Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Fishes by Maureen Seaton and Neil de la Flor

Nothing can keep the fishes from swallowing the boy, but he doesn't mind as long as they spit him out before he reaches their hungry guts. He's a serious child given to stomach ailments of his own, mostly in the future, and he divides his time between the sea and the stars, which are good places to begin when trying to avoid something earthbound, like Tapioca or the Bite of a Gnat.
    He almost wishes he were the guy who lives on the moon; or the guy inside the moon who is also the same guy who wields a barbell with one hand just before the fish eats him up. The boy's strength is stronger than the suitcase that's stronger than a Gorilla. The boy is collecting taxes from his Nanny so that one day, when his he or she comes home, he will have the gold to build him or her a big house with its own Star System and Fish Tank.
    Sometimes he uses his strength to fly his spacecraft forward or backward, depending on The Wheel of Fortune Cookies, as his future lover calls it (although he's never really thought the word lover, being about six years old most days), or depending on whether he can keep himself afloat in the bathtub long enough to float into the opening of a small Rocket Ship.
    His friends call him Hyper. He prefers Galactic. One day when he is truly star bound or bound he will offer thanks to the fishes that guided him through Italian and Renaissance. He will send shock waves when he announces he is really a clown. Not sly or Sly.
    "Hello" he finally says after the introduction to a story that goes on and never gets to the action. The land around him is turvy and he finds himself leaning sideways so he doesn't fall out of his rocket or his bathtub or his pajamas or his noodle soup. "Hello to the King of Italy!" (He is often seen zooming over Sardinia eating sardines with Miracle Whip.)
    It's weird the way characters enter and exit without cause or effect. Since this is a workshop, a fantastic trip on a ship without souls, it doesn't matter like Julia Roberts matters to the neighborhood.
    Perhaps he needs help in mapping out his adventure. Perhaps we can't help him, which would be just his luck but lucky for us, his progenitors, his GPS. "Come on" says another minor character who looks like succotash, "Little boys are not just little boys, don't forget. They are the sons of everyman, I mean Everyman, not every man. "What?" says the little rocket man/boy/hippie. He doesn't care he doesn't get it. It's all myth anyway, like the letters in the bottom of his soup or on his spaceship.
    The boy, who may be little, suspects he'll end up in the personae dramatis someday because of his growing significance and popularity in this minor story about minor characters who are spawned by fishes. Julia Roberts is on Entertainment Tonight promo-ing, and the boy dials the guy who loves her. "Who loves her?" he asks the guy who answers the phone. "You do," the boy adds.
    The boy's name is Commander Venus. This is his rocket name, of course, or while he eats cereal or prays or loves. "If only I could imagine myself in a plot!" says Commander Venus!

Plot 1: Bring around the elephant, tie her to the kid named Venus, then watch how they both try to outdo each other playing Tetris, the Russian game that flew to New Jersey in 1984, just in time. Watch as the kid slaughters the beast.

Plot II: Plot 1 + Pray.

Plot III: Somebody could eat cherries. Like right now I'm eating them.

Plot III - IV: Someone ate cherries. Someone also ate tuna salad with sundried cranberries on sprout bread. Someone ate broccoli soup or thoup too with chopped tomatoes. Someone ate someone's guacamole without permission. Someone is responsible for this newfound fetish for Wheel of Fortune Cookies.
    Hector says: "Did you try this cornbread?"
    Now there's a subplot and we can‚'t see it except to intuit its presence like a microchip under the wig of a guy named Al, who is new, and you can call him Alfred. It leads to the end, which is about to arrive like a flash flood with a bluefish and a little boy inside it.
    Even the flash flood is fantastic.

About the Authors:

Neil de la Flor and Maureen Seaton (both from South Florida) have been collaborating since Hurricane Frances (2004) drove them inside together for three days. They have co-authored work, both poetry and short fiction, in Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Court Green, Fence, Anti-, Quarter after Eight, Encyclopedia Vol. 2, and many other venues. Their first hybrid collection, Sinead O'Connor and Her Coat of a Thousand Bluebirds, won the Sentence Book Award (Firewheel Editions, 2011). Find them at and and blogging at

Story after: L’Officina del Fantastico, by Mario Venuti

Photo Copyright: Greg Westfall