Monday, February 17, 2020

Exploding Lamps!

When people in my classes ask questions, my favorites are the ones that I can't answer off the top of my head, because it makes me think.

We recently had a class in Banff, Alberta, Canada, because somebody has to do it, so it might as well be me. During a break, one of the more curious people in the class (curious as in inquisitive, not as in strange) named Stuart Williamson asked me a great question. It made me think about exploding lamps.

The question had to do with losing the neutral conductor. We had been talking about why the neutral conductor is the only normally current-carrying conductor that is not protected from overloading by a fuse or circuit breaker, which is true. The reason is that the neutral conductor serves as the 0-volt reference. If it's lost, bad things can happen. 

Suppose, for example, we have a lighting rig with 16 PAR lamps that are rated 1000 watts at 120 volts. Let's say the power is supplied by a split-phase system with two hot conductors (black and red), a neutral, and a ground, where the phase-to-neutral voltage is 120V and the phase-to-phase voltage is 240V. And suppose we made a mistake circuiting the rig, so we have 10 of them connected from the black leg to neutral, and six from red to neutral. And suppose one of the six lamps burned out during the show (Sheesh, we’re having a bad night, and it’s about to get worse!), and now we have a more unbalanced system.

At the rated voltage, the resistance of the filament in these lamps is about 14.5 ohms (1000W/120V = 8.3A, and 120V/8.3A = 14.5 ohms). Schematically, the group of 10 lamps, each of which is 14.5 ohms, are in parallel with each other, and they have an equivalent resistance of 1.45 ohms [1/(1/14.5 +1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5) = 1.45 ohms). The six lamps (now five after the blown lamp) are in parallel with each other, and they have an equivalent resistance of 2.9 ohms [1/(1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5) = 2.9 ohms]. 

When the neutral (0-volt reference) is lost, that creates a voltage-divider circuit between the 1.45 ohm and the 2.9 ohm equivalent resistances with 240V applied to it, which draws 55.2 amps. Not to worry, we still have a quantity of 15,000 watts of load, and 55.2 amps at 240 volts is only 13,248 watts (55.2A x 240V = 13,248W).

On the other hand, the voltage-divider circuit is going to drop some voltage across each of the equivalent resistances in proportion to their impedance. That means we’ll have 80.2 volts applied to the group of 10 lamps (55.2 amps x 1.45 ohms = 80.2V) — which explains the sudden dimming of those lamps — and about 160 volts (Yikes!) applied across the group of five lamps — which explains why they suddenly got much brighter. And because it we're having a really bad day, one of the lamps in the group of five has a weak filament and blows. Now the math changes. That group of lamps now has an equivalent resistance of 3.6 ohms [1/(1/14.5 + 1/14.5 + 1/14.5 1/14.5) = 3.6 ohms], and the voltage-divider circuit only gets worse. The group of 10 lamps still has an equivalent resistance of 1.45 ohms, but the drop in impedance across the other lamps means the current drops to 47.5 amps [240V/(1.45 + 3.6) = 47.A], but now the applied voltage on the group of four lamps rises to 171 volts! You can guess what happens from there. Lather, rinse, repeat. The lamps continue to fall like dominoes (that have been sprinkles with gunpowder and set on fire!) until all the lamps in that group are blown. Then the fireworks stop because that group of fixtures is now an open circuit, which means all the lamps will dowse in a more civilized way, i.e., they fade to black.

This is a simplified version of what would happen in real life because the resistance of the filament will change with the operating temperature, which changes with the current. But the process will follow the same script except the numbers would change slightly. And if it was a 3-phase system instead of a split-phase system, then it would be a more complex circuit, but the same thing would happen.

Say what you will about LEDs, but an all-LED rig would likely never have this problem because most of them will operate on any voltage from 90V to 250V, nor does the impedance change when the emitters fail. 

Friday, November 22, 2019

Five Years Ago Today...

