This One Time, 63

This one time I was out making rounds on the farm, scratching at some kind of new infection on my gills, and coming to the conclusion that porpoises are freaks — and I do mean that sexually. What can I say? The naturalists set up tiny little cameras all over the place so they can study what they get up to when we’re not around, and the answer is, well, the usual. But, significantly, if they want to do anything strange, they bring it over here to the farm.

The shepherds of old spent a lot of time out in the fields with plenty of time to think, and I guess I’m no different. Mackerel have to be at least as stupid and boring as sheep. I have plenty to time to come up with my theories. One, that maybe there’s some scent from our scrubbers or waste treatment plants that makes them all randy. Two, that they really do appreciate an audience — if they get a glimpse of us looking out at them through the windows, that gets them off. And it’s a given that they spend a lot of time coming down to stare at us through our windows. But realistically, I kind of have to go with three, that the walls and windows here are shiny surfaces, both visually and for echoes, and they like to watch themselves going at it.

But I know there’s something to the second point, too. They like to be watched,. They like to play and tease and provoke. And I suppose if humans spent the whole day naked and had blowholes, there would be a number of their fetishes we might adopt, if not their complete lack of discrimination with regard to species or levels of willingness. But porpoises are pretty much perpetual ten-year-olds. Any time I hear a chittering laugh, I just assume one of them is snickering at somebody’s snorkel.

Me? I just want their skin. I think it works better than what I have for shedding random slimes and tiny invaders. And while gills are awesome and the freedom they give is fantastic, they’re nothing but tiny little crevices, and wrasse tickle. I’m up to being able to stand half an hour of grooming a day, but the damned itch I keep getting lets me know that’s not quite enough. I get jealous of watching the reef fish — and I guess I should say other reef fish, as I’m pretty much one of them now — put up with it as if it’s nothing.

I sure as hell can’t just ignore it and get caught up on my reading, which is how I’d imagined it.

And  I miss the sun. There, I’ve said it.

I can still see it, way up there, but the “full-spectrum” bulbs, the ones that pointedly leave out a piece of the spectrum we don’t have much use for, are quite a bit kinder, physiologically speaking. But they’re so not the same.

Anyway, the porpoise pod was done with their obscene little display and they were starting to take an interest in the mackerel. Wolves after the shiny silver sheep. The mackerel circled up, investing in their usual defense of confusing, swirling, flashing displays — which is, in human terms, screaming and running around in circles. It was the best they could do for now, since I was hardly going to swim over and fight off the pod. We tried our best to give the fish an enclosure they could swim into via portals that porpoises couldn’t fit through, but did I mention that mackerel are stupid?

I let the porpoises grab a few, just to be neighborly, and then I hit the button on the remote. What happened next was complicated and sonar-related and disturbingly rumbly at that frequency that makes the jelly in your eyeballs quiver and makes you doubt the existence of God. The porpoises didn’t like it any more than I did. They wheeled wide, facing out and down, looking for what was coming, then took off  for open water.

I swear, from the sound of that thing and what it does to me, that it will eventually make the word end. If not something else actually worse, I worry that maybe it’s merely a mating call for something truly heinous and massive that one day will be lurking just over the edge of the continental shelf. Every time I survive hitting the button, I know in the pit of my stomach that it’ll show up next time, for sure.

And a few minutes later my worst worry in the world is how much my gills itch and how much the wrasse tickle.


March 4, 2011 · by xalieri · Posted in This One Time  


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