October 24, 2007

Three Americans at an English Pub

      There were three of us: Tracy, Carl, and myself. Carl was pretty laid-back. He rarely ever said much, but when he did it was worth listening. Despite reigning from the outskirts of Houston, he didn’t have that kind of confederate quality that Northerners and Europeans always expected—maybe because his family was Korean, or maybe because most Southerners aren’t actually all as confederate as people expect them to be. In spite of not seeming so much, if you watched him real hard you’d see some of it—never in a real rush to say or do anything, always a gentleman, and always a sucker for doing what girls asked him. The last one really bugged me some times, but—like I said—Carl was a pretty laid-back guy.

      So, we walked into a pub—oh, that’s right. I forgot to tell you. I’ll have to back-track a bit. We were all in England when all this happened, doing all sorts of tourist stuff—Tracy taking goddamn pictures of everything she saw. I might as well tell you a little about Tracy before telling you our story or vignette, if you will. Vignette—good word, huh? Must be Italian or something.

      Okay, first thing about Tracy—she was an air-head. She talked like a valley-girl, but that was mainly because she was a valley-girl—or at least she said she was. To be honest, you couldn't believe half of what Tracy said—that her parents were millionaires, that her house was bigger than Paris Hilton’s, that she was friends with big reality-TV stars, and so-on, and so-on. Funny thing was, her bragging never helped her much; instead, she just annoyed everybody. Well, I shouldn’t say everybody, because a lot of times there’d be a girl (it would always be a girl) that not only believed everything she claimed (as hard as it was to believe that anybody would) but also thought the world of her because she had so much to brag about. Now you can imagine how great it was for us, hearing her shpiel every time she found a new audience.

      So here come the three of us, walking into this pub. I thought it was a real nice place—real old, even had a thatched roof. I think it must’ve been from King Arthur’s days. Of course, the first one to say something was Tracy, “Ew, this place is, like, old! L.A. clubs are, like, much nicer, and there’s not even, like, a bouncer-guy. You know a place isn’t hot if it doesn’t even have, like, a bouncer-guy! I have to pee. Give me, like, a pineapple juice.” That was a thing she did; she always ordered pineapple juice, probably because she knew most places wouldn't have it.

      “She’s not getting pineapple juice,” I told Carl.

      “Nope.” Remember how I said Carl was a sucker for doing what girls tell him? Well, Tracy was a whole other matter. In fact, I really think he hated her, but you’d never tell it—as I said before, always a gentleman.

      There were just enough people to be too many people, but to the place’s credit the bartender was pretty fast. I still wasn’t sure whether to tip. That’s always a hard thing, tipping. I’d heard that students don’t have to tip, but that didn’t really make much sense to me. Anyways, I didn’t notice anybody else tipping, so I figured I just wouldn’t tip either; when in Rome.

      Turned out, none of that really mattered; it was going to be a while before I could order anything. I pulled out a few notes from my pocket (I learned real quick back home that bartenders don’t notice you unless you have money in your hand, especially if they’re in a rush) and leaned over the bar a little. Tracy came back from the bathroom in no time. I wondered whether she washed her hands. “Give me my pineapple juice!”

      “What?” I asked.

      “Where is it? I, like, told you to get me it!”

      “You know, you’re being rude. You shouldn’t order people to do things.”

      “Fine, if you won’t get me it, I’ll get it myself!” and just like that, all the way across the bar, “Excuse me! Hey, excuse me! [then to us] I think he’s ignoring me! [back to the bartender again] Over here! Excuse me! Give me a pineapple juice!”

      “Alright that’s it for me,” and I walked out the door and leaned against the outside wall. Carl came out a few seconds later.

      After waiting outside for what seemed a while, we decided we’d go back inside, and, sure enough, there’s Tracy doing her thing. She’d found another audience—three “blokes” (if only Tracy knew what they were actually thinking) and—of course—a girl, captivated by “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.”

