It is dark in the whale and hot. The air is difficult to breathe. Ira is coated in gunk, sweating in his black Speedo. The whale’s heartbeat booms and echoes like a giant drum. It’s intimidating. It sounds tribal, ritualistic, as Ira wades through the animal’s stomach in shock, up to his knees in liquid goop. 

He hears water gurgling and rushing. Mournful moos that go unanswered. Eventually his eyes grow accustomed to the dark. In murky gray scale he can make out the swaying surface of the goop, spotted with mounds of algae, dying shrimp, stray squid tentacles, and the occasional fish head. Surely, somewhere, there is a throat that presumably leads to the mouth, but Ira can’t find it. 

It must be a magical whale or the biggest whale of all time because its stomach seems infinite. Ira wanders for hours, passing sights he’d remember if he saw them again, but nothing repeats. He sees one of those intricate camp chairs floating in the muck. A Mercedes hubcap adorned with the gnarled skeletons of . . . Ira doesn’t fucking know. He’s just a graphic designer trying to get laid on Fire Island. In summers past he’s visited with friends, but this time he’s alone. 

Liquid rains down on Ira and he closes his eyes and mouth. His body is bruised but still intact. He longs for his cigarettes—which are under his sun hat on his towel on the beach, near a hairy man in a tube top—but what he really needs is water. He wonders how long he can live without it. He dips his finger in the goop and touches his tongue. It’s so bitter it burns.