Fisherman

A man was night fishing at surf’s edge in the darkness of a new moon.

He felt a strong tug on his rod and the battle began with what he thought must be a hammerhead shark. But as he began to win the contest and reeled the creature to shore, he saw a tumble of arms and legs. These were so pale that they glowed with their own sort of moonlight. These human limbs were almost phosphorescent.

It was a boy, he figured a corpse, some luckless soul drowned at sea.

As he pulled the body onto dry sand, using his hands now, he heard a sputtering, and fish-like sounds came from the mouth. Though it appeared to be a boy with long jet black hair, webs and fins were all about the body. This “boy” had human legs. It was not a merman. The creature seemed stunned from having been pulled from its element.

“Speak!” the man commanded the creature.

But it could only gurgle in the air. Perhaps, he thought, it could speak only underwater.

So the fisherman took his club and beat it to death.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

When the fisherman served the flesh of the sea creature in a soup to his son, the boy was puzzled by the strange taste.

“What sort of fish is this?” he asked. A clear distaste was evident in his face, the twisting of his handsome features.

“Monkfish,” the father replied, without looking up from his own bowl.

They had only each other as family. The boy’s mother had died in childbirth. He had learned to trust his father. Though the young man did not like the taste of the strange “fish,” in fact despised it, he dutifully finished the meal.

Soon after that night, the fisherman’s son fell sick. He fell into a torpor and then a fever. He raved in his bed as he tossed and turned. He talked constantly of the sea. He told his father he would die if he were not placed in the sea.

A doctor was consulted but could do nothing. The father felt great shame for having fed his son the flesh of the creature. Oddly enough, he himself had not fallen ill, though he had eaten the same meal.

After more than a week of his son’s suffering and worsening of his condition, the father took his son to the sea. The moon was now restored, bright. He carried the boy to the surf’s edge. He laid him in the soothing, wet sand.

As soon as he began splashing some water on his son’s face, the boy seemed to improve a little. He said it helped.

“These clothes,” his son moaned. The father understood and helped him out of his sweat-drenched vestments. He was horrified to see the fins that had sprouted on his son’s arms, on his legs near his ankles, the webbing between his toes and around his neck.

The boy began to crawl towards the sea.

The father saw him struggling and helped him to reach a depth of water where he could float. He could feel his son growing stronger by the minute as they went further into the ocean.

His son smiled. Then he laughed.

“Thank you, father. Thank you thank you thank thank you….” he said as he swam away.

(This is my adaptation of a Japanese folktale of which countless versions exist.)

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Abra and Jamal Sit in a Cafe

Abra and Jamal sit in a cafe of sad people.

The cafe people are sitting in wire chairs that pretend they are
chairs on the Parisian street. The people are sitting at small marble tables
that want you to know that they are small marble tables, that they are smooth
and round and grey, and conscious of being small and round and smoothly
grey marble tables.

This is how it is in a cafe that has a name like this one.

The furniture is aware of being special like the children of those
with money, it is too sad to talk about any further.

There are thoughts designed to shut the mind down and there
are thoughts designed to set the mind flowing the way rivers
do when you look at them.

A random crowd of people can be either of those things. It
just depends.

Abra was sitting in the cafe in the past tense and Jamal
was in the future tense. They were neither of them looking
down at phones, but looking at the other people looking
down at phones. The people were leaking sadness the way
the small phone screens were leaking light.

So Abra and Jamal wanted to finish their pastries, drink their teas,
and get up and walk away down the sidewalk.

Just then it was all about the sadness of the sidewalk ambience
about them. Abra pushed her napkin towards Jamal in a gesture
of dissatisfaction. Jamal stared at the napkin and nodded almost
subconsciously. A timer had been started that was set to begin
the walking away, and the timer was set to anytime soon
or now.

The ambiance that was sad people looking down at phones would soon be
retreating behind their backs. They would not look back
but would look into the excitement of oncoming headlights
and honking horns, the silhouettes of people running
across the street, in front of all these headlights, crossing
the dangerous river of people’s will to be somewhere else,
which is the most of that thing of which the world is made. If
we are to tell something like the truth.