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Here we are in a boardroom on the umpteenth floor of a glass hotel. So high, pedestrians are itty-bitty ants below and whether there’s oxygen outside is maybe a valid question. So high, nose-bleeds could happen. So high that after plummeting umpteen stories, a penny could burrow through the dome of a bald man’s pate and out of the sole of his shoe and then another five feet into the thick of the cement beneath his toes. It’s a precipitous November day. The floor-to-ceiling windowpanes are dripping, just dripping—little ellipses of driblets here the only curtain between the boardroom and the lightning storm soon to rage. Black clouds are closing in. Over the tops of low buildings, cumulonimbus stretch to the horizon. The thunder’s not audible yet, but the lightning can be seen in its puffy prisons. Looks like a teenage angel is losing his temper in the clouds. Wind’s started to thrash. Under pressure, the windows have begun to wobble, slightly, with the gusts. But behind the floor-to-ceiling windowpanes on the umpteenth story of the glass hotel, is peace. The air conditioning unit is in overdrive, hot or cold, what’s it matter and it’s hard to tell anyway given the outside temperature at odds with the fluctuating body heat indoors. What’s certain is the air is comfortable, Goldilocks, not too hot, not too cold, not too moist, not too dry, just right. There’s not a speck of dust floating miserably above the table and chairs in the light, but then, there isn’t much light right now anyway.
            For the last two days the teenaged Security Council has attempted to hash out resolutions with regard to combatting piracy off the coast of Somalia, and just in general bettering the lives of each and every citizen in every corner of every hemisphere. The desk in this boardroom is flat and sleek and brings to mind a dolphin’s dorsal fin, and at the head of our oval table is our moderator, a PoliSci grad student two and a half years into her thesis research on the persecution of African Albinos, who would really rather not be here, but whose resume is a little dry when it comes to volunteer experience and involvement in the community—she’s bookish. Either side of her are a page and photographer respectively, undergrad honor students with a whole lot of good will and too much time. They don’t say a thing.
            Our moderator is supposed to interject as little as possible and let conversation run its course—but allow us to take a look at our delegates.
            The five permanent chairs on the Security Council are of course in attendance:  the UK, France, Russia, China and God Bless America. The other two rotating seats (in the real Security Council there’re ten, but in the Model UN there’re two) are this year occupied by none other than Peru and Djibouti. And even though all five permanent delegates of the Security Council are themselves agreed that it is a great and democratic thing that developing nations get the opportunity to partake in global decision making of the highest order, they really don’t know why the hell they’re sitting here with Djibouti.
            The U.K. is a Rhodes Scholar in the making, a names-taker in spelling bees at municipal, state and national levels, televised and not, an overweight rhetorician with a boxy jaw offset by cherub cheeks that look like boils, and a neck bursting out of his collar which is fastened shut with a bow tie that seems, when he speaks, to choke. France is a darling freckled girl from the deep south with one of those accents that makes you think of nothing but iced tea. She’s got a full athletic scholarship on lock, what with her being five foot nothing, one hundred and nothing pounds and absolutely kickass when it comes to motivating teenage men in a boat of four to row harder when she yells, every morning, at 5:30 AM: “three quarters, half, three quarters, full, build five, hard ten.” Yale’s in her crosshairs. Russia’s a terse and pasty motherfucker everyone assumes is a calculus ace, and is only in the UN so as to round out his resume and deceive college admission boards from seeing him for the introvert he really is. He’s got a wireless mouse atop a fleshy mouse pad and he absolutely will not leave his laptop alone. The grease stains of fingerprints and the sticky quality of the ENTER key, which he has to depress with both pointers, have caused every delegate to guess that yeah, he’s probably a porn addict. China has these slender piano player fingers that when touched to her naked collarbone cause the male delegates around the table to gawk. And China of course is not Chinese or even vaguely Asian, but rather black, which Djibouti had a laugh about and tried to make an ice-breaker of two days ago, before being rebuked by the rest of the council for having the sense of political correctness of a baby boomer. America is that rare breed of teenager who, with glasses, facial hair and formal attire, could be mistaken for being anywhere between the age of seventeen to twenty-eight. The only giveaway that he is a seventeen-year-old with a bent for cannabis being his nasal congestion that renders his voice sluggish and makes him sound as if he’s suffered from a lifetime cold. Peru’s either too intimidated by the five permanents to speak a word or just too beautiful a boy to feel he has to do anything. And Djibouti, fucking Djibouti, not only on the level of role-play but in regard to personality and ambition, should just not be here. While the other delegates are always at all times somewhat envisioning their upcoming years of higher education, Djibouti dreams only of the day he’ll write for the Harvard Lampoon.
