Joe had been a nocturnal creature all his life. Not a vampire, or a morlock, or whatever you call it. He was human. He just liked the night. Is anything wrong with that? No. of course not.
To him, the night was a special time. The day was hectic, hot. The night was cool, both literally and figuratively. It made him happy. It was a time when people were in their beds, sleeping or possibly on the verge of sleep. Or maybe they were just like him, staying up, trying to win a bet, or something like that. Maybe they had insomnia.
It was a mysterious time. In the age of technology, the world was connected, always talking, never stopping. But the night was the one sacred time left when things were calm and peaceful. The moon was there, the stars were out, and so on. And it was dark.
When Joe saw a car passing on the street, he always wondered who those people were and where they were going. The mystery was even more intense at night. Could they be gangsters? Aliens? Corpses? Or just normal people like him? He would never know, and it drove him mad.
Night life was fun to have. It gave you a sense of uniqueness, it made you feel like you were the only person in the world. They say the city never sleeps. Joe knew this as a fact. People may have been sleeping, but the buses kept running, the lights stayed on, the sounds kept going, and the voices kept talking.
His favorite time of night was three in the morning. He had read once that they said three in the afternoon was the “light hour,” or the time when there was the least spiritual activity. And three in the morning was the “dark hour,” or the time when there was the least spiritual activity.
Joe knew it was all hocus pocus, and there weren’t any spirits up at three in the morning, or any other time, really. But he still got chills up his spine whenever he was awake at three hours after midnight.
Three was, for people who slept at night, the time when their bodies were in a coma like state. When Joe was younger, he used to get into the same coma like state. But now, he was wide awake every night at that time. Just knowing that somewhere out there, there were people who were dead unconscious, scared Joe. But only a little.
Of course, it was not all fun and games at night. Joe had to earn a living somehow. So he got a job at a gas station just one mile from his house. There were two good things about night shifts: one, the pay was good, and two, there were fewer hours. It had been the same at every night shift he had ever worked at. And he loved it.
The pay was good because the owner of the gas station was an idiot. Like most bosses, he assumed that night shifts were harder to pull off for each employee. So Joe got about fifty dollars more than the two people who worked there during the day, every day. And he loved it.
There were fewer hours because, again, the boss assumed that night shifts were hard, and he wanted to let his employees off early. And Joe loved it.
Of course, night shifts weren’t hard for Joe. He had changed his internal clock from day to night years ago. Now, he woke up at eight at night and went to sleep at nine in the morning. For him, the day was the night. And vice versa.
He never told his boss that he liked night shifts, or the boss would, naturally, give him less pay and more hours. Every night, he stumbled in and looked very worried.
“Shoo boy, here goes another night,” he would say. He would yawn, groan a little, and then get behind the register. He never kicked anything over or anything, though. Just mild contempt. Nothing too severe.
“Here’s your cash,” the boss would say, and then shuffle out. Joe had him right where he wanted him. The boss was not really the boss. Joe was the boss. The boss would be a laughing stock if he owned a gas station and it closed at midnight. Gas stations are supposed to be open eternally.