Hal Walter: A Gorilla Named Train

Photo by Hal Walter
Photo by Hal Walter

My friend Don Conoscenti, a Taos musician who also lived in Alamosa for a while, put out a new album recently called Anastasia. The collection includes new songs as well as remakes of some of his previous work.
My son Harrison is a fan of Don’s as well, dwelling particularly on a track called “That Train.” The stereotype of autistic people is that they take everything literally, but Harrison has become increasingly aware of metaphor through music. Ironically the lyrics of “That Train” speak to me in my advancing middle age as I reflect more and more about life’s minor questions like, “What is the purpose of my existence?”

“If you leave this world defeated, you’ve got your own damn self to blame.”

One evening I found a bright blue, green and white gorilla on the bathroom countertop. I think this stuffed critter has been around here since Harrison was a baby. He never played with toys like that, so I found it peculiar that he had brought it out from a closet. He is 12 now, and apparently sought out the gorilla after seeing either a ventriloquist or puppet on YouTube.
The next morning as we got ready for school, he started out the door with the gorilla under his arm, wanting to take it to school with him. I told him that it was a bad idea and the other kids might not know what to think. I expected an argument, but he handled it OK. He then asked if he could take the gorilla in the car. I said OK, but just to the bus.

“Will I end up like that train, asleep beneath the snow, rusting in the rain?”

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