Matt Maxwell

In the amphitheater, I am one of numerous millions. I sit in an uncomfortable chair with my extraneous blubber pushing through slats. There is a hole beneath me so that I don't have to leave my seat to find a bathroom.

We sit in the open air - that's the story, at least. I can see clouds, white and voluminous, and they manage to filter a sun that provides little heat. I have no tan. Neither does anyone else. I don't recall rain, much less a night. No, I'm positive there is a ceiling, created to ensure us that time does not move. It's a popular casino trick.

The man to my left sleeps. His head is tilted way, way back, painfully so, I imagine, and it sounds as if he's holding water in his throat. I wonder if I can pilfer his wallet without him knowing. The man to my right scribbles in a notebook, phrases like the pogrom is solipsistic and Why does America have so many serial killers? and Photoshop is steroids for photography. He sketches doodles of futuristic cars with wings and swimming pools and naked female drivers. The woman in front of me is a geisha, and there is a triangle patch of unpainted, delicate skin just below her hairline. She plays a handheld video game and cusses whenever something bad happens.

I am a statue with teeth skewered through my tongue. It's just another way, symbolically, to say nothing. I can sleep with my eyes open, a trick I developed in school and perfected at work. Unfortunately, though I don't snore, I tend to drool. I do not want to be here and am waiting for the time to sneak out.

Somewhere is a stage, but I'm too far away to see it. A screen shows what is happening. The emcee holds up a placard. WHALING, it says. The people in the audience who feel obligated to speak, stand, and spit their opinions. On the screen, men in tight suits and garrish ties and women with cupped hair and plastic lips translate what is being said. Because I don't have a watch, I don't know how long the argument lasts; it is prolonged by people who feel the need to join. Someone throws a harpoon and it spears an obese man, who dies in the laps of mourners.

A couple behind me knock on my shoulder. They are joined at the head, their facial features melded together. He is light-skinned and has blonde surfer hair; she is Oriental, and her eye is lined with a shimmering, gradient purple. "What do you think?" they ask.

I shrug my shoulders.

"Pathetic," they mock.

The emcee bashes a metallic gong. The man sleeping next to me wakes, squints, rubs his eyes, waits for the next placard, and returns to sleeping. The emcee hoists another: PAPARAZZI AND CELEBRITIES. Someone I recognize - from television or a sex tape - stands and begins finger-pointing. Flash bulbs strobe and their pops drown his voice. Two burly men attack the photographers, and the announcers decry the violence. Lawyers rush to coddle the injured. The celebrity, ignored, strips off his clothes, injects a needle in his arm, trails a gigantic thought bubble that flashes "LOOK AT ME" in neon.

The uni-couple raps on my head. "Whose side are you on?"

I shrug my shoulders.

"Worthless," they mutter.

The next gong does not wake my somnolent neighbor. The scribbler composes a poem:

Through the storm I am catatonic
I am in catatonia catatonia
And no one knows but me
There is a din of blood violence sex boobs cunts peckers bullets
There is an orgasm of celebrities movies songs
There is a tsunami of selfish chest-thumping ego centrism
And in the finale I am catatonic
I am in catatonia catatonia
And no one cares but me
The geisha punches her leg, hurls the game into the sea of people, where it skips, like a rock, off two heads. She extracts a duplicate and begins playing the same game.

I weep, dewdrop tingly tears clinging to the groove between cheek and nose. One becomes a stalactite over my lips. It falls when weighted by its follower.