Al: Don’t panic. You’re in a Philadelphia.
Mark: I’m in a what?
Al: You’re in a Philadelphia. That’s all.
Mark: But I’m in—
Al: Yes, physically you’re in New York. But metaphysically you’re in a Philadelphia.
Mark: I’ve never heard of this!
Al: You see, inside of what we know as reality there are these pockets, these black holes called Philadelphias. If you fall into one, you run up against exactly the kinda shit that’s been happening to you all day.
Mark: Why?
Al: Because in a Philadelphia, no matter what you ask for, you can’t get it. You ask for something, it ain’t gonna get done. You want to go somewhere, you can’t get there from here.
Mark: Good God. So this is very serious.
Al: Just remember, Marcus. This is a condition named for the town that invented the cheese steak. Something that nobody in his right mind would willingly ask for.
Mark: And I thought I was just having a very bad day…

—David Ives, “The Philadelphia,” All in the Timing (1995)

About Walter Biggins

Walter Biggins is a writer based in Athens, GA. His work has been published in, Bookslut, The Comics Journal, Salon, The Baseball Chronicle, Jackson Free Press, and Valley Voices: A Literary Review. Follow him on Twitter (@walter_biggins), and check out his bimonthly newsletter (
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