Daniel doesn’t want to break up with Jackson but Jackson won’t stop texting him and so before they are both set to arrive at Lara’s wedding, Daniel swallows a cup of gasoline, lights a match, and tosses it down his throat. When he arrives at Lara’s wedding, Jackson has purchased her a Le Creuset Dutch Oven from her registry, while Daniel—always having been the practical one—wraps a stack of linens in a charming yellow ribbon. Jackson doesn’t see Daniel; he’s a phantom, a charred outline. But Jackson does recognize the yellow ribbon and that I am afraid is enough.
When I arrive, I am blindfolded. Wheeled into town. Strapped to the back of a foam dolphin. Everything smells of funnel cake and asphalt. You’re promoted, a man says, snapping the blinders off my eyes. His name is Serge. He tells me I came here to celebrate. City of trombones and balloon people and synchronization. Like anyplace else, there’s a ladder, a caste system, a mountain or maybe a pecking order. I’m sure there are other metaphors, but you get the picture, he says, flanked by two small children who pull me inside the base of a dog that is not a dog but a balloon we’re calling Scooby. The children latch the entrance shut and I row; Scooby lurches forward. You’re promoted, Serge shouts from outside. There is some kind of commotion behind the float, a babysitter or a teacher begging someone to stop the procession of brass horns and bodies, but when I open the entrance, the dissent is stifled and Serge is jogging alongside the float. He tosses me a baton and a sequined jumpsuit. They’re waiting for me to join the Broadway cast of Mamma Mia! A musical that to my knowledge contains no sequined jumpsuits. Have fun with it, he winks, even though people don’t wink. But I came here to celebrate. To zip into a sequined jumpsuit. To exhaust myself before the performance is done. And I do exhaust myself before the performance is finished because the performance is never finished. This is a town where Ubers are floats and the floats spell out U.B.E.R. My kneecaps click. My arms throb. You’re promoted, Serge says, his fingernails digging into my forearm, filling me with keratin or light or more blood. There is such a thing as promises made, another thing is promises kept, and he promises it’s only a matter of time before I’m the Grand Marshal. It’s only a few more promotions, he says, before I can finally lead the show.