Anthony Bromberg currently writes, teaches, and lives in Austin, TX with his wife and their three cats. He studied creative
writing at UCLA. He is currently at work on his first novel inspired by the life of his friend, Sancho Garcia.
Truman Capote is a Volcano
'Truman Capote is a volcano.'
'Truman Capote - the writer - he's a volcano.'
'No, he's not. He's dead. You're not making the least bit of sense.'
'Well right, he's dead, but all the same.'
'Have you been listening to me at all?'
'Yes, of course.'
Ten minutes earlier:
They were outside. It was March, suspiciously resembling summer. Only an intermittent breeze cooled things off when it
was active. The lawn they sat amidst was healthy and long, surprisingly so - though, for all that, not unkempt. It was a
Monday. They had both taken off from work, and they were at the park.
It had been a good idea to come; neither could remember whose idea it had been; both credited the other. It was nice.
There was no one there. However instead of lonely, they both felt serene - or at least that the park was serene. They
were convinced at that moment that parks were infinitely less complex than people. It was nice just to be outside. They
had brought a blanket and were reclining on it. They were wearing sunglasses, but no sunscreen it being March after all.
Later they would discover slight sunburns just on their necks, just where the collars didn't cover. They subconsciously
missed the presence of the dog they didn't have. They felt out of time.
They were dressed casually, polo shirts, sweatpants, greys and whites, as if wanting to let the scene of natural beauty
take center stage. They were, somehow, just props in the park's world. Some greater drama was going on. That was
the underlying feeling they got anyway from the rustling of the leaves, the quiet growing of the grass, and the gentle drift
of the clouds across the blue.
Just at that moment, no volcanoes were going off in the world, not one, not anywhere.
'Well, this has been a hell of a week.'
'Yeah. A long one.'
'At least your job hasn't been threatened.'
'Is that really what you think she meant?'
'What else could it mean?'
'Oh, I don't know - anything.'
'Like, if you don't do this, you won't work here anymore.'
'Sure, for one, but other things too.'
'You're welcome. I feel fat and out of shape sitting here in this park and doing nothing.'
'Well we're talking. That's nice. I've missed talking to you this last week, and then they were in town for the weekend.
Do you think I'm supposed to be doing this job?'
'Even lying back on my elbows I feel my stomach flopping over my waistline. I'm disgusting.'
'Do you think the housing market is going to get any better out here? Have you heard anything? I'd like to start talking
about moving again. I still think that's a good idea.'
'No, I don't know. I don't have any idea. That breeze is really nice.'
They each took a breath and sat up a little; stony silence reigned.
'What would you do if I quit?'
'Quit? Quit what? Me or the job? If you were going to quit me, I'd be a little pissed off, actually.'
'Well, the job then.'
'I don't care; it's your job. Do what you want to do.'
'We'd have a lot less money. Things would be a lot tighter. You've been talking about that new BMW hybrid. That'd be
out the window.'
'I don't care. We could just come live in this park. Then maybe I'd get some exercise and wouldn't be so ridiculously out
of shape. Maybe that's the best thing that could possibly happen.'
'No, you're not.'
'I am. I feel terrible about myself. My body's a lump. I wish I liked this park, but I don't. I really hate it. It makes me
resentful. I never spend any time outside, and so now I can feel all of this little block of nature judging me. And what's
even worse than that, is I can feel how inadequate this park feels. It resents being a park. It resents my presence. It
resents the whole city around it. It feels lost. All of these trees and grass just in the middle of everything, isolated. It's
awful. And I hate it here. I don't like it. I don't like being outside. I'm not made for it. Give me a desk; give me a couch;
give me a bed. I don't want a beautiful lawn. We have that yard. I never want to be in it, so instead we come here and
this is even worse. I thought it would be nice to get away, even if it was only five minutes away, but this is ridiculous.
Being in a park really emphasizes how meaningless and stupid our whole modern existence has become... This whole thing
it just hurts me.'
There was no vitriol in the speech. None. Just something else. But was the park listening? Could its feelings get hurt?
'No, you're not, though. I'm trying to talk about something important, and you just don't give a shit.'
'I listen, but sometimes, you know, other thoughts as well. That doesn't mean I'm not listening.'
'That's how it feels to me. You don't care.'
'Of course I do. That doesn't mean Truman Capote can't be a volcano too.'
'You're being a real jerk. You know that? I'm trying to talk to you.'
'I'm sorry. But I'm right too. I don't know what to say, but I do know Capote is a seismic event.'
'You don't even like Truman Capote.'
'No, that's true. I'm not a big fan. But I'm right.'
'Okay. Well, what do you mean?'
'Well, remember how Hollywood put out those two big volcano movies just at the same time? Yeah. At the exact same
time, like it was some volcano competition. Well, I was just thinking about how weird it was that they did the exact same
thing with Truman Capote. He's not exactly a big action-adventure blockbuster volcano epic.'
'But he is, too. That's the thing. When you look at it, he really is just like a volcano in this context.'
'What in the world made you think of this?'
'I was talking to Ted, and he said he and Georgina had watched that movie, "Capote," the other day. They had really
enjoyed it you know. Georgina's a huge Catherine Keener fan, and you know Ted and true crime. He loves sympathizing
with the absolute dregs. It was a really good movie for both of them. They liked it.'
'Do you have a crush on Phillip Seymour Hoffman?'
'No, I was just thinking about it.'
'Well, it's just kind of a nice metaphor don't you think? This destructive volcano, this incendiary lava flow is something
both Ted and Georgina like, and they hardly ever agree on anything.'
'Since when don't they agree on anything? They may not usually like the same movies, but that's hardly what you're
saying. I guess maybe it's a park image though. Maybe it works in this stupid park. And besides Truman Capote is not a
'Yes he is. It really makes sense. Thanks for indulging me. I was listening, you know.'
'Well, which did you like better "Dante's Peak" or "Volcano"?'
'Can I be honest and say I didn't see either of them? Because I didn't.'
'That's funny. Neither did I. I wish I had known you back in high school. Those old pictures of you with a â€˜fro are just
'Believe me, it looked even more absurd in the mirror.'
Then, looking off into the distance, they noticed someone on the other side of the park walking a cat.