I sit in the back of my parents '97 avalon reading the Kite Runner. I am in the parking lot for Horseshoe Bend, a spectacular slice of canyon South of Page AZ.
A truck pulls into the lot after dark and waits. About 15 minutes later a second car pulls up next to the truck. It drives without caution, confident and excited. A man gets out carrying a powerful flashlight. He seems to carry on a conversation with the truck. He points the flashlight into the hill that borders the lot, illuminating low brush. Rotating in a slow circle, he seems to scan the area with the flashlight, looking for something he doesn't see, at least not tonight.
The beam of the flashlight hits my car, roughly seventy-five meters away. It continues on for a second, then double-takes back to my car. The beam illuminates the avalon's interior for a beat, my face likely obscured by foggy windows. The light moves on, deeming my presence unobtrusive to whatever might unfold next. The light completes its circle and soon a much warmer pin of light appears next to the car. The pin jumps and lands on the ground before exploding, a small multicolored release of bright sparks.
It's strange to watch fireworks through fogged glass and a groggy mental state from the other side of a parking lot. The small points of light are like stars, far enough away to be beyond one's natural circle of confusion but bright enough to emit a mysterious glimmer that sparkles and shines. Through the car's glass windows I hear no voice of the man with the light or the man in the truck, only a repeated lighting and exploding of fireworks. I can register neither excitement or enjoyment in the silhouettes. The emotion of the moment is removed, leaving only a strange, detached action, as if the man's duty is simply to release the fireworks into the void.
Between pyrotechnics the flashlight sweeps the horizon as if it fascinates the man just to see the beam in all its glory. I imagine the man has received the flashlight recently as a gift. The novelty remains and can you believe how bright this thing is? The flashlight has a Fresnel element, I can see the beam widen and tighten as the man adjusts his preferred angle of view.
Spinning Saturns, Roman Candles, Bottle Rockets, all quietly fading into the night from the lone figure. after a while the fireworks stop. The playing with the flashlight continues. Again and again the light sails across the banks of sand and brush. I watch the light reveal low sage and scrubby tumbleweed on the hill. After a while the man tires of the flashlight as well. It no longer spills into the land surrounding the lot, instead illuminating a small patch of gravel beneath the man's feet. After a few minutes the light goes off and a car door slams shut. The cars turn around, this time it's the headlights which reveal the dirt and brush. The small car leads, it's engine excitedly zooming towards some new change of fate, the truck politely follows.