The Soupster observes unsustainable drought measures.
At the airport for a Goldstreak and a slice of Strawberry-Rhubarb, the Soupster saw Lydia “Wrong Tide” Lerner, weaving her way among the luggage carts stacked high with white cardboard fish boxes.
“Wrong Tide” is an unfortunate nickname in a fishing community and, also unfortunately, what Lerner’s name portended was true – when fish saw Lydia coming, they swam the other way.
Nonetheless, Wrong Tide was an enthusiastic consumer of everything fish-related, was fiercely loyal to the commercial fleet and could mutter under her breath in way that allowed her still to be heard.
But she muttered something now that the Soupster could not hear above the general terminal noise. He called out “Lydia! Wrong Tide! W.T.!”
At last she turned around. “Soupster,” she said. “How long have you been watching me?”
“Just a minute, I just saw you,” said the Soupster, taken aback.
“Oh, don’t listen to me,” Wrong Tide said. “I get all worked up when I see all these big white boxes full of fish. When you don’t catch fish, you get real jealous of them. You don’t want so many fish leaving town with other people.”
“But look at the smiles on all those folks,” said the Soupster. An older woman in a rain jacket blissfully pushed a cart with five boxes of fish, a stack taller than her. “How happy she looks,” said the Soupster after the woman had passed.
“I’m glad for them,” Wrong Tide said, “But those are our fish!” She looked around, then muttered loudly enough for the Soupster to discern, “I better get out of here.”
Wrong Tide left.
Truth was, the Soupster was no stellar fisherman and found himself growing uncomfortable with the long line of people waiting to load their huge boxes of fish. It wasn’t like the Soupster wanted for fish. The expensive species he poached from friends. He kept his freezer full of the cheaper species from the store to fill in any time his poaching failed.
Yet he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was being taken from him personally.
And then he saw it – how could one ignore it? A small parade – or not so small – passing through the terminal’s automatic door. Three young people in identical forest green polo shirts pushed three luggage carts piled precariously with fish boxes.
The Soupster counted 19!
Bringing up the rear was a white-maned and mustachioed alpha predator, pushing a cart with only one fish box. The man kept a close eye on the three green-clad youths laboring with the rest of his booty.
“Sir,” the Soupster called, feeling ornery.
“You really going to eat all that fish?”
The man slowed in front of the Soupster and pointed to the lone box on his cart. “This much fish, I can eat, yes,” he said.
“What about your other 19 boxes?” asked the Soupster.
“They’re not fish,” said the man. “They’re full of water.” He started rolling his cart again to catch up with his crew. “Hey,” he yelled back. “I’m from California!”
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