CALIXIAN // Fishing for the Truth

“Look at this bloody thing…”

Calix didn’t look.

“Amazing. The way it uses its foot to get the garbage into its trunk, then from its trunk into the bin…”

“Darwin, I get it. You’re quite able to find one million and one reasons for procrastinating. I’ve asked you to take out the garbage at least…” she counted in her head “…four times in the last hour. It stinks like hell in here! Or are you too busy watching ‘Taking Out Trash for Dummies’ to notice?”

“What can I say?” shrugged Darwin. “Instagram’s so damned addictive. And this elephant video…”

He held up his smartphone for Calix to see. She, of course, made no attempt to engage. Maybe she could get him to drop dead of boredom. That way, he’d finally leave her alone.

“Seriously, it’s funny!” Darwin was trying to wave it beneath her nose now. “Don’t you like funny?”

Calix stuck her nose further into the laptop and kept typing. Nope. There would be no stupid comedy animal videos for her. No way! She had better things to do than watch dumb animals be stripped of their dignity for human amusement.

Her lack of response only put Darwin in a foul mood. He was like a petulant little child, swivelling on his chair and pouting. Then he stopped, and continued to fuss a finger about his phone’s tiny screen. “Fine. See if I care,” he muttered to himself.

Calix sighed inwardly. After an evening of this infantile behaviour, was he now going to leave her be?

Then suddenly: “Calix! I just remembered!” Darwin jumped out of his chair.

Calix nearly wiped the laptop clear off her desk in surprise. And the ballpoint pen. Panting, she turned to Darwin, her look promising nothing but retribution. “What the fuck, Darwin…”

“The goldfish! I found it in the toilet bowl yesterday.” He flapped his arms a little, as if this would aid in her comprehension. It didn’t.

“You… What?!”

“In the en suite. My toilet bowl. It was having a good old paddle. Happy as Larry!”

“Who’s Larry?”

“Dammit, Calix. It’s an expression. Do you have to take everything I say literally?!”

“On the contrary, I feel a powerful impulse to not listen to anything you say at all.”

Silence. It was the only decent response. Anything else would have been a waste of words. No matter what Darwin said, Calix would have a counter. So, no words. He’d clamp his mouth shut, flick through his Instagram and ignore the hell out of her.

Calix, for her part, didn’t give a damn. It was all the same whether her friend spoke or stayed quiet. Sure, she betrayed the faintest hint of a smile but that was only because she loved to annoy him. The rest of her face was kept scrupulously impassive as she positioned the laptop back into its correct place and resumed typing.

“Anyway, it’s a free country,” Calix said evenly. “Everyone can be wherever they want whenever they want. I don’t tell the whole world about your visits to the restroom and that sometimes you spend hours in there. It’s your legal right. What I don’t understand is why you don’t think the fish should have this same right?”

Darwin couldn’t help but bite. “I didn’t say it couldn’t! What I’m saying is how the hell did it get there?”

“Are you sure it was a fish? Or maybe you didn’t flush well enough and it wasn’t exactly a… you know… fish?”

“I do not shit orange turds, okay?! Jesus!”

Surprisingly, Calix started to look interested by this point. She shut her laptop and turned to give Darwin her complete attention. It was as if her inner Sherlock had suddenly activated. Yup, she was ready to pick up the trail of the murderer.

“Okay, let’s start again. What did you do in the toilet?”

“I didn’t do anything!” protested Darwin. “Well… I was going to. A number one to be precise.”

Calix nodded, and marked something in her notebook. Darwin blinked in confusion. Where the hell had she suddenly whipped that from? And was that his pen she was using? His favourite pen! Why wasn’t she using her own pen?

“Could you give me more details?”

“Hey! That’s mine!” He indicated his pen. “Get your own! The one you were chewing on!”

“Please. Don’t try to confuse the investigation.” Calix kept writing in the notebook. “Now, tell me, what did you do in the toilet on the 11th of September between 6:30am and 7:15am?”

