It was just last winter in Hawaii, February to be exact, and I was frying fish for dinner,
you were in maniac mode all day
when the knock came on my door, the knock that detained you for a week;
long enough for me to make my getaway.
Three shiny black and white’s had pulled up to and parked outside of our gate
and there, you were read your rights and hand-cuffed, both arms placed behind your back; like a criminal.
MY out-of-control, control freak spouse, the one who had terrorized me for years;
arrested, put into the back of a police car and hours later taken away.
ONLY, not for your OTHER crime, not what you had done to me, to us
No, they took you away, because this time, you had threatened to kill the wrong person
and in front of dozens of witnesses; I was numb, giddy.
Your freshly filleted fish blackened in the pan;
while I followed her outside to collect your wallet and keys.
I looked away in horror at your half smile, trying to assure me that everything was alright, to hurry back inside and attend to the fish; that you would be back soon.
Only, you didn’t come back that night
or the next, or even the next and I started to think maybe I could, I should, just go.
That maybe this was my chance to put an end to the madness, put an end to the endless struggle to be loved, accepted by you, the smooth criminal, the one who never lied, the one, who never told the truth either. A teller of tall fish tales, a reluctant father and a part-time bully.
Mesmerized, I clung to your roller-coaster for thirty nine years. I could not have tried harder. A self-described big fish in a small pond, the law later let you go, because the victim fled to the mainland. And because your charm had captivated the remaining witnesses, and because, friends, have to stick together.
The ocean FRESH FISH, which you caught yourself,
no thanks to your dumb-ass crew, the one meal we served whenever we had company.
Thirty plus years of freshly caught fish, sticky rice and tossed salad; did I mention, I don’t like sticky rice either?
No one could get away from you and all that fresh fish, not even the neighbor,
who often wanted to just say no, who didn’t fancy tuna,
who wondered out loud on several occasions of how he could conceivably manage to store not to mention choke down, ALL THAT FISH.
Never mind, that was their problem.
And that is WHY I don’t eat fish,
Which brings me finally to the tender golden white Tilapia
because that was the fish you raised in your ponds, the ponds that were befouled
due to one of my church friends, who had the misfortune to dog sit, so we could go away on a trip.
Who you piously LET FISH, in your precious ponds,
who naively let his grandson throw a salacious fish he had caught from the big pond into the little pond,
ruining your master plan, creating all sorts of problems which you later spun as, ALL my fault.
Crazy right, we lived in HAWAII, why would we ever want to go on a vacation?
Don’t even get me started on why you always had to have dogs,
since only the dogs, were worthy enough to bask in your unconditional love.
Not me or your first wife and certainly not any of your children.
I guess that middle initial J. stood for something.
Who knows, maybe wife number three, will be able to walk on water?
And NOW, a year later, I am free from your love and your fish!
And even though Atlantic fish is a distant cousin
the mere thought of consuming any fish, freshly filleted or otherwise is a constant reminder of the spirit-crushing dread I repeatedly swallowed. The bile, still fresh in my mouth. The sight of you expertly gutting and filleting numerous huge trophy fish replays like a silent Game of Thrones episode,
replete with blood, guts, and fish heads expertly severed from the spine….
They say that time and distance heal all manner of atrocities.
Perhaps one day, I will be able to stomach eating fish again,
I may forget, I may teach myself how to fish these distant waters, how to be patient,
watch the signs and risk all. AND I may even forgive you and your bloody fresh fish.
But until then, their butt naked charm withers, exits like last year’s ruined fillets;
blackened and boldly thrown into the trash.