The locals say that this place is full of secret tunnels. When the architect designed it he drew up lots of corridors and entryways that were never ever utilized. Someone once told me that people live in those tunnels and come out at night when everyone has gone home. Looking for food and discarded clothing to use for bedding.
I see a man looking exhausted just outside the food court. He’s slumped down on a bench and complaining to his girlfriend about how this is not the West Edmonton Mall he used to know. It used to be such a magical place, he whines to her. She sets down her Sephora and Aeropostale bags and kisses the top of his sweaty head. Just four more hours, she says. I want to tell this guy about the secret tunnels. People disappear in this mall all the time and are never found again- I’ll tell him. Just duck away down a dimly-lit hallway somewhere and see what happens. Maybe you’ll find something magical. Maybe you’ll meet someone named Miguel who lives inside half of the bronze whale you thought was put away in storage.
Miguel invites you inside the mouth of the whale. You eat popcorn and cotton candy out of Famous Players bags. You remember the first time you ever sat inside the whale when your mom took you to the mall for the first time. You were so young that you thought the whale was real and while your mom took a picture of you and your baby brother inside the whale you thought for sure you could feel the whale’s mouth slowly closing.
Miguel smiles at you and the flickering fluorescent light reflecting off the bronze whale reflecting off Miguel’s remaining teeth strikes you in a certain way.
People disappear in this mall all the time, Miguel says.