Alive and speeding, baby.” Oscar laughed.

“Conscious and breathing, maybe. But alive and vulnerable? Surely not.”

I was really being a downer tonight, I thought.

“What you talking about man? I’m out here to show you a good time, a new spot! We been listening to some Kendrick, some beats, straight vibing. The usual! Ever since you dropped that pass and cost us a try last weekend you’ve been out of it.” Oscar knew me to well. He was calling me out.  “And I know it wasn’t the rugby that’s done it to ya!” He added with a grin, glancing in my direction.

Damn. He was good. He knew how to get to me. I was a pile of nerves and it was easy to see. I couldn’t mask my anxiety easily, not on nights like these. I looked out of my window, eyes turned skywards, and took in the full majesty of the moon. Oscar was right. It did trip you out. It was round and full and bigger than I had ever seen it. It hung so low in the sky, I swear I could’ve reached out and just touched it. Just taken a piece of it for myself, none too much and nothing too greedy, and just kept it hidden somewhere secret where only I knew of it. A place I could go to when I was feeling down or when my mood was sour or blue, where I could be in peace and quiet and sit still for a few hours, totally and utterly disconnected, and just sit there and play with my very own piece of the cosmos. La Luna. It would be mine and with that piece it would be as if the whole sky and all the heavens and even the very depths of the cosmos belonged to me. And in those moments, perhaps, I might feel like it was possible. That I could keep marching onwards to infinity. That one day the yearning deep inside myself would be sated, and the search for more would be over. The decadence to be found in vulnerability, I thought. But that, I reasoned, would be selfish and petty. Why would anyone hide that gift from the world?

“Damn, I feel like I’m opening up to the whole world tonight.” I finally said. “The earth my pulpit and the stars my audience.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

I could feel the walls coming down. The protection I had built up slowly slipping away. My feelings were being stripped of their armour and my heart was being pried open. There was a subtlety to Oscar lying hidden in his actions. I could feel a strange warmth emanating from him, pulling me in towards him. He was unconsciously inviting me in to his personal space. This is what connection feels like, I thought. I knew that we were about to become a lot closer.

“It’s strange man.”

“What’s strange?” Oscar asked.

“If you think about, if you actually stop for a second and think about it… you and I hardly know each other. Sure, we know things about each other’s lives, and we bond over certain things, but, in the end, we’re pretty much as good as strangers.”

“Well, are you in the mood to get to know each other? I know I am. And I can see you’re on edge. Feeling vulnerable?”

With that Oscar pulled off the road and took us down a rocky path. He pulled up at the edge of a dimly lit car park. We were the only ones there.

“Get out.” He said. “We’re going for a little walk. The spot’s just down that path, and its calling me man. I can feel it.”

I could feel it too. Something was pulling us to wherever the hell Oscar had in mind. I was certainly on edge. There were no pretensions now. Everything had been taken away, stripped back and left exposed. I was in for a wild time. Crazy what some people can do to you.

The power of vulnerability, I thought.

Title: The Moon Came Calling
Author: Luke Timp
Format: Text
Year Published: 2013
Publisher, City: National Student Leadership Forum, Sydney
Access: Online Library of the National Student Leadership Forum

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