Saturday, September 26, 2015

They Were Dolphins, Chapter 3 part II

He climbed down from the tree and went across the street to talk to her. They talked for a while through the chain link fence that was almost as tall as they were. The boy asked to go inside, and Mia agreed. Mia’s room was small and cramped with a single twin bed in it. She had a noisy squawking white bird in a pink cage. The bird could speak some words, apparently, but the boy never heard anything intelligible come out of it.

The boy was immediately taken with a kid’s typewriter on Mia’s desk. It was made of plastic, but it actually worked, typing out real ink on real American-sized 8,5”x11” paper. The boy couldn’t understand he arrangement of the letters for he was used to seeing them in a certain order all the time in school. He eagerly asked for a piece of paper and Mia loaded it into the typewriter. The boy takes a long time to think of a phrase to write and takes even longer to peck it out on the keyboard.
He hid what he was typing but had to ask her how to spell certain words, including her name. He finally produced a sheet of paper with two sentences on the top.

usagi luves mia. mia luves usage

The boy was incredibly embarrassed to write such sap. The girl squinted when he presented the page to her. She interpreted it correctly without understanding what it meant. Rabbits love Mia? The boy flushed with shame and swiped the paper from her hands. He folded it in half, in half, in half, and in half again. He ripped a piece of invisible tape off a dispenser and taped the folded square shut. He didn’t know what else to do, so he shoved it into the cage with the bird.

Mia sighed heavily, in a grown up way, and the boy tried to redirect attention to something else by babbling about the park. Mia’s mother called out that the dogs need to walk and Mia asked the boy if he would help. Glad to get away from the topic written on the piece of paper, he agreed.

Mia explained as she gathered the small dogs and put leashes on them that the dogs were supposed to “mate” so they could have puppies. When her mother asked her to “walk” the dogs, she meant to let them walk outside for this purpose. The boy didn’t know what mate was. Mia explained that the schoolyard word was “hump”. It dawned on the boy what the dogs would be doing.

They turned outside the fence and went toward the triangular grass area with two palm trees. It was a fair distance and Mia had time to explain along the way that she was very familiar with humping. She had caught her mother and father humping twice. They were trying to make a brother or sister for her, she breezily detailed. The boy noted that his mother was not humping anymore because he already had a brother. Besides, the boy noted that he didn’t have a father.

Mia laughed at that. Everyone has a mother and a father. But the boy protested, nearly revealing his dolphin heritage, but he stopped short. He suddenly realised it was very suspicious that the Korean boyfriend was seen coming in the evening sometimes and leaving in the morning. He would stay in the same room with his mother, and he knew there was only one bed in there. He got sick thinking about it.

When they reached the trivium, the male dog jumped on top of the female dog and pumped vigorously. The boy was embarrassed for seeing it in front of Mia, but she was not bothered by it in the least. Dogs will get stuck together after they mate, because the male dog’s penis will swell up and can’t be removed for a while. Neither child knew the details, but Mia did know the dogs would be stuck together after they humped.

She tied the two dogs to a street sign at one corner of the triangle. She grabbed the boy dolphin and held him tightly. She said through hysterical sobs that her family were moving and they would be gone from their home in a few weeks. The boy was shocked and numb at the news. He had known some children who had moved away. They always disappeared and were never seen again. He didn’t know what he would do without her, especially after he had admitted his strong feelings for her.
The idea briefly flitted through his head that he was grateful that she hadn’t understood his message. That was a good benefit of using a fake name, he decided.

The girl apologised for moving away and said that they should spend as much time together as possible before she left. She pulled away from him and held his hand meaningfully. The boy didn’t know what to do, so he nodded and held his hand perfectly still in hers.

Eventually, the stasis was too awkward for the boy and he pulled his hand back. He looked at the dogs and saw they were still stuck together. He asked how long it would take for them to separate. Mia shrugged. The boy told her he needed to leave for some pressing business at home. Mia looked hurt, but he promised her the business was very important but that he would come to see her at her house soon, very soon.

He walked back home, relieved to be out of the awkward situation and not knowing how to react. He saw his brother in the front yard, still playing in the tree. He asked his brother if the Korean had left. His brother nodded. He asked if their mother was inside. The boy nodded. The boy told his brother they should go in to see her.

They went inside and saw their mother sitting on the filthy couch again, but this time in a wretched state. The side of her face was black and she held a bag of frozen corn against the side of her temple.
She told the boys a fantastical tale of presidents Ford and Carter who were telling all the children to go outside somewhere safe. There was a threat of nuclear war with Russia, whom president Nixon was conspiring with to oppose the United States. The news was all over the radio and television. Children must go outside to the park to play all day. It was not safe to stay close to buildings or play around homes where the nuclear blasts would hit. The boy was well-versed in ducking and dropping under a desk in the event of a blast. They practiced at school regularly for safety.

Their mother sobbed violently when she told them this. She especially seemed choked up when she told the boy he must take care of his younger brother. The boy was the only one who could take care of his brother from now on. Rather than give courage to the boy, this actually made him more fearful. Nevertheless, he bravely agreed to protect his brother and would take him somewhere safe in the park to play.

They left the house and retraced their steps to the park. The boys argued bitterly about what they should do all day since it was just past noon, they hadn’t eaten, and it was a long time to dinner. The boy had an idea. He convinced his brother that they could get a piece of paper for a free hamburger from the McDonalds. He had seen little slips of paper that were “coupons” for ninety-nine cents off. The boy had no idea how much ninety-nine cents was, nor what a “coupon” actually was, but he was pretty sure that meant they could get a hamburger for free.

