The Chronicles of Mr. O’Connor (Pt. 2) – Short Story #20

American Gothic by Grant Wood (1930)

(Read Pt. 1 here.)

Flip flip flopping, slip slip slopping, Mr. O’Connor what have you done now, she cried, terrified, what have you done done done? Flip slop. Slip flop.

As Mr. O’Connor was on the way towards the floor he thought to himself what a strange day this would be, and he wished in that instant for it to be over. Then Mr. O’Connor flopped and flipped upon the floor in his robe as the telephone fell to the counter in sync. Mrs. O’Connor, hearing the noise, cried out: “Are you okay dear?” But Mr. O’Connor couldn’t hear her. Annoyed but concerned Mrs. O’Connor came running to her kitchen and then and there suddenly she cried, terrified, O what have you done? Mr. O’Connor. Floor. Flip. Flop. Slip. Slop. Cried.

Helping Mr. O’Connor up, Mrs. O’Connor dropped a few times the fishman on account of how slippery scales tend to be, naturally, but eventually she was successful. She rushed to wash her hands, looking in disgust. The goop slid between her fingers, messing up her freshly applied nail polish. What a shame. I’ll have to do them all over again. What a foolish man he is to ruin it like this. To become a fish. How insensitive of him. He never once thought of me first. Become fish. Foolish. Be normal. Just. Please. I can’t. I.

The warm water ran through her fingers but was ineffective at removing the guck. For heavens sake. What a mess. Do you see what you’ve done poor ol’ man? A fish. Hogwash. Pissposh. How embarrassing. What will they. Oh no. Couldn’t dare imagine. Say nothing. Nothing happened. Nothing.

Aren’t you going to be late for work dear? You don’t want to keep them waiting. Is that Sam outside? You better gather your things together.

Mr. O’Connor, fishman, graduate from the front of the class of 78′ from the college of the technological fields of professionalism and scholastic athleticism, Ivy league, man of valor, important person. Important. Fishy. Now. Flip flop.

Hoooo..Sam’swaitingdear..ooooonk honk honk. Hurry must.

She helped Mr. O’Connor gather his personal effects and even straightened his tie for him, then sent him on his way out the door to the waiting Sam honk honk who was waiting and with little surprise made no mention of the… the fishman approaching, merely instead rather as he pulled down gearshift meter on let’s go Sam in a hurry yes sir rightawaysir. Makes me wait then says hurry! The nerve. 

Mrs. O’Connor watched as her husband drove off to work in the form of a fish, and she thought I wonder if this will have any consequences upon our meal plan tonight and upon that roast she planned for them together which soon might go bad if her memory serves her correctly. Do fish eat meat? At least not fish. Certainly. Must change Sunday’s meal. Can’t have or no no of course not. Inhuman. Infishman. Inosteichthyes.

Returning to the living room Mrs. O’Connor returned to the task of getting her children off to school on time, this selfish delay weighing down their usual punctuality, her pride and joy. Sending them off to get changed, to brush their teeth, and floss as she prepared their lunches and took a breath of sanity. How dare that man ruin my plans for the day. Won’t let him. Enjoy in spite of. Party this weekend. Tomorrow. Oh gosh tomorrow! So much to do, haven’t a moment to spend on that foolish fish of a man, flip flop, slip slop. I’m working dear please refrain from acting foolish, if only for an hour or two. Lock him up perhaps in the garage. Or the pool? Might make things easier on

Mommy! Yes, dear? I’m all done. Okay come on back down sweetie and we’ll get those new shoes tied.

Hurrying to finish the children’s lunches, Mrs. O’Connor looked on her hands with disdain at what she saw. Those poor nails. Blast. Do again today. After shopping. No can’t go out like this. The foolishness of that man, becoming a fish!, she still couldn’t even believe the nonsense of it all. What a man she had, they always said, yes, indeed: what a man.

Helping the children tie their shoes she rushed them off empty mindedly into the day and out of hers. Things to be done. Must hurry now children don’t miss the bus! No patience to take today. Much to do. Party. Nails. Cake to bake. Meals to make. Husband fish.

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