"There may be something out there, past those stars, but if there is—I don't know for a fact—what it is, or what it's doing. I'll tell you what I think it might be though—If you want."
Sometimes I wish I wouldn't ask my Granddad questions like that. It doesn't do me any good. It sure doesn't go very far towards helpin' Granddad get to sleep. I really should just keep it to myself. It's just that I found myself sitting there, staring out at this beautiful black sky that felt like eternity's blanket wrapped around us, filling the void with, well with whatever it is that goes on out there, and my mind grabbed a hold of a thought and—
"The way I see it, there's this race of beings beyond those stars that are sitting in a backyard somewhere, looking back at the very same stars we're lookin' at—and there sayin' I wonder what's out there, past those stars."
"You think so huh," I said.
"Yeah, yeah I do," he said. His face glowed in the darkness as he lit his cigar stub , filling the air with its noxious blue smoke. There's something about a cigar stub, all half chewed and ragged. The smell of the smoke, I don't know, it's really not very pleasant.
"Now they may not look like us, or maybe they do, I don't know—they might. I suppose it's possible."
He pondered that thought for a moment and then the moment became too quiet, empty, like space, like he may have forgotten what he was talking about, sometimes he does. Of course my curiosity had gotten the better of me by then. Granddad doesn't say much, so when he does, I tend to listen. You never know what kind of story is about to be told, whatever it is, it's usually pretty damn interesting. So anyway, I was just about to say something to him, push the start button so to speak, when he began again.
"—but I betcha they don't have all of the same troubles we have. I'll betcha they don't try to kill each other or steal from each other." He paused, pushing himself up in his chair, shifting his weight.
"I'll tell ya what, I'll betcha that they don't even use money. They're probably so civilized that they just share all of the things they have with one another. One big community of caring and loving individuals, with liberty and justice for all." He blew a smoke ring into the air above his head, as if it were intended to be punctuation, or something.
I thought about that for a few minutes. Me and Granddad just sat there listening to the stars twinkle. Oh I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that you can't hear the stars twinkle. I've said that very same thing to people before, and they just kinda stare at me, like they think I might be messing' with them. Pulling their leg. You know… that’s a crazy thing to say too ain't it, pulling your leg. I wonder where that came from?
Anyway, like I was saying, people look at me like I'm crazy when I say I can hear the stars twinkling at night. Its true though, I can. Way off in the distance, like tiny bells, rolling down a hill. You have to be real quiet and listen real hard.
I looked over at Granddad and he was slumped over in his chair with that cigar stub still hanging in his dentures, finally asleep. He's been having a lot of trouble sleeping since Grandma died. He told me that he 's afraid to go to sleep these days. He told me that he wasn't sure if he would wake up and it just seemed like a lousy way to go. He said he wanted to go out fighting, meet old death face to face and look him in the eye. Let him know he wasn't gonna just quit.
I got up and leaned him back in his lawn chair, pulled his blanket up to his chin, took his nasty old cigar stub out of his mouth and stuck it on top of the Coke can beside him. I knew he'd be looking for it in the morning. It’s the first thing he does when he wakes up.
I looked up at the stars and listened.
"Twinkle, twinkle little star."