They turned before the bridge to the park and followed the road to the shopping centre from the back. The boys walked inside the bustling McDonalds and stared at the bewildering signs. The boy spotted several coupon booklets and eagerly pulled out the one that was shaped like a paper money rectangle and had a large 99 boldly printed in the upper right corner. In the centre of the coupon was a picture of the most perfect, most delicious Big Mac ever. This proved that the coupon was worth 99 cents, and that the hamburger would be free for the taking if they stood in line.

The boy told his brother to sit at a booth and wait for him to return. The boy’s confidence started to waver, however, as he stood in the intimidating line full of adults. There were six lines, with at least six to eight people standing in each line. They moved rapidly and knew exactly what they were doing. The boy had no idea what to do or how to get a hamburger. The closer he got to the front of the line, the more frightened he became.

He ducked out of the line and shadowed a few booths where people were finishing eating. Carefully keeping out of sight of his brother, he approached one booth with a family and casually swiped a bag of fries from the corner. He walked to his brother and waved the bag of fries nonchalantly. He was in a panic, however, and wanted desperately to leave. He told his brother to split with him and they both left in a hurry.

They started running almost immediately as they went out the door. They ran behind one of the buildings and stuffed the cold fries into their mouth. The boy was proud of his accomplishment and was beaming in excitement to take care of his brother. He felt his stature as leader and mentor growing. He felt that being a human man might not be difficult. One only needed to have courage, conviction, and take decisive action to be a good man.

The small bag of fries was not nearly enough food for the two of them, but it would have to do. The boy had another idea. There was a toy section in the grocery store across the way. In the toy section, there were lots of toys that the boys could play with. They would borrow one from the store to play with today and then they would gladly return it afterward. The boy’s brother nodded. Technically, the boy knew he was lying and that he would be stealing. But he needed to protect his brother, and in any case, the world was likely to end soon in a nuclear attack from Russia.

Friday, September 25, 2015

They Were Dolphins, Chapter 3, part I

The next day was a Saturday. The boy and his brother woke up at nearly the same time and threaded their way through the human wreckage of bodies strewn in the hallway and the living room. The boys went into the kitchen and made mayonnaise and mustard sandwiches. They referred to the pieces of bread as “wiches” rather than “sand” wiches, which they do not like.

They wandered out the back door to avoid the living room and explored the back yard. The yard was not kempt and the wild grass was tall. There were several disused pieces of wood and building materials on one side. The boys found a favourite play thing of theirs: a huge 2.000 litre fish tank. It was empty and stood taller than the boys and the back was painted blue. The acrylic surface was dirty and scratched, but the boys still envision fish swimming in the murky depths.

The boy dolphin got an idea and enlisted his brother to help. They took a hose from a pile of ropes and cloth in the garage and attached it to a faucet next to the house. They ran the end of the hose to the fish tank. After a lot of effort wasted and great difficulty, they realised they could not get the host into the tank. The boy’s brother found a broken wooden chair and brought it over to stand next to the tank. They worked together to strain and struggle with the host until it was hanging inside the empty tank.

The boys turned on the water to fill the tank and left.

They walked by the side of the house and turned right toward the park instead of left, which would have taken them toward the school. Up a small incline in the street, they turned left to go down the hill a bit of a ways until they came to a bridge over a stream. This was a different bridge than the one near the school, but it was the same stream that ran along the valley floor.

They paused over the middle of the stream and gathered pebbles laying on the sidewalk and toss them into the stream. The boy dolphin told his brother that he would like to run away forever and go live in the ocean. He doesn’t explain that he is a dolphin, just said that he wanted to live in the ocean. His brother listened and nodded in agreement. He pointed to the park and made swimming motions with his arms. There was a public pool on the other side of the park and they went over there.

As they walked along, the boy dolphin regretted not jumping from the bridge to kill himself. It would have been a good ending to his life and worthy of mention in the newspapers. The rational part of his brain understood that he wouldn’t actually die from a fall at that height, especially into water, but that doesn’t deter him from relishing the idea.

When they reached the gated entrance to the pool, the boys met some other classmates from school. They greeted each other raucously. One requirement of swimming in the pool was that the children had to take a shower before entering the pool. The boys stripped to their underwear and joined a “campfire”, their word for a process whereby they turned a shower spigot’s hot water on full blast and let it splash on the tile floor. The water was too hot to stand directly in it, but the indirect splashes would be nice and toasty to sit in front of. They gathered around the water campfire just in a circle and told stories, just like a real campfire.

The boy dolphin told the group a story of a dog that was lonely and scared, running down a beach. It was all alone in the world and it was looking up and down the strand for a friend. The dog had walked and run so far that it had no idea where it came from or where it was going. Eventually the dog dug a hole big enough to lay down in. The dog curled up in this hole and decided that it was so lonely and afraid that it would just fall asleep and never wake up.

A kind girl came by on the beach and saw the dog. She reached out to help the dog but it was scared and it tried to bite and bark at the girl. However, the girl persisted at being friendly to the dog and even handed the dog some bologna the girl had in her pocket. The dog wolfed down the meat and felt better. It even began to get up and wag its tail. The girl had to leave, however, and the dog watched her walk off. Even though she was laughing and waving as she left, the dog knew she would never be back.

The group that were listening to the story grew bored and most of the boys left. The hot water from the showerhead was running out and was no longer warming the circle. With a shrug, the boy dolphin and the remaining two boys and his brother left the campfire to go swimming.

They boys swam in the shallow end because they were not yet brave enough to venture into the deeper water. The boy dolphin felt secretly guilty about swimming for two reasons. First, he was supposed to be a good swimmer but it was obvious he was not. When he would finally implement his plan of living in the ocean as a dolphin, he would have to be a much better swimmer than he was. Second, he was deathly afraid of things under the water. Several times he would have an irrational fear about something swimming past his legs and he would move as quickly as he could to cling to the concrete edge of the pool.

