Trudy Cooks Fish
The fish seemed fresh that night, as if they’d been
caught off the coast near Zanzibar, but no; they were
bio-engineered by a farm in the southern Scottish
isles, one of those where they make malt whiskey and
the titans of the sky descend nightly to anoint the
grass in their sanctified oils.
You fried them in pats of butter, olive oil and dill, and
served them whole on a bed of Creole rice. You wore
a wreath of banana leaves in your hair and served us
seared plantains as dessert.
Trudy said, “All that coal dust must have gone to
your head.” And you said, “It’s all in the fingers, my
The world awakened for me that night, and it wasn’t
just the flavors of the ancient ocean, it was the stalk
of seagrass you’d added to the broth, it was the lone
rat who brushed my ankles as we ate.
“Here’s to the fish,” I said, raising my glass.
Emil Schaumgarden was the General Manager of the
factory. He wore silver epaulets on the collar of his
dark jacket. “The General”, as he called himself had a
habit of standing facing the sun when he spoke. To us
it was like six cat eyes staring at you. And he had the
delivery of a five-star general. He also carried a silver-
tipped black baton which he waved about as he
addressed the crowd. “Free the proletariat!” he
shouted that day. “Most of the bourgeoisie are fancy-
fingered pickpockets. Who of us doesn’t need a
manicure?” And the crowd applauded emphatically.
One woman was brought to tears. “As a testament to
the diligent workers in our factory, I award you all
today one hundred shares in the company.” The
crowd bawled. Someone brought over a bouquet of
flowers and handed it to the General. It was a young
woman dressed in the traditional garb and with a
garland of plastic wildflowers in her hair. We all lined
up and he handed us each a slip of paper—it was like
graduating from school all over, only here everyone
was an honor student.
But in the yard, a helicopter descended and the
General was scooped up and ushered away.
Meanwhile, we stood there, our shares flapping in the
breeze, staring into the center of the sun.