After Ellie throws the steam iron at Mel (the fact that it is still plugged in saving him grave bodily insult) he knows it is over.  She calls him a “sham.”  A sham, he thinks.  Ha!—good one!  He knows she’s been sneaking around with that fake little man from Accounts Pending with his elevator shoes and padded shoulder sports jackets.  

She runs over and grabs his toupee and tosses it into the fish tank, freaking out the angelfish for a moment.  But they simply swim around it as the leviathan sinks down and slowly lands on a sexy mermaid sitting on a pirate’s treasure chest in blue sand.  If only my life were as easy, Mel thinks.


Post-divorce Mel becomes a wedding singer.  He’d always had a fair enough singing voice and an affinity for working a crowd.  His cousin has a connection with a band and the new toupee is infinitely more natural looking.  “Moon River” has couples all melting into each other’s arms on the dance floor, and for once Mel feels like somebody—a headliner.  In control.  Not like a puppet master kind of control, but more like an all-grown-up Cupid with musical rhymes in lieu of arrows.  He has lots of opportunities with the unspoken-for friends of the various brides smiling up from their chicken fricassee.  And, like the carved ice swans and peacocks, enjoys a tenuous commitment to form and reliability.


Time squeezes Mel like a winepress with none of the beneficial outcomes.  He is no longer able to keep up with the ballroom bookings and pressures and takes to drink.  He tries to sell his “genetic substance” to a sperm bank, but is rejected.  He has never wanted his own kids, but now, hearing Ellie has two with “The Shrimp” he does.  Has a newfound hunger for lineage.  He gets two dogs and a cat.  The cat terrorizes the two small dogs who hide under his bed.

Eventually, he meets up with a raucous group of men he finds online.  They gather once a week at a beer garden, and sing, robustly, old whaling songs, swinging their arms and spilling their stout.  They are a hearty bunch with anchor tattoos and gusto.  You can almost feel the sea mist after the third or fourth drink and Mel’s learning to enjoy community somewhat: the high-fives and fist bumps, the occasional dirty limerick.  But, damn, he still misses Ellie and wishes her kids were “theirs.”  And, damn, damn, damn—he feels sorry for the whales.

Robert Scotellaro’s work has been included in W.W. Norton’s Flash Fiction International, Best Small Fictions 2016, 2017, Best Microfiction 2020, and others.  He’s the author of seven chapbooks and five flash story collections.  He has, with James Thomas, co-edited New Micro: Exceptionally Short Fiction, published by W.W. Norton. Visit him at: www.robertscotellaro.com

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