The boy walked out bravely as deep as he could, and checked the depth markers painted on the side. At 140 centimetres, the boy could no longer keep his mouth above water, even on his tippy-toes. He made a silent vow to someday be able to stride out in the water all the way to 2 metres.

The boy caught sight of a shark from the corner of his eye and made a mad dash to get out of the water. He nearly lost his underwear climbing out in a hurry, but he didn’t care. He got dressed in the locker room and his brother joined him. They decided to leave and walked toward the middle of the park to run around.

There was a brief and sudden shower over the other end of the valley, and a giant rainbow appeared in the morning sun. The boys ran toward the rainbow, which completed a full arc from just beyond the edges of the park on one side to the other. No matter how fast they ran, however, the rainbow would retreat until it was past the park and out of reach.

The boy dolphin had his brother stay where they had run to catch the rainbow while he backed up. Sure enough the rainbow moved toward where his brother was standing. As he backed up far enough for his brother to stand nearly underneath the apparition, the boy waved his arms wildly to indicate that his brother should go to the left to reach the end of the rainbow. It was clear his brother was confused, for when he looked around, he would see the rainbow was way off in the distance. He had no idea what his older brother was waving his arms wildly for.

Disappointed that the rainbow experiment had almost, but not quite, worked out, the brothers headed back home as they were getting peckish and it was getting hotter. They walked back across the bridge and back up the steep road toward their house. One particular house they liked to look at had a Japanese-style garden in the front yard, replete with small pagodas and a koi pond. Next to this house was an abandoned lot, however, and looked like an extension of the back part of the town dump. There was a large pile of twisted and rusting metal stacked on one side.

The boy dolphin stopped his brother and intoned that a large spaceship would fly up from this launching pad right here. He said that the spaceship would fly up and would EXPLODE when it got to here (he pointed in the sky). His brother and he stared into the sky, trying to see past some clouds to observe the spot where the explosion was supposed to take place. The boy made exploding noises with his mouth and his brother joined the festivities by dancing and whooping. Even though they were celebrating, the boy felt strongly that he was not just making up a story, but that he was actually seeing an event that would happen in the future.

They continued on after a while because it was getting even hotter and the air was also quite muggy. When they reached home, they entered the front door and were relieved to see that there weren’t any more bodies lying around the floor. Their mother sat cross legged in a meditation pose on the filthy, stained couch. She brightened when she saw them and hugged them as they ran to greet her. The boy asked if they could play the Puff the Magic Dragon record, their favourite song since it had also recently been a show on television.

Their other lifted the clear plastic cover on the record player. She blew twice, three times, four times on the small vinyl to get rid of any dust. She placed a forty-five RPM adapter in the middle of the record and placed it on the felt-covered platter. The stylus dropped as she operated a lever, then she closed the lid. After a few repetitive scratches, the music started.

The boys danced and twirled with their mother, but she tried to quiet them as they stamped their feet loudly. They would quite down for a few seconds, but then forget themselves and start to stamp and bump into things again. In one particularly powerful spin, the boy dolphin bumped the turntable and the record scratched loudly. The three people laughed loudly at the blunder.

This gaiety was interrupted when the Korean boyfriend stormed out of the bedroom and yelled for quiet. The Korean shoved the off-balance boy dolphin to the ground and took one more step to smack the boy’s mother across the face. She fell to her knees. The Korean ripped the power cord to the turntable and sound systems out of the wall, then stormed back to the room. As he walked past the boy dolphin on the ground, the Korean kicked the boy in the thigh.

After the boyfriend was in the room, the two boys tried to console their other who cried into her hands as quietly as possible. She collapsed so that she sat her thighs. The two boys formed a protective cone around her shoulders, as if trying to save her from something. She suddenly pushed them off and stood unsteadily. She stormed into the bedroom and they boys heard violent screaming, deep yelling, and objects being thrown and hitting the walls. A window broke. The boys looked at each other and rand outside.

There was a large plumeria tree in the front yard of the house and the boys climbed and played in it. From this position, they could not hear or see any fighting, so they quickly forgot about the horrible incident. The boy dolphin climbed to a high branch as dangerously as he dared, and looked across the street. Mia was in the front yard and waved to him.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

They Were Dolphins, Chapter 2 part III

He continued the slow, roundabout way home via the dump. He ventured off the sidewalk to the fence, observing the piles of debris. There was a pile of concrete and twisted metal in one section that looked like it might have been the foundation of a house. The boy could see that if the walls were raised around the foundation in a house-shaped pool and filled with ocean water, then it could make a quite comfortable home for a family of dolphins. He pictured a dolphin home, filled to the attic with water and windows and doors just like its human counterpart, but filled with water and swimming dolphins.

Furniture would be a problem in the water, but that would be okay because dolphins can’t really sit and they don’t need things like appliances or tables.

The boy realised walked on a bit, hesitating the whole way as he approached the hill. He realised why he had been so apprehensive when he reached the site where the dog had been run over. He was greatly relieved to see the dog was missing. Clearly, this meant that the dog had merely been injured, not killed, and had walked off gaily after recovering from his bruising encounter.

Walking a bit more sprightly after such a relief, he headed up the hill where the sidewalk stopped and turned into grass. The sight of the grass reminded him of something with a pang, but he couldn’t remember what memory was being triggered. Further along, when he drew nearly up to the trivium, he thought of the egg that he had found earlier in the morning. A boiled egg could be distinguished from a raw egg by spinning the egg on a flat surface, then quickly stopping the egg. If the egg stops completely, it is boiled or cooked inside, but if it starts spinning again then it is raw. The boy did not actually know this, but if he had, he would have wished that he had tested the egg he found to find out if it really had been a bird’s egg left behind without a nest.

