The Flittiest Catch
by Robert Lowell Russell
"Black eyes," says the captain. "Like a doll's eyes, 'cause, you know," he shrugs, "they were
dolls." He takes a drag from a hand-rolled cigarette, holds his breath, then lets the smoke escape
from his mouth. "Had me some strange catches in these seas."
He offers the cigarette to the cameraman. "Toke? It's my own blend of Jamaican red hair and
peyote." The captain grins. "Makes trans-dimensional fishing possible. We've got a galley full of
snacks if you get the munchies."
He rubs his bleary eyes. "Wish I had robots. Robots are good. Robots are accustomed to
repetition. Robots don't complain." The captain sighs. "But they refuse to accept the existence of
. . ." He waves his hand at the view outside the wheelhouse window. "All of this."
Pink and purple clouds billow beyond the ship. Zeppelin-sized balloons attached on the port and
starboard sides hold the vessel aloft. Sailors, wearing slickers, scramble over the deck, going
about their tasks -- each man has a doobie hanging from their lip. An undulating rainbow looms,
then crashes into the side of the boat, showering the crew with multicolored sprinkles.
A deckhand hurls a grapple attached to a rope over the side of the boat, then quickly hauls it
back, popping a hooked line into winch blocks. The men wait as the line winds over the side.
As the last of the line is hauled aboard, a metal cage breaches up through the clouds and bangs
against the side of the ship. Denby, the deck boss, works a crane to swing the trap over the side,
and crewmen dump the catch onto a metal sorting table. Tiny, golden-winged fairies slip and
slide over its surface.
"Not a bad haul," says the captain before punching an intercom. "Set it back."
Below, a crewman nods, scrambling to the trap to switch an empty bait sack for one stuffed with
yellow marshmallow PEEPS®.