He had had no appearances the previous day and had sat in bed in his hotel room all afternoon, covers puled up to his chin, afraid of the outside world, game shows and soap operas with the sound turned down.
He had ordered a peanut butter sandwich from room service. He had asked them to leave it outside the door.
Now Tinyman sat in the private Amtrak car with a few of his handlers. His head ached miserably. Peering out the window, he tried to experience the scrolling twilit Pennsylvania landscape as a soothing flow of cool liquid, the pressure of his synapses blocking visions of comics, panels like boxcars, moving past in an endless pan from left to right. The world separated into frames, into squares. He passed rectilinear subdivisions, houses of tiny boxes.
Exhausted, he slipped into a dream in which Sebastian the cat meowed endlessly in an hysteria. The meows gathered in strength and frequency until Tinyman could hardly stand it. Sebastian's handlers groomed him and discussed what might make the cat calm down and adopt a stature befitting a candidate for vice-president. Was the cat hungry? Or was it just that Siamese cats tended to be vocal? And was there some way the cat's loquacious nature could be spun favorably for the press. There was always a way. The suited Andre discussed this with the prim elder Marcie.
Then a hand on Tinyman's shoulder shook him awake. He had been having a nightmare about a cat, the hand explained. Tinyman was handed the text of his next speech and asked to read through it a few times before the runthrough and final dress rehearsal. Tinyman tried to read but couldn't focus. Something about an economy. His head swam. Something about red tape and politics-as-usual.
He had seen the vision of his life dwindling before him at the point where a highway met the horizon, and he had stood beside the flat tire of his deflated esteem, and would have kicked it, but was afraid of the pain.