Thinking of the egg reminded the boy of Robert’s incantations and throwing the egg into the forest. That was when the pangs from earlier struck with a nearly audible output from the boy. He suddenly remembered the knives that had been prepared in defence of his brother the vampire.

It was too far and too late to turn back. He would have to face the night vulnerable to a vampire attack. There were few worse things than the idea of a vampire attack. The boy was frozen in fear and indetermination when he spotted the hedge where he had stashed his sweater. He also realised that he would have to explain how he had come into possession of his brand new leather jacket with epaulettes. His mother would certainly think the boy had stolen them.

He concluded that he could easily swap his new leather jacket for the purple sweater and thus appear as if he had worn the sweater all day. He would also hide the fact that he had gotten a new jacket and wouldn’t have it taken away from him.

Swapping the ugly sweater and stowing away his precious jacket, he grew apprehensive again about going home. He spotted the house that was Robert’s neighbour (whose hedge he was borrowing to hid clothing) and walked up the door as if he lived there. He opened the door suavely, although a discerning psychologist might notice a fear and  hesitancy barely covered by nonchalance.

The boy could hear a television blaring in the living room and as bravely as possible, though he swallowed hard and fought to breathe slowly, moved toward the television. He breathed a bit easier when no one was around and he found the puffy reclining seat empty. He plopped comfortably into the seat and watched a show involving a spinning wheel filled with money amounting to fortunes. One needed to guess letters to form words or phrases in order to win fabulous prizes.


These strange words were baffling and the boy couldn’t understand why the everyone was so cheerful happy, and downright excited. Even the music was bright and cheerful. He got up from the chair in disgust and left the house.

Closer to home, he saw a reminiscent car parked in front of the driveway but was unable to place it. Something about the car and the way it was parked, facing the wrong way on the street and idling. A few drops of rain started, signalling the beginning of the afternoon showers. That’s when the memory became complete, this was the woman who had stopped by the day before and dropped off the seeds.

And the seeds… had been placed somewhere. Nobody knew where. In a full panic, the boy considered his options of running away or pretending like nothing had happened. He decided on the latter. If anybody asked about “seeds”, he would just shrug and deny any knowledge. If some woman said she had given him the seeds directly, he would just say that he had never seen anybody like her before and never heard of such a thing.

Steeled thus, he forced himself up the driveway and stairs into the house. His mother and the woman were on the threadbare couch facing each other in deep conversation. The boy noticed an unwelcome presence in the hallway, walking toward the front bedroom where his mother slept.

The two women turned toward the boy as he tried to slip past the living room to the hallway. His other called out in a sing-song voice that hid a bit of menace. The boy stopped and turned slowly, careful to avert his eyes from the strange woman. He kept his head down as much as possible in order to appear as interested as possible in the hardwood floors.

He was asked what he had done with the seeds he had gotten the day before and he admitted he had no idea where the vial had gone. He had to repeat this several times to be understood. Every time he opened his mouth, very little actually came out that was audible. The look on his mothers face, when he dared look up, was twisted in rage. The strange woman left breezily, hiding something. The women hugged and air-kissed, his mother making exasperated noises and waving at the boy to indicate a “what can you do?” attitude.

The boy retreated to his room and tried to hide in his bed. A faint smell of something sweet and sour was in the air, but he couldn’t identify the smell nor where it came from. Outside, it had begun to rain gently. The boy’s brother came home. Fortunately, the boy knew his brother was harmless as long as the sun was up. He had a few hours before he needed to be afraid.

His intuition was incorrect because his mother and the unwanted presence from earlier appeared in his room. The presence was his mother’s boyfriend, a short wiry Korean with a thin black mustache.
That was when the screaming and yelling began along with the escalations of violence. The boy had neglected his duties in taking care of the precious goods in the vial. The seeds were irreplaceable as far as the adults were concerned. They would be in extreme debt to pay back the loss of the seeds, and the boy was directly responsible for this. He knew the pattern well enough to go along with everything, even though he dreaded every step.

The culmination of the argument was a decision to use the belt. The boy was secretly relieved they had not decided to use a switch. A switch was a long thin piece of flexible wood or branch that one selected from a bush outside to be whipped with. The switch often had leaves (which were removed) and thorns (which might not be). Not getting the switch was a great reprieve.

The boy dutifully pulled down his pants and made a huge effort not to cry out when the belt struck his bottom. After the first whack by the Korean, the boy actually found that it didn’t hurt nearly as much as he remembered or dreaded, and it became very easy for him to suppress crying out. Even though the blows escalated as the Korean grew in his frustrations to hurt the boy, the pain subsided.

Covered by this layer of armour that had been growing for the last several months and days, the boy decided finally to give in to the screaming and crying so that the punishment would stop. Satisfied with their corporal punishment and winded a bit, the adults left the boy in bedroom. His brother came in and wordlessly hugged the boy. The boy was grateful for this human act of kindness bestowed on a dolphin, even if it did come from an unrelated stranger who was a vampire.

The boy went to bed without supper and slept through the night, unaware of the sighing, crunching, whispering, and grinding noises of the vampire beneath him.

I hate it.
It’s not that bad. They were dolphins.
I don’t get it.
They were dolphins.

Stop it. I hate it.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

They Were Dolphins, Chapter 2 part II

The students were again tasked with various painting and drawing exercises. This time, the boy was feeling properly chastised and so he participated in the activities without causing problems. One might even say he was a model student without knowing he was just a dolphin pretending to be a human.

Robert, however, seemed aloof and it was his turn to misbehave. He sat casually on the top of a desk with his feet resting on the chair. He wasn’t even pretending to wear the smock he was given. He was calling out to other students with jests and jeers about their artistic merits and abilities. At one point, he leaned over and whispered something to Mia, which the boy dolphin hadn’t heard.

