Our family is staying at a tropical casino.
The kids are getting bored, so we start wandering towards the outside.
The casino is having their grand evening religious ritual.
The main hallway and staircase are lined with formally-dressed staff holding candles.
I am never sure if they are genuinely devout, or just putting on a pageant for the tourists.
We drift apart as we head toward the entrance.
My son goes ahead.
I keep an eye on my daughter.
I don’t know where my wife is, but I feel like she is behind us.
My daughter and I arrive outside.
I can’t see my son.
The scene is chaos.
Not just the usual riotous energy of a teeming tropical city.
There is a major thoroughfare just outside the casino.
A crowd has gathered.
Traffic has stopped.
People are exclaiming in horror.
There is a dead body in the road.
I don’t know where my son is!
We race towards the curb.
We force our way through the crowd.
I see a small body crumpled in the street.
It is wearing an elegant, silky blue shirt.
Like I own.
Like my son was wearing.
There is a man nearby.
Or perhaps a helpful bystander.
He holds up a pair of black glasses.
They look identical to what my son wore.
I start screaming.
Please, someone call an ambulance.
We are Americans.
I have money.
Even to my own ears
I sound faintly ridiculous.
My daughter tugs me forward.
Around the body.
A figure gestures
From inside a rectangular enclosure.
The back of a delivery van
Or perhaps a shipping container.
I can’t believe my eyes.
It is my son!
Even wearing his glasses.
His shirt is now white instead of blue.
I am about to yell
Maybe with joy
Perhaps with anger
At him running off and scaring us.
But he motions for silence.
Then beckons us inside.
He is hiding.
He knows someone just tried to kill him.
He doesn’t want them to know they failed.
I have no idea what is going on.
My emotions are a jumble.
Numbly, I follow him inside.
At the very least
He knows what just happened
Maybe he knows
What will happen next.
Must happen next.
Must be done.
For all of us.