            All seven high school students and the four hundred and fifty some others in the larger councils in the conference rooms on the floors below (UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank, etc.) have been delivered from all corners of the two northern most North American countries in tall lurching buses with gusting AC and non-stop TV, to this glass hotel in Montreal for a little extracurricular recognition—or the chance to drink underage. It’s no secret amongst private school kids: Montreal’s Model UN is orgiastic. 
            Right now the job is to vote on whether or not it’s within the Security Council’s authority to put forth military action in international waters.
            The U.K.’s cheeks are a maraschino red as he stands and explains to the faces around the table in a voice prettier than a bell how the parties present are on the cusp of setting a dangerous precedent with regards to international borders by imposing such legislation re: pirating, that could inhibit state sovereignty, which totally makes sense when you consider he’s representing a country who’s military strength hinges upon its navy. Fidelity to role is encouraged and rewarded in the Model UN. They give out awards for that kind of shit. The moderator takes note of the performance and general aptitude of the delegate from the U.K., who, it might be worth mentioning, is the only Model UN delegate who lives in the U.S Virgin Islands, and so, flew over the eastern seaboard, its freeways and his fellow delegates’ buses, by jet. Another thing about the U.K. is despite the spelling gift, he can never remember how many letter “M’s” there are in the word “Tomorrow,” which embarrasses him to no end and causes him to fear the fluke day he’s asked to spit the word back letter by letter, live, on C-SPAN. A little more on our delegates before the storm hits: France and America are high school sweethearts, though America wants to break up with France and vice versa; France has begun to sense America has developed adolescent habits he cannot shake; America’s recently grown a chin-strap and can smell a stretch of good times and laissez fair sex around the corner. America also recently visited a Spencer’s gift shop in an underground Montreal mall with his cronies and invested in a Sprite can doohickey, the lid of which screws on and off to conceal all kinds of contraband, which as of right now is his precious Mary Jane. Russia got his first hand job after the keynote address on landmines the other night and can’t stop thinking about the twisting motion with which it was done, let alone that he actually got a hand job. He’s equally astounded that he doesn’t know the middle name of the girl who gave it to him. Djibouti spends his summers watching reruns of every episode of Saturday Night Live to ever air. China, despite her gracefulness, has enough anxious energy pumping through her nerves to power a dam. Teachers and peers have always wondered if there’s any electricity at all zapping around inside of Peru’s pretty head.
            Djibouti is derailing everything again by making an erroneous attempt for role play points, stating that he wishes to make clear his country’s interest in reviving the death penalty for all violators of the law. The U.K. is stressing hard about that bonus question on last week’s chemistry test, which, if he messed up, would drop his G.P.A. for the first time ever. Peru is twiddling his thumbs and staring at the cold rain with wonderment. The moderator is sipping from her Starbucks mug and getting mad at herself for putting money in the pocket of corporate America with each sip. The page is scrambling around the table with a paramedic’s pace, carrying a note from Djibouti to Russia, which Russia opens to find a cartoon image: Putin walking off a plank. Peru is kind of missing the days he got to dunk his cookies in milk. Russia crumbles Djibouti’s note, shoves it in his pocket and takes the opportunity to fiddle with himself. China’s father boarded a plane yesterday on a business trip to, ironically, China. The U.K. has moved on from the chemistry test stress and is simultaneously sorting out the points in his upcoming university entrance essay with regards to homophobia in Rastafarianism. He gets the giggles thinking about the admissions committee reading it; he has the unshakeable belief that it’s going to knock their socks off. China has this thing where every time her daddy boards a plane she thinks he is going to die. Russia is whispering to the page and the page is whispering to the moderator and the moderator is stating that if the content of messages continues to be so erroneous, the page system will be suspended. Djibouti looks at Russia as if he’s just been denied three times. Peru motions for a ten-minute unmoderated caucus. Djibouti says, not so quietly, that he’d prefer to moderate his own caucus. The moderator says: motion denied. Djibouti exhales, lets himself empty like a balloon and then lays his head sideways on his elbow, as if to nap. Below the table and through his pocket, Russia’s secretly working away at an itch on his left nut. China keeps her cell phone volume on high so that she can get the call as soon as the plane crashes and her daddy dies. France is so sick of looking at America and fed up with this seating arrangement that causes her to look dead on at America. Peru is thinking how much he’d like a chewy chocolate chip cookie right now. America stares at the garbage can and its contents in the far corner of the boardroom and has one of those piercing epiphanies that he’s left an illicit substance somewhere in plain sight of an adult and is praying to god Principal Timson doesn’t find the little Sprite can doohickey under his bed when he sweeps through the suite for late afternoon inspection. China knows her daddy’s still in the air right now, with the time difference. The US of A imagines the rest of his life after his principal’s discovery of the Sprite can doohickey beneath his hotel bed: no college, no frat parties, no threesomes, life as a personal trainer. Russia realizes that because of the roommate situation, he hasn’t masturbated in three whole days, and feels pretty fucking good about himself. Djibouti asks if everyone’s cool with Russia using a laptop seeing as his homeland doesn’t allow freedom of information, let alone LinkedIn. The moderator tells Djibouti that irrelevant ad hominems are out of line. France rolls her eyes. The U.K. adjusts his squeaky-tight bowtie. Russia pinches and twists his scrotum and gets his left nut at just the right spot.