Mia struck Robert so hard across the face that his glasses flew off. Robert’s face turned bright red and he gripped the side of his face where Mia had struck him. Slowly he began to wail and the whole class stopped to see what was happening. The teacher separated the two children at the back of the class and encouraged the other children to continue painting. The boy dolphin wanted to go talk to Mia to find out what Robert had said to her.

As the teacher counselled and consoled Robert who wailed and cried loudly, a student representative came into the class and made an announcement. Several other students from the fake government filed in carrying boxes of clothing. The children in the class assembled behind their desks and listened as the substitute teacher read a piece aloud from a piece of paper.

The school that the students attended (the boy dolphin included) were considered “at risk” and “disadvantaged”. The announcement never made clear what they were “at risk” of or “disadvantaged” from. The announcement did, however, state that the generosity of the state and city had provided the students with second-hand clothing that the students could choose from the boxes that had been brought in.

The substitute teacher read off a list of students’ names and surprisingly, (because the boy dolphin’s name usually came last alphabetically even though “that” name was not his “real” name Usagi), he was called first. The boy went up and rifled through one box, and beamed upon seeing a prized possession there: an orange leather jacket with epaulets and a breast pocket. He pulled it out triumphantly and put it on.

The class clapped and the next student picked an item of clothing, and so on. The boy admired his jacket which fit quite poorly actually, and it had a certain plastic smell that real leather should not have. The boy did not know all of this, of course, so he was extremely pleased. The jacket provided yet more armour for his fragile ego and body, hidden as it was in a human boy body. The dolphin felt like he was really coming into his element.

He spotted Mia across from him and noticed that tears stood out on her cheeks. He tried to get her attention to no avail. She was either ignoring him and his jacket or else she couldn’t see his gestures. He looked around and Robert was gone.

Later at recess, the boy grabbed Mia by the elbow and led her to his hiding spot behind the hedges along the back of the school buildings. He wordlessly showed her the principal’s hall pass from the day before. Sensing the gravity of the moment, she wordlessly starting burying it until it was nearly invisible under the dirt.

The boy asked about Robert and Mia shook her head. The sat cross-legged facing each other in the cramped space between the concrete bricks and foliage. The way that her dress hiked up stirred some unusual sensation in his groin. The boy told her a story of two men who were on fire, walking along the street. The two men would set fire to everything around them as they walked. The trees, the houses, the buildings, and even the cars would be ablaze as they walked past.

Mia wasn’t listening. Eventually, the boy trailed off. He wanted to speak of being a dolphin which was something he had never told anyone about. He decided not to. They climbed out of the hiding place to the taunts and jeers of one of the groups of boys. They were making fun of the two children for fraternising, for it is expressly forbidden in schoolyard rules that boys and girls should not mix.
The boy dolphin valiantly runs at the group of gibers to defend the girl’s honour. He feels emboldened by the shy Mia’s demeanour and his armour of orange pleather. He chased the other boys off and went back to Mia who brushed the dust off her skirt. He gave her a brotherly and awkward sideways hug.

They separated and the boy went to drink from the school fountain. The water tasted of mould and metal.

After school, the boy walked home by the slowest route possible. He stopped first at the library and climbed into the trash skips at the back of the building. This was a favourite pastime of some of the children and the adults disapproved of it greatly. The adult disapproval made it all the more enjoyable for the children.

The bins were particularly empty of trash this time, and playing in the bin just reminded him of how much he missed Robert. He jumped out of the bin and walked toward the bridge. He stayed on the library side of the street and climbed down the embankment to the stream bed.

The stream flowed over large rocks and pebbles that were difficult and slippery to walk on. It was no deeper than one’s ankle except for a pool on the other side of the tunnel under the street which was perhaps as deep as the boy was tall. The boy grabbed a good skipping rock, flat and small, and hunted the shallow pools for polliwogs. The boy was walking along the stream in the middle of the tunnel when he spotted a crawdad walking along the rocky bank.

The boy froze, as did the crawdad. The crawdad seemed to sense the danger and it turned to face the boy. It raised both claws in the air defiantly. The boy dropped his polliwog rock and used two hands to heft up a large rock the size of his own head. He lifted it up with great difficulty over his head. Both warriors faced each other with their arms raised and ready to battle to the death. In the wild, of course, a dolphin would not throw rocks at their prey. But the boy decided it was best to use what tools he had available to him.

The boy finally dropped the rock on top of the crawdad several feet away and delighted in the loud noise that resounded and echoed in the tunnel. He ran forward to investigate his slain opponent. The crawdad was turned into red and white mush. The boy hooted, hollered, and screamed triumphantly at his kill. After a long while of ranting and running in circles, he tired of this fun as well.

He climbed back up to the road and wandered over to the shopping centre. There was a grocery store on one side, a McDonald's, a Pizza Hut, and a beauty salon. The Pizza Hut was the boy’s main objective. The pizza hut had several arcade games like Galaxian, Space Invaders, and Asteroids. The games were magical to watch and the boy could spend hours “playing” the demos. One particularly fun game was an American football game that doubled as a table, with a television top. The X’s and O’s would move around the screen just like in real life, and it was fun to sit in a chair and spin the rolling control ball like a maniac.

There were several drawbacks, namely that the establishment served alcohol and frowned on minors being around. The establishment especially frowned on children that were unattended, as the boy dolphin often was. The boy “played” a few games without any money and then left when he felt conspicuous and noticed the waiters watching him closely.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

They Were Dolphins Chapter 2, part I

He had trouble waking up the next morning. His mother was not a morning person, as evidenced by her groggy demeanour and the way she staggered aimlessly about the house preparing the boys to go to school. Her dishevelled appearance implied she had either just woken up or not gone to sleep at all.
The boy looked at his brother intently to discern any wounds on the neck or any unusual paleness in the face or cheeks. The more intently the boy looked, the less indication he saw that something was wrong. This obviously indicated that his brother was indeed a vampire and that a powerful magic was hiding this fact.

