Story from Jim Meirose

Salmon Fish                                                                          

Salmon; salmon is a fish. She laughed to herself with her hand to her mouth as her fish husband gracefully swam shimmering with his briefcase and big shot suit and he quickly went out the closed behind him door, it was that quick it was almost so quick that he stepped right through the door, it opened and closed so fast, leaving Frieda amazed and amused and thoroughly in the pure dot of the moment; until her boys rushed in and noisily moved time forward again. As time restarted she dabbed and dabbed her chin and got dot after dot of red from this bumpy thing on her chin, that itched maybe or maybe she just picked at it because she knew it was there—but her hand went out and touched each boy’s head, and they headed out to catch the bus and Frieda watched as usual as the big groaning filthy First Student yellow bus came and stopped and reared and opened its mouth and toothily swallowed up her boys and now her boys were gone into the guts of the yellow school creature, but Frieda, being twelve and just short of forty at the same time, could not worry about the swallowing toothy bus that came every morning in the spring chill and she turned from the window with her tissue to her chin and went back in the bathroom and stripped nude with the blood dot oozing on her chin.

Shower time; alone relaxed long drawn out shower time. Fish belong in water but she had not been born a salmon she had just become a salmon when she married him but now it was time to swim, swim up the torrent of water raging down the falls from the chrome plated wide many holed showerhead hissing rushing foaming at the bottom; she turned the lever, hit the shower button, and here came the water she heard it while she was still dry she felt it when she was still dry not a salmon and here it came it came all over her all hot down her between her breasts and it hissed into the tub around her feet and she began. Salmon swimfish, here comes the water, Salmon swimfish, when you gonna jump in the brook, her husband had told her over dinner when they met a hundred years ago at the ages of twelve the water flowed he said they had made fun of him in school that way Salmon swimfish but he showed them all becoming the high powered lawyer, as the water flowed down between her legs but she always thought of him as Salmon swimfish as he swam away to his job after kissing her with his big cold fishy lips how could a person have such lips, well maybe he wasn’t really a fish but his lips, thick, gross, cold, and slimy—she scrubbed herself hard to get the kiss off her without knowing it was because she wanted the kiss off her and her finger went over the bleeding lump on her chin and she thought inside the cone of shower water as it sluiced the blood away, what about having this lumpy thing removed?

Would that end my life like I’ve been thinking? Or would it really be the right thing to do and Salmon swimfish might even like it and under cover of the rush of the water she soundlessly chuckled leaning to get her feet sudsy sudsy sudsy and tickling rushing leaning, water over her back, to get her little tiny shortnailed toes. She should ask Salmon swimfish what he thinks; and being knowledgeable of everything he would walk her through the whole procedure. First they’ll give you a shot in your chin to numb it—in the comfy chair you’ll be in—with a big super bright doctor’s light splat in your face, and words came around her cutting off Salmon swimfish, words she’d said yesterday, more real than the words from Salmon swimfish because his words had not been said yet but her words yesterday had; the past is solid, the future is mist; she had said sometime yesterday, oh at lunch, Yes! What fact it this, she had  asked this new woman Carolyn; please distract me from this surgical procedure in this rushing falling water rinsing me what fact is this you have spoken of?

Office coffee mugs contain fecal matter, said Carolyn; these were words; words said yesterday by who? Who? Who? Oh, yes Carolyn. The new twelve year old heavy jowled new office girl said those words in the solidified actual past of yesterday; and yesterday  Frieda was not in the hot shower having a shot from a long needle in her chin the Salmon fish would explain to her once they reached the misty future when she was told about the fecal matter. And the only thing it could mean is that people were not washing their hands after they wiped. She had noticed more than once that after an unusually messy sticky bowel movement a small smudge of feces would get on her thumb when she wiped. But she always washed it off in rushing water like the shower rushing water that she turned her small face up into, one last time to get its warmth, and then she turned off the faucet after washing her hands the same way she was reaching down and turning the lever to cut off the shower, pulling up a thick sheet of absolute silence, except for a few final drops and a throaty deep bark fart from the perforated chrome drain between her feet. But maybe not everybody washed this smudge off.

Maybe not everybody washed after they take a crap, maybe in a public toilet room they only wash if someone else is in the room and they don’t want the person to think God how disgusting that person didn’t wash after they came from the stall; if there was no one else in the room maybe half the time at least the person wouldn’t bother washing up at all. There’s no one to see how disgusting you are, no one in the house and the front door bolt thrown home, so step out of the shower and towel off unseen and if no one else in the world sees you toweling off, are you really toweling off? Like, if a tree falls in the forest with nothing to hear it does it make a sound? If I don’t see any fecal matter on my mug is it really there? At the table, in the lunchroom, after Carolyn had said this fact Frieda had said nothing but just wide-eyed dipped her face, mouthed her drink straw, and sucked up some soda. She toweled off her arms and her breasts and her back and her ass and her cunt and her thighs and all the way down from there before Carolyn dropped the next bomb.

