Story Go Round 12/09/2006, round 2, #2

Just For The Halibut

(pre-titled by John)

It was a slowday at the docks, and I had been hoping to get some over-time in for the holidays, so I let a fork-load of filets 'slip' off and then ran over them accidentally. The seagulls went into ecstatic loops of flight. If there were a seagull god (and who says there isn't) I would be it. Which was nice, metaphysically, along with my growing paycheck. I wanted a boat.

Twelve years is long enough that I don't even notice the smell anymore. The salt in the air is a comfort, and the sharp, biting chill is a familiar friend. The cellophane-wrapped packages at the center of the frozen fish was a new and unfamiliar sight, however.

"What's this?" my supervisor asked, coming up behind me.

"Not sure." I picked up one of the packages and peered at it. It sort of looked like drugs, or maybe it was just a new freshening agent included in this shipment. "Shall we open one up?"

Consulting her charts, my new supervisor compared serial numbers and flipped pages, frowning all the while, until she found what she was looking for. "The moon is coming into Virgo at the sixth horizon," she informed me. "And the new fish fresheners weren't slated to be beta tested until March. And that's out of Kirkutz station. These are from Orkutzk. And that's not a typo."

Sheila could be woo-woo, but she knew her geography.

I thought about my boat. I wondered which had a bigger value on the black market. Coke or Anthrax? And if I could even enjoy a boat with a life shortened by involvement with crime. The seagulls screeched like the voices of fate.

"You're my supervisor," I croaked to Sheila. "You touch it."

Before Sheila could reach the packages, the seagulls began pulling at them. They pinched their beaks and tugged further down the dock. One package was picked up and the bird barely managed to achieve flight before dropping it over the fence to the U.S. Coast Guard compound. It landed with a soft thud. Sheila ran at the gulls, shouting and waving her arms, but they tried to make off with the packages, which soon were all over the place.

I wasn't sure if I should join in or let them 'remove' the problem - either way I was still getting my over-time. But at the last minute I pocketed one of the packages, and took it home late that night, just for the hell of it.

I sold it on the black market known as ebay, and got enough at least for a down payment on the boat.