It isn’t fair, Eddie thought. His associates milled nearby. Eddie said, "I don’t see why it has to be like this.”
They huddled together nose to nose, shook and shimmered and seemed to agree.
“I mean -- It doesn’t matter what I do, how hard I try, how many push ups, sit ups, laps -- Whatever -- How do you get rid of this god damn visceral fat?”
“This shit is killing me.” he told them.
They seemed sympathetic. They moved and shined and it was like the water had a bad case of tourettes. One guy peeled off toward the rocks, then moved calmly back. Another one broke the surface. Then everyone formed a huddle and moseyed.
“Hey guys,” he approached the group with casual locker room banter.
"Were all about the same age -- right?” There seemed to be some disagreement.
“Give or take a couple days.” he added and agreement deepened, the current seemed to let up a bit.
“Have you taken a good look at yourselves lately?” he asked them, “That snout you used to be so proud of isn’t so streamline these days, is it? And your skin? What’s with that bright neon red? Has everybody gone punk on me. I mean -- what’s next. Tattoos?”
That last bit must have gotten to them. It’s ironic that the possibility of something unique always appeals to group mentality, It’s like we’re hardwired for advertising. They gathered around him like an audience, so he had to step it up. He appealed to the their sense of nostalgia, their longing, their self image or at least the images they wanted to have of themselves. They were great hunters and the sea was deep and endless, food always there: shimmering curtains of herring, menhaden. Currents that would take them where ever they wanted to go. It was an effortless life.
“Endless bliss, perpetual vacation.” These were the words Eddie used. They seemed to have the right effect for the group had relaxed and the current was now slowly moving them back toward the sea.
“Think about it guys. We could turn around right now, head back out, forget about this thing called love.”
You could see the oxygen build with each frenzied wash of gill, the strong flex of the side body, spring steel coil and flash. There must have been something in the water: some pheromone adrift on the current. A word tattooed to every molecule screamed directly to muscle and they shot like arrows upstream.
Eddie now realized how lonely he had been out there. He could now feel a sun, late and dry searing into his flaking skin
He looked at his buddies basking in that same autumn ray and said, “Damn, this gravel feels good.”
Bob Putnam writes fiction. He is happily married and lives in the woods.