This is a song about a story of death, told to me in the dark, on a Sunday night by the seawall, when families, friends, teens, riff raff, and lovers come out to celebrate. I was hanging back from Alyssa and Andrew with our driver as they captured on camera a group of teenage boys dancing to the blown out speakers of a CD cart. We brought minimal gear and we brought a lookout. I felt free; able to walk around with nothing but a backpack of batteries, without having to worry about carrying expensive recording equipment.
At this point, we still didn’t know Matthew very well, but we knew he was a friend; reliable, helpful, always going out of his way to make things work. I watched everything from a distance: the kids jumping on the trampoline, the lights from the various food and games tents, the boys dancing, the smell of popcorn and cotton candy, the ice cream truck’s song snaking its way through the crowd, the light-up spinning plastic toys, the sea crashing just beyond the wall, and the teens and lovers who climbed over it for a bit of privacy. I stared deep into the horizon off the water. Matthew had been very quiet, holding his hands behind his back. I had resigned myself to silent observation.
“you know, I have two nieces named Alyssa and Sarah”
He paused. I was glad he wanted to share about his family with me.
“And, I have a nephew named Andrew”
He smiled his strange smile that I would later decide was his way of conjuring up friendliness in a pinch - he was a bit of a shy man who was having difficulty understanding us foreigners, in language and culture - but at this point, the effort made to display the smile outshone its effects, and it seemed tragic. He was small-framed and spoke slowly and sweetly. I have never seen a smile that concealed so much, but I did think it was beautiful. I loved it enough to describe it. And maybe the song I wrote had more to do with the expression on his face than the story itself.
“He died you know”
Someone may have well just packed up the whole seawall and left us alone in the dark for all my senses were concerned. I don’t know what possessed me but I asked.
“I’m so sorry, what happened!?”
The thing is, nobody knows what happened. They know he left one night and they found him one morning, I don’t know which morning, in the water tower by the airport.
Don't let them in let the sun set
on your worst work
let it go
They'll never tell where your son went
why he ended
up at dawn
in the shining light
of the water tower
of the water tower
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