Submitted by John Lincicome.
“Do I have to go, too?”
Simple question. Seems there’s adult stuff to do that requires being accompanied by the kid of the family.
“Yes” she said with a word and a look. “Now go wash and put on clean clothes.”
No reason to fuss no more, only thing to do was comply. Fair enough. That said, sometimes it feels like compliance is akin to surrender. To vax or not to vax comes to mind. Don’t matter none. Live to fuss another day, eh?
I had to put the stuff I had planned for the day on the shelf. Such is life. After I washed and put on clean, stiff clothes I presented myself for inspection to the mom-a-nator.
“Show me your teeth” She said. Seems my teeth didn’t pass her muster.
“Go brush ‘em” she said, then added “hurry up”. I slithered off quick fast like and brushed my teeth and then met her out in the driveway.
We got in her car and she fired it up, her 1963 Ford Falcon Futura, slipped the auto tranny into reverse, took a quick peek at me and visited a smile. Then she twisted her head all kind of ways as she backed the car from the driveway onto Washington Blvd SW. She looked very pretty to me sittin‘ in the drivers seat that mornin’. Is it okay to think a mom is pretty? Pfft. Life is complicated.
“Where we goin’?” I asked.
“Somewhere…” she said.
After a short while we arrived at “somewhere”. She parked the car we two approached the front door of the place. It was wooden, no window but there were words painted on the door, though I can’t recall what they said. She let me in first then closed the door behind her as some little bell thing did the ring thing.
It was a waiting room like in a doctor’s or lawyers office or somethin’ like that. There was a counter at the far end and a lady on the other side of it. Lights were low inside the place and it smelled kind-a-stuffy. There was a sofa on each side of the room, and coffee tables in front of each with magazine’s on ‘em.
Mom said; “go sit and behave, eh?”
Then mom and the lady spoke for a few minutes like grownups do, as my eyes took in the rest of the place. The walls were an off-white with corny painting’s hung very orderly like, and the ceiling was a brighter shade of white with sparkly’s in it. But, the focal point in the room was a fish tank. It was kind-a-big, and had lots-o-fishes in it. I left my seat and to take a closer look.
“Look but don’t touch, Liebchen!” mom said as she and the lady left the lobby through a door to somewhere else. “Be good” she added, “I’ll be back in a few minutes…”
There was somethin’ really fancy about the fish tank. There were bubbles comin’ up on both sides of the tank, and a light hidden somewhere in the thing that covered the fish tank. There was a neat little house like thing in the water and somethin’ that looked like the wheel on the back of a ship in there, too. The kind of ship that did rivers and stuff, and lots of ocean like things in the tank, too. It was all kinds of fancy to see. Afterall, I‘d never seen no fish tank before cepin’ in the movies and stuff. I was mesmerized.
There was a bunch of fishes in there, too, mostly all the same size. Only fish I’d ever seen before were bullheads down at the ramp thing at the end of Lake City Blvd, and some polliwogs down at the swamp on 83rd. The fishes in the tank didn’t look like no bullhead or polliwog, they looked like real and true fishes. Wholly crap! They were colored fishes, too, wasn’t a grey one in the bunch.
I ran my clean fingers across the glass in an attempt to get the attention of the fishes. Then tapped the glass, but they didn’t do much. Just swam around a bit as fishes do, eh?
Inside the glass was a different world, inside of “this” world. It was fascinating to see. For a beat I thought of Sea Hunt episodes, and wondered why’s come the fishes on that show were grey and not colored like the one’s in the tank.
Then I got to wonderin’ what it must be like to live in a fish tank for an entire life. Seemed kind-a-crummy to me. Thoughts of the toads I’d caught in our back yard by the bar-b-q last summer crossed my mind. I’d put ‘em in a shoebox in my closet after I got done feedin’ ‘em’ roly-poly bugs and ants and stuff. Put the lid on the shoebox and essentially forgot about ‘em for a week or so. Next time I thought to check on ‘em, they were all dead and stiff and dried up. I remembered feelin’ kind-a-crummy at that moment. Then I got to thinkin’ that that can’t happen to fishes. I mean, they’re in water, eh? They can’t die and dry up like them toads did.
For a good long beat I “dissolved” into that fish tank. Into their world. Thought how fun it would be to swim through all the cool lookin’ stuff in the tank. I imagined what it was like bein’ a fish. Wondered what they eat. Did they eat each other? Man, that’d be cool! But, there weren’t no fish in that tank that was much bigger than the others, none that seemed like they could make a meal out of the other fishes, eh? No. They were all pretty much the same size…
And where do they poop? I didn’t see no bathroom in there, unless it was in that little house thing next to the “wheel”. I don’t know, more questions than answers come to mind. Such is the nature of bein’ mesmerized in the life of a kid, I spose.
All of a sudden the door that mom and the lady disappeared through opened again. In came the lady, and then mom. She, mom, had a smile on her face, and a question in her eyes.
“Have ya been good?” she asked with her eyes…
I said “yeah mom” with my eyes.
Then she and the lady did the last stuff adults do when they do stuff in an office at the end of whatever it was they were doin’. When they were finally done mom came to my side and put her hand on my head. Why do mom’s do that anyway, eh?
“You hungry”? she asked.
At that very instant my kid mind went to the A&W on Bridgeport. Fel’s. I thought of a hamburger and fries and a coke and stuff.
“Yeah mom” I said.
“Lick salt and you’ll be thirsty” she said and let out a laugh. Then said;
“A&W” more like a question and less like a statement. Mom’s know…
She opened the door to the place and walked out first. I closed the door behind me as the little bell thing said it’s byes to we two.
“Mom?” I asked when we got in the car.
“Yes?” she said.
“Can we get a fish tank like they had?”
She fired up the Ford Falcon Futura and slipped it into reverse, foot still on the brake. She turned and took a look at me and said in a lovely, mom sort of way. “No.”
Pfft. Damn Mom’s…
The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.
A,ways enjoy your stories!
Tara Radford says
Another wonderful story John!!
Waiting on your book !!
Kathy Shea says
Darn you John, you never cease to amaze me with your stories! I was right there in that fish take with you. Again waiting for your book of short stories!