About a curious joke, a dare this fisherman in his yellow slicker, him drunken just a few drinks, ho ho ho and a bottle of, but still he climbs aboard the trawler and turns the key or whatever starting the motor, a simple rumble and diesel fume, stay above water, watch behind the starboard or hull as the sea spray foam fans out, makes the waves bounce, does he stagger over the ropes, tripping on why crackle his oilskins of waterproof and the salt far from sweet smelling when sunglasses fly off his face become lost in the deep and that’s rum you see.
Hide fish-me of prey swimming under the hook line and sinking in the bleeding sea. The boiling sea. The raging sea. But where you gonna run to? Fisherman catches me, fish soul, some skinny wriggling shiny planning revenge. Hauls the net on board tangle and thrash the deck dashing hope all writhe, this desperation, final agony caught, the future filleted, fried, marinated in some godawful, basting on a grill fear so unkind drives me to plot his death as he steers the trawler towards the pier, where to impress the size, the kilos, oh man what a catch and plenty more in the sea.
Kill the engine.
Hey his friends there on the pier might clatter a tiny piece of fool around escalates to here yelling play a joke. The friends pick up a miserable fish, that’s me proving long on sole, my length fourteen centimeters an easy fit. There the urging, go on, go on, go on clamor his friends, what to say to a curve ball, foolish fisherman must what.
Kiss the fish.
Extensive oooh peer pressure everyone slips in the wet, go on go on. Despite slimy, the absence of flames and lemons, my disturb really the angler presses my round gobsmackers to his lips. I cannot resist.
Fishlips a flower mwa mwa smooch smacker, this lack of feathers, a million scales, pretty soul in love with the lady fish, what does his mouth taste like? Salty.
Let me show you the extent of my power.
Gob at his struggle begins as I leap sober squirming into his mouth, why must everything be wetter, killer me the trap fish swims headfirst over teeth and tongue and blocks the fisherman’s throat.
He collapses, eyes water, the sea howls,
I Am Dying.
Seconds stop breathing, a heart ceases its pump, life slides all on that day, oh sinner fish, where the creamy runners, run to the Lord says, go to the Devil gives him CPR, his friends calling the paramedics. Pause. Panic. In a minute for very necessary patience. For a whole fish stuck in his windpipe and to live must extract killer me.
The Ambulance Service bright sirens at that price arrives rush restores the fisherman’s dead pulse great, next tries artificial respiration, but oxygen not getting to his possible lungs. Pray. Pressure the weight of what in hell hurry time short hold on. Well a paramedic whips out a laryngoscope looks like a story pickaxe extends the man’s mouth to lever a gap in time probes to what not to choke on, then trap the tongue hurts, gurgle intact gag reflex a danger. Quick now there being unconsciousness use a pair of forceps, careful, don’t break my tail keep me whole. But gills drag at lymph tissue, barbs wedge like insults in the poor fisherman’s throat that rescuer counts ten nine eight ouch sharp pains.
All the friends pass out.
On the pier, peer. One chance smarter, only one chance dark as love and danger only one chance right. Now! Spit! Yank it! Out! Set me free. Rebirth reverse my disgraceful reckoning. Saves him from a deserving hell.
Can jokers suffer get out alive, no side effects, forgive the fish, hide me somewhere in the don’t tell anyone my name, haven’t I suffered enough? But always a bounty, you must promise, I promise never to, why slobber at this point, it’s better to sob, leave a smell, trail magical sneezes, burps, farts, winking beautiful lashes a quiet but difficult.
Where am I going to run to? A fish without feet.
Judyth Emanuel’s debut novel YEH HELL OW is published by Adelaide Books NYC. She is one of three winners in 2017 Victoria University Short Story Prize for New and Emerging Writers. Her story, ‘Treacle Eyes’ can be found in Joiner Bay and Other Stories. She has short stories in literary journals Overland, Electric Literature Recommended Reading, Hobart, Entropy, Jellyfish Review Into The Void, Literary Orphans, Verity Lane, Intrinsick, Fanzine, STORGY, Connotations Press, , Adelaide Literary Magazine, Thrice, Malevolent Soap, and recently in Still Worlds Turning the No Alibis Press 2019 Anthology. Her forthcoming novel Wing Me Over The Sea To See is due April 2020.