At this very instant, there is someone out there who is going to get on stage with an electric guitar or a microphone, and they are trusting that whoever set up the electrical system that powers their gear understands grounding and bonding. That performer has a mother and a father, and perhaps some siblings. They might have a spouse and they might even have children, and all of those people are counting on all of us, as live event professionals, to know enough about our craft to protect their loved one from the hazards of electricity.

Those performers likely know very little about it. They probably don’t know what a ground loop is, or that it is one of the main reasons that an adapter is sometimes used to lift the safety ground on the sound system. Most of them have no idea that creating a faulty ground like this could be lethal to someone who is touching electric guitar strings and some other conductive metal, like a microphone or scaffolding, that is connected to ground. I’m guessing that they don’t know about Les Harvey, a guitar player for the band Stone the Crows, or Keith Relf, the lead singer of the Yardbirds, both of whom died because of faulty grounding. And they’ve probably never heard of Agustin Briolini. So, they likely have no idea that today marks five years since Agustin, a 22 year-old guitar player and lead singer/songwriter in a band called The Krebs, was tragically electrocuted during a sound check. So how would they know his death was the result of a faulty ground? They probably don’t. Nor are they likely know that the accident, like many stage electrocutions, could have been prevented, had someone only known that lifting the ground can be deadly.

It’s too late to save Agustin, but it’s not too late to turn his accident into a learning experience for all of us in the live event production industry. There’s someone out there right now who is in line to be the next victim. unless you and I act. Let’s remember the hard lesson of Agustin’s passing and strive to do better.

Five Years After: What Happened to Agustin Briolini?

This is a google translation from about a young singer/songwriter/guitar player who tragically died doing what he loved to do. His death could have been prevented had the faulty ground in the power distribution system been rectified. Saturday, November 22, 2019 will be the five year anniversary of his passing. It's been a long, hard journey for his family, his friends, and his fans. I've been documenting the issue and speaking about it in the hope that by raising awareness, the community of live event production professionals can prevent more deaths in the future.