“I said I didn’t do anything!” Darwin was flapping his arms again. (Perhaps for emphasis?) “I was going to take a piss but then I saw the goldfish in the toilet bowl and decided against it. Look, how many times do I have to say this?”

“Are you sure you’re not hiding some important details?” Calix squinted at him with suspicious eyes. “I’m certain I heard sounds at the time that testify you were not using your nether or nozzle exit. And leave the pen alone, scrooge!”

She snatched the pen away from Darwin’s grasping hands, and shot him a frosty look.

“Okay, so I chundered a little bit,” he sighed, dropping his arms to his sides. “Are you saying that’s a crime? It didn’t hurt the goldfish any!”

“And why do you think the goldfish appeared in the bowl before you started to barf, and not after? Hmmm?”

“What?” Darwin spluttered. “I don’t know! How about you tell me? You seem to know more than you’re letting on.”

Calix guffawed like a horse. “Because I saw how you were drinking water from the aquarium the day before, you idiot! You were as drunk as a fish!”

“I… what?! No! I think I’d remember doing something like that…”

“I tried to talk to you, but got only mooing and bleating. It made no sense to try and persuade you that an aquarium wasn’t the best way to tame your thirst! So, I left you alone.”

Darwin was shaking his head in an emphatic ‘no’. He wasn’t speaking now, just forming words with his mouth and making no sound. Much like a goldfish.

“By the way, you can find a video of this on Instagram.” Calix poked her phone under Darwin’s nose. “You want to like or comment?”

Darwin’s mouth was now a flat, tense line.

“Seriously, it’s funny!” She gave the phone a mocking little wiggle. “Don’t you like funny?”

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

DARWINIAN // Fish ‘n’ Chips

“So, she’s telling her friend that her vagina’s beginning to smell like potato chips.”

Calix looked at him with a straight face. “Which brand?”

“What do you mean, which brand?” Darwin gave a rueful shake of his head. “Does that even make a difference to genital fragrance?”

“Of course! Every detail matters.”

“Well, they didn’t cover that, strangely enough.” He rolled his eyes. “If anything, I was more concerned with the fact that two women were openly discussing chips and vaginas on public transport!”

“I’m more concerned that you care about the bullshit people discuss on public transport.”

Darwin bristled at this. Calix had a special knack for turning his statements back on him, and he hated it. He made a point of sniffing haughtily but she took no notice. She was being all nonchalant instead, sitting there writing the next article for ‘Hooves, Horns & Rhododendrons Monthly Digest’ like she didn’t have a care in the world.

“Well, it was hard not to listen!” he muttered defensively. “They were talking loud enough.”

“Darwin, you’re lucky enough to be deaf! You get to choose if you listen or not.”

Calix’s nose was wedged firmly in her laptop. He watched her absentmindedly nibbling on a ballpoint pen, intermittently jabbing at the keyboard. How on earth had they even become friends? They disagreed on everything! And yet Darwin couldn’t imagine life without her. God, he hated that.

“I’m too dependent. That’s my problem.”

Calix looked up from the laptop and fixed her eyes on his.

“Shit. I said that out loud, didn’t I?” His cheeks flushed with embarrassment.

“On what?” Now Calix seemed almost interested. “What are you dependent on?”

“Erm, nothing. I’m just rambling again.”

Darwin backed away and turned to leave the room. It was time to make himself scarce before the conversation got too awkward. But Calix wasn’t having a bar of it.

“No, hang on! Where are you going? Don’t you want to talk about vaginas and chips any more?”

Darwin slumped his shoulders. Yup, that had stopped him in his tracks. She always had to have the upper hand, the final say in everything. He hated that so much. In fact, this friendship had too much hate going on. Was that normal? Perhaps ‘hate’ was too strong a word to be using in this context…

“Let’s start with chips. Could you go to the kitchen and bring me the paprika chips? I think I left an open pack on the table.”

Nope. It was the right word.

