I don’t know what we were trying to do, or possibly, what we were trying to find, but I found myself squeezed between two of my best friends in a pickup truck that had been threatening to die for the last 50 miles. Then it did. We were near the national forest by the coast, and I could smell the salty air blowing through the trees.
“It’s gonna rain,” I said. “Why don’t you drive to that turnoff.”
Clayton guided his dying beast under some maple trees where a semi-truck was parked.
Then the sky opened up. “Let’s run for it. I could use a drink right about now,” Brad said.
In the time it took to sprint 20 paces, we were all soaked. We entered the bar and the firelight caught my eye. A fisherman in a grey beard sat in the corner, and a girl who wasn’t more than 12 years old served the other men drinks.
I chose the fire, while Brad and Clayton ordered whiskey.
“We wanted an adventure and we found this place—not bad,” I said.
Then a beautiful woman walked into the room. She was young with mature mannerisms and her height towered above us.
“You see, you’ll never find a creature like that in the city,” Clayton said.
“You’ll never get with a creature like that, period,” Brad suggested.
“You wanna bet?” Clayton asked.
“Drinks for the rest of the evening?”
I watched in amusement as my friend who was at least 6 inches shorter, approached.
“Uhhh. Excuse me?”
My friend looked like a flower bending towards her nose to be sniffed.
“Yes?” She asked.
“I uhhhh, just noticed… uhh, that uhhh you are very pretty.”
“Thank you, but I’m with that gentleman over there.” She pointed to the fisherman who was dressed in a moldy coat and an oil stained cap. He looked up from his pipe with amusement.
My friend walked back to our table.
“Well… I guess she’s taken,” I said
“You still have to buy the drinks,” Brad suggested.
“I do not,” Clayton retorted.
“Say you guys, how does a guy like that get with a beautiful woman like her?”
“Money, status, and looks,” Brad laughed.
“But seriously?” Clayton asked.
“Maybe he’s a rich billionaire who decided he liked fishing in retirement.”
“I guess we’ll never know and we’ll never get with a woman like that,” Clayton said.
I decided to start drinking too and the evening became stranger, especially when the fisherman walked over to our table.
“Can I join you boys?”
“Sure,” we said in unison.
I was feeling happy and depressed at the same time, which is a pretty good feeling; it’s akin to feeling sorry for yourself while dismissing your problems.
“You’re the young man who hit on my wife,” the fisherman accused.
“I uhh, didn’t know sir.”
“I’m just havin fun with you, but I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. I know it’s tough out there for young men and nobody gives you much sympathy when it comes to the ladies, so the secret I’m about to share with you, might help you out. You’ve tried everything, haven’t you? I can tell your friend here, hasn’t given up hope, but he’s close. And you guys, you are on your way to permanent bachelorhood. Society won’t look at you the same way as other men who are married. In their eyes, you are defective males, or worse, there is something wrong with you, perhaps a secret you don’t want anyone to know, that keeps you from getting married.”
“Come on, stop giving us a hard time and tell us your secret.”
“Okay, okay…” the fisherman laughed. I’m just playing with you. My name’s Jon, by the way. That woman over there… she ain’t a woman; she’s a mermaid. Caught her myself, I did, with a rod and tackle.”
We waited for him to say, “just kidding,” but his eyes were dead serious. “Now, the reason I’m telling you this is that you will either write me off as a lunatic or you are so desperate that you are willing to try what I’m prepared to suggest. It’s what I was willing to do, when I found myself in your position 150 years ago.”
“Did you say, “150 years ago?” I asked.
“I did. She kept me young all these years. That’s one of the many benefits to sleeping with a mermaid. Now, if you are willing to risk your lives for the best sex you will ever have, then listen to me a bit longer.”
I could see Clayton’s desire churning, but I could also see fear in his eyes. Brad was disbelieving. “Hey man, we’re just gonna get drunk and catch the next bus outa here, right?”
Clayton was considering the offer, but I also knew he had hope in seduction techniques he’d learned on the internet. I, on the other hand, had given up all hope, and I was waiting for some kind of supernatural intervention; this was it.
“I’ll go,” I said.
My friends tried to convince me to take the bus instead. “It isn’t safe to go to sea with a stranger,” they told me. “He might be a pervert or a murderer.”
“I guess I’ll find out,” I said.
They even pleaded with me, but my mind was made up, and I saw them get on the 109 bus like fish with their mouths open.
“You ready?” Jon asked.
“Yes, I’m ready. In a storm, though?”
“A storm is the only time you can catch mermaids. I’ve been saving some bait for them in my cooler. I have a line ready, if you’re ready?
