Were the sixties really a magical time? Many who came of age in the era would argue they were not - although glimpses of magic sometimes showed themselves, tantalizing, like flickering lights on a dark night.
It is autumn, 1964 and 18-year-old Tom Brewer is starting his freshman year at Seattle Pacific College, sent there against his will by parents who think "It will do you a world of good."
Brewer finds himself alone and alienated in a conservative evangelical culture he finds bizarre and repressive.
The one bright spot is a fellow freshman, Marilyn Pennell, a scion of privilege and status. The first time she sees Brewer, all her smug certainties promptly crumble. deep within.
Brewer inherits $30,000 from a relative. He finds, as have so many before him, that when you have money, people will try to take it from you, including your own family. Brewer leaves home to an uncertain future. His one hope is the money. Then it comes. Then his real trouble begins.
Meanwhile Marilyn returns home on Christmas break to find that her father has gone bankrupt and may be criminally liable for fraud. Her parents can afford one more quarter of school, maybe two. She must endure the grime and humiliation of searching for minimum wage jobs.
Gazing at the Distant Lights looks at people caught in a current over which they have little control, hoping for something better, something they cannot quite define.
Doug Margeson's fiction short stories have been published in The Chaffin Journal, The MacGuffin, 580 Split, Straylight, Worcester Review, The Homestead Review, SNReview, Soundings East and New Millennium Writings magazines. His creative nonfiction has been published in The Palo Alto Review and The Santa Clara Review. His story "Gold Star Buckle" was nominated for the 2011 Pushcart Prize. His story "Barton's Pipe" was chosen for the anthology Best Indie Lit New England, Vol. 2, 2015. A former newspaper reporter, Margeson won 184 regional and 28 national journalism awards; 212 in all. He was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in investigative reporting in 1985. Margeson has taught as a guest lecturer at the University of Washington and for the Pacific Northwest Writers Conference, the Washington Journalism Educators Association and the Washington Press Association. He served on the boards of directors of the Washington Press Association and the Western Washington Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi. In 1983, he was presented the press association's Superior Performance Award for his work with the state's student press. He lives in Woodinville, Washington.