Ezequiel Britos, who at that time was the band's manager, posted on his Facebook profile a shocking account of what happened on November 23, 2014. The emotional writing ends with a question that is everyone's: What happened to Agustin Briolini?
What happened to Agustin Briolini?
On November 23, 2014, it dawned with an immense sun and a pleasant wind that foreshadowed a perfect day. It didn't matter how it had dawned; although a gray day had accompanied us, we breathed another air. It was the day when all the work of more than 12 months came to an end. The plan was concrete: focus on that day, put all the chips in the presentation. The next day review some issues for next year. Córdoba Capital was the next appointment. Buenos Aires the next. That November 23 was the end of everything we had set out and the beginning of the unknown.
Anxiety, at that time, was a constant that brought me hard times. There was a lot at stake that night and I couldn't stop thinking about all the possible variables. While many tickets had been sold and we had the place almost full, there were other issues that bothered. There was a plan that had to be carried out perfectly. We had the schedules calculated so that everything went as agreed. I got up and the first thing was to write a message to the WhatsApp group reminding the band members of everything they had to carry.
Little by little, Agustín, Diego and Gustavo, the band members, woke up. Anxiety ran in everyone equally. Any inconvenience, any failure, any detail forgotten, did not matter. Everything was going to be fine and we had to keep calm.
I walked down to the route where Diego would look for me to go to Level Two, a producer that rented the equipment for the concert that night. There we would meet Daniel, who lent us his truck to take the battery platform. We met at the door, we hugged the four, happy, expectant, knowing that everything went according to plan. There was realization in every second that passed. They felt accomplished. They spoke with certainty. Perhaps Augustine unconsciously transmitted everything that throbbed, because there was no room for doubt.
Agustin was the singer, songwriter and guitarist of the band. He was a brother who had re-met in a very difficult time. He was a person with whom we had connected on another level. We were two rocks that fit. We felt empathy for each other. We understood the universe as a great connector. It was no coincidence our meeting and we wanted to know where it led.
We descend the endless stairs of Level Two with the support. We put it in the truck, we communicated with Federico and Pascual, who were going to take care of the sound that night. They already had the truck with all the equipment loaded. At three o'clock we were going to be at the door of the theater to start putting in all the equipment and putting together the sound. The plan was underway.
We arrived at the theater at a quarter to three. In theory we would meet José María, in charge of the sound in the Theater, to open the service door for us and we could enter with the equipment. We arrive and park the cars in the passage that leads to the back of the place. Cecilia Stocco and Nicolás Astegiano were waiting for us there. Cecilia was going to be singing that night as a guest. Nicolás was the producer of Krebs' album and would be in charge of the sound that night. Also there was Kevin Cretari, Agustín's childhood friend, who also didn't want to miss any piece of a historic day, at least for us. We hugged each other while on the phone I tried in vain to communicate with Roxana, the theater manager. José María did not answer the phone, so I decided to turn around and enter through the main door.
I entered the place as if it were my house, as if I already knew it, as if I had walked it a thousand times. I walked to the bottom of the video games that are at the bottom of the gallery and reached the dressing rooms. Continue to the end of the hall and open a door that led to the passage. There they were all and we began to enter the instruments, the smoke machines and the clothes. The dressing rooms were a disaster or it was much less than we imagined. There was only one fit for musicians. The other was dirty, with cigarette butts lying on the floor. The emergency exit was covered with traversed metal pipes. We complained because we thought it was unfair to pay so much for a place that was not fit. The place was dirty, the showers did not work and there was mold on the floor and walls. There was only one bathroom that was in condition and only cold water came out. The first inconveniences began but there was no time for complaints. There was nothing that could take away our excitement. "It must be that we are not stars of Buenos Aires, that's why they serve us like this," we joked. It was a minor problem but we still had to go out to find another place to bathe before the show. Gustavo, the bass player of the band, proposed his house because of its proximity.
Federico and Pascual arrived with the equipment and we decided that we would enter them through the main door, since they were amplifiers, boxes and heavy powers. It was preferable to use the carts and enter them from the front. It was a quarter to four.
At that time, the soundmen lowered the equipment. While we were watching as they unloaded, we looked at each other with complicit smiles. The sound was monstrous. It was too much for such a small place. The room had a capacity for 400 people and was divided into two floors. The stalls were at the top. The plan continued as we imagined.
