Storyboard After Dark

Lights Out, Dinner Table Series,Chilmark MA, July 7, 1998 ©Stephen DiRado

Place:  Up-Island Vineyard

Time:  12 midnight (summer — everybody knows that a winter Island midnight comes at 9 pm)

We hear: Waves breaking on sand and rock, sporadic wind gusts, maybe New Age Enya wafting in ever so suggestively, as if heard from a house nearby rented by a stranger new to the Island, and to prevailing musical tastes.

Miami Vice–style overhead camera with spotlight, in an approaching water shot, slowing to track up moonlit Gay Head Cliffs, settling on an image of a seemingly endless line of stooped homunculi, hooded, carrying large sacks, trooping in outline across the clifftop. The lighthouse beam swings regularly across the camera lens, momentarily whiting out the image — once, twice, thrice (a cock crows just for the heck of it).  Enough that after the final beam sweep clears, the homunculi have vanished . . .

Images: A black dog barks. A bad dog squats. A man hunches over his desk as he ponders how to sue his neighbor for constructing a three-story Jacuzzi that blocks his view of wetlands. He considers in passing how to introduce a family of ticks into said adversary’s linen closet. The dog owners embrace as their leashes entangle. The dogs are now at one another’s rear.

We hear: The wind picking up. The camera has moved up and back, widening out across the Aquinnah Circle. And the missing homunculi. As a group, they squat as well, but in a posture of waiting, as if ever waiting. For what? Josh Aronie’s food truck? Nancy Aronie’s writing workshop? Mollie Doyle’s mobile yoga rehab van?

The camera zooms down to the group, sweeping across bowed hooded heads, stopping on one of the sacks, open, spilling its contents into the narrow arc of a streetlight. The camera caresses what it sees: Marled blues and greens and lavenders, soft luminescent surfaces, dusted pastels from forgotten origins, slung up by the ocean into the Island’s mineral weave.

Sea glass.

A gust of wind pulls back the flaps of a hoodie — “Nantucket is for Lovers and Moderate Republicans.” Wait, these people, these, these collectors, they’re from . . . and they’re taking our . . . Isn’t it bad enough that climate change is eroding our . . .

So many questions, too soon cut off, as the last Vineyard Transit Authority bus of the night sweeps around the circle, electronic sign signaling from its forehead: “No Mo’ Godot.” The door breathes open. Enya wafts from the Zenith on the dash as the homunculi board. The door breathes closed. The hunched, hooded driver releases the brake.

The camera follows the bus down and out onto State Road, taillights quickly miniaturizing into nothingness. Aquinnah reclaims its ages-old quiet on behalf of its legacy people, its workers, crafters, and dancers who, in the common dream of that midnight, with Enya mercifully gone from the night’s turntable, promise, “Nantucket, we will come for what is ours.”

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