Friday, October 27, 2006

A new story...

You know the drill. The story comes from a writing session. This time, my friend Eric and I wrote a story about diving. The character had to have asphyxiation hallucinations and see Neptune in some form. Here goes.

Marco at the Bar

Marco took a weekend off from work for the first time in three years, and now he was having underwater oxygen problems. He knew it, because, his large hands shook violently. He was outside of some shipwreck remains. His vision was blurry. He began to try and keep abreast of the situation. He estimated the time of day. Right now, he would be loading in one of the larger orders of the day, and overtime would have kicked in a couple of hours. He could see his boss in his office, taking a break from his laptop long enough to stare at Marco and his crew.

He was a decent manager, Marco, and his strength was working alongside his men. Where were they now, his team? His counterparts? They could not feel the water, the slime of the ocean floor, nor could they see the beauty of the ocean life around him. Distended barracudas slithered alongside of him, their tales caressing his extremities. Swimming low to the ground, they seemed to be inviting him beyond the ship’s remains. He was powerless but to go with them. Why weren’t they attacking? Was there a friendly barracuda? Did his team send them along?

His team could only see the inside of the workspace—the warehouse’s standing water and sweat smell due to lack of air conditioning—and maybe slivers of light leaking in through the windows. Maybe a door was open. Maybe. The bossman hated that sort of thing. The less you see of the outside world, the better. Marco adapted that idea into his own thinking. He mainly worked and went home. Sure, he hit the local bars sometimes with his crew to maintain friendships with his men. He would mention the boss’s wife and drank cheap beer. He would come into work hung over on occasion. Mostly, though, he was in on time and the last one out, filing away paperwork to make everyone’s jobs easier. He was boring and consistent, but beloved for it. The occasional crack about his lifelessness would creep around, but longtime friends and employees would defend him. He heard. He knew. When he took a weekend off to dive—something he used to do before his managerial position—they were impressed. He walked with an excited and prideful step the whole week awaiting his trip.
The stingrays danced around him jubilantly, colored with red and blue ribbons extending from their prongs. They did conga lines around him, slinging dirt over his mask. Seahorses would clear his vision while scallops would drink brine from multicolored flasks talking shit about their ex-wives. Eels were nodding in agreement making their bodies shapely in mixed company. Sharks sat with Remoras complaining about the economic growth in the Pacific as compared to the stagnant Atlantic. Human dumping! There was the problem. Monocles dangled from the eyes of Pompano, and Sea Mullet raced around drunkenly trying to find willing hellhounds. A lone Rockfish twisted and bumped on a makeshift stage above the rest of the action. Music piped in, but was indiscernible.

What would the boss or the boys think of these sea creatures—these crustaceans quibbling over sports records and placement in the all time canon of speed and prowess in hunting prey? Marco wondered why the animals were so frisky. Why, when he was unable to come to the ocean so often, would they put on such a marvelous show? Why not when he was young and able-bodied; available to banter alongside them—admit that he thought their life was as good as, nay better, than his own? His dream of the sea was that of an ordered existence much like his own.

True, Marco was a lonely man. On land, he was barely noticeable—a “shop guy” with little chance to escape his scheduled pattern. As his routine dictated, he had no time for real motivation to the arts, love, or any extended understandings of the world beyond his narrow existence, but he was proud of his accomplishments. There were other smarter people around him who made less money and had less opportunity than he did. His bulky frame showed signs of aging—a cursory glance would see a balding gutted man, though strong in upper body from years of lifting. Thin red hair grew over half his ears, and his ruddy complexion was highlighted by thickly framed black glasses. He was no main attraction, but his appearance was unimportant to him.
Now it was different. His body shook for an extended period of time—seemingly from lack of air. The sea was a violent dark, but brightness fell over him. He was in the spotlight. His body’s violence was lifted, and he fell into a rhythmic set of motions. Pointing and dancing, he delighted the creatures crowded around the ship. They laughed and clapped. He tried to yell out, but his body seemed to lift above the fray. He flew upwards over the crowd as it burst into standing ovation. He tried to thank them. His eyes closed with pride. Pressure from years of repression lifted from him. The fish were less frequent, the light around him stronger. His eyes fluttered open and closed. Would that the boys saw that. He was in complete control then. He imagined his boss seeing it all peeking from the side of his desk.
The men raised him toward the top of the water, but he had no idea he was being rescued. He could make out a human figure above him. Shimmering brightly, the man was smiling and motioning for him. One of the guards had his hand around Marco’s shoulder leading him. He was not aware he was being lifted from his certain death.. As far as Marco was concerned, Neptune himself was asking to see him in a brightly lit, sky blue office—extending forever against the murkiness of the undersea nightclub still abuzz; still clamoring for an encore.

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