While they were still unloading the equipment and accommodating everything above the stage, I went to the door to speak with the person in charge of the ticket office, to leave them tickets, mark them the price, leave them the list of invited journalists. Then I went to a nearby cyber to print a simple poster that read “Presentation Disco Krebs. Advance $ 60 ”.
In addition, it occurred to me to print the poem that Augustine had written for that night and paste them on the doors. So I left the cyber full of papers and headed back to the theater. I borrowed a paper tape from the ticket office girls and prepared to glue the posters. Meanwhile, Agustín and Diego crossed to a hamburger shop to buy food. We had been in the room for an hour and a half, between the unloading of the equipment and the bags that we accommodated in the dressing rooms and the hunger was tightening. When they returned, because of the smell of cucumber, they were sent to the dressing rooms to eat. They came down with the burgers to eat while the sound was still upstairs.
Half past four. We are all inside, with boiling anxiety on the skin. We gather in the dressing rooms to accommodate. We collect the money from the tickets sold. They gave me the list of the people who still had to pay. We counted the money we had and we had already far exceeded the amount to be paid for the rent. We burst with happiness. We already had all the money and the rest was profit for the band. At that time, one goal had been accomplished: not losing money.
We laughed crammed into the small dressing room. I turned on my computer to promote the show and I stayed locked for a while while they put the sound up. The dressing room was small, with a long wooden table, two chairs, two large mirrors and a coat rack to hang the coats. We leave the shirts and bags hanging. The shoes were spinning, piled up on the table. The other dressing room, adjacent to the first, had no mirrors, no chairs. I went on stage and handed out the sheets with the list of songs that night.
Inside, they kept making sound. Nicolás and the soundmen talked about sound issues.
Half past five. We were all on stage. Diego armed the battery. Agustin jumped in excitement, sang, danced. At one point, he found a prop hat, a court cap, with ears that fall to the sides like two pom poms. The hat was from Independiente. He put it on and started dancing in the middle of the stage like a murguero. He stopped dancing, took out his cell phone and took a picture smiling.
Meanwhile, I took a picture from the stage, pointing to the empty room and uploading it to Facebook with my foot: "Go thinking where you feel there is still room." 
Above the stage the details were finalized.
While they made sound, Agustín began to change the strings to the guitar. Daniel, a friend of the band, returned from the dressing rooms and walked barefoot on the floor wires. At that moment, Diego, watching as the technicians tuned the drums, sees Agustín changing the strings: 
- Look at him crazy, changing the strings about to do the sound test, how irresponsible ...
- And look at yourself, you're not doing nothing, next to the battery ... What are you doing? 
- I here waiting for my people to finish tuning the battery. My battery is going to be ready in one touch, you still have to change the strings
- I will finish putting the strings before they put the battery together, forget it.
- Volá! Look at everything you need, all the strings, I need nothing more to microwave and everything is ready. You are crazy!
- I bet what you want to finish before you. We bet what you want.
- Go on, next time, when we play in River, you organize everything and I do nothing. Weapons and organize everything. 
- Give it a deal.
Music was already coming out of the speakers. At that moment I remembered that we had not finished defining the visuals. I called Agustin to ask if he had brought his computer with the visuals. He said no, that we didn't have the projector and that it was a nonsense to bring visuals if we didn't have to project them. The stage had a giant screen that we tried to lower several times. I went to talk to José María to ask him how to lower the screen to the stage. When we returned the two together, the projector was slowly coming down. Between Kevin and Gustavo they had given up and managed to lower it. The problem now was that we had no projector. I asked José María if he could get me one and he said he thought I had one going around. After a while, he returned again with a projector in his hands.
We did not have the computer and considering the time, it was a problem to go to Agustín's house in San Antonio to look for it. In any other situation, at any other time, Diego and Agustin would have entered into an endless discussion over the issue of visuals. But that day, it didn't matter.
Ezequiel, Agustín's brother, offered to make the trip and return, since he had to find his camera and bathe. I asked him if we made time for his return and install everything. I worried. Agustin reassured me: “If everything goes well and if it doesn't arrive, it doesn't matter, we will leave without visuals. We're going to break it all the same, brother. Stay calm, between the music and the lights they will all flash. ”Ezekiel left for his home.
