by Carl Grimsman
Tristan and I look down through clouds, smoke, down a steamship’s smokestack. A woman who is a white dog, on the deck below, sees us. “Look!” she says, “Two seagulls. Shoot them!” Her husband, a brown dog with muttonchops, a pork pie hat, and a blue suit raises his spyglass. He and several others grab guns. Tristan leads us wheeling into a cloudbank. We hear muffled popping.
Later the white dog is on the poop deck with cold tea and an umbrella. She’s laughing—ooo hoo hoo hoo—as her husband washes her feet in a basin. She looks over the side and sees Tristan and I, we are dolphins. “What pretty dolphins,” she says, pointing daintily. “Shoot them.” Tristan leads us into a dive as bullets ploop around us.
I’m an octopus and Tristan’s a giant clam. We’re blowing bubbles at the bottom of the sea. The white dog is swimming towards us. Her husband has a harpoon. I hide behind some coral. Tristan closes his shell.
I can’t believe the stupidity of these people—the casually murderous white dog and her blindly dutiful hound husband. I shout in a loud bubbly voice, “Do you do everything she says just because she says it?”
She points vigorously at me. The husband, eyes bugged out, cheeks fat with air, swims forward aiming the harpoon. A baby whale races by and bumps him. He drops the shaft and puffs out his air. The white dog keeps pointing. The husband’s face is sorrowful as he propels himself to the surface; he couldn’t please her. She glares at me, then follows.
They’re walking along the beach. She wears a sun dress and carries a parasol trimmed with ball fringe. He, with trousers rolled up, is picking up the shells she points to. “What have I done to hurt you?” he says bending.
“Tut, tut,” she warbles. “You’re the perfect husband.” He holds his shirt like an apron to carry the shells.
Ahead they spot a whale, lying on the beach, panting. “Are you the whale that knocked me?” asks the man, hurrying over, dropping his shells.
“Save me,” cries the whale. “Push me into the water!”
“It is the same whale!” shouts the white dog. “I recognize the markings.”
Tristan and I circle over as sea gulls again. The man leans against the whale with all his might.
“No! No!” yells the lady. “Shoot the whale!”
The surf comes up. The whale budges a little. “Help me,” shouts the man.
“Stop!” shouts the woman. She wades out. “What kind of a man are you?” she screams, and wallops him. The whale moans and gasps for breath. With a mighty heave, the man rolls the whale over. It swims slowly, then is gone with a tail flip.
The man pulls out his pistol and flings it into the sea. He glares at the woman and stalks past her. After a few moments she hurriedly follows. “Mortimer, Mortimer…”