Fish Prints

fish-print

And what would you have me do with these?

I’m thinking of adding color, he answered, shuffling gently through the rice paper portraits. Like on this one. I’d like some green at bottom like grass, it’s dark green, see? Then lighter green tendrils I guess-going from bottom to top.

Like kelp?

Maybe like that. Willow grass. You know? With the yellow flowers on top where they break the surface.

The younger man shrugged. What is this? The fish?

Carp.

Hmmm…aren’t they sacred in China?

This is Pittsburgh. Here they root in the mud. Then, turning his attention back to the print,  Maybe some gold color smearing down from the top like sunlight?

Why don’t you do it?

My son’s an artist, my father’s an artist. I can’t piss in a line.

You did these, he said waving his hand slowly above the prints like clearing suds from a pan of water.

The fish did all the work. I was a bystander.

What is it you do?

I make money.

A lot?

Plenty. But probably not enough.

Enough for what?

All of it…

Then you must try this yourself.

I’m sure I couldn’t.

Your son then?

Pfffft. He’s not my son anymore…he’s a grown man with his own cares…

Your father?

Long dead.

You should definitely give it a shot then. You seem to know what you want.

I’d like to. I just doubt that I can.

They regarded the prints silently.

I’d like to. I just doubt that I can.

You just said that.

I did?

Yes.

Twice?

Word for word.

Fuck!

He hurriedly gathered the prints and rolled them loosely, sticking them gently under his arm. He turned from the work table and approached the open window that looked onto the alley. The artist said nothing until the man had one foot out the window balanced on the dumpster.

The door, sir.

Pfffttt. He paused and looked back. Since we were talking about pissing…

Ah…yes?

The other night I awoke standing at my closet door. My dick was in my right hand ready to shower my shoes and most likely the bottoms of my hanging clothes when something-a passing car, a cloud skirting the moon-something flickered in the window and woke me. I was in the bedroom around to piss in my closet and not across the hall standing in front of the toilet where I had assumed I was. Huh! What do you make of that?

I’m sure I don’t know sir.

I had to stick my thumb over the hole on the end and scuttle into the bathroom where I thought I’d been all the time. Odd, don’t you think?

Odd, sir. Yes.

Welp, he said. Then just before he shifted all of his weight outside be paused and pulled a thick gold coin from his pocket and placed it on the window sill.

That’s too much sir.

For what…

A conversation…

Pfffttt. Watch where you piss then.

With that, he withdrew the second leg and was gone.

The artist could see no one in the alley. Up or down. The coin was heavy and well used-but lustrous just the same.

 

(The idea of the golden sunlight “smearing” was lifted from Jim Harrison’s “Mother Night”. Probably indirectly enough that no one would have noticed but, well shit…you know?)

 

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