Wednesday, January 22, 2014


"Your lips are as red and juicy as this limp fish," I said.

"Really?" Janice stared at me down the bridge of her nose but above her tortoiseshell glasses.

"Gorgeous." Holding the headless, gutted fish close to my face so the brown wax paper that held it brushed against my cheek, I puckered my lips and moved them rapidly.

"Cut it out Benjamin." She tried to suppress a giggle but failed. Her hair was the color of creamed coffee and bounced on her shoulders as she laughed.

"My darling," I said as I held the fish out to her. Between my squeezed-together lips, the words sounded vaguely tinged with a bad French accent.

"Get it done with already," she blurted between laughs.

I handed the unwrapped carcass back to the woman with purple hair behind the glass counter. Her ivory name tag said "Vanessa" in blocky crimson letters the same-color as the snaking veins in her bloodshot eyes. I guessed she was more tired than annoyed with my antics.

"Will that be all," Vanessa sighed out, more a statement than a question. Her hair was dyed a light purple the color of children's cough medicine. The too-cold, recirculated air in the market tasted faintly of the thin, sticky syrup my parents would give me with the slightest sign of almost any illness.

"Sure thing," I said.

Vanessa weighed the fish, wrapped it with more of the brown wax paper, and stuck it with a price tag from a little machine that spat sticker price-tags. She handed me the completed package. I nodded to her and turned my head to Janice.

"I believe this is yours?" I handed the wrapped fish to Janice, who used it to smack the back of my head before dropping it into the blue carrying bin that sat by her feet.

"Now that you're done, let's get some beer and get out of here," she said.

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