Bewildering Stories

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The Waterpipe

by Deborah Cimo

Come here where I can see you, Darlin’ —
in the shade, right here, by me, see?
Come outta the light ’fore it melts down
your irises — not those flowers
everyone is so attached to, shellacked to,
but you got those eyes of some inner serenity,
those eyes that shine like baby jewels in the sun.
Lemme see those glittering relics.

I know I'm no Byron.
You gots to start somewhere though.
Even babes need to crawl before they can...

What’s that?
Hold that thought.

I heard something wrangle down the waterpipe.
Sounded like a swushing seal or something.

Last year an eel squeezed through the tube —
sparks flying like a frantic welder.
Had to wait till the damn thing starved to death ’fore any of us
would poke it with a stick and untangle it from that net
some idiot hung at the end of the tube.

(Some say it was Chip’s father, ol’ dead Skip
who put that net there. To catch his supper, they said.
Ol’ Scavenger Skip. Never failed, night after
night he’d take some poor dead thing home to supper.
“Here, wifey, try’n make somethin’ outta that!”

Chip’ll be sittin’ out there most days now, ever since
his dear ol’ dad kicked. An’ if y’know what’s
good for you, y’don’t mess with Chip.)

Seals, eels, turtles, you name it, try to swim
through that beefy pipe.
No matter it’s fat — a pipe’s a pipe.
More things’ve died that way. Haw!
Act’vists’d have a heyday here.

One time, though, a croc writhed his way down-tube.
That was a no-brainer.
Chip’d gone and shot the thing b’fore you could swig
your next swallow — beer spurtin’ outta your nostrils
at that shot — chunks a’ croc-skin flying through the wind
no bigger’n my fist.

Good for nothin’ those chunks.
Perfect waste of a good croc–sizey sucker, too.
Coulda brought in a bathtub o’ change, that’un.

Nossir. No messin’ with Chip.

What with whatever it is choking up the pipe now,
it’ll need an ambassador if Chip’s around.
Don’t want seal-skin shavings muckin’ up my beer.
So, I guess’s up t’me.

Ever seen a slap-happy, throaty-calling, gal-wooin’
beer-chugger strike a deal, ransom a seal?
Keep watching, Darlin’, you’re about to see one.

Copyright © 2005 by Deborah Cimo

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