Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Goldfish, Man In Black, and A Train--Story Four

"What if goldfish were, like, aliens. You know? And, like, their goldfish bowls were environmental units?"

Larry nodded approvingly at his own observations.

George frowned and turned back to the window. The night looked cold and threatening. He peered unseeing through the reflection of his eyes. Shiela's train had been due over three hours ago. He should have gone to meet her. He thought about it, struggled over how it would make him look to her.

"Maybe she caught another train?" suggested Larry, as if reading his thoughts.

"Maybe."

"Maybe someone kidnapped her or something. Maybe, like, she was walking along the road and you know, like some dude in black jumped out and grabbed her. Maybe she was like, like..."

"Shut up," said George. "You talk too much."

"You," retorted Larry.

George sighed, thinking that it might be a good idea to send Larry out. Sheila hated him. If she showed up, his presence would block any chance they might have at reconciliation.

Larry stuck a hand into the goldfish bowl, chasing the fish around with a finger as he made a low rumbling sound.

"Stop it!"

George's voice startled him. Jerking back, Larry snagged the edge of the bowl. It fell and crashed onto the linoleoum. Goldfish flopped about.

"Oh my God," whispered Larry. He ran to the sink and grabbed a glass, quickly half-filling it with water. Rushing back, he squatted and retrieved the two fish. With damp eyes, he watched them to make sure they were unharmed.

"I'm so sorry. God, George. I'm so sorry. You know? I'm sorry. I'll clean it up. I'm sorry."

George looked at the clock again. If she was going to come, she would have been here by now. She at least would have called. He turned to Larry; his friend's eyes were anxious. "It's okay, we'll clean it up. We'll get a new bowl tomorrow."

"Yeah, a new bowl." Larry seemed relieved. "I'm sorry about Sheila, man. Maybe you could call her."

"No, man. She knows my number."

"Damn right," said Larry. He chuckled and set the glass of goldfish on the table.

14 comments:

Rick said...

Best so far, Stewart!

Stewart Sternberg said...

Really????? I am stunned. Why did you say that? What is it about this one over the others that struck you? I thought the Jews on the way to the camp was the best, and I have to admit a fondness for the first one. But why did this one get you? Just need to know.

Rick said...

The dialogue, the commonality, and the individual pathos. I know those guys in your story. I've met them.

Virginia Lady said...

I agree with Rick. I feel more connected to the characters, but I did really like the last two. The endings on those were more, intense, poignant, something. This one was more familiar somehow. I felt George's disappointment and Larry's dismay at breaking the bowl.

Charles Gramlich said...

I don't know. I liked the last one better because of the hammer at the end. But this is pretty good. Good strong dialouge.

Jon said...

I'm with Stewart on this one. This is pretty good but doesn't compare to the previous ones. This one feels like an assignment...the others were art.

aubreii said...

I don't know... I really liked this one. Gotta say it might be my favorite. I liked the finger swooshing the goldfish around the bowl, and George's looking through the window. He was so there but so elsewhere at the same time.

SQT said...

I think each one has its strength. This one has the conversational strength. It's not one that hits you over the head but like Rick said, you know these guys.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Rick, I remain astonished by the response to this and must review the work again, looking at the elements in total.

Charles mentions dialogue but likes the dramatic punch of the previous (which is my favorite).

Aurbeii likes the realism, it seems. I wonder if this is a reflection of her preferences in genre. I wonder if a person interested in horror or suspense would respond differently to the others.

And SQT, "you know these guys"...so the strength here is obvious. Hmmm. And Jon and I always think alike and agree on everything. Hahahahaha

SQT said...

Okay Mr. Sarcastic. What I mean by "you know these guys" is the sort of dominant/submissive thing going one here. I think you conveyed that in a very short piece and I liked it for that reason. I kind of envision a Leopold and Loeb relationship here.

Rick said...

I think SQT's right.

Also, have you re-read "Of Mice and Men" recently? I think it might explain the point we're making.

Or, there are several good Gumby and Pokey episodes that might be enlightening.

Gwendolyn said...

God, I'm always the renegade. I was not fond of this one, not at all. I didn't feel the relationship the way others did, and didn't connect and "know" those guys like others did. And the story, compared to the intensity and drama of the others, seemed limp.

Stewart Sternberg said...

SQT, have you ever known me to be sarcastic? I'm Mister Reserved. Mister Sincere.

Good Lord, Rick. Of Mice And Men? I don't know if I would make that comparison, although I can see the Lenny/George relationship in an echo here.

Gwen, we agree. I think the characters here are drawn, but they are daubs, not defined in anyway. I think people take what is given and instantly relate it to other things and tropes.No, that's not fair. Okay, I suppose the comments support the reader response theory, and each persons' reponse is just as valid as any other.

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