Six thirty. Six thirty? I don't know, time starts to diffuse. Why did Ezekiel leave? Why did he leave just then? Would it have been unbearable to live with what was going to happen? I do not know. Federico and Gustavo also left. We needed a cable and they went to the Fold rehearsal room, owned by Frederick, to look for him. The stage was almost ready. We went back up the screen. Cecilia left because I asked her to lend us her notebook. Agustin's computer was slow and we had doubts about whether he would hold the visuals in the middle of the show.
Half an hour later Cecilia returned with her notebook. We leave everything in the dressing rooms. We waited for the moment and the plan was working. Everything was almost ready. Diego got on the drums and started hitting her hard. Each blow of the hype was a rumble that shook the entire room. We imagined, laughing, the audience's surprise when they heard the drums sound. Diego released some drumsticks he had given him. Gustavo and Federico had not yet returned. Nicolás and Pascual finalized details on stage. On stage they played with things while leaving everything ready.
I went to the ticket office. I asked the girls if any more tickets had been sold or if any means of communication had been presented. They told me no, that nobody had happened.
There was a lot of happiness in the air but anxiety played its game and as the time approached, it became increasingly heavy. Just when I was at the ticket office, Franco, a childhood friend, came with me to buy food. On the way back we were talking while I showed him the flyers. He read the poem and fell silent.
We entered the room and remembered that it was convenient to eat down. I went down with Franco to the dressing rooms. I showed him the place and we were eating. Kevin went down and we were talking to all three. Above you could hear the drumming sound. Laughter was heard. Someone played the drums but it wasn't Diego because he had come down to tell me something. Cecilia played the drums. Agustin was about to try the guitar. The first chords of the night. Diego went up and, with his cell phone, filmed a video of a few minutes where Agustin is seen on the side playing the guitar, laughing, with the microphone on his side.
Suddenly he stopped listening to the drums. Diego had stopped filming and left his cell phone on his side to sit on the drums. Franco and Kevin wanted to go buy something to drink. I finished eating and lit a cigarette. Franco accompanied me with the cigarette and Kevin stayed with us. The guitar was shy (they were still accommodating some issues).
I finished smoking and Franco wondered if I wanted to go up. I told him that I was staying, that I had to finish doing some things; I wanted to pass a photo I had on my cell phone to the computer to upload it to Facebook. I stayed in the dressing room with Kevin. On stage, Diego waited for his moment to play the drums, Agustín settled the guitar in his hands, Cecilia watched, Franco took the stage, Ezequiel had not returned, Daniel had gone to work, Gustavo and Federico had not returned, Nicolás He was standing on stage and Pascual was behind the operating console.
Seven and something. Seven and something? I don't know, time was already an illusion. Diego is about to hit that battery for the first time all night. Grab the drumsticks and look at Agustin. He smiles and turns to grab the microphone. Agustin is exultant, happy. There was nothing but happiness in the air. Diego fails to play four times. Suddenly, I, still in the dressing room, stopped listening to the sound at the same time that Diego ducked his head to hit the drums hard. An echo echoes in the room. A string that was there, pulling an endless chord.
I hear screams. Cecilia runs down to where we are with Kevin. Agustin is electrocuting. He screams at me, it takes me a while to react. Is Augustine getting electrocuted? I look into Cecilia's eyes, out of orbit. Something serious is happening. I get up and run, confused, terrified, with no apparent direction. How was it possible, if everything was planned? Something was happening that was out of the plans.
Up Diego tries to approach Agustín but feels static on his feet, two meters away. Understand that you can't get close. With more eagerness that conscience approaches with his drumsticks in his hands and tries to separate the microphone from his hand. He can't and walks away. Nicolás kicks him on the guitar, first warmly. Diego sees sparks in Agu's chest. Star flash in the sky, nobody can touch you. Pascual shouted that he had already disconnected everything but Agustín was still stuck. I ran out to the back door, opened it, looked out, shouted. I pulled out the phone and dialed 911. What do I do? This time the phone will not save my life. The screams were heard above. “Pascual disconnects!”, “Nico turns off!”. Nico's second kick is lethal. He hits the guitar and breaks the string, the same where he was hooked. Agustin falls hard to the floor. The guitar falls to his side. Diego approaches to touch him but understands that he still cannot approach. He looks into his eyes and understands that he is still there. He approaches and calls him. Agu's eyes want to stay but in a matter of seconds they leave not to return.
