The Intentional Ducati
# 1, July 21 2005
by Stevan Allred
2. The Jesus Truck
by Bruce Barrow
3. Reasons Why
by Claudia Baskind
4. Boris, Bourbon, and Kate
by Kitty Evers
5. Spirits Benevolent & Otherwise
by Joanna Rose
6. Where the Spotted Dog Used To Sit
by Jackie Shannon-Hollis
8. Morning Commute
by Julia Stoops
9. The Entire Screaming World
by Steven Paul Taylor
by Yuvi Zalkow
11. THE RULES
He said, “I’ve got a gift for you,” he was all smiles and he squeezed the little plastic fish in his fist, it wasn’t any bigger than a quarter. She loved fish, fish of any kind, and whenever he took a trip, he bought her a fish, never a real one, just these little souvenirs, how easy they were to find, these silly trinket stores in every city, full of useless items, but at least they had fish, and he got to liking these little things, stone or ceramic or metal, he even found one that was clear glass with the bluest blue dots inside for the eyes.
He didn’t know what it was about fish but he knew it meant something to her, and he loved her and he wanted to make her happy and so, squeezing that fish in his hand as he stood there at her front door was something he loved to do each time he came back from his business trips.
He held out both fists and said, “pick a hand, any hand.”
“Oh,” she said, “for me?” She had her hand on her chest, in excitement, he figured. It was a fool-proof present. How effortless it was to show his love for her, after more than a decade of relationships that were so full of effort which amounted to worse than nothing, he never would have guessed that the best one could be the easiest one.
She gently touched his right hand, they both knew he always held gifts in that hand, and he opened his hand and there was a small rainbow trout in his palm, with a smile on its little fishy lips.
She picked it up and looked at it with one eye. “It’s beautiful,” she said and she squeezed it in her own fist, and she stood on her tiptoes to kiss him on the cheek, his cheek was always flushed and hot when he got excited about giving her a gift. Then she walked over to her bookshelf to put it with the rest of the fish.
“I thought,” he said, “it would go nicely next to that brown trout I got you last month.”
“Yeah,” she said with excitement, “that’s exactly what I was thinking,” but that wasn’t what she was thinking.
It started innocently enough. He saw those eleven green ceramic fish on her bedroom wall, and he asked, “so what’s the deal with these fish?” and she knew she couldn’t possibly tell the whole story, so she said, “oh, those, it’s just that I love fish.” It wasn’t a lie, it was perfectly true.
No need to tell this cute man who was falling in love with her the whole story, she wanted things to work out with him, he was the most decent man in a long time, and she couldn’t possibly say, “I once had a lover, he was a fisherman and he traveled around the world fishing the famous rivers, and when he was in town, he took me out to the local rivers where he fished, and I would watch, and once we fucked in the upper Chattahoochee river in the same deep eddie where he hooked a trout with a prince nymph fly, and watching him hook the fish was almost as exciting as fucking him afterwards, and from then on, my fisherman sent me a ceramic fish every month no matter where in the world he was, and I loved those fish like I loved that man, even if he spent most of his time far away, but after eleven months, I got the letter where he told me he found another woman and he was never coming back to this country and he was not sending me any more fish, and now many years have passed, my fisherman is long gone, and until you started giving me these fish, my fisherman was far like the Tongariro river in New Zealand is far, he was in my past and I wanted to keep him there, but you keep giving me these fish, like you want this churning to happen to my insides, and because of you, my fisherman is coming back to me, in my dreams, in my longing, in my bones, and it’s all I can do not to say his name as I whisper sweet words in your ear, and with each fish you give me, you bring me closer to that river that is so god damn far from right here.”
When she put the fish on the bookshelf, he had already walked towards her, he hugged her from behind, and his lips were pressed against that spot behind her ear.
“How was your trip?” she managed to say. His hands moved around her hips and her belly and her chest and she tried to think about this man right next to her and not about her fisherman that might as well have been rotting at the bottom of a river.
“Oh,” he said, “it was the same old shit, we struck some deals, we sold some purification systems, you know the routine.”
His words were soft and so close to her ear, she loved his voice, and tried to float on just his voice alone, this voice which was different than the fisherman’s voice and perhaps it was something she could use to make the past stay in the past, to ground her to this man who sold big water purification systems to big chemical companies, this man who probably didn’t know how to read water for signs of life but could measure contaminants in parts per billion.
“I don’t exactly know your routine,” she said, and she moved his hands under her shirt so that they were pressed firmly on her breasts. “Tell me what you do on these trips.”
“Maybe another time,” he said. “Now let’s forget all that shit and get under your sheets and worry about what’s happening tonight,” and he tugged on her nipples.
She closed her eyes, she took a deep breath, and she said, “I’d like that.”