The boy left for school earlier than his brother because he was older. He also walked alone because he was a big boy and could take care of himself. Despite being a grown, independent boy, his mother insisted on him wearing a purple sweater that he detested.

In the first place, he grumbled to himself as he walked past Mia’s house, the colour was ugly. The form was appallingly ill-fitting as well. Thirdly, it was scratchy and made his arms, wrists, and neck itch. Lastly, it didn’t even keep him warm since the sweater was full of holes. He walked past Robert’s house and waved to his friend as they merged paths.

Robert was a small boy with wire-rimmed glasses and short shaggy brown hair. Robert was fond of long shorts and button-down shirts. The boy dolphin complained about the sweater and pulled at it uncomfortably. The boys agreed to take off the sweater and hide it in the hedge along one of Robert’s neighbour’s houses.

While the boy dolphin stashed his sweater, Robert commented that this neighbour was rarely at home during the day and that the neighbour left their TV on all day. Robert related that he often went into his neighbour’s house to sit in the recliner and watch TV. He had never been caught, so it was all harmless fun.

The two boys continued down the hill and past the trivium with the palm trees and grass. Robert explains that rabbits’ feet are lucky, which is something the boy dolphin had no known. Robert explained that he had one his parents gave him. Robert showed how the small, furry object was attached to a belt loop with a small chain and how it could be held and rubbed for good luck.

On a sudden inspiration, the boy dolphin asked his friend if he knew how to defend against and dispel a vampire. Robert nodded gravely and said he did. Robert asked the boy who the vampire was. The boy dolphin repeated the story of his brother being turned into a vampire.

Robert listened carefully and formulated a plan, seemingly as if he knew what he was doing and had studied the topic for a long while. Robert said that the vampire could only be driven away with a sharp piece of bark found near the trees in the forest next to the school. The bark needed to be impregnated with a toxic stew of orange water from the a pile of metal barrels near there. Finally, the blades must be blessed with an incantation.

The boys agreed to make the vampire weapon as soon as they got to school. Going down the hill, the boy dolphin explained how the newest structure at the dump was built. Large mongooses working together had piled up large white stoves and ovens to form a ship that could actually sail on land. The ship’s prow could be seen just over there, the boy noted, except that from this vantage point they had lost sight of it.

The two boys continued along the sidewalk just before the left hand turn and spotted a stray dog trotting toward them. They eagerly ran toward the dog to pet it, but the dog stopped dead in its tracks and froze. The boys froze briefly too, but then continued running forward. The dog turned an bolted, darting out in to the street.

The two boys nearly reached the curb when a large car drove by and ran over the dog. They watched in horror as the dog turned too late to see the wheel coming and disappeared under the car. The tyres bumped twice, front and back, as if going over a speed bump. The car continued on to their shock as if nothing had happened. It disappeared around the corner.

Meanwhile the dog lay whimpering and spasmodically shaking in the street on its side. Its head pointed backward queerly as if still looking out for the car. One hind leg stuck straight up and tremored uncontrollably.

The boy dolphin recovered his senses and darted down the sidewalk. He called over his shoulder for Robert. But Robert was rooted to the spot, insistent that they help the dog somehow. The boy dolphin ran back to his friend and pulled him by his arm to go away, get away, now. They would surely be blamed for the dog being run over, and besides, the dog was bound to die anyway. There was nothing they could do.

Reluctantly, Robert moved away and the boys trotted, then galloped, then ran away toward the bridge. Crossing the bridge, the boy dolphin poked his head through the concrete slats of the to look down at the stream. He started when he saw a white chicken egg sitting causally in a nook. The boy touched the egg and it was warm. He picked it up and felt how warm it was as he cupped it in his hands.

To the boy, it seemed this was a bird egg that a mother bird had left behind. Obviously, the mother bird had laid the egg in the bridge nook but had not yet built a nest for it. The bird would be back soon with some twigs and grass to make a nest. Robert looked curiously at the egg and decided it was someone’s breakfast they had left behind.

Either way, the egg could be used for the vampire ritual, the boy dolphin reasoned. Reminded of their original intent and glad to push the horrors of the dog out of their minds, they continued on to the forest. The two boys took the second path that led into the forest past the school gate. They reached the area with the pieces of bark and pile of barrels. They scoured the area, selecting and then discarding knife-shaped pieces of wood.

Robert decided he also need a vampire knife in case the vampire decided to go down the street and visit his house. They agreed this was a sound idea. Each boy selected a piece of splintery bark that fit their hands comfortably. The next step was demonstrated with extreme confidence and competence by Robert. He placed the knives into a puddle of orange-coloured water that sat puddled on top of one of the rusting barrels.

They had to wait for the magic sauce to soak into the wood for at least three minutes in order to repel vampires. Neither boy had a clock, nor knew how to measure three minutes, so they wandered aimlessly along the path, looking for anything interesting to spot. The boy dolphin decided to head back a ways so that he could go to his favourite clearing with the car.

As he cracked and crunched through a poorly defined pathway toward the clearing, he spotted two large darkly coloured Samoans standing next to his car. He moved as silently as possible to get a closer look. The two adults were apparently naked and stood twined together. The smaller one that was a female upon closer inspection was leaning against the car while the larger male leaned heavily on her hips.

The boy was revolted and terrified at the strange ritual. Perhaps they didn’t know how to drive a car, he reasoned. He continued to watch in revulsion as the large bodies were stroked by seemingly detached autonomous arms. The boy heard Robert calling him from a distance and suddenly remembered the knives. As quietly and as quickly as possible, he retreated, making loud noises the whole way.

