Nothing of Value

His empty hands dripped with sweat as he approached the altar on his knees. The creature with a million dead eyes was waiting, its many orifices watering, towering over the small human.

“I know that you crave constant stimulation,” he said, “and you demand new content continuously,” he put his hands up, “but as an artist, I just can’t do it. I have nothing of value to offer today.”

The beast reared back and howled, pulling taut the thousands of cables running from its body. It thrashed. It shrieked. Drops of saliva rained down. The artist shielded his head and vital organs, anticipating a swift yet painful execution.

But the beast turned away, laughing and gurgling, distracted by another’s offering; something loud, flashy, and viral. That would buy the artist some more time.

He crawled into a dark corner of the temple, where, being enveloped by the whirring of giant cooling fans, he could have a moment to just be human and think.

Oh, There They Are!

Going uptown, the F train was packed. With my back to the doors, I stood, studying people’s footwear. A baby wailed. Some teenage girls chittered like squirrels. A garlicky dude was barking into his cell phone.

Across the way, an older man faced outward, his nose pressed to the glass, grocery bags swaying at his sides. As we hurtled through the dark tunnel, he cried out:

“Oh, there they are”—everyone else on the train got quiet—“those teenage mutant ninja turtles. Workin’ on the tracks.”

I smiled as we rode on in silence.