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I Am Santo

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“How long is it going to stand like that?” asked O’Mally as if Gabriel’s statue decided to stand beside the duck pond and wasn’t placed there by Ethan.

“As long as it needs to be,” Ethan said in a low voice, squinting against the afternoon sun’s glimmer off the water. “As long as it’s useful.”

O’Mally was quiet. The ducks were conversing somewhere out of site, snipping at each other curtly as an imitation of the argument the two men had before the statue. O’Mally started quacking again.

“Look, I’m just saying it’s not the only thing that ever happened here. It’s a tragedy and – ”

“And it is public land.” Ethan interrupted. “The vote decided this was what was going to happen, and here it is.”

“Some memorial,” O’Mally huffed. To make his point he spit brown from his tobacco swollen cheek.

“Sorry you don’t like it, Wayne,” Ethan offered.

“It’s not that I don’t…” O’Mally tried to be conciliatory, but the statue was eerie. And what it represented ruined what was a beautiful spot for the families of Avery. “I just wish it was a plaque or something.”

Ethan nodded. It wasn’t his best work, but the effect desired had been achieved. Denny Billings cast in dark bronze, his farmer cap tilted against the light of the sun; forever a child.

“A plaque wouldn’t keep people vigilant,” Ethan said.

“Scaring them and reminding them of a boy drowning is overkill,” O’Mally said again. “Living in fear ain’t living.”

“Tell that to the Billings family,” Ethan said as he turned and walked away. They’d chatted enough about this, and there was a check for $1200 he had to pick up at town hall for the commission.


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