            The moderator this whole time has been thinking ahead to dinner. She’s got nothing in the pantry and only cabbage in the fridge. She is not, in the least, excited.
            Djibouti suggests all pirates be shot on sight with AK47s, or quartered.
            The U.K. has already figured out what the council’s resolution is going to look like and is fast at work on the preamble, typing feverishly on his MacBook. The moderator is very jealous of the size of the screen of the U.K.’s MacBook. America is trying not to panic about the Sprite can doohickey by stroking his tie. France can’t wait to tell her mom she’s broken up with America. America doesn’t know how he’s going to tell his mom he’s broken up with France. Djibouti doodles a cartoon of a Russian pirate ship with Vodka in place of rum, and potatoes instead of plunder, and slides it to the spelling bee prodigy at his side; the U.K. thinks he really is one of the last smart people left in the world. The moderator is watching the U.K. type on his MacBook and thinking it must be nice to have parents who can buy you that big of a MacBook. Peru is looking out the window and thinking of the cookies he used to eat at the foster home he came from and wondering how he got here. Russia is contemplating cutting a hole in his pocket so next time he can more easily and discretely scratch his left nut. France has secured a Frappuccino from nowhere. China imagines the fuselage cracking down the middle, just as she pops a wad of pink gum. The problem with the pocket cut, Russia figures, is he’ll never be able to keep any change in the pocket again. Peru wonders who his father was for the two thousand one hundred and thirty-first time. The U.K. finishes writing the preamble and logs onto Messenger to communicate with his fellow British delegates in less important councils on the floors below. France slurps her Frappuccino. Russia can’t remember if he ordered a porno on pay-per-view last night or if that was just a really good dream. Djibouti is planning a filibuster in his head to piss Russia right off. The U.K. waves to his friend in UNICEF and tells him what an assclown this Djibouti is— is UNICEF’s Djibouti an assclown too? The moderator decides she’ll go to that pita place for dinner tonight even though they put on too much mayo and when you pay by card the machine asks if you want to leave a tip to one of these kids who just stands there at the counter and doesn’t even look you in the eye. She just can’t bear the thought of cooking alone. France’s foot has started to bop, involuntarily, from the Frappuccino. China is digging through her anxiety meds in her purse for a fresh piece of gum while she thinks of where her daddy’s plane is going to crash, the open ocean or a mountain range. Djibouti has noted France’s unhappiness and sent her a note that says: Cheer up me matey. France smiles at Djibouti, and her dimples, unseen till now, really show. The United States of America looks at France with a shrug, like, If that’s what you want, you do you, go ahead and get with Djibouti. Russia’s given his nutsack a break and taken to his feet cause eventually everyone’s got to speak. China doesn’t hear Russia cause the only sound in her ears is the imaginary noise of the passenger jet meeting a peak or the Pacific. Be it resolved that…whereas that which…The U.K. is adjusting his bowtie and telling himself that even if Russia’s well spoken, he’s still the brightest student this security council’s ever seen. It occurs to France that she didn’t say her prayers before bed last night because she was afraid of what her roommates would think. The United States of America checks out China. For half a second, the moderator stares at Peru’s mouth and has a thought that is illegal. The United States decides he is most definitely into China and will apologize for Djibouti’s racially insensitive joke earlier, and will take long, tactical steps to fuck China. Djibouti has begun to hum, at a low volume, A Pirates Life for Me. Russia is fantasizing about throwing Djibouti through the window, the floor-to-ceiling window, so that the rectangle of glass shatters wonderfully upon making contact with Djibouti’s back. The U.K. places an Altoid on the flat of his tongue. France peers into the cup of her Frapuccino and sees the Virgin Mary in her whipped cream. The sucking noise she makes with the straw is obnoxious and causes Russia to cringe. Djibouti meets Russia’s eyes and leans back in his leather chair with his fingers interlaced on the crown of his head and mouths, Yo ho. China always hopes for mountains, cause if it’s mountains it’ll be easier to find the body. Yes, the U.K.’s colleague in UNICEF types back: All our Djibouti’s are assclowns too.
