To the Unlikely Stories home page

A Sardine on Vacation, Episode 1

To our home pageInverting the relationship between online feature writer and the public, I am inviting you into my server-I mean, my home.

The Logged-In Public (shaking my hand): Please to meet you, whereís your bathroom?

Go up the stairs and straight down the hall. Donít throw cigarette butts in the toilet and stay out of the bedrooms.

L-I P (a half-hour later): Okay, what are you going to write about? Is this funny, or are we supposed to take it seriously?

You are unlikely to hear what Iím about to say from any other member of the magazine writing or journalistic fraternity. . . .I hope youíre not picking the stuffing from the sofa.

Sorry.

Iíve forgotten what I was saying.

Scroll up the page.

Thanks. Iím new in the cyber world. I think the best start would be a formal introduction. Iím A Sardine on Vacation.

We saw the byline and we donít get it. Youíre not a sardine.

Let me explain. You see what the World Wide Web is like. A hundred million sites waiting to be found. Youíve accustomed yourselves to the hypertext racket to the point that you no longer can think or even rest. This feature proposes to lessen the noise, decrease the rattle of information from your minds, and make you relax in thought. Iím asking you to sample some modest, quiet, Sardine delicacies. Savor them. You donít enjoy them at first, fine, some tastes, maybe the best of tastes, are not acquired immediately.

Whatís the ďvacationĒ part mean?

We are packed gill to mustardy, oily gill in the flat tin of the modern world--and collectively pray nobody starts to stink! We leave this tin for a few weeks to take a holiday in Bermuda or at Disney World; other friendly fish cannot resist trips to patches of crowded quietude at the swim club, the Atlantic and Pacific beaches, or Vermontís and Coloradoís swift slopes. Unlike the rest, this fish isnít bound to take time off because heís permanently left the tin.

You donít have a job, is that what you are saying?

Understand this-to get back to what I had wanted to say-I will be insensitive to what you think you want to read about. None of the latest crises. No celebrities. Nor is my aim to enlighten you, make you conscientious citizens, improve your spiritual state, amuse, flatter, or disgust you, although nothing could prevent those very things from happening.

Howíd you get into this magazineís site with an attitude like that?

I want you to experience something you wouldnít normally find in a weekly magazine feature or, for that matter, a newspaper column.

Did the print media reject you and force you to take this feature online? We can skip this, you know, unless we start to hear something we want to hear.

How about my credentials?

Stuff the credentials. Soon youíll be boring us with your expertise on something or other. Howíd you get such a bad attitude toward the reading public?

I never really considered the Logged-In Public a group that read much.

Why would you want to get this feature online?

[The Sardine is silent.]

Then you are desperate to get in print.

Maybe something about my background will satisfy you. When I was four years old, I fell off the basement steps to the cement and cracked my skull.

Now weíre getting somewhere. A little human interest. Did it hurt?

Like bloody hell it hurt. The strange thing was that for a long time I couldnít connect the fall (on Friday) with the ride to the hospital (on Sunday). Years later, my sister told me that the doctor didnít think at first that the injury was very severe.

Thatís hard to believe.

Heís the doctor. The next day at supper, my mother touched the back of my head and left the imprint of her hand. Apparently, water had formed there, and I was in the hospital ten days.

No wonder your attitudeís so poor toward Internet users. Youíve never recovered from the concussion.

The real problem, if you really want to know, occurred soon after the fall. My mother had carried me to the living room and laid me on the couch. In the truest response to my needs, my grandmother retrieved my favorite stuffed animal, a dog named Fluff-Fluff. Fifteen minutes later, the doctor arrived and, upon sitting up to examine the head damage, I vomited over his white medical jacket, the couch, my blanket, and the stuffed dog.

Then Fluff-Fluff didnít accompany you to the hospital on Sunday.

Family, friends, and relatives prayed for my recovery; my sole concern was for Fluff. Around the fifth day, my parents brought the washed but still soggy toy animal to my crib, and I clutched in to my heart. It was never the same. I threw the thing in the trash four months later. Fluff never recovered the fluffy essence that had endeared it to me.

And your life, too, never regained its fluffy essence.

[No comment from the Sardine.]

Well, whoíd you blame? The doctor? Your grandmother? Or your mother for putting it in the washing machine?

Itís not important. I should blame myself. I got over it. Hey, where are you going?

We have to surf some more around the net.

But I was just getting into this.

We canít stay, really.

I was thinking about the remark you made. Maybe the essence. . . .

Too bad, weíve made an illegal move.



The Sardine's essays, articles, and stories have appeared around the Internet in the last few years at 3 A.M., Facets, Eclectica magazine, Fiction Funhouse, The Fiction Warehouse, 5_trope, and several film journals. Who and what he is probably will be revealed at various points through the articles appearing at this site. If you want to reach him, his address is popesixtus@aol.com.