My wife brought me some goldfish. Two goldfish. Apparently they might help me relax. I don’t know. I sit by the window in my chair, drinking, smoking and watching those little gold cunts floating around oblivious in their shitty little tank. I watch them. Bulging eyes. Stupid faces. Little fins flapping around like drowning birds. Tails flicking back and forth. Bubbles popping out from their little mouths. But mostly I stare at their stupid, bulging, gold faces. I think if I saw a man with a stupid looking face like theirs, I would attack him. Maybe even kill him.
I don’t feel relaxed at all.
I finish my cigarette and stub it out in the ashtray with the others, swallow the rest of my drink and then I stand up, pick up that shitty little tank, go into the bathroom and pour the contents of the tank down the toilet. The goldfish plop into the water like two little golden turds.
They swim around frantically for a small part of time. We look at each other; say our good byes and I pull the chain.
It takes me two more flushes to get rid of them. The two golden shits fighting for life. I almost respect them for not just following the flow of water like everything else in my life. Sometimes I feel like I’d like to flush my whole life down the toilet but there isn’t a toilet large enough. Besides, I’m not sure if I already flushed it away years ago.
I start to feel a little guilty about the fish so I go downtown. I go downtown everyday to fake looking for a job. Faking it makes me feel a little better for a little while and it stops my wife worrying so much. She worries a lot. Too much, maybe.
I sit on the same bench outside a Baptist church that has seen better days and has worse to come; I drink from a couple of cans, smoke my cigarettes and just sit. I try to relax, but I can’t. I feel itchy.
I watch an artist painting a seaside scene on a canvas propped up on a plastic easel. He paints blue water with a boat frozen in the middle of a sea stupidly. I don’t know why he is painting that. There’s not an ocean in miles and we’re out in the middle of buttfuck nowhere.
A beautiful looking young woman wanders over to watch the artist at work. When he see’s her he starts to get all excited, making squealing noises that sound like a pig being butchered into bacon and slashing the canvas with his brush like a madman. It makes me feel uneasy and uncomfortable. The woman looks over at me embarrassed and laughs a little. I raise my eyebrows and shrug, hey, what do you want me to do about it? She walks off shaking her tight plum ass from side to side. I think about going on after her, but I don’t. I just finish my drink and step on my cigarette and stroll casually over to the artist. He gazes up at me and smiles with teeth that look expensive.
“Your boat looks like shit”, I critique and stroll off. I don’t look back. I know he will have his big, fat, black hole of a mouth gaping open like an ugly flesh wound, eyes squinting like little broken marbles and eyebrows united as one. Fucking inbred hick. Fuck you.
I stand waiting for the bus. I am cold and hungry, with only the bus fare in my pocket and a dream inside my head. The dream, my only dream is not to have a nightmare. A van swerves onto the sidewalk to park and
smashes into a bald man on a bike, the cyclist crashes and burns over the bonnet like a scarecrow and lays to rest on the wet, cold concrete, I look away and continue to wait for the bus, thinking that the bald guy probably should have been wearing a helmet. Is this what it all came down to? The choice between wearing a piece of reinforced plastic on your head or not?
Every night I have a dream which normally goes along like this, I am a passenger in a car. Maybe it’s a wine red 1940’s Cadillac. I am in the back seat. I do not know the driver because they have no face to know. A face of nothingness. Like new paper. The car smells wet like a winter morning. And I am being driving along an infinite street.
Every so often I see someone walking on the horizon. As we get closer, I see them clearly and I recognize them. I know them. I used to know them. As we pass the Caddie slows down and I look out the window at them and they look at me. It’s a mournful kind of recollection. We don’t smile. We don’t wave. We look at
each other like goldfish. The car speeds up again and I lose sight of them over the horizon. This sequence continues and repeats. Everyone I have ever known. It’s a pretty fucking crazy dream. Is life just a long staring contest?
When I awake it’s always at the same time. 4:55. I sit up and look down at Karen sleeping. Sometimes her pale face looks like those old Victorian photographs of dead people posed to look like they’re just sleeping. It’s at those times that I think I might love her most. I don’t know why.
Karen says she loves me and that we will be together always. All that kind of bullshit. But I know she will leave me soon. She hides all the drink in our home. I hide it, too. It’s another game we play.
I finally arrive home. I open the door and enter the warmth, escaping the bitter laughter of an early Winter outside.
“Baby, I’m home!” I shout into the kitchen.
I shake off my boots and jacket, Karen is in the kitchen making my dinner, it smells simple and it smells good. She comes into the hall and smiles at me, wiping her hands on a dish towel. I walk up to her and put my arms around her waist and kiss the side of her soft neck.
“Did you find anything today?” she asks.
“Yeah, I got a great introduction to a small construction company that specializes in refurbishing old warehouses into apartments,” I lie.
“That’s amazing, Darling. I’m so proud of you. By the way, where did the lovely little goldfish go to?”
“Oh, I gave them to the kids across the street…”
BIO: Stephen J. Golds was born in London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. Glamour Girl Gone his debut novel will be released by Close to The Bone Press January 29th, 2021.