Copyright 1994 – 2020 Vail Joy
4 min read
“That was the day Mr.Tuna got himself covered in jellyfish. More than he knew what to do with. He wore it like a floppy hat and dragged the rest all the way through town. That was the day he became King Tuna.”
“Do crows have such fashion sense?” I asked.
“Well they apparently do,” Sumi explained. “Mr. Tuna made certain it sat like a crown and all the neighborhood cats followed like it was some sort of parade.”
“It was! Mr.Tuna – King Tuna – got to the square and perched himself on the edge of the fountain, whipped out a brush and some parchment and made himself a sign that said ‘Succulent Squid and Remarkable Jellies. 100% Natural.'”
“Do you think he did proper market research before setting prices?”
“Of course. King Tuna has a very keen insight to the human mind. An old lawyer used to feed him bits of liver outside the barber shop, but that was before the poor man was crushed by a Coke machine. King Tuna was special , but unfortunately the other crows ostrasized him quite fiercely.”
“Even with his chic style?”
“Even then. They would be all like ‘King Tuna thinks he is so great but he stinks like fish! Stay away!’That big grey one there, he is the worst. He really hated King Tuna.”
“Poor King Tuna.”
“I know. But see, the old guys down at the square would be like, ‘He’s a sharp businessman. That bird knows how to count and talk!’ So King Tuna was kind of disenfranchised.”
“I’m sure he had friends.”
“Not at all. Not really. Birds don’t actually use Twitter, you know, so it is pretty hard for them to make friends outside of their flock, and King Tuna didn’t have a flock.”
“Do you have any friends Sumi?” I brushed a stray hair from her eyes, those deep pools of endless black that just stared at me, gleaming in their heartbreaking innocence.
“You mean besides you? Biggles is my best friend since I was 2. why would I need more?” The little black and white cat was situated in her lap, bathing itself for the sixth time. The slight whif of tuna was making Sumi’s story palpable. Just then, Art returned with a cup of coffee.
“Sumi is telling me about King Tuna.” I said. “He is the Kingpin Seafood dealer of the Crow Kingdom, but he doesn’t have any friends.”
Art took a seat next to Sumi and widened his eyes. “Is King Tuna that little black bird that sings outside the window?”
“He’s not that little. He’s actually quite big, and he doesn’t sing, he talks. When he listens to music, he prefers stuff without voices. Like Miles Davis.”
“He listens to Miles Davis?” I asked. “Does he have a vinyl collection like Art?”
“Yeah. He found a record player in a dumpster and brought it back home, but that was before the Jellyfish Incident.”
“Who would throw away a record player?”
“Well the dumpster is in the Kero district and they always throw away stuff they don’t want anymore.” Sumi rolled her eyes dramatically. “They’re like,’Ohhh this is sooo last week!’ and then they just throw it out the window.”
“I wish I could throw everything I own away and get something new.” Art said.
“Not me.” I said.
“That’s because everything you have is so cool.” Sumi said.
It was almost 3 in the morning by the time Sumi’s eyes began to flutter and her words began to run together. I pried Biggles from her lap while Art carried her to the couch, then wandered into the kitchen to find a beer. I was peeling back the tab when Art crept in and gave me a squeeze form behind.
“I’m sorry for waking you in the middle of the night and making you come all the way out here,” he said, “but I had no idea what I should do. She just showed up like that with Biggles and an empty backpack.”
I nodded and took a long swig of beer.”It’s not a problem. I even got a crazy photo of this guy on the train on the way over.”
As we entered the studio, a queer sensation ran up the back of my neck. My foot hit something soft and wet just as Art said, “what the fuck?”
From an ink-black stain on Art’s couch led a trail of jellyfish around the table and through the cat-flap in the screen door.
– 2007 –