            I’m sorry, Peru says: Does anyone else see that storm?
            Like androids, the delegates, page and photographer turn their heads to the clouds.
            The moderator says: We’re all safe in here.
            China has had the thing about her dad and the planes since she was six and her mom whispered in her ear before bed that her daddy might not be coming back. The U.K. supposedly was able to name every state and capital before he teethed. Russia would really rather not spend as much time with the ladies on the screen of his laptop as he does, but he looks how he looks and he is the age that he is and he feels the urges he feels and the options for genuine intimacy aren’t exactly abundant. The United States of America has always done this thing where he puts off personal grave concerns by focusing his attention on a female, which he realizes is a kind of crutch and so he asks aloud, Can I get a motion for a ten-minute unmoderated caucus? The moderator tells him: Only moderated caucuses from here on out. Djibouti sighs. The United States of America stands and doesn’t even push in his ergonomic chair before exiting the boardroom to investigate the precise whereabouts of his Sprite can doohickey. France looks at the empty chair before her and feels a pang of emptiness, now that America’s gone. You can see the imprint of his shoulders on the leather and everything. France used to have control of the United States of America, used to exert a kind of masterful power only women who are a boy’s first heartthrob can wield. It’s what made her so good in the boat. The boys hadn’t been with anyone else and the boys wanted to be with her and the boys listened to her. It’s what got her tuition for the next four years waved, this freshman female charm, but now it’s worn off on the boy she cares about the most.
           Just as China daydreams her father is plummeting over the Pacific, America is plummeting in the confines of an elevator that causes his ears to squeak and pop. The moderator notes the superpower’s absence. The United States taps his plastic key card to the door of his hotel suite to discover his roommate, Brazil, fully clothed, dry-humping UNESCO’s petite delegate from Japan. She leaves the room with speed and skips down the hall without a worry for the door so that it shuts with a bang rather than a satisfying, click.
           When she’s not panicking about her father, China is exceptional at whatever she sets out to do. It’s never occurred to her that she only pays attention to her daddy’s air travel when it coincides with something that causes her stress, like voting on a resolution with regards to combatting piracy in a Security Council meeting in the Model UN. If he can graduate summa cum laude from somewhere at least Ivey League, he’ll be able to better the world and alleviate other’s suffering, the U.K. believes. Djibouti notes that mother Russia, who’d just vied for the moderator’s title of teacher’s pet with a three-minute monotone monologue, is now elbow deep in an online role-playing game, attacking goblins with bow and arrows. The U.K. observes this too. Djibouti makes eye contact with the U.K as if to say, the fuck, right? and for a second, the clown and prodigy bond. France has begun to sense stress in China, the way girls can detect something awry with other girls, no matter how quiet. Peru would just like to go to community college, that would be nice. China senses France sensing her anxiety. France is tempted to say something to the fidgety girl, but it wouldn’t be in role, or professional, and if there’s one thing France is going to be in this new post-American life, it’s professional. Fifteen floors below, Brazil thanks the USA for interrupting his foreign relations and jumps into the shower to address his blue balls. The United States, mindful of the time he’s been away from the Security Council, proceeds to tear apart the suite in search of his Sprite can doohickey. Upstairs, Djibouti coughs, and nods in the direction of Russia so that the moderator’s eyes settle on Russia’s Alienware laptop and the fantasy game in question. The U.K. looses a fatboy laugh. France is on her feet now detailing various pirate attacks of the last five years. Shit’s hit the fan in the Indian Ocean and she’s got stats from the International Maritime Organization to prove it. Enough French yachtsmen have been taken hostage or worse this last decade and the time to act is now, y’all.