The screams intermingle in my head. I don't know who screams, I don't know who they scream at. I can not think. I run out the bottom of the dressing rooms towards the front door. He had not yet taken the stage to see what was happening. I didn't think about anything. Diego jumps off the stage and starts running. I ran down the bottom towards the entrance with all my strength. As I ran, I felt like time fragmented into nanoseconds; I could see it, perhaps because of the speed boost in a side aisle, Diego running at the same speed as I was going. We both ran to the front door. We were floating in the air, time slowed down. The distance became eternal. We shouted to the girls in the box office that Agustín was electrocuted, to call the ambulance, the police, the firemen ...
We ran back down the side aisle where Diego had gone down. We ran into the room and went on stage. How much time had passed? One minute, two thousand. Time had no form. Space and situation dominated everything. Agustin was lying on the floor, hugging the microphone, the guitar at his side. The screams continued. Someone turn off everything! The lights were still on and the amplifiers had been ringing in an infinite loop. We saw Agustin on the floor but we didn't know if he was still stuck. We didn't find the key, we didn't know how to turn everything off. There had to be a switch somewhere. We were lost and Augustine was still lying on the floor with his eyes lost. We were shouting at each other, it was chaos. The place manager was not. We were there, with our eyes absorbed,
Suddenly someone turned off everything (or we thought it was because of the silence of the amplifiers) and Augustine his right arm to the side. I approached to look closely. I'm going to land and today I don't feel well. He was lying on his back, arms outstretched and the guitar by his side. The despair was even greater. All of us who entered were faced with the situation of having our friend on the floor without being able to do anything. We screamed, we begged. I started crying while Cecilia calmed me down. Someone brought a boy, a waiter from a nearby bar, who did first aid. Hope. He approached Agustin and began to massage his chest and count the time. Around, everything was a mess. The equipment was thrown away, it was the dream of a movie that had to wake up. We all gathered close to the boy. Someone suggested that we let him breathe, that we move away. We hold hands, you can't leave us like that Agustin. Give it Agus! Give it bold, I came back! The boy massaged his chest, took time between massage and massage. We watched as Agu tried to breathe. His lungs contracted. His eyes were lost but we felt he was struggling to return. He fought with all his might to focus his eyes and wake up. We gave him strength, we begged him a little more. Give it Agus! Cecilia phoned a doctor friend and asked her what to do. His eyes were lost but we felt he was struggling to return. He fought with all his might to focus his eyes and wake up. We gave him strength, we begged him a little more. Give it Agus! Cecilia phoned a doctor friend and asked her what to do. His eyes were lost but we felt he was struggling to return. He fought with all his might to focus his eyes and wake up. We gave him strength, we begged him a little more. Give it Agus! Cecilia phoned a doctor friend and asked her what to do.
We gathered to one side watching as the boy massaged his chest. The hands did not respond. How much time had passed? Ten, fifteen minutes. Time escapes. Every minute was eternal. It seemed that all the chaos had turned into mist. Everything was diffuse.
No one had answers for the unknown. Kevin was asking Diego's phone to call Fernanda, who was just nearby. We shouted at the ticket office girls, who were among the seats, for help. They were shouting at us that they had already called the ambulance, which was already arriving. Among the people passing by, someone found a doctor. The doctor came in and pounced on Agustin to help him. The doctor did first aid work, chest massage, mouth-to-mouth breathing. It was increasingly difficult to get him back. Hope faded like sand in his hands. We had been so close. My head was hell and thoughts mixed and exploded.
The doctor got up when the ambulance assistants entered. A police officer who reported what was happening on the phone also entered. The doctor left the place to the paramedics. Standing on one side, I saw that the doctor was leaving the room. I thought of thanking him for his effort, for trying. I left the room to thank him and asked how Agustin was, if there was a chance he would survive. I asked him if there was still hope. 
He told me no.
I went back to the living room and saw Agustín's face again. I was no longer there. I burst into tears. Franco hugged me. Cecilia started to cry and we hugged all three. Diego went to the top of the room and sat in an armchair to look at everything from above, to ask God a thousand times to bring him back. Down we cried hugging. I knew it was the end. Paramedics worked on Agustín, they introduced artifacts through his nose and mouth but it was already clear that he was gone. Still, hope bounced on me and left. It came and went, like life and death. I didn't know and couldn't understand what was happening. I wanted to believe but I couldn't. We were alone in our spirit. Fernanda Gigena arrived, psychologist with whom Agustín had constellated. They had a special relationship. When I saw her come in, Hope came back into me like lightning. I thought she was the only one who could bring it back. What was Fernanda doing so close to the theater? Kevin had called her, that was clear. But was it just close? I don't know, but it was the last hopeful piece that day.
