The Fish Also Wriggles: a deliberate parody
He was an old fish who fished around fishily in the sea and he had not eaten any other fish in forty-four days. For a while he had taught a school of trout. But after some of them started to disappear and after their parents realized that he was a dentuso, which is the worst kind of predator, they took them away. He was not very pleased because he had just worked out a scheme with a walrus and a carpenter to eat all the trout, but he was strong and could tolerate rejection.
He slept in a small cove beneath some coral and snacked on cans of tuna which had fallen into the sea when a tourist boat on a sightseeing voyage from Harry’s American Bar and Grill sank. I hope next time they open the cans first, he thought. I do not have opposable thumbs and it is very difficult to open the cans. I wish I could sink another boat like this; then I would never run out of other things to eat and would not have to eat my family. He looked sadly at the coral carving of his family which he kept as a relic of his wife and several hundred brood.
"Bloorb blorb," he said, which is what fish say when they mean "They were good. They played and made jokes and loved me. They were my brothers and I was sad to eat them."
Once he had crafted a tuna likeness of his wife but he had also eaten that. He was sad about his wife.
"Blub blurble," she had said, which in Fish means "Please do not eat me." But you cannot trust a shark not to eat you and so he had eaten her. I wish I still had the rainbow trout here with me, he thought. I like trout more than canned tuna. Perhaps if I could find some new tuna.
Today he felt lucky, for a fish. It was the time of night when fish go trawling for lines and he went out with the school although far from the rainbows who had been told to avoid him. Tonight he would find some food, not the canned kind but something freshly killed.
Something big and tubular sailed past him suddely. Dolphin, he thought. The wrong kind of dolphin, the kind you cannot eat because it is a mammal and it might be the great Flipper. "Blorp?" he asked, to no reply. It was probably the great Flipper and he was probably going to save Timmy who is always trapped in the well again. The great Flipper had no fear and was a hero although he did not have opposable thumbs; he was the old fish’s favorite mammal.
The old fish had undulated his spine for two hours now and was far out from home, farther than is safe for a territorial shark to travel alone. But it paid off when he caught the scent of blood which characterized a fresh kill. Hot on the trail he followed it upward. It was not a difficult trip because fish are good at swimming, but he liked to feel heroic so he pretended that it was excruciatingly painful. Once he accidentally stuck himself on a fishhook and began to bleed, but since fish are cold-blooded and strong-willed he did not notice much until he began to have trouble swimming. I wish I had fingers or at least hands, he thought, because my fin is bleeding and I cannot bandage it. At least the warm salty water will seal the wound. The great Flipper is not careless like this; I must not be careless again or I will be bleeding in several places and will not be able to eat my fish.
He found the source of the blood smell. There was an old man much like him, except that he was a human and not a fish. The man was his brother in spirit; he could not be his real brother because of the dangers of miscegenation.
The man looked sickly, thin and pale, and he was talking to himself at irregular intervals. He is no challenge to me, the fish thought. He has fingers and weapons but I have finger-shaped teeth although no thumb. We are well-matched.
He came for the fresh flesh which was tied to the old man’s boat. "Blerp!" he exclaimed, expressing his surprise that so much meat could have been caught by so small a man. The old man did not respond, probably because he spoke English and Spanish but not Fish, which is not (strictly speaking) a language.
For no apparent reason the old fish stopped his action and marveled at the great phosphorescence of the water. It was full of the lovely Gulf weed which was very phosphorescent and it was beautiful and also iridescent. The wonderful illumination came from the sky above where the moon and stars cavorted joyfully across the sky. It is good that the moon is made out of cheese rather than meat, he thought. If it were made out of meat I would have to kill it and eat it, and I cannot fly.
All of a sudden the old man caught sight of him and he decided to force a direct confrontation. He charged with no fear and scented the yummy dead fish. Yum, fish, the old fish thought, unconcerned with the old man as he dove into the still-warm flesh and wriggled his head back and forth so as to get more meat out of the corpse.
Suddenly the old man drove his harpoon into the shark’s brain. It hurt but he dulled the pain the way only a shark can. It was very dark and it hurt. At least I have taken many pounds of meat, the old fish thought. I like the meat. But now I am tired.
The old fish went to sleep and perhaps to feed the hungry rainbow trout. He was dreaming about Flipper reruns.
Node your homework!
Grade: 65 out of 60
Winner, intramural Mock Hemingway contest (a dubious distinction)