“I’m ready?” I said.
“Ready to risk your life?” They’ll try to drown you, you know?
A sheet of rain pelted us like it didn’t want us to get in bed with the creatures of the deep. And a lighthouse cut the sky with its beam. When I passed under it, I knew I had passed the point of no return.
“Heaving anchor and casting off,” Jon said. And the engine cut the choppy water that capped with white waves while rain tried to drown us from above. Soon, we entered a fog bank and all I could see was the lighthouse light, piercing the tempest. If Jesus had been on that boat, I would have given up hope. Even then, Jon walked towards me with a beer in his hand. He looked as cool as a cucumber. “You can only do this under the influence,” he said. “I was drunk out of my mind, when I caught my wife.”
I smiled, even though I thought I might die the next moment. A rogue wave crashed into us, nearly throwing me overboard and pushing us horizontal. I vomited.
“Time to hook our bait,” Jon said. He popped a cooler. In the salted ice was a human heart.
“Is that what I think it is?” I asked.
“Belonged to a sailor. Don’t ask me where I got it.”
I hooked it and dropped it into the boiling sea. Hypothermia was making me numb and I could barely hold onto my pole.
Then out of the wind, I heard a seductive song.
“Careful, don’t let them know you are listening. If you pretend not to notice, they’ll get closer, but if you lock eyes with one, she’ll draw you into the waves. Her words will say what you have always wanted to hear. ‘I’m not wearing a bra, take me now.” When they get close, give her your heart. She’ll swallow it whole and then reel her in.”
Suddenly, a fierce face broke the surface and smiled at me. I grabbed the gunwale and prepared to jump into the sea, but a chain stopped me. Jon had secured me to his boat. And I turned to murder him.
“It’s for your own good,” he shouted. And when I broke my gaze with the mermaid, my mind returned to normal. “Come, take my heart,” I whispered.
She swam nearer, fluttering her tail. Her breasts were round and I tried not to look. Then she took the bait and pulled on the line and I began to play with her, like a courtship of love, as I reeled her in.
“Now you’ve got her!” Jon said excitedly. I walked from one end of the deck to the other until she was next to the boat.
“I designed this gaff, just for mermaids,” Jon said. And soon she was sprawled out, onto the deck, seductive, and dying from lack of breath.
‘What do I do?” I shouted. “She’s not getting enough air.”
“You have to kiss her and blow into her lungs.”
I went down to kiss her and razor-sharp teeth greeted my lips.
“Just do it,” Jon said. “It’s the only way to save her life and make her bonded to you.” I closed my eyes and kissed her and it tasted sweet, sweeter than honey, sweeter than anything I’d ever had, until I wanted to keep sucking her lips until I couldn’t breathe. My air entered her lungs and her eyes became less terrified. They looked at me like a lover and I was in love.
“What about her tail?” I asked.
It will dry out and flake off. Underneath will be a pair of the most sensuous legs you’ve ever seen.”
“Will she be able to speak English.”
“Of course. She won’t be able to for a couple years, but a girlfriend that doesn’t talk is not a problem.”
“I guess you’re right,” I said.
After I caught my wife and approximately two weeks later…
I had not heard from my friends and my friends had not heard from me.
My new wife was eager to learn how to be human and I taught her to cook and exercise and she took to it, like a fish to water.
A month past with no word from either of my friends, until Clayton sent me a text and wanted to talk to me about his new girlfriend.
“She’s perfect, Andy. German, blonde, and she only has a few feminist tendencies.”
“Really?” I asked.
“Yeah. We should go to coffee.”
“Okay. Does tomorrow work for you?”
When I got there, his girlfriend was yelling at him. “I want you to act more like a man and stop making me your therapist!”
Clayton looked at me sheepishly. “How are you, Andy?”
“Okay, I guess. My girlfriend will be joining us shortly.”
“You got a girlfriend, Andy?” Clayton asked.
“But you don’t date. Is she overweight? Most women in the United States are overweight.”
“Clayton, you shouldn’t say that,” his girlfriend said.
“I’m just saying that a woman should keep herself fit. It’s healthy.”
I thought his girlfriend was going to leave him, right there.
“So, where’s your girlfriend, Andy? Is she imaginary?”
“There she is,” I said.
A woman with long legs, big lips, and black sunglasses sat down next to me and put her hand on my leg.
“What nationality are you?” Clayton asked.
“I’m sorry, she doesn’t speak much English,” I said.
“Then how does she communicate?”
“With her body.”
I looked at Clayton. I do believe he was drooling.