There's a newspaper with my face on the front page. The building behind me crumbles to the ground and becomes a sudden heap of rubble. Everyone is running from the cloud of debris ten times the size of the original structure. There are screams for God and wails from the instant orphans. I am pushing a quarter into the box and listening to it drop.
I pull out the newspaper with my face on it and tuck it under my arm as I head toward the river. People head en masse toward the destruction. I ignore them, thinking about the price people pay for up-to-date information on everyday catastrophic incidents. I cancelled my own subscription years ago.
I fight upstream against the current of wind-blown temperament, people with the intellect of dryer sheets. Coming towards me now is dreg, a guy with a half-shirt that used to be a different color than the dull, grease-stained grey it is now. His pants come up to his knees. He has a cane in his hand but he keeps it off the ground to accentuate his limp. As I pass him he utters to me through his wild forest of facial hair in a voice that sounds like coins in a glass jar "Now we are ten." I quickly sidestep the dreg and continue on.
I push through the door of The High Bank. Jack the bartender is a friend of mine. I once pulled him out of the wreckage of an auto crash just before it erupted into a black-red mushroom of smoke and twisted metal. But he doesn't remember that. To him I'm just a germ, someone that's keeping him from his spicy cheese curls and crossword puzzles. To him, I am a villain. He brings me the stuff in a tall cylinder and retreats back to the light.
"Hey, Jack," I shout. "Remember that car crash you were in? Remember when you almost croaked?" He looks at me like I'm a chimpanzee who just answered a cell phone.
I start reading the newspaper, the one with my picture on the front page. It only slightly resembles me. By the second paragraph I get bored and stop reading. I now have nothing but ice in my drink. Suddenly I can grasp the connection between art and science and religion. I can picture it like the inside of a pocket watch. Now I understand what the limping dreg told me. Now I understand what is left for human beings to learn. My eyelids come down like the gates of death row and my head falls to the bar. I dream I'm in a movie. I can still see the solution and it's as clear as morning blue. I understand now. I understand how infinity relates to a poppy seed bagel.
I awake the next morning, my mouth pasted to the floor. A sunbeam hits me in the eye. I have nothing left to win and it is beautiful.