‘Bo’s Light Show’

Humphrey Bogart Hamilton did not like Indiana.

He liked California. He’d been born there; he’d lived there his whole life. Then his dad came home and told the family about his new job … in Indianapolis. In Indiana.

“Wherever that is,” Bo mumbled.

They moved in February. It was cold. It was snowy. He didn’t know anyone. Everything looked dead. There was no ocean; there was only a pond, and it was frozen.

The worst was the day, after a huge snowstorm, that his dad said, “Hey, Bo, I’ve got a present for you!”

An iPod? A laptop? A snowboard?

“Here you go,” Dad said, handing him a bright, shiny new … snow shovel. “Go to it, kiddo,” he said, pointing to the driveway, buried under two feet of fresh snow. “There’s five bucks in it for you!”

Finally, spring came, then summer. Bo made friends. School ended. No more snow shoveling. They filled the swimming pool.

OK, Bo thought, maybe Indiana isn’t so bad.

Then the flashing lights appeared.

Bo had perfect vision … eyes like a hawk, his mom said. But one night, sitting on the porch, lights flashed wherever he looked. He shook his head. He shut his eyes, then opened them, slowly. He closed one eye, then the other.

Nothing helped. Something was terribly wrong. Flash! Flash! Flash!

He went to bed early that night.

The next evening, it rained. No flashing lights. It was just my imagination, Bo sighed.

But two days later, the flashes returned.

Bo went to his computer. He Googled “brain tumer.”

“Did you mean: brain tumor”? Google asked helpfully.

Great, Bo thought. Not only am I seeing flashing lights, now I can’t spell.

After two weeks of the unwanted light show, Bo had had enough. “Mom, Dad,” he said at breakfast , “I have a brain tumor.”

“What!” said Dad. “Why in the world do you think that?”

Bo explained: “I’ve been seeing flashing lights for weeks now, and the computer says it’s a brain tumor.”

“Are you seeing the lights right now?” Mom asked.

“No, just at night; or maybe the darkness makes me notice it more,” Bo said.

“Well,” Mom said, “let me see if our new neighbor is busy. He just happens to be an eye doctor!”

That night, Dr. Thompson came over. Sitting on the porch, Bo looked miserable. He shut his eyes tight, hoping he could make the lights go away.

“Bo,” said Dr. Thompson, “tell me about the lights; are you seeing them now?”

Bo opened his eyes slowly. “Yes, the lights are everywhere,” he moaned.

Dr. Thompson looked in Bo’s eyes with an instrument.

“Hmmm, nothing seems to be wrong,” he said. Then he and Bo’s parents chatted quietly off to the side for a few minutes. Suddenly, they broke out laughing.

“Bo, you’re from California, right?” Dr. Thompson said.

“Yes,” Bo said.

“And you never saw these flashing lights there, right?” the doctor said.

“Nope,” Bo said. Great, he thought, maybe we’ll have to move back to California!

“Bo, look right there, " Dr. Thompson said, pointing to a bush in the yard. “Is there a flashing light?”

“Yes, yes,” Bo exclaimed. “Several flashes — now, and now, and now.”

“Bo,” the doctor said, “come with me.”

They walked over to the bush. The doctor cupped his hand. Holy cow, Bo thought, he’s putting his hand right on a light!

“Here’s your problem, Bo,” Dr. Thompson said. He opened his hand to reveal a tiny bug. And it was … flashing.

“It’s called a lightning bug, Bo,” the doctor said, smiling. “You don’t have these in California. But in Indiana, they come out almost every night during the summer.”

Bo picked up the bug. It flashed. And flashed. And flashed.

And then it flew away.

And with it went Bo’s brain tumor.

Special thanks to Kimberly Dwinell for her illustration. To see more of her work, visit