Eternity’s Gate

For Keith Vidal

The secret to telling a good lie is to throw in one detail
that no one was expecting, How’d you get that bruise,
Oh, I tripped over my cat, you know, the one who likes
to chew on my socks, and in some ways the secret to a
good news story is to add an extra description, a different
angle, something to make at least one person stop scrolling.
I skimmed over it at first, another eighteen-
year-old kid dead this morning, another story to put away
in my stock file of Terrible Things, an example of
poor healthcare or of corrupt police.

I don’t remember
if it was in the first paragraph or the second that I learned
he weighed ninety pounds and played the drums. I could
picture him, terrified, terrifying, Why is this happening,
ready to take on the world with a six-inch screwdriver
and nothing but blood in his veins, no
haloperidol, no lithium. I don’t know if in the seconds
after the electricity and before the bullet he
remembered fishing with his brother. I don’t
know if he regretted leaving his medicine
in the little amber bottle on his nightstand.

They didn’t have time for this.

After I closed out of my browser I stared
at the black screen and imagined standing next
to him in an empty museum, stars pooled at our
feet and the universe splayed out in reds and golds
before us. Dark days, he said. They’re over now,
just like the championship basketball game,
the one where I made the layup in overtime.