And my brother Ricky told me too, said Carolyn, that while we’re asleep we inhale dozens of insects and spiders that live in our beds, too tiny to see; Frieda said God you make me gag—how can it be? She sat on the cold toilet lid and toweled off the bottoms of her feet; maybe, that is, she was doing this—because no one was there to see it. As she rose and moved nude through the room toward the mirror to admire her cleanliness, with no one seeing her or hearing her, was she really there? This froze her a minute as the tree hit the forest floor and the mirror showed her the shower had stopped the bleeding from the bump on her chin, and Salmon fish came up behind her and said the next thing the good doctor will do, is after fifteen minutes and your chin is good and numb, he will come with a pearl handled gleaming razor sharp scalpel and cut into you; blood will come; he will have a blue surgical mask over his mouth and nose and there will be a nurse with one over her mouth too, her hand full of white cotton to dab off the blood; they will wear clear masks over their faces so as not to get spattered with your biohazardous filth; and Frieda looked away from the mirror because she had seen no blood and wanted to keep it that way.

She didn’t want to see the blood that Salmon fish is talking about or will be talking about or maybe had just finished talking about. She hadn’t even decided yet if she would have the growth removed as she went through the door into the bedroom with the king size bed and all the pretty modern furniture around in all the pretty modern hues; she pulled on pretty panties, put on a pretty bra and kept on going busying herself as the surgeon cut all around the growth she didn’t want to know he was cutting so before you know it there she stood, all ready for her day at AD&D. She sat before the vanity to brush her hair, forgetting there was a mirror there, and as she saw herself the surgeon said there! Here! I have it! It’s off! And she looked away from the mirror as he held the little poor bloody lump of flesh up with tweezers for her to see, and deep sorrow filled her; it had been part of her; she had always said she would never have it removed why had she now why had she now? The poor little thing, it’s just a bit of flesh. Where will it end up? It is part of me it is me give me it back; and she glanced across the mirror accidentally, a moment of dread hit when the mirror came around, but her chin thrust out showed her; they had removed nothing.

Her finger came up. It was still there and it was not bleeding; and so Salmon fish swam backwards out and she looked up at Carolyn and took her mouth off her straw and swallowed the last of the mouthful of soda and felt herself thinking like a hammer drop what kind of brother Ricky does this woman have? Feces? Spiders? Bugs? In my lungs? My mouth my throat my lungs my tongue. Then, all at once, this woman Carolyn looked like she was choking; she had taken a big bite of her sandwich and it wouldn’t go down and she was trying to talk and talk but it wouldn’t go down is it stuck? Would one of them have to Heimlich this Carolyn? And then from her mouth might pop a small bit of bloody flesh that had just been removed from some woman’s chin, and it would lie there on the table and Frieda would feel her chin and—no!  

But Carolyn successfully swallowed her throat full of food just as Frieda’s finger felt the chin bump and there was nothing on the table but trays. Frieda dipped her head and took a last suck from her straw and realized she was finished. She looked good in the mirror. Frieda was lucky she did not look her age even though her fortieth was coming and she thought as she rose putting down the brush what will Salmon fish get me for my birthday?  She stood in the bedroom walked with her tray with the crowd and got rid of the tray into the niche of the wall and went across the bedroom and switched off the light silently and came to the elevators and all the doors opened. What would that Carolyn’s know it all brother Ricky tell her if she could meet him and see him maybe he doesn’t exist, maybe he doesn’t because I’ve not met and seen him; what would he tell her if he is real, about how a lump in the chin gets removed?

Would his story match Salmon fish’s or would it be more or less painful more or less bloody what is it with this Ricky, Carolyn thinks he knows everything. Frieda wondered one instant if her bright eyed the boys were safe at school and is Salmon fish sitting at his high gloss desk reading some paperwork as he rubs his chin thoughtfully squinting? How often does he remember or think of the fact she will be forty years old? She closed the bedroom elevator doors and stood there walking down the hall getting where she was going down the stairs off the elevator toward her cube, and thought the bump on her chin will be forty too—but what about this? She went out to the car—she sat in her cube—they say every seven years all your cells have been renewed—is she only seven or less years old? The very cells of her?

The car came into drive, the screen filled with numbers scrolling up all green and the car took her toward AD&D. Maybe she was right when she thought everybody probably feels like a kid. Maybe she was right, as the poles clicked on by and the wires from pole to pole dipped and lifted dipped and lifted as the car moved toward where she really was right now, sitting blinking at a computer with a small forgotten lumpy bump on her chin as she drove toward the tower where everything always was; Salmon fish wise, that is. Isn’t this right, isn’t this how it is? Isn’t this right? Isn’t it?

Jim Meirose’s work has been widely published. His novels include “Sunday Dinner with Father Dwyer”(Optional Books), “Understanding Franklin Thompson”(JEF), “Le Overgivers au Club de la Résurrection”(Mannequin Haus), “No and Maybe – Maybe and No”(Pski’s Porch), “Audio Bookies” (LJMcD Communications), “Et Tu” (C22 press), and “The Private Adventures of Fresh Detective Gerdulon” (Alien Buddha Press).   Info: @jwmeirose