Sunday, 17 January 2016

New Short Story: Captain Fish Face and the Rusty, Saltwater Tank


I’d planned to write of the fish in the aquarium but by the time I got back to the apartment, I couldn’t remember the kinds of fish I’d seen – just the colours and the way they aimlessly swam in their clear glass cages.

I was only at the aquarium because I didn’t have anything else to undertake – well, I did or could have been more productive with my hours but never chose to and writing about it is as much a waste as the idleness of staring at fish through a pane of glass.

It was at a store, by the way, not a zoo of ocean animals and yet I treat it as so – I have no fish or turtles or sponges and the like of my own and hence have no need to ever set foot in that place that sells all of the aforementioned plus the accessories that accompany their upkeep. Of course, my not being a legitimate shopper is by no means limited to the undersea specimens on display – I do the same when looking at puppies, lizards, hamsters, and even cats (I’m a fervent lover of cats though I’m currently not on the market for one).  And let’s not get into furniture or sports cars on the lot.

What a waste of a salesperson’s time and energy I must be. “Can I help you?” – of course you can’t, dummy, I’m just another of those annoying humans coming to gawk at the non-humans being peddled in your store. Now “peddled” may sound rather harsh and perhaps it is, but the fact that these establishments make money on the purchase of fellow living beings smacks of exploitation and thus I can’t paint these outlets as mere victims of my misuse of minutes given me by the heartbeat’s continual thumping, the daily spinning of the Earth (now there are some fancy lines I could use in a poem, but alas, they’re squandered on this rather meaningless tale).

It’s easy to be righteous and selective about where I choose to be a sluggard. I don’t watch the animals in the circus or the zoo or some pseudo safari-land fenced up and sanitized for mass consumption.  I’m too “left-wing” for that. And of rodeos, well, it just goes without saying ...  

Hypocrisy is a stranger beast than anything seen in a cage. It infiltrates our smug creeds and the way we splash our neighbours with disdain. If character is what you are in the dark, then it’s best to head up north when it’s “the land of the midnight sun” – exactly where to flee to when the planet’s revolution ‘round our star puts an end to all of that, well, I’ll consult with my geographer friend and scribe the results in another dramatic, edge-of-your-seat kind of story.

But lest my scribbling degenerate into some parody of pontificating, I’ll digress and somehow try to conjure something about the fins and gills of the fish, the way their tails swished aside little dots of food or waste or whatever those specks in the water were; or what must it be like, to have the eyes of those supposedly “superior” gaping at your every move, your every nibble and every personal moment you’d rather have unseen. Something about the old analogy of space aliens coming to whisk us off to their world where we’re treated in the same way that we’ve behaved toward our fellow mammals and those a little “lower” on the food chain – namely, the birds, reptiles and fish (the latter of which I still haven’t said enough about even though they were to be the whole purpose to this exercise).

But enough. Even sermons are best left to Sundays (or whenever your holy day of the week is) or to those private thoughts where you think it’s God speaking to you after years of protracted silence. And what would the Creator say of the fish? That they’re better off in translucent boxes than in the oceans we’ve mucked up with garbage and spewing oil? Well, don’t worry, I’ll stop myself there lest another holier-than-the-rest-of-you moment hatches from its incubating egg. Even a blatherer must heed the inner call to desist with typing and go squander more of the daylight.

Oh, and the colours I had started to write about but never got around to – a brilliant blue with a hue of violet, an orange burning like an aged, far-off sun, and yellow the tone of those dandelions I told myself I’d pull from the grass one of these days when I don’t have anything better to do with my time.




© 2016 Andreas Gripp