He arrived and approached Agustin, took off his shoes, taking him by the feet and started talking to him. At that moment, I went up to look for Diego to tell him what the doctor had told me. We went down and joined Kevin and Cecilia, to hold him by the feet. Fernanda spoke to him, told him to come back, not to be afraid, that everything was fine. I started to cry again and Fernanda asked me to stop crying, that it didn't help him, that if I wanted to cry I would leave the room. I made strength to stop crying and I kept grabbing him by the feet. Fernanda kept talking to him, guiding him, trying to bring him back. Tears ran quietly down my cheek. Diego, Kevin and Cecilia did the impossible to stay there. Fernanda implored and said things that I no longer remember, but that we repeated. We made strength to bring it back.
I went back into the living room and watched the situation stand aside. Franco hugged me and we stayed by his side. We hugged again with Cecilia. I already knew there was nothing to do but hope was still in there, latent. At any moment Agustín gets up.
Gustavo, the bass player of the band, arrived with Federico. It was too much for him. He wanted to enter the room and got dizzy. When he was lying, he left the room and, on the verge of fainting, met Bruno, friend of the band. Bruno sat him down and gave him water. Then he took it from the place, to walk aimlessly. Federico stayed next to us, torn and without understanding what had happened in his absence. We tried to explain, explain, but we didn't find answers.
One of the paramedical girls cried silently. Minutes passed, people crowded. Some curious people who roamed the gallery spied through the open door of the room. A policeman at the door took them away from the place. Endless minutes passed. Give Augustine! At one point, the auxiliaries stopped working and began to store their things. We looked at them, waiting for someone to finally tell us something, although we already knew it. “What's up doctor? What happens?". The doctor shook his head from side to side, denying. No words were needed.
We hug each other. There was no comfort. Agustin had gone there. He knocked on the door and spotted it ajar. He walked faithfully, convinced, he didn't need anything else to be there. It was his dream and it melted in his hands. With one hand on the guitar and another on the microphone. So fleeting and simple. Diego came over to say goodbye with tears in his eyes.
“Look what you did Agu. See you. Thank you, I love you brother. ”
Agustin Briolini left at the door of his heaven.
Quarter to eight. Quarter to eight? I do not remember. Time did not matter a damn. There was no comfort, no words. There was no plan. They were just silent sobs, mine and others. Diego shouted into the air: "Sons of a bitch." The piercing scream rumbled on the walls of the room. Agustin was still lying on the floor and we didn't want to leave him alone. The police arrived with prosecutors, and they recommended that we go out. While we were leaving the room, we thought that someone had to call Nora, her mother, to tell her what had happened.
It took me a while to take courage to do it, how do you tell a mother who has just lost her son? Life never prepared me for that and I still feel guilt. Diego was a ghost, Gustavo was gone. I felt I had no other choice. Cecilia found Augustine's phone above a speaker and heard it ring. It was Nestor, the father. Cecilia attended and told them to come quickly. Before breaking, he handed the cell phone to me to talk.
Someone had already told them that Agustin had had a problem but had not yet been told that he was gone. Nora, the mother, asked to speak with him. I told him I couldn't talk to him, to come urgently. He insisted again. "Where is my son? Pass me with Agu. ” I told him to come quickly, he told me he was on his way. He asked me again for his son. I cut the call.
Little by little the public arrived. Many learned as they arrived, with the commotion of ambulances and police at the closed doors of the theater. We stayed inside, sitting in a hall, waiting for his parents, his brothers, his family to arrive. What the hell had happened? There were so many things to explain and we didn't know what to say or how to say it. They came one by one and our eyes didn't need words. When Ezekiel arrived he didn't know what had happened. Our eyes were withering. We all burst into tears again. It would be nothing more than the beginning of an endless day.
Nora arrived a while later. Some of us had entered the room to pick up some things. From the top of the stage we saw how Nora entered with Nestor. The room was a sudden silence until Nora burst into anger to slowly approach her son. Nestor held her from behind. Nora walked towards Agus and asked him to get up. We walked away from the room to leave them alone.
Outside the people who were arriving were finding out what was happening. Not even we understood what was happening. The situation was much bigger. People arrived and crowded at the doors. Some friends were adding up and were perplexed by what was lived. How did Agustín die? At this point, everything looked like a work of black comedy.
