The Cardboard Sea

I went to see Iris. She was chopping cardboard fish. The cardboard was stolen. It was clear as broad daylight.

"What do you want?" Iris shouted, watching me above her glasses.

"I am here."

"I can see that. If you got no money, you brought your ass in here for nothing!"

Poor Iris! She's a hell of a businesswoman. She got that sea of hers from an office worker in a high position as a reward for a sinful night. I handed a bundle of money to her. She counted it two or three times. She checked every banknote in the lamp's light. For fear that I might cheat her. She mumbled and then she said:

"Did you steal it?"

Imagine that it even crossed her mind! By all means! I really worked hard for it in the harbor. I carried lots of sacks of coffee. I broke my back. I got kicked in the ass by all my supervisors. I had been moving too slowly. But what did they want, after all? For me to draw my last breath? A guy who was dirty from painting, covered from head to foot, rushed up to us. He shouted at Iris: "Listen to me, lady! If you don't pay me extra for this gas, then I'm out of here."

"I already gave you the money," Iris said calmly. She beckoned us to follow her.
The guy wanted to tell me something, but I pretended not to hear him. It wasn't any of my business.

We walked across a hall where they were building a tinfoil whale on the scaffolding.

"You were supposed to finish it two days ago," Iris said.

"These gases! I've got a headache. I've got a lump in my throat. I want something more!" the guy yelled, kicking one of the empty boxes angrily.

"You'll get it, don't worry," Iris said. "Come on!" she told me.

I followed her. We entered a huge room. You couldn't even see its bottom. A few paper seagulls were flying above us.

"Are you going fishing or do you just want to have a bath?"

I didn't quite know. I shrugged my shoulders.

"If you want to hunt you need a diver. And that will cost you!"

"I don't know."

"If you haven't decided yet, look, there's a boat. You may paddle until you fall flat. I don't care. Mind the whirlpools! Others have been in trouble, too!"

Did she mock at me? Oh, if I only could go to the real sea. Yeah! An oil whirlpool or a methane gas bubble would have sucked me in, but in here? There's nothing but a cardboard sea.

"Can you see the lighthouse over there? You get oriented by its light. I'm not joking!" Iris warned me.

"I heard they were going to clean the real sea," I said wickedly.

"You're a fool! They won't manage that, not in a thousand years. And you know what? Until then, I will get rich off this cardboard sea, and I will be able to buy the real one!"

The wind blew me inside the boat. Damn it! I paddled for a while without looking to the shore. A mermaid appeared in front of me, trying to lure me to the bottom of sea. She was a cardboard mermaid, painted in pale hues of red, yellow, and blue.

About This Story

  • Author: Ovidiu Bufnila
  • Published Online: Jan 13, 2012