Written by F. Ulanoff with photography by M. Ulanoff
Written by F. Ulanoff with photography by M. Ulanoff
He was shaking in his scales as the butcher picked him out of the tank of water where he had resided for the last month.
Previously he lived amongst the other Salmon on the coast, until one day a net swooped down and caught him along with many of his friends.
All that remained of them, after years of living near the bottom of the ocean, was an upsweep of sand that eventually settled into a newborn hill.
Leon always knew there was a chance he might get caught, but on the morning of the first cold day in October it gave him shutter when the net dragged him up to the top of the water then threw him along with his buddies into a big hole of an even bigger ship.
Each fish weighed at least five pounds and the pressure with one of them on top of the other resulted in the demise of some.
Leon felt fortunate to have survived the holocaust and flapped his fins in the glass tank he finally released into.
But soon enough he decided that this was the end for him, because he had heard tell of what happened to most of the Salmon he had arrived with.
He overheard it from the fisherman on the boat he’d been captured, but chose not to believe it until he listened to a conversation, through the glass wall between himself and the butchers in the market.
The word was out that they would be taken away and exploited in the fish market as they froze their fins off waiting to be purchased by one of the big supermarket chains.
From there they would be cut up and sold to the highest bidder.
Yes that wasLeon’s fear and on a cold November morning at the pier it became reality and it was the end for him.
Because, after all, he was really and always would be part of the food chain.
Five Minutes at the Beach
I park my car in the lot, get out and trudge down to the shore on what is referred to as sand.
After taking off my shoes and slinging my pack onto my back the gravel cuts into my flesh. Softness and warmth do not come to mind as I walk as far along the shore as my burned feet will take me.
My brain says, “Enough get your shoes back on and get back to your car.”
I heed its warning and slip my feet back into my shoes and start back up the hill, away from what is called a beach, to the parking lot overlooking it.
My brain speaks to me once again and this time asks me a question, “Does this body of water have a fragrance, or even a smell? Perhaps the pleasant waft of salt water might be sniffed”
Again I try to do what it says and again there is nothing. What’s going on? This is after all a beach. But I guess it is not the ocean I have been used to my whole life.
1311 Causeway Drive
What if you found out that nobody liked you; that all the laughing at your jokes and compliments were bunk.
And if this were true what would you do?
Would you ignore it and go on or write in your journal or just cry yourself to sleep each night. But what if it wasn’t the real you they despised and put up with but a person who looked like you and was you in every reasonable way, except for your most important part, your heart, with a goodness and kindness that emitted but was rebuffed by anyone who did not look deeper into your soul where you were sensitive and thoughtful, but would only see you as a phony and a put on.
What if that was the only way your personality could be and there was no way to change it, until now; right now; this minute and the true meaning of goodness was buried deep within you and no one recognized it, until today, when all hell broke lose in the world and you were its only salvation.
Oliver stood on the top step of the front entrance to his home.
Home to him and fourteen other people who inhabited the small apartment building of which each one of them called home.
But how could everyone’s home be at 1311 Causeway Drive. It was, after all, this was not a group home, even though each apartment was in close enough in proximity to warrant it.
The air at eight in the morning was thick from smog and humidity and the sky was beginning to unfold from blue to a soft grey, then to blackness, almost night.
A crackling sound erupted from what seemed to be beneath Oliver, which made him place his hands over his ears to blot it out.
The clouds were gone and darkness covered the sky.
The other tenants from the building piled out of their only elevator then shuffled down the stairs from their home and stood with Oliver on the steps, then eventually made their way to the sidewalk.
“What’s going on,” Ellie said holding her hands together in prayer. “Sweet Jesus, it’s the end of the world.”
Ellie was a hold over from the sixties, hippie era. She believed that one day the earth would give up and be enveloped in some sort of apocalyptic hiccup and this was it.
“Calm down. Calm down,” said Norton Penzer , a literary professor in his mid-fifties who taught at one of the universities uptown.
Oliver looked down his street only to see phantom groups of people hovering under street lights. Many of them were on their knees praying, while others stood erect with their hands waving in the air shouting “Save us. Oh my God. This is it. It ‘s finally happened.”
I love the medium strength toothbrush I have, it gets to the places that need it.
But my dentist said it is best for my teeth to use the soft one.
Now that I have it and am using it every day, the head is beginning to fall apart. And I know it is only a mater of time before its demise.
What to do?
Well experts, who are really dentists in disguise, say that you’re supposed to change your brush every two weeks. Even if they don’t show any wear. How are we supposed to remember? Are they time sensitive?
I’ll miss my little red brush, with its bearded exterior and balding head.
Yes mine was the dark red one just as my mates is somewhat kind of blue, well at least in that family of colors.
In this way, and I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, there is no way for mistaken toothbrush borrowing.
Once upon a time there was a plant that had enough light to keep himself alive.
With no other nourishment, not even water, through his whole existence, his soil became dry and crackly.
It wasn’t that the plant was not loved, because he was. His owners would come by and from time to time, stroke his stems. He was sure they adored him.
Except for the times they would approach his pot with a shiny object in their hand, and after coming even closer than he’d expect, a pain pierced through his being and liquid dribbled out where a piece of himself used to be.
He did not know what their motive was for these attacks.
Months would go by and he would feel safe, then it would happen again, the shooting pain and the sap sliding down his side. After a while the plant knew his missing parts would never grow back, because each one of them had begun to grow crusty protections, and he was never the same.
Except for the tiny shoots growing from his center core, his body started to shrink and any bright outlook he had began to get smaller along with his size.
