Maybe some of you read about it in the paper, or saw it on the news. The report of the man who had been inner tubing on the Spokane River on Monday, who had gone off his raft and been swept into the water. Search teams found his body the next day.
The news reports first only identified him as a “21-year old man from Spokane.” I didn’t know him well, but he was my girlfriend’s little brother. And that word “man” isn’t quite right, because in some ways he was just a kid, who didn’t know how swift and dangerous the river could be.
He was a complex kid, described by his favorite teacher as “profound.” Someone who asked big questions and sought to understand the world. Someone still learning to navigate the world and find his place in it. Someone who enjoyed solitude. Who took photos of landscapes, and of his dog, whom he took on long walks, and of his ferret. He was so sensitive, he never killed insects; he would move them outside from the house.
When he climbed into the river that day, with his best friend, in a spot where the water was particularly calm, under a hot summer sun, surrounded by evergreen trees and bird sounds, he left his backpack on the shore with his stuff in it. It was returned to the family the next day.
And with the family’s gracious permission, I took a photograph of the contents.
A pair of shoes, socks carefully tucked inside. Phone. Wallet. An Applause Guitar user’s manual, and guitar picks. A knit hat that he almost always wore, even in the summer. Some coins. A Weider hand grip. Three AAA batteries. A well-used general science book. A pen. Scraps of paper, some probably important to him, a few that he may have picked up to throw away (he hated litter).
Some of the papers are hard to see. A page with a simple note, “PLEASE BRING MY BAG & GUITAR”:
A fortune from a cookie:
A scrap of paper with lyrics on it:
A list with numbers:
Also in his wallet was a piece of paper with pi printed out to 260 decimal places:
A packet of guitar picks:
There was something banal and bland about the news, the description of a 21-year old man from Spokane.
This was the stuff he had with him. His stuff. They are something less than a portrait. But these fragments, taken together, give a glimpse of the person Kyeffer Scott was.
This post is in: Portraits