by Javier delBarco-Trillo
We were ready to dock and in less than half an hour we would be with our families or getting pissed at the Red Fish, but we heard the dreaded splash beyond the starboard side. We saw the pile of clothes by the gunwales, then him in the water, naked, without struggling, maintaining his position, looking at the high sea. We yelled his name, threw a rope at him, but he just bobbed in the water, serene as a gorged seagull glaring at the horizon. He eventually swam to the docks, where someone saw him putting his arms around a tense rope and going to sleep. What could we do? After docking some of us talked to him from afar, tried to convince him to get out of the water, dry up, and have a hearty dinner by a fireplace. He moved away, swimming around and under docked ships, finally grabbing at a small mass of barnacles that sprouted from the hull of a three-masted boat, trying to become one with the surroundings. Lots of small, white medusas seemed to congregate around him, wavering in consonance. We kept trying to reason with him until one by one we lost our patience. We hoped that on the next day he would have come to his senses. We imagined his body melting away, fish pecking at his disintegrating flesh. We never saw him again.
Nothing happened on the next day that deserves to be remembered. But our dreams started to change, the deck was squishy, the sails had strong opinions, and the solid air tasted like beer. We do not complain so much these days. The fish we catch are significantly larger. We still sing about him every time we cut open a fish and throw away the entrails.