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My Luck

Naomi, do you remember
those dead
fish? On the beach?
In Tampa? Where the condo company paid all our
expenses if we just attended a
Timeshare Presentation? And
the photos looked so
nice, white sand, blue-
green water, that we went?
And then when we got
there all those dead
fish were on the beach?
Millions of
them. You
couldn’t stand
it, remember,
Naomi?
You threw up. But it wasn’t only
fish, it was all kinds of sea
creatures, crabs, eels,
squids,
remember? Dolphins, stingrays, and a
shark and the sea wasn’t blue-
green like in the
photos, it was a maroon color. It was the red
tide, the lifeguard
said, that washed in once
or twice a year and killed
every form of
life
that got caught
in it. Didn’t he say that? I
might be paraphrasing. But you
remember it,
that beach like a field full of war
dead.
Like
Gettysburg. And the smell. Stench was
your word and
you threw up, and the baby cried and
he threw up. But I
didn’t throw up,
did I? I was
strong,
strong for you and the
baby. Chin up stiff
upper lip make the best of
it I said. I told the baby these fish weren’t
dead, they were
asleep. And the baby said well then they should wake
up. I
flipped a few
over with my foot and I
poked at some
crabs with a stick. And you
told me to stop
doing that and I
said I was just giving them their wakeup
call. And the baby
said when things are
dead
they
don’t
wake
up.
Astounding kid.
And I told him he was absolutely
right while I kept
poking, nudging, flipping all those slimed seasalty
corpses, breathing
in that stench and you said Goddamnit, Terry, leave the dead in
peace, and I said the dead don’t feel
anything, and you said it wasn’t whether they could feel anything it was a matter of respect, and I said
Don’t
Talk
To
Me
About
Respect.
You didn’t, wouldn’t see that
I respected these dead
fish, hell, I
even envied them, and you
had obviously no
idea what I was talking about because you ran
back to the hotel and we didn’t go on that beach again that whole week
in Tampa.
But
you never liked beaches
anyway, ever since you
stepped on a sea urchin in Chesapeake Bay as an
adolescent. You hated
and still hate
all water where you can’t see the
bottom because who
knows what tiny monsters are down
there waiting to bite
your
toes
right off. You
only swim in swimming
pools with water that is crystal
clear, not ones
with algae slime on
top. You allow that you would swim in
Bermuda because
you read in a magazine on some flight that in
Bermuda you can still see the bottom a mile away from shore.
Am I still recording,
Naomi? Does your
voicemail have a
time cut-
off?
Have you landed in LA
yet? Can you hear my
voice? There’s some sta-
tic, there’s an echoing
effect, I think I’m break-
ing
up.
Call
me, okay,
when you arrive? If you get
this which I’m now afraid
you won’t. There’s
dead
zones around this neighborhood where I’m walking, you move ten feet your call gets dropped. Fucking
Sprint.
My luck I’m in a
dead
zone right now and
you haven’t heard a word I’ve
said,
or it’s all gibberish because the signal’s scrambled.
Yeah,
I have a feeling I’m in one of
those zones right now I’m
breaking up this awful feeling hits me now that
now I’m
dead.

My Luck

Peter Maeck

Lexington MA, United States

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