Reaching the barrels, Robert was frantic. He said that the knifes had soaked “thirty seconds” too long, but that was okay because there was some room for error in the formulation.
Robert started the incantations, motioning the boy to repeat after him.

Oonda boonda loonda…
(Oonda boonda loonda…)
Kanda binga banga!
(Kanda binga banga!)

And so forth.

They boys heard the bell ringing at the school in the distance. It was the long bell that signalled the start of classes. They were late.

In a panic, the dropped their knives near a tree for safe keeping and ran along the path back to the school yard. They started walking again halfway to the buildings. Robert grabbed his rabbit’s foot and stroked it. The boy dolphin grabbed it as well and they walked together awkwardly, holding onto the good luck charm, praying and hoping for some miracle so they wouldn’t get in trouble.

The rabbit’s foot had clearly worked because they got to the classroom and walked inside to find that there was no teacher in the classroom. The other students told the two boys that the substitute teacher would be there soon because the regular teacher had a day off.

Monday, September 21, 2015

They Were Dolphins, Chapter 1 part V

The poultice had grown cold and clammy, with slimy green juice staining his sheets. He called out for his mother to come but got no answer. He was about to get up from bed when his mother finally called out and announced he had a visitor. Mia was her name. She made a shy appearance at his door and he was immediately heartened greatly to see her.

She lived across the street behind the chain-link fence. She had shoulder length brown hair and hazel eyes. She wore a plain white dress that went to her knees. She timidly climbed to the top bunk and asks if the boy is fine. He said that he was fine and propped himself up on his elbows as casually as possible. She sat cross-legged near his feet on the small twin-sized bed and put her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands.

She told him amusing stories about what happened in class after he had left and all the fun things they had painted. She asked if he had gotten into big trouble for the sugar cubes in the paint. He shrugged it off valiantly and declared that he was able to dodge any punishment by getting a boo-boo on his leg. She laughed gaily at the childish word. She asked to see underneath the poultice. He eagerly lifted it up to show her the disgusting pustule.

She wrinkled her nose and he put the poultice back on. They decided to play doctor, which is a game the adults don’t seem to like and which vaguely seemed wrong to play. But the bedroom door was open and they could hear the adult voices from the living room. She played the doctor first and pushed at his stomach, looking for ailments. He dutifully pulled up his shirt to his shoulders and awaited her analysis.

She pressed the ribs of his chest and he held his breath so she can listen better with her imaginary stethoscope. The boy asked her to check his flippers and extended his hands. Without blinking at the strange request, the dolphin doctor checked his flippers, turning them this way and that to examine them.

She announced finally that he had fishyitis, a common ailment involving bulging eyes, soy sauce breath, and a growling stomach. He agrees and they sit quietly for a while, unsure how to continue. He wants to be the doctor to examine her but can’t move his leg with the poultice.

Mia announced that she has to leave. Her mother was waiting for her and she had just come by to drop off the homework that was due the next day which he had not received. He thanked her and she climbed down just as the two children’s mothers showed up at the door. The boy quickly pulled his shirt down to cover his stomach, hoping nobody had noticed.

The boy’s mother put his homework and a plate and glass of milk on the roll-top desk in the room. His mother took the poultice off and wrapped his knee in an old shirt. She told him to do his homework and that she would be back before dark. She left and he climbed down to do his homework. The sandwich was bologna and mustard on white bread. The sandwich was cut diagonally, which is the best way to cut a sandwich as anyone will attest.

The boy was secretly thankful after the first bite that the sandwich did not contain actual sand. Words had a powerful effect on the boy and he never shook the feeling that a sandwich might shift sand out of the middle when he picked it up.

He did not like milk particularly. After a few sips he made a face with curled lips and pulled open one of the drawers on the top of the desk. He placed the bread parts of the rest of his uneaten sandwich on the bottom of the drawer. He placed leftover bologna along the top of the bread and pressed it down so it was squishy and flat. Then he poured the milk into the drawer and watched as pieces of meat floated to the top. He also squished some of the bread before it started to dissolve on the bottom.

He closed the drawer, took his plate and cup, and closed the roll-cover on the desk with some effort. He turned and went out to the living room to find the house quiet and empty. He went out the front door and sat on the porch, which the locals called a lanai. He played intricate games with two smooth pebbles on the stairs.

His brother came home and it started to rain. The two brothers sat in silence for a long time waiting for the rain to stop. A car drove past the house slowly and then, out of sight, turned and drove back, parking in front of the driveway. A woman got out of the car and it started rolling down the hill. She managed to jump back in and the car stopped with a violent jerk as the woman set the parking brake and the car idled.

The woman came up the stairs and asked for the boys’ mother. They responded she was out and shrugged their shoulders mutely when asked where she was. The woman gave them a small vial with a rubber stopper and told them to hold it for their mother. The woman turned to leave then turned back and admonished them not to eat it.

The boys waited dutifully until the woman and her car left before they quickly ripped the rubber stopper out and poured out the contents into their hands. The small vial was filled with tiny almost perfectly round seeds. The boys put the seeds back one by one. They knew there was something illicit about the seeds as they had seen them before. The plants that grew from these seeds were known by many strange names and even by two letters.

They boy repeated some of the words as they put each seed away: grass, herb, jay, emjay, weed, zigzag, Maryjane, joint, reef, and bud. The boy is a good listener. He speaks these words to teach his brother. His brother is younger and doesn’t speak much, but they know how to communicate to each other and the boy knows that his brother can understand him.

As the last seed was put away, the boy had a sudden inspiration and pours one seed out. He motions his brother over and they poke a hole in the mud near the bottom of the stairs and plant a seed. The boy holds his brothers hands in a prayer position and repeats a string of incantations for his new plant.

The rain stopped a while later and the brothers played in the wet yard for a while. Then they retreated inside the house. A while later they put themselves to bed and slept soundly. 

