See It All for More of What It Is by James Munson

Rarely had they ever the luxury of a shared happiness. By various means they tried to incite jubilation, but it was never more than a joy ride before boredom derailed them. A sequence of untimely failures had long since curbed his once caustic determination to be free, and so he’d sidled, like most, into the primeval utility of domestic life.

And yet, though their lives were plodding, still he loved her deeply; and she, not blind to his darkness, gave her all to make the slow unfolding of days bearable. Thus, their stolid routines were tempered by quiet victories. Even as she'd aged she retained her childlike beauty, and he was still proud to have her at his side, especially this night, and in good seats too: row fourteen; D and E.

When the house lights darkened, he reached over and softly threaded his fingers through hers, and rested their entangled hands upon her thigh, tucked in the folds of her favorite dress. From an aperture in the towering red curtain veiling the stage trounced a man in a chicken costume, spiritedly waving to and fro a gigantic, candy-colored flag, that on the obverse read WELCOME and on the reverse, BACK, to serve as a greeting to both those who had previously seen the show and were returning and those who had never seen the show but were seeing it now for the first time. It was this sort of added touch that had made her so eager to see the show, she said, and he agreed,—and with that, every instrument in existence blared at once, and the curtain rose to reveal a stage so cluttered with unimaginable oddities, that nothing else large enough to be accounted for could possibly fit; the numerous contents united in bizarre and fantastic ways, making familiar objects seem foreign and foreign objects, entirely otherworldly.

Crowning the entrance of the tiny theatre, the gilded marquee had titled the show: “See It All”. He’d heard it quoted aloud at the concession stand when they purchased large M&M's and a fountain Pepsi. A bold claim to push on this kind of audience, he’d noted, yet the proof lay scrambled before them. Together they watched transfixed as a belly dancer shimmied about in a pink body suit fashioned entirely out of chewed Bubblicious. She was joined by an obese contortionist that played “Give Peace a Chance” on the piccolo while stuffed full-body inside an elephant's ass, and a foppish clown in a paper convertible, made from every single Eddie Money concert ticket ever printed. The couple had often pondered what had become of their own pair of Eddie Money tickets, and this was the answer to but one of the many mysteries they shared that would be resolved that night.

The clown and the car calamitously exploded when they hit the newly-crowned champion of a Johnny Depp-On-Fire lookalike contest, causing the dancer’s leotard to inflate and pop before she'd had time to conclude her bedazzling routine. The contortionist and his instrument lay wounded in a pile of dung left by the elephant as it fled the blast. Panic and choreography switched places. The band played a stirring rendition of Deep Purple’s “Smoke Alarms and Bright Lights”.  Then, to the audience‘ delight, the ballerina was whisked to safety by a man on a pogo stick with two-dozen googly eyes hot-glued to his penis.

The man in 14D plunged their coupled hands deeper in the folds of his wife’s polyester skirt, quietly pretending it too was popped gum; the firelight revealing the soft outline of lips sucking Diet Pepsi through a straw, and her dainty press-on Lee nails holding it, summoning to his mind the artificial strawberry smell they made when they were new.

He reimagined the blister card they came in with color-coding on the back that matched them to her lipstick, that he later gave their cat to play with after she’d put the nails on. Lying together beneath their best Martha Stewart linens, he, watching while she slept; alone when the color T.V. on the dresser said “Germans now lead the world in banana consumption,” her tiny hand clutching the duvet to her chest, her porcelain skin like ice against his flaccid penis. She’d slept with them on. The next day she won them their “See It All” tickets from a call in show on the television. He’d kissed her and told her he was proud and remembered holding her hand after, which brought him back to now. Little rivulets of condensation glinted like diamonds on the commemorative Big Gulp cup, each reflecting the fire that held her gaze. He wanted her to scratch him now and have the cut smell like smoke and artificial strawberry; she, beside him in 14E. It was the end of Act One.

For a grand finale the actors performed a Pig-Latin rendition of take another little “Piece of My Heart”—in which that actually happened,—whilst the chicken man distributed souvenirs. His wife received the generous gift of a suede-bound Mad Libs edition of Mein Kampf. He received a Purple Heart for Valor in the shape of a heart-shaped balloon with the word Mayonnaise printed on it, which he, chivalrously, regifted to her. An elderly couple in the front row was blinded when Richard Nixon’s ashes were blown from a cannon that had been placed too close to the edge of the stage. Nevertheless, it was assured the remaining audience was exceedingly pleased by what they were still able to witness. The entire performance lasted not more than an hour in total, but it was sufficient enjoyment for both of them, who knew they could truthfully brag that, now, they had seen it all.

They held hands in the parking lot and needlessly obeyed all the crosswalks when retrieving their car, just to make it last longer. In a dozy voice she said that she would have enjoyed seeing more if that had not, in fact, been all there was. With this, in a loving tone, he agreed; conceded that it was, for the two of them, “something to have seen.” She smiled coyly as their eyes met and then, turning her gaze upward, she let go of the balloon and together they watched it sail high over the tepid, gas-lit suburban skyline, high above everything.