Gil Netter, the Wall-Eyed Pike
By Mike Stevens
"Hey, I'm SWIMMING here!" sounded the cry from the fish taking swimming lessons at The Cod-Damned Fish School, a school where fish learn the nuances of being a fish. Most people think that fish are just born fish, but no, they have to go to school just like everybody else. Gil, the Wall-Eyed Pike had just arrived from somewhere down south, and all the other fish in the school thought he had a chip on his shoulder. He was abrasive, rude, and, in the estimation of some, a flip-flopper. He could be the nicest fish you've ever seen one minute, and a raging b*****d the next. On this summer's morning, the sun was shining, the catfish (as well as many other kinds of fish) were jumping (it was the jumping class), and the mood of the fish was buoyant, except for Gil. He was in a foul mood, and kept lashing out at the other fish, who tip toed (tip-finned?) around him, afraid they would say or do something that would inadvertently anger him.
"Swim round, we'd like to give out the awards for those fish who stood head and tails above the others!" came the announcement over the underwater loud speakers. The fish whose voice echoed all under the pond, belonged to King Salmon, who wasn't actually a king; it was just his parents' way of making him feel good about himself through that name, continued once the whole school was paying attention,
"First, the award for the best long-distance swim, goes to Marty Marlin! Swim up here, Marty, and get your award! I'll just read it so everybody can hear it:
'To Marty Marlin, the best Cod-Damned long distance swimmer in this school!'
"Swim on up here Marty! Where's Marty? Oh, here he comes! Good job, Marty; hi-fin! Next, we have the award for highest leap in search of food. The plaque reads,
'To the highest Cod-Damned leap, Steve Sailfish!' Steve, swim on up and accept your award!"
2 hours later, and all the awards had been handed out. Gil hadn't done anything of merit that would have made him expect an award, and that was fine by him. He just wanted to make it through under the radar, and swim as far away from this Cod-Damned place as he could. It was a very good thing that he didn't overhear some of his fellow students talking out of the corer of their mouths,
"And the award for the biggest b*****d at this Cod-Damned School, goes to Gil Netter! Swim on up here, Gil! Put you fins together, and let's hear a nice whooper b*****d hand for Gil Netter!"
No, Gil was totally unaware of the whispers of his fellow students. He really didn't care what the others thought of him, but if he'd have overheard that comment, he'd have gone off the deep end!
Gil swam his way back to the lonely cave that he called home, lit a magnesium candle (another of the skills learned at The Cod-Damned School; you try lighting a candle using nothing but your fins!) and slumped down into the old garbage can that served as the only furniture. Now that The Cod-Damned School was behind him, he had to think about his future, and that really piked him off!