Two, sometimes three times per week my bartending shift ends around three AM. Even on weekends when people tend to stay out later, this is a mysterious and undefined time. I wonder about folks out and about at this ungodly hour. And I especially wonder about the man I regularly see frantically typing away on his big laptop, his face glowing computer blue under the market awning. The first time I saw him I may have made an audible, huh. And since then I’ve seen him so frequently that he’s become part of my late night bike-commute home. Of course I wonder what he’s working on so intently, but I also wonder why he’s doing it outside so late. Is he homeless? Poaching internet? I expect I’ll never know the truth of it all. And just as well, he sort of creeps me out whenever I ride past.

Al works the restock swing at the natural foods market because nobody else will. Plus, it schedules well against his daytime gig at the Shell. He clocks out at two AM and writes on the market patio to wind down. Then he goes home and sleeps a bit before his morning station shift at nine. A few hours rest is all he needs. He’s gotten used to this schedule and is sure that one day it’ll all pay off. His novel, after all, is going to be amazing. It will explode him onto the literary scene. He dreams of the day he’s asked how he did it. But for now he just keeps plugging away. Heading towards the still elusive ending. But these wee hours of the morning are when he’s at his best, so he’s sure something will materialize. Something that will blow readers’ minds.

Lately, shortly after getting started writing, he’s noticed a man riding by on a bicycle. Imagining why the man’s out so late has inspired a fresh creative direction. Something totally unexpected. He has a feeling that somehow the character that’s developing will see him through to the finish. And every time the guy on the bike rides by with his flashing lights, Al feels the fire in his belly grow hotter and hotter. His fingers fly across the keyboard trying to keep up with the words racing from his mind.


“Night Cyclist” by George Hodan


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