Gordon’s

Gordon’s by Carole Burkett
We had only met that night, at the guppy tank behind the fish hatchery. She was pulling them out with one hand, fingers blue with wet and the night’s chill, flipping them into her mouth like popcorn. A few had missed, freezing to the pavement until they stopped quivering. In my ten years of midnight walks, my eyeballs had never felt this cold. Her other hand was bleeding into a purple mitten.

She warmed it around a cup of coffee in the all-night diner and it started to drip into a red pool that crept towards my two egg platter. She didn’t let me watch while she pulled out the hook, and I told her I needed a drink. You never expect to meet a mermaid. Four beers later, I wasn’t sure I had. But my bed smelled like perch and morning’s red sky for months, and Gordon’s docked that month’s night watch salary for two thousand missing feeder guppies.