«These are the joys of the travellin’ life», says Dostoyevsky.
«What are?» says Stan.
«The simple things like this, young Stan, Things like sittin’ on the caravan step in the light of the lovely moon. They say it makes you mad, ye know. They say you shouldn’t let the moon shine down on you too much.»
«I’ve heard that», says Stan.
«Do you believe it?» asks Dostoyevsky.
Stan shrugs. He doesn’t really know what he believes.
«And then there are some», says Dostoyevsky, «that say the moonlight is a good thing. They say that each and every one of us needs a drop of madness in us. D’ye believe that, young Stan?»
Stan wonders about this. He wonders about the world. He wonders about himself and the weird things he’s experienced, the weird things he’s seen. He looks into the sky and into the universe. He imagines it going on for ever and for ever to the stars, and way beyond the stars, and way beyond the stars beyond the stars, and he knows that his wondering and wondering will never have an end.
«Well?» whispers Dostoyevsky. «Do we all need a drop of madness in us?»
A dog barks somewhere. A woman sings a sweet song that carries on the air despite the wailing of the fairground and the yelling of the fairground-goers.
«Maybe it’s in us anyway,» says Stan, «whether we want it or not.»
Dostoyevsky nods. He looks at Stan with fondness and respect in his eyes. «That’s very wise» he says.
And both of them relax and smile and let the madness of the moon pour down upon them.
(David Almond, The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, 2012)