A flash thunderstorm hits Millennium Park. Tourists scatter as though coming under sniper fire. Some run towards the Pritzker Pavilion for shelter. Others flee in the direction of Michigan Avenue. You join a crowd taking refuge beneath the Bean. It seems like a good spot to wait. Silver rivulets of rain swirl over the sculpture’s mirrored curves. People look upwards and murmur in aesthetic appreciation. Huge gobs of prairie rain ricochet into efflorescence off the concrete surface of the plaza. But there is trouble. A yellow-jacketed security guard runs towards the sculpture, hood up, waving his arms. People! You can’t shelter here! It’s dangerous! The Bean is made out of metal—it conducts lightning! If lightning strikes the Bean, you’ll all be fried! You’re gonna have to go someplace else! Now let’s move! He claps his hands authoritatively and makes a big circular motion with his arms. Nobody moves. Momentarily, all are stunned. The Bean has become death. Like a robot, you step forward and speak: “If I’m gonna perish, I wanna die right here—under the Bean!” Defiantly, you point to the ground beside your feet. The guard is dumbfounded. A big guy in a Bulls cap looks at the guard, points at you, and says: “I’m with him!” Two teenage skateboarders agree. The guard’s mouth falls open. He shakes his head in disbelief. He tries again. Come on, people! Let’s move! But an old woman totters forward, resolutely shaking her head: “We’re staying under the Bean!”
Mark Crimmins teaches Contemporary American Fiction at the University of Toronto. His fiction has been published in Happy, Confrontation, theNewerYork, White Rabbit, Columbia online, Flash Frontier, Cha, Tampa Review Online, Eunoia Review, and Pif Magazine.