Lighthouse

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The morning after the dastardly attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor, when that ole recruitment center in Amarillo opened up, I rightly recall Sam Lofton standin amongst the other men crowded against the door. Lofton was the son of Jim Lofton, out in Hutchinson County, and the younger man weren’t but sixteen on that morning. But he stood six-two and his shoulders was broad. Fourteen months after, his troop ship got torpedoed in the Labrador Sea by a German U-boat. The other boys on that ship died of hypothermia.

Sam later recounted to me how a strange warmth overtook him in the water, and how he crawled onto a hunk of jetsam, and closed his eyes, and woke up two days later in the blackest night, with the flash of a lighthouse beckoning him. Ole Sam was rescued by the lighthouse keeper at Knoydart, and he served two more tours before returning to Texas, where folks said his eyes had taken on a ghostly aspect.

After the war, when oil was discovered out the Lofton place, Sam cut off contact with folks round these parts. He built a lighthouse on a bluff in Hutchinson County, eight-hundred miles from the nearest shoreline, and he never did come out of it thenceforth. I don’t know how he acquired the lamp and whatnot for to build such a lighthouse, but I do know that ole lamp burned out sometime during the 1980s. A group of young fellows was out shootin quail and they come upon that dead lighthouse and found Sam’s corpse sitting up in that tower, with his blank eyes looking out toward Oklahoma. You can still espy that white tower if you take Highway 207 out toward Spearman.

 

Three years ago, Jonathan Baker quit his job in New York City, as the assistant to the editor-in-chief at W.W. Norton & Co., and moved to his hometown in West Texas to write full time. He currently works as a news curator for National Public Radio, and he holds a master’s degree in Humanities (American Literature) from the University of Chicago. His fiction was recently featured on The Other Stories podcast.

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