An excerpt from Something for Everyone by Lisa Moore.
Orlando, Florida. I’m here with a conference of twenty thousand librarians from all over North America, two weeks after the Pulse massacre. It’s very early; I’m jogging around two big, olive-coloured ponds and not a breath of wind, an empty eight-lane highway between the ponds and I’m on the median.
A lizard skitters over the curb and across the highway. It goes in fast-forward but there are glitches. Stops. Goes, stops. Darts. A jellied quivering. The long thin body is still, but the legs. You can’t even see the legs in the bald light. Just a blur of motion.
There are squiggles of fluorescent spray-paint here and there on the sidewalk in pink, orange, and lime. They’re construction directives, targets for jackhammers, indicating the location of water or sewage pipes beneath the concrete, positions for embedded spigots, underground tunnels for workers and who knows what else — bog people, muskets, cannonballs, arrowheads. I took two planes to get here.
Orlando was retrieved from the swamp by a wily entrepreneur who set up dummy companies to purchase the land cheap. A hundred thousand people work in the theme parks here, vomiting in their oversized cartoon-costume heads because you aren’t allowed to vomit in a theme park. It’s hot in those cartoon heads. You aren’t even allowed to die of heat prostration.
People who die on the parks’ premises are secreted away, whisked from the grounds in unmarked cars and why not? Why not have a zone that death can’t in infiltrate? It costs fabulously to squeeze into these crowds, to belong.
Of course you offer life without death.
You offer furry animals that speak.
When I’m coming around the second pond the sprayers come on and shuffle out sheets of recollected water, the sign says. Water that I don’t want to touch my bare skin because who knows.
It’s not true that the wily entrepreneur is cryogenically preserved. That’s an urban legend. People say just his head in a murky aquarium: mouth open, the lower lip looking grey and nibbled, deteriorating despite the formaldehyde, like he’s developed a cold sore, and a five o’clock shadow, because hair still grows in death. Sometimes the head burps and a wobbling bubble escapes a corner of the mouth. A fold-encrusted eyelid utters. But that is just the underwater air infiltration.
This place is where the GoFundMe stage-four cancer children come to fulfill a bucket list. The parks around here specialize in reconstituting hearts — break ’em, put ’em back together. The white beluga in the aquarium will do it for you, all by itself. Defibrillate your soul. The ghostly mammal emerges from the murk, tail dragging because of a low-grade fugue.