      “So you know how Paris Hilton has, like, a big house. That’s, like, like nothing compared to mine, and I have, like, fifty cars, and they’re all, like, Hummers, and, like, Beamers, and, like, Mercedes, and, like, that really fast car, and, like, Cadillacs, and, like, Hummers, and I have, like, three swimming-pools, and, like, this really cute dog that’s, like, even cuter than Paris Hilton’s, and I have, like, all these really cute sweaters, and socks, and skirts for it, and they’re all from Gucci, and, like—oh, here comes my Pineapple Juice. I don’t have any cash. [then to Carl and I] One of you guys, like, pay for it. And, I like…”      

October 22, 2007

A Gold Fish's Account of the Previous Story

          He hasn’t fed me today. What a bonehead. He’s been sitting in that chair for hours now. I wonder what he’s doing. Who cares? Not me; I don’t care. I just want to be fed, and maybe have this tank cleaned a bit too. You know, he used to clean the tank nearly every other day—not now. He even used to talk about getting some of those algae sucking fish. I wasn’t so sure about the idea before, but now it doesn’t sound so bad. Boy, they’d have a ball in here. Nope, it’s not like it used to be.

What is he doing? Maybe he’s dead. No, he’s not dead. He moved his arm a second ago; at least I think he did. It’s hard to see in here. Maybe he is dead. Even if he was, what difference does it make? I don’t care either way. I don’t need him. I’ve got everything I could possibly need right here in this tank.

I can’t believe he’s dead. I wish I could’ve said goodbye. Should I pray for him? I should. It’s the least I can do—after all he’s done for me. I can’t believe he’s dead. Alright here it goes. Dear God, today we mourn the loss of Bob. He was a good man—a man who cared about fish. I loved Bob, but in your infinite wisdom you took him. Why!? Why did he have to go so soon!? I’m sorry, I get emotional. It’s just so hard.

What should I do? This tank is so lonely. I can’t go on. I’ll end it right now. That’s what Bob would’ve wanted. Don’t worry; I’m coming, Bob! Shoot, how am I going to do this? The water is really shallow, and there’s barely anything inside here. Damn this infernal tank!

Woe is me. Maybe I’m already dead. It’s probably true. I just didn’t know it before. I died and God sent me to my own personal Hell—a dirty tank with no food or friends. What did I do to deserve this? I wonder who I was before. Maybe I was Elvis. Yeah, I think I was Elvis. Did I choke on a ham-sandwich—wait no—that was someone else. That’s good; I’m glad I didn’t choke on a ham-sandwich. I think it’s so cool that I used to be Elvis. It all makes sense now.

I think he just moved. Yeah, he definitely moved. He’s alive! I’m confused. Does this mean I wasn’t Elvis, and that this isn’t Hell, and that I haven’t died already? Yeah, I think it does. It’s good that Bob’s not dead. I really lost it there for a while, but I feel a lot better now.

He’s not getting up. I thought he was going to get up. What a bum! He better feed me soon, and this tank is still all dirty. I’m starting to get upset again.

A Story I Rewrote

The shaking is nothing—he read that before—nothing but the potions pushing their way upstream, but a thing is here, a something, a somethingness. It clings just beyond where he can see.  It trembles from his darkness, produces an overbearing ring, and slowly overtakes him—a blister of sound ready to burst into light across the room.  

Can that be right—seeing sound?

"Fuck," he tentatively utters. He fears for the fate of these sounds. One defenceless vowel ended by the unforgiving crack of consonance. It is all very emotional now.

Christ, it’s only a word. Did I just say that?

Anxiety grinds his teeth. Unfettered eyes dart about the room. They dread receiving one object’s impression. Time passes, and eyes grow weary. They decide to quit, rolling back into their skull. Here feels safe. He contemplates their object for a while and tries an epiphany.

What I am is me, for that I came.

He is offended.

These words are usurpers!

Spittle frames his lips, while his mouth remains parched—another symptom he read of—though “symptom” now seems completely meaningless. He grasps at Baudelaire and Saussure, all meant to signify, signifieds—all floating in front of him like hung meat.

A television set seethes in the corner. It spits out a maelstrom of colour.


Lines of light and sound continue to realign. An old war movie presses on from inside the T.V. while the radio sounds off soft piano ballads. The curtains bulge and flatten, and each time he feels calmer.

I’m coming down.

The realization settles like balm over sore wounds. Normality grows, and he slowly notices the room, his flesh, and finally the hour— 2:00 AM.

A quarter of the day spent in no place and time.

June 2023

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  • Fantastic. I love the way the goldfish seems to change his mind completely or convince himself of so… by on this entry

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