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Friday, April 30, 2010

Page 13--Hardfellas, Cont'd--Ryan Mattern


Sally went to Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific the way she goes anywhere where pants are required——with enormous sunglasses on. The kind that say, maybe I’m famous, maybe I’m not, but either way you want to see what’s underneath. They kept her wrinkles away from the soccer moms who would judge her. They also hid her face from the dirty aquarium janitors who can’t afford to buy her films, so they end up beating off to her thirty-second trailers online. Its sad really, the previews I mean. Eight seconds of her going down on another girl. Star wipe. Twelve seconds of strap-on action. Star wipe. Three seconds of her topless, telling the audience that she loves them. Star wipe. Then seven seconds of product information and legal nonsense.

She walked past the “Beasts of Baja” tank, a huge gray and open-mouthed bass hulking along the top and into the tangles of seaweed. She lingered around the river otters’ exhibit, one of them floating on its back with a large clam on its chest, then disappearing into a rocky nook on the far left of its habitat.

No longer mesmerized by the cuteness of the otters, she remembered why she had come here. Walking through hallway after blue, glowing hallway she found someone who would do. He stood in the center of “Shark Lagoon”. The tank took up both sides and was connected by a glass awning so that the sharks can swim over you. His head was cocked up and rocking from side to side as he followed each predator along its path. His face hadn’t been shaved in some days, and the prickly hairs on his neck and chin were blooming like a garden of bad times. She walked over to him, stopping beside him, feigning interest by looking up too.

“See that right there?” he asked her, pointing up to an octopus inching itself across the glass of the awning.


“That’s a giant octopus. Its not even supposed to be in this tank.”

“Why’s that?” she asked.

“Well, I’m sure the sharks wouldn’t mind a little octopus instead of their usual fish heads and guts for lunch.” He was still looking up watching the thing shimmy across the glass, but she had her eyes cast down to the crotch of his jeans to make sure this was worth her while. “You know I read somewhere that these things are so smart that they almost always figure out a way to get out of their tanks.”

“You don’t say,” she played along, wishing his giant octopus arm would come out of its tank. “My name’s Jane,” she tried to tell him, but before she could fake another word, he gasped.

She looked up to see the giant octopus tangled around a shark bigger than her. The water fizzed and bubbled violently while the two swirled in quick, tight circles, the octopus with its eight arms wrapped around the shark like thread around a finger. The two spinning like a rubbery blue hurricane. But, almost as fast as it started, it was over. The octopus inked and darted away, and the shark, broken and mauled into a dozen shark pieces, tumbled in ribbons down to the sand of the bottom. All the commotion had sent a shock between Sally’s legs, and before she knew it, she was bent over in a supply closet next to buckets, squeegees, and scuba gear, feeling octopus man’s prick shove deep inside of her. They rocked fast and dirty just like she wanted. Like waves breaking onto toxic waste runoff from San Onofre’s power plant. Like plastic choking sea turtles. Nets drowning dolphins. Seagulls eating cigarette butts. His nails scraped across her back like a harpooned whale being dragged along the deck of a ship. Oh and when they came! They came like an oil spill ruining thousands of miles of sea. Maiming every innocent life in all the ocean’s deep.


Sally had exited the freeway to go home. The intolerant Christians were still out on every corner with their signs, pleading for the citizens of Diamond Bar to vote Yes on prop 8——making same sex marriage illegal. Their signs gave Sally a headache. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. KFI kept broadcasting more bad news. American soldiers are being beheaded. Bush has no intention of withdrawing troops. Banks everywhere are turning people away. Wall Street collapsing. Auto makers laying off 500,000 employees. Bailouts. Budget cuts. McDonaldization. AIPAC. Blood for Oil. Apartheid. Disney. Death row. Global warming...

“Call from: Nick,” a robotic voice interrupted through her Deville’s speakers——a hands free setup courtesy of Cock-N-Roll Productions. She dreaded hearing his thick voice muffled by a cheeseburger. He always ate on the phone. She was pulling into her driveway, and all she wanted to do was lay in the bathtub and rest up for tomorrow’s shoot.

“Yes, Nicky?” she answered.

There was an eternity of silence, just her tires against the road. Then a sigh.

“Nick are you there?” Sally asked.

“Well you really fucked us this time, Sal,” he said calm yet infuriated.

“What do you mean?”

“You failed your ELISA test, ya stupid bitch! You’re HIV positive! P-O-S-I-T-V-E!” All was quiet. “Do ya know what this means, Sal? It means no one’ll touch ya. It means you’re done in the business and I’m responsible for not keepin’ an eye on you. Who knows how many people you could’ve ruined!”

Sally couldn’t speak.

“Ya contract is over. So much for ya big come back! Un-fuckin-believable,” and the line went dead. Sally, now parked in her driveway, laid her head on the steering wheel, the Deville’s engine running and the satellite radio whispering Pink Floyd’s Obscured by Clouds.

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