“And feed the goldfish. I think it needs to eat more than twice a week.”

“Yes, mum,” he grumbled under his breath. “Three bags full, mum.”

And suddenly Darwin recalled the night before… How had that damn goldfish ended up in his toilet bowl anyway? He wanted to ask Calix about this, but her unbearable acerbity would beat reason out of anyone. Perhaps he’d ask later when he was feeling up to the challenge.

With these thoughts swimming in his head, Darwin shuffled to the kitchen. He took up the open pack of chips, sniffed it, and shrugged his shoulders. No vagina he’d ever encountered had smelled like this. He sniffed again. Yeah, this was completely ordinary.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2019

DARWINIAN // Feeding the Fish

“Y’know, me dear old nan used to say that it isn’t normative for a god to reveal itself supernaturally. And she was a nun!”

Bleary-eyed and rat-mouthed, Ezra Darwin squinted up at the ceiling, wondering why the clock radio wasn’t there.

“Which begs the question: What would you do to provide for your loved ones in the event of your untimely demise? Would you leave their fates to fate, or would you step up and take charge?”

Oh. That’s right. It wasn’t normative for clock radios to dwell on ceilings. Ezra turned his head. His cheek rolled into the soft, fresh swell of a pillow. God. That soothing coolness felt so damn good.

“Death can come a-knocking at any moment, so instead of praying for resurrectal intervention, why not hop on the blower and give Miracle Life Insurance a call? We’re true blue, and we bloody care.”

And there it was. The clock radio was a bit blurry and a bit… vertical, but well within reach. Ezra extended his arm and arced it downward, silencing said device with a decisive thwack. Goodbye annoying ad, and hello annoying new day! Ugh. It was time for his morning wee.

Ezra rolled onto his side, swung his feet to the floor, and sat up. Okay, so he wasn’t going to throw up yet. His head felt like a block of marinated wood with buzzing, nightmare insects for eyes. Maybe he shouldn’t have downed that fifth Balkan last night.

He jerked to a standing position. Well, Ezra thought he was standing. He hoped he was standing. And why were the walls dancing around? Were they celebrating something? Surely it was too early in the morning for celebration? He tried not to move his head too much, and concentrated on aiming himself at the ensuite door. Once he was vaguely lined up with its somewhat sideways edges, Ezra lurched forward in one gangly, awkward motion.

It didn’t help that everything was too small in this apartment. Space was at an absolute premium, and there were boxes and other shit absolutely everywhere. Ezra hadn’t unpacked since his arrival nearly ten months ago. Time was slipping by at a rate of impossible deadlines and boozy binge sessions punctuated by episodes of extreme anxiety, and nothing had improved. There had to be a better way to make a living.

Ezra fumbled with himself. Shit. Was it just his imagination or was it getting harder to piss? Or was he simply dehydrated from the previous evening’s impressive, alcohol-fuelled train wreck? He should get his prostate checked. Prostate was remarkably like prostrate, which all of a sudden seemed like an outstanding career move. His junk still flapping from his trunks, Ezra resisted the impulse to fall back, and flopped forward onto the toilet bowl instead.

He was in the process of disgorging the contents of his stomach when he noticed the goldfish looking up at him.

Huh?!

 

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2018

darwinian (heads & tails)

make your dogmatic statements
fluff your tail
you, who prefer understatement
and always fail

your beautiful love clique
it twists the knife
so i’ve learned not to look
i wanted to be one of you
but you made me a heretic

leave this moebius food chain
fill the blanks
you, who’s accustomed to refrain
can’t break the bank!

you likeminded super beings in
your plush echo chamber of
gonging egos make me sick
you make me want to grub for
transcendence in dirt (and i have to)

stop your lazy genetic drift
cut a strip
don’t count on the allel shrift
evolve, crip!

there’s pluck and plesh inside me
and the horizon is within my reach
you’ve forced me to evolve or die
so in the end it doesn’t matter
i’ll be gone and you won’t find me

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2016