           China’s cell phone goes off. She’s been thinking of her daddy and the plane for the last twenty minutes and no one is going to stop her from answering it to find out if he’s made it back onto Terra Firma. But of course on the other end of the line it’s just Bolivia, China’s roommate, who’s gone down the block to grab lunch and wants China to know how good her poutine tastes.
            All right, the moderator says: No more phones, no more laptops, enough of this.
            Yeah, Djibouti says, We’ve got pirates to stop.
            Everyone laughs, the page and photographer too, and the storm draws closer. Peru’s eyes don’t part from the clouds as he mumbles to himself that there actually are pirates out there. The moderator sinks her nails into a chunk of her hair at the back of her head and shakes it up to liven the strands and then turns to the page at her side, palms up and out as if to say, And where the hell is the USA?
            It’s left to France to send her boyfriend a warning in the form of a text.
            Downstairs, America overturns the mattresses of his and Brazil’s twin-sized beds, lifts the bed skirts, presses his nose to the paisley carpet and still no Sprite can doohickey. For a moment he entertains the only sound thought: Brazil has found and taken his Mary Jane. Not so; because in the most obvious and compromising of places—the glowing circle beneath the lamp atop his night stand—is America’s container of cannabis, which he discovers only when his cell phone, atop the same wooden surface, vibrates and displays a message from France: Whatever u r doing hurry the fuck up I love you. Upstairs, the moderator announces they’ll vote in three minutes. Hoping to swing the vote of an altogether different young man across the table from him, Djibouti slides the U.K. a note that reads: Cannot a jester be a king? The moderator by this point has dispatched the page to convene with the appropriate school’s chaperone so that it may be known that a certain US of A has been AWOL for, well, long enough. The whole university body and consortium of teachers are extra vigilant to police delegates who’ve left their scheduled councils, since, just yesterday, a widowed librarian along for the field trip was woken by the noise of a ménage a trois that involved Afghanistan, Micronesia and The Holy See.
            And so, standing before the door to his suite, cell phone and Sprite can doohickey in hand, the United States of America hears the footsteps of Principal Timson clapping down the tile hall and becomes hyperaware of his educational doom. Call it a miracle that a delegate across the hall has left his door not quite locked, with the brassy door-guard wedged between door and jamb like a golden dick. Call it bad luck that the student who left this door open happens to be a delegate of the Security Council, from Russia. What the US does next is pretty much automatism. Before Principal Timson rounds the bend in the hall and can see the contraband there in the young man’s hands, the USA throws back the door to the suite across the hall and lobs the Sprite can doohickey in so that it rolls, much like a grenade, but unscrews, much unlike a grenade, and at the foot of Russia’s twin-size bed deposits a nice leafy clump of Mary Jane.
            Six years from now, Russia will graduate with a degree in engineering, no matter the pain of expulsion and switching high schools and dropping out all together before having to do night classes at community college, but he won’t have a friend to speak of. Fifteen years from now, the United States of America will marry the daughter of a family friend, a budding anesthetist who will let him screw off to Super Bowl parties in San Francisco every February. Djibouti will never get to write for the Harvard Lampoon. France will sail through Princeton on an athletic scholarship and score a good job after landing in the company of good, well-connected friends. The U.K. will become a family lawyer. China’s daddy will never die in a plane crash. The moderator will scrape together enough cash to backpack to Tanzania and see that she has nothing more to say on the topic of African albinos. Pirates will continue to attack off the coast of Somalia. The moderator will regret every mayo-heavy morsel of her pita. China will actually work as a diplomat in China and ward off her anxiety and fear of public speaking with daily masochistic exercise. The United States will inherit his father’s trust fund and stress daily that he won’t be able to keep the gravy train running. When she’s twenty-seven, France will fall in love with the gentleman who repairs her bicycle and date him for two and a half years, but reject his proposal in a fine dining restaurant, because her parents couldn’t tolerate her married to a bike mechanic and she couldn’t stomach the financial security either. The U.K. will lose a lot of weight, like a lot of weight. Russia will someday develop a non-nuclear, efficient energy dispersal system that will allow the citizens of the Honshu island of Japan to use central heating. The U.K. will come to terms with being just a family lawyer.
        No one knows about Peru.

© Geoffrey Line 2019

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