Thursday, April 22, 2010

The World in Miniature: Mortimer

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…”


Matthew Rush said...

What a weird and wonderful short. Thanks for posting Ink and for sharing Carl.

I'm not sure if there is a deeper meaning to this or if it's just a kind of fun exercise in writing. Either way I like it.

For some reasons I picture people from the roaring 20's and Mortimer with a big handlebar mustache ... oh but wait, he's a dog ...

Today's guest blogger is Michelle McLean!

Mira said...

The anger - rage - just thrums through this piece.

I really like this part:

“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."

Very nice.

You're absolutely right. Mortimer is responsible for both his actions, and his lack of action.

Marsha Sigman said...

I think Tristan and I are trippin' on some bad shrimp.

Susan Quinn said...

I got a 20's feel from this piece as well, and halfway through I was convinced we were children playing a make believe game with the villains always shooting at us. But no, this is a story about a man and his ... dog. :) I'm glad Mortimer showed her just what kind of man he was!

Deb Salisbury said...

Love this story, Carl! I was all set up to hate it, but I couldn't stop reading. Well done!

Ben Carroll said...

i've read this a couple of times, and while i can'tpretend to understand it, i really like present and changeable and surprising.

Carl Grimsman said...

Thank you, all! And thanks, Bryan, for posting "Mortimer", and for your fine website.

Ink said...

No problem!

I'm glad everyone seems to be enjoying the flash fiction.

Donna Hole said...

Interesting moral writing.

Loved the abstraction.


al000 said...

Wonderful short, Carl. My wife insisted that I read it. "I'm busy now...perhaps in a bit.."
"No. Read it now" she insisted. "I need to know your thoughts on what was said, and what was meant in the saying."
"As you wish..."
"Well?" she asked as I closed the computer after reading.
"It was a parable expressing the power of Love over the dynamics of relationship"
"Not at all", she countered. "It was an allegory expressing the contrast between the Feminine desire for physical and material security as juxtaposed against a Man's lose of identity due to his desire and need of relationship." I threw my gun into the water and stalked past her to the bedroom.
She has yet to follow.... Thanks, I think....8<)