At the Virgin Music Festival

I thought he was dead, we all did. It was a forgone conclusion. What else could he be? Where else could he have gone? He had to have died, somehow, somewhere, and the police and his parents were forced to agree.

But there it was, right in front of me, on a screen thirty feet high, in words of at least eight inches. He’d signed his name the way he’d always signed his name, and the syntax was the same, I was sure of it. What a place to find him, what a terrible place! In between lame jokes and marriage proposals text-messaged to a Nokia scrolling message board rolling beneath the live feed. At the concert, in the crowd, and he was there!

I looked for him. Of course I looked him! What joy could the bands bring knowing he was there? But it was dark and his face was blurred if I saw it, though I stared hard at every figure, scanning hard for details, pinching my eyes tight, running iris over bodies until I found something, wrestled it out of the dirt: a large nose, too crinkled; a smiling mouth, too small. If he was there, I could not find him, if he was ever there at all.

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