Inside we all gathered around Nora, who had left the room and sat in the hall, welcomed us and hugged us all. At that moment, between the confusion and the fear I felt for what was happening, I apologized. I felt guilty because I had been the person who had put him there, in that theater, in that record presentation. He had lost a friend. But he had also asked for confidence in the decision. Everything looked like it was planned, that it was in control. That we decided step by step what touched us. It was mine and it was ours. It was our choice to be there doing what we were doing. Confident, confident. In a second, a part of me had also died. I was never the same again.
It was my fault, it had been a disaster. Nora calmed me and shut me up. He hugged me and told me not to say anything else. The shock was deep. Cecilia was sitting on the stairs, pale. I approached her and we merged into a hug. We sat and little by little other friends who gave us strength approached.
I ripped the sheet of the poem stuck on the wall. I read it out loud: 
“I am salt when I run to you, the salt that I cry when you leave. I am salt, sometimes of happiness, and what I transpire when I look back. I am salt that is part of the sea, the salt that caresses you and leaves me breathless. I am salt of my fragility, the same that I teach to love and to be one with the sea. To walk in a circle when you leave. I am salt because tears and laughter have the same flavor when you are here. ”
It had been a few hours and I couldn't help smiling pale. The tears on my cheeks that fell violently, made me come back to the words again and again. To each one who joined our round I read fragments of the poem. "The salt that I cry when you leave," "The salt that caresses you and leaves me breathless," "To walk in a circle when you leave," "Tear and laughter have the same knowledge when you're here."
I thought Agustin had written a farewell letter. I had everything planned. How to understand it but? Or is it simply the way we caress ourselves to make it more bearable? It seemed that we had all gathered there to see it go. Or it is just a way of explaining the inexplicable.
People go through our lives. It is a universal constant. People who enter and leave our lives. Some leave love in us; others, hate, joys, sorrows, frustrations. In short, with all we learn something. Even in the most painful situation in the world, we learn.
Agustin lived up all his life and died on top of a stage, the same that so many frustrations and joys brought him to his life. When there are still people who go through this masked life, living a life that does not belong to them, trying to like people who are only interested in appearances, fulfilling family mandates and treasuring poisonous relationships. Even so, Augustine had the wisdom to get rid of prejudices. He, whether successful or not, was going to be what he wanted to be. You shone like the echo in the mountain when you sighed like that. Thus, we had learned to choose. But those choices were our conviction. Perhaps it is simply that universe that chooses to hit us to show us the truth.
I've spent so many sleepless nights thinking what the hell I was doing there, that November 23, in the presentation of my friends' album, what the hell I had to see in all that. I could never understand it. The nights were long, the dawn always surprised me in the silent prison, in the white of the ceiling of my room, in the darkness of my eyelids. At dawn I will be thinking of you. I relived the moment countless times, the situation that we all had to live that November 23. It is necessary to get into the facts but the meaning is always more important. What happened happened. But why?
Endless nights I plunged into a maze of spirals, windows and doors. I touched them all, I felt them, I felt them, only to find myself again at the starting point. A dark room that, by force of mystery, took me to the depths of my mind to find an answer that would explain everything.
In depression we look for meanings, in happiness we breathe.
That is why, still four years after what happened with Agustín, in the lethargy of his absence, I still spend sleepless nights thinking about what happened that had to happen. Agustin thought it all, I imagine. Agustin did not know what was happening, but deep down he did. Agustin came to tell us something, he complied, was that it? I can't know because someday our paths will come back together and I think it's going to be the first thing I'm going to ask.
I try to wake up every day from this dream, from this dream of being a person who knew him, from the dream of a person who lived in the hopelessness of trying to be in a world where it is better to appear to be. He was, at his best. It is not a comfort to me or anyone. His physical presence was as or stronger than his spiritual presence. He was everything he wanted to be and left so much love going around that it becomes difficult to continue without that guidance. I try to wake up from this dream every day, I try to find it. I feel him close, his hug and his smile. I try to wake up from the dream of being a person who was there that day. Why did I have to live what I had to live? I can never explain it. They are consolations that at this point are absurd. I try to wake up from sleep, to tell what happened.
Agustin left and we still don't know what happened. Agustin left and his cause still sleeps, prey to neglect and neglect. Hostage to the cunning of some and the misery of others, oblivion of those responsible. Sadness of family and friends. Four years later, many questions remain. But only one continues to take away our sleep.
What happened to Agustín Briolini?