let’s be Frank
(originally posted 10/4/2013)
He thought he’d left the TV on.
When he rolled out of bed and made his way down the stairs, he was assuming the low voice he heard was coming from his downstairs television.
The TV that he’d always had upstairs was no doubt sitting out by the dumpster at the repair place he’d taken it to a few days ago. That TV was one of those ancient ones purchased a few years back that was as deep as it was wide and weighed the same as three cinder blocks stacked atop one another. When he crashed through the door carrying it the young man behind the counter sneered at him and asked if he’d also like them to take a look at his broken 8-track player. The man dropped it through the glass display counter and then beat a hasty retreat.
At the bottom of the stairs, bleary-eyed and slowly waking up, he realized the TV wasn’t on. He listened intently for awhile and deduced the soft voice was coming from the other room. It lurked amidst the sound of the fish tank bubbling away and when he turned the corner he realized why.
A fish was sitting in the center of the tank, facing all of the other fish, and it was giving them the news. In English.
It was talking.
The fish was talking.
It took almost a full minute for the man to process what he was seeing.
He always assumed that fish had ways of communicating with one another, but it never occurred to him that they spoke. And it especially didn’t occur to him that they spoke English. With a fishy accent of course.
He had always been told that fish were deaf. Something about not having ears.
Then he heard something outside on his deck. Not taking his eyes off the fish he slowly backpedaled to the light switch that was responsible for illuminating his back yard and, after a few seconds of fumbling, gave it a flick.
He gave a quick glance to his deck to make sure everything was ok and then his eyes returned to the crazy sight of a talking fish.
And the “what” he’d seen on his deck made its way to his brain.
His eyes returned to his deck.
Back to the rows of animals neatly sitting together, arranged by height, listening to the news. Mice, voles and small birds in front. Raccoons, groundhogs and possum next, half a dozen deer and a lone fox in back.
Now obviously this was a shock, but instead of trying to absorb everything he was seeing at once, his mind returned to the fact that not only fish spoke English, but apparently all the animals in the forest were fluent in it as well. This went a long way in explaining why hippos were so irritable. His mind was suddenly filled with all the less-than-flattering things he’d heard spouted by the hosts of nature specials. He could only assume manatees were a very forgiving lot.
All the while he was sorting through the various scenarios where animals might have overheard candid observations about them, both pro and con, the fish was droning on about recent developments in the neighborhood that might concern the various wildlife huddled on the deck. Outside of a recent power outage that caused the little treasure chest in the middle of the tank to stop providing a fresh supply of oxygen to the occupants therein, the fish quickly grew disinterested and began to swim away in search of algae and lumps of their own poop to eat.
Eventually the man began to start digesting some of the big picture issues that came with discovering that one of his fish could talk and apparently was looked to as a reliable source of information for all of the surrounding fauna.
“And that’s about it for today. Next up, Carl will talk a little bit about Jesus.”
Without any further ado, the fish that had been holding court retreated inside a ceramic cave.
The man heard a commotion on his deck and turned to see all of the animals making tracks, all of them save the raccoons who seemed to stretch out a bit and make themselves comfortable.
Suddenly the man remembered the scene in The Transporter when Jason Statham was faced with a quandary late at night and said “After a good night’s sleep … I always see things better,” so he regurgitated “After a good night’s sleep … I always see things better” rather unconvincingly then went back upstairs to bed.
As he drifted off he couldn’t help but think to himself that the raccoons must have thought that was a pretty bad-ass thing to say.
Word would get out.