That boy is a brat.
He’s not a boy. He’s a dolphin.
I don’t like it.
Keep listening.

Chapter 2

In the middle of the dark night the boy woke up as he does occasionally. Dolphins are nocturnal, and so it is not surprising that they boy would wake up late in the night. Strange noises arrive in his ears and the sounds take on shape in his imagination. A dripping sound from an eave sounds like the irregular bouncing of a basketball. The burbling and gurgling of water in the neighbour’s tanks becomes the babble of a stream rolling over rocks.

Another noise that was unidentifiable and terrifying was a waxy grinding sound. The noise came from underneath the boy’s bed, in the lower bunk where his brother lay. The noise started and stopped several times in between his brother’s heavy breathing. A chomping noise followed the grinding and it sounds like wolves chewing flesh. The boy stayed perfectly still and tensed until his whole body shivers and shakes the bunk.

The noises continued from his brother for seemingly hours. Each sound became increasingly horrifying and culminated in a brief string of strange utterances in a deep demonic voice. The boy was terrified and sweat stood out on his forehead. He peered hopelessly into the dark surrounding the bed for a glimpse of the demon below him. His brother turned over in his sleep and the noises stopped.

There was only one logical interpretation of the noises that could be deduced from the noises his brother made. His brother must have been visited by a vampire. The grinding noise was the vampire’s sharp teeth. The chewing sounds were clearly the sound of the vampire biting his brother’s neck. The strange language was the vampire speaking an incantation and then disappearing to fly away as a bat.

The boy knew that the incantation would create magic that would hide the wound on his brother’s neck and that his brother would appear normal the next morning. However, the damage had been done. His brother was surely a vampire. And the vampire was sure to return to attack the fresh meat on the top bunk, namely himself. The boy fell into a troubled sleep and had trouble waking up in the morning.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

They Were Dolphins, Chapter 1 part IV

He gets dressed and opens the stall door. He is surprised by the number of people crowded around and fussing over him. He is surprised to learn that they all know his human name, even though he has no idea who these adults are.

When the unwarranted hubbub dies down and the boy assures them he is fine, he follows the nurse back to the examination room. He is disheartened to see his mother in the office.

He knows that the look on her face is hatred for having been bothered to come to school on his account. He doesn’t know what adults do during the day. He assumed that they go to school like other kids, and he wonders what subject they were studying when her principal sent someone to get her from her classroom.

He quickly calculates how to play up the medical issue with his knee so that he can deflect any punishment that is surely in store for him. He understands the power dynamic well enough that he figures the principal will stay execution of his paddle and turn the matter over to the discretion of his mother. He further anticipates that he can play off her maternal instincts to almost completely avoid any complications.

The boy is released to his mother’s custody, and she tries to take the sting of embarrassment and humiliation for her son’s actions out on him. He plays up his sickness well almost as a professional actor would. He even begins to limp as they walk to the car. They drive home over the bridge, past the dump, up the hill and past the trivium in a short squat brown car named after a horse that was famous for exploding in flames when hit in the rear.

On the way home in the dangerous car that jolted with the poorly operated gearbox grinding the whole way, the boy was mildly castigated for having his head in the clouds and told that he should grow up. Outwardly, he is repentant. Inwardly, he is dubious about the usefulness of the instruction. He is incapable of growing faster, and he does not have his head in the clouds. Otherwise he would be quite tall indeed.

At home he is laid up on the top bed of the bunk he shares with his younger brother. A poultice of chamomile and hemp is applied to his leg and his mother actually looks concerned as he lays on the bed pretending to recuperate. His plans are going almost exactly as conceived.

His mother actually is a student as he had guessed, but not in elementary school like he is. She goes to a university where she is studying to become a doctor. He supposes that she really is a good doctor, because she always seems to know what kinds of teas and leaves were good for this or that ailment. The poultice was the perfect temperature for his skin and really did feel like it was helping his boil. He felt like his fever was subsiding and didn’t feel as restless and wandering.

But if she is a good doctor, he wonders why she cannot tell that she has given birth to a dolphin instead of a boy. His brother is obviously a normal human and not a dolphin, so the boy wonders if perhaps this is just some normal mutation that occurs in humans where a boy dolphin is born in human form before transmuting back to dolphin at some point.

Outside of his bedroom window he can hear the burbling of a series of tanks the neighbour uses to farm fish. He can hear them leap and splash at random intervals. The hum and gurgle of water is continuous, but disappears if one is not listening for it. He wonders if he was actually not born to his mother originally, but perhaps was farmed next door.

The neighbour wouldn’t have wanted a baby dolphin eating his tuna (or whatever kind of fish the neighbour raised), so perhaps (the boy imagined) his mother had reluctantly adopted him and changed him into a boy to fit in better with society. The theory was impeccable and could not be defied with logic.

The boy can hear a group of adults laughing and talking in the living room of the house. They must be fellow students of his mother’s. They often have parties late at night and some mornings on the weekends, the boy has woken up to a pile of sleeping bodies strewn about the house. On these occasions he picks his way carefully among the slumbering giants to go outside to play. A strange mixture of odours fills the house on these mornings, a smell of skunk, fermented malt, and medicine.

Sometimes he finds the vinyl record collection scattered around the house and he holds up the album covers to stare at the covers intently. He sees a drawing of a white triangle with a white line entering on one side and a rainbow of colours emerging on the other. He sees on another cover a picture of a man in a pink jacket looking over his shoulder with ridiculously large aviator sunglasses stepping over the frame of a picture to step on a yellow brick road. Yet another cover is of two men well dressed in business suits shaking hands while the man on the right stands in flames that lick at the very edge of the picture and blacken the frame.

The poultice had grown cold and clammy, with slimy green juice staining his sheets. He called out for his mother to come but got no answer.

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