He would sometimes, when the sun shined through the sliding glass doors, where he sat on the kitchen table, imagining that he had all his limbs in tact and perhaps life would be as it was.
Weeks passed and the plant still had a lot of his body in tact but since he was not getting any extra nourishment, nor water, he would soon disappear.
He thought, If only they realized I was hurting. He wondered why they had not noticed his slow diminishing into nowhere.
Until one day he heard them talking in the next room early in the morning. They spoke of a great accident on one of their fingers, and if it wasn’t for him their precious Aloe Vera she might have lost her entire appendage.
What does that mean? He tried to hear a little better by leaning to one side, but being careful not to fall over, because of his frail condition.
“We have to take better care of our plant in there, because by cutting little pieces of his being, we saved my finger and healed so many of our other wounds. I’m glad we finally realized what we had,” the woman said.
“He has been looking a little sad. Why don’t we go and buy some plant food, and maybe then he’ll perk up. Or maybe we should water him,” said the man.
“Oh no remember what they said at the plant store, when we bought him. Never water them because they are cactuses. And I know we wouldn’t want to hurt him.”
The plant felt better just knowing that he was special and no one was out to get him. He felt useful and loved.
Uncharacteristic of a dog his age, but this was not a good day for him.
In fact this was the worst day of his sad life.
Can a canine have a sad life?
Just ask Benny. He’ll be glad to invite you into it.
He lives down the street from me and I know how it must be for him. In freezing weather, scalding hot summer days and rainy ones, he barks and cries from his yard all day long. Benny is out there. No wonder his life is in the dumps.
As I pass him tied up with a long rope around his neck, attached to a clothesline pole I stop for a few minutes stand behind the fence, then reach over to rub his head. His howling and barking ceases and I smile and I know he’s smiling too. Each time I feel a connection with Benny. I can tell when his paws are aching, because I feel it in my feet.
I also know when he’s thirsty, because my mouth gets dry. On these occasions I’ll pour some water from the small bottle I carry with me into my hand and watch the pleasure he gets from lapping it up.
You probably wonder how I know his name is Benny. Well I could say I heard his owner call out to him, or I can confess the truth. Without words, he told me.
He also told me of having never been inside the walls of his owner’s home for more than ten minutes at a time. My heart hurt for him.
Benny is a beautiful blackLabradorwho doesn’t look more than a year old.
What could have caused this abuse I wondered, sitting in my back yard? Then I sensed his presence again, and it asked for my help, because he was now inside of his house for a few minutes and did not want to go back out. I could hear the sound of strap come down on Benny’s back and eventually a door open and close.
After what I’d just experienced I was compelled to run down to the little brown house, with its giant yard, where Benny lived and kick some butt. At least that’s what I intended to do, until I heard from him again. No please don’t come over. I know what you’re thinking and I must tell you not to come. It isn’t safe. He has a riffle and he’s mad at me.
I tried to heed his warning but my emotions ran deep for Benny. I loved him and needed to save him, no matter what the risk.
In two minutes I had on my sneakers laced and a grabbed a baseball bat for protection, then raced down the street and up the honeysuckled pathway where he lived.
Noticing that Benny was still safe on his leash in back I felt, that in some way I’d be able to help him. If I could just warn his owner that if I ever saw him mistreating his dog again I will call the police, because after all it was a crime to abuse an animal. I’d almost forgotten that Benny was more than that to me.
Then a feeling overpowered me before I reached for the door bell. I see you. Come get me. Untie me. I was compelled to sneak around to the back yard and crawl over the fence to where he was tied up. Right here, I’m here, do you see me?
“Yes my friend. I’ll be right there.
I noticed that he was starting to bark while edging his way closer to the fence. This time I had to verbally warn him of my hopeful rescue. “This way boy, I’ll get you out of here.” After he heard my voice he quieted down and wagged his tail. I carefully followed the long rope to the pole where I untied it. Now let’s get you out of hear.
No please Dolin he’s coming. Save yourself.
I turned my head around and noticed the man with the rifle running around from the front of the door to the back yard, when I scooped up Benny in my arms and found a gate in the back leading to the ally. I unlatched it and ran. I could hear the shouting from the man behind us, and also heard someone else, running behind him; which both Benny and I hoped would be the law.
I took refuge for us on the side of a dumpster and eventually made my way back to my own yard gate .Out of breath I released the latch and set Benny down into my own yard and eventually into my home where he lived with me for as long as I can remember.
And as far as know there was never any notice of a missing dog anywhere; and as far as Benny and I commutating as before. It never happened again. Our connection was that of love for one being towards another and that was enough for us.
Sheldon and Ida decided to leave the Hope Lodge.
Ida held Sheldon’s jacket then slipped into her own coat.
With a quick glance in the mirror she placed her purple cap on her salt and pepper hair, then propped Sheldon’s white one on his.
After unlocking many dead bolts out Ida turned her body back to the door and re-locked one.
Then they slowly descended the wide marble stairs to the lobby and arm into arm they walked down thirty second street towards Broadway.
A crowd pushed past them forcing them to move a little faster across the busy street, until they reached a curb, where Ida helped Sheldon up onto it.
After which, she stopped them in their tracks and ruffled through her bag for some cash, then turned to Sheldon and said, “Maybe we should go to the Roxy Deli and sneak a quick knish. What do you think?’
Sheldon turned back and said, “If it’s okay with you, it’s okay with me.”
Again they locked arms and proceeded ahead.
See more flash fiction by Fay Ulanoff here.