Commercial Record

Blue Star

By Scott Sullivan

Shooting Fish
Goblin is a betta brought home by my wife Halloween to occupy an Aquasphere. I awoke next morning to a top-lit 30” diameter water globe perched so it left little kitchen counter for chopping unexpired crisper veggies
No fish inside I could see, rubbing eyes to make out how the clear fluid glass mass reflected and distorted a striated faux log from different angles and was I dreaming.

Next morning the Aquasphere was gone, replaced by smaller, more-practical squared-based. Inside too was Goblin, a Super Yellow Siamese fighting fish.
We keep battling. What’s it like to be him? No telling. Would I like to be him? Imagine I am and he too is me in a trans trance expressing our floating worlds through a camera.

With mermaids went mermen. The first known recorded was the Assyrian-Babylon sea god Ea, Enki to Sumerians. The ancient Greeks’ Triton, son of sea god Poseidon, was revised by Romans as Neptune’s trumpeter, Miles Davis with a conch shell.
Glaucus in Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” was a fisherman who jumped into the sea and did not come back, transforming into a blue-green man with fishy member where his legs were. Glaucoma, called so for the bluish-green haze seen or not at its outset, derives from him via Latin.
It’s too late to sell myself as a Greek god, underwater Miles or seer through sea eyes. Bettas spring from Thai freshwater marshes, floodplains and paddy fields, hiding behind rice from rampant peers. Goblin’s solo in his space.
My incursions varied. Through fish eyes he saw flashing light from air outside our curved glass and aqua barriers, angle experiments from a vision predator hiding behind black machine switching glass and settings.
The betta — pronounced like “You betta your life,” not “You baita” as in the Greek beta or don’t tempt me — became less disturbed then bored by his out-of-depths stalker.
“Inauthentic a**hole,” he’d think. “You know nothing.”
“We agree.”
“So still finding out? OK.”
My fish pix came out needing sauce. My gear and/or intent weren’t right. The more accurate a picture a picture, the less true it is.
“You again?”
“Told you. New lens.”
“Went to my waste.”
“I’m not finished.”
Fluid Dynamics
Fish tank currents depend on an agitator, much like seeing. How clear are water-glass filters? Who says life suspended lacks resolution? What can be in a still image always moving? Fish is wisdom food, so Goblin eating me would be dumber.
Of 73 Betta genus species, splendens are fish tank favorites for their splendid colors and flowing fins. The first were domesticated to fight more than 1,000 years ago in the central Thai plain as bet tokens. Well-bred bettas protected fluid turf to the death.
I had two glass walls to protect and penetrate: tank and lens(es), plus own opacity. See, can’t execute?

Picture telling Depression-raised Dad this new lens wasn’t made for that. I will play with it till it works out a wise investment. Given light, live! Pray there’s no break to fixation.
Dad and my brother Shawn set up a basement darkroom next to performing magician gear he’d outgrown and played there now, placing a black-and-white negative print of our house with a poem Mom and I co-wrote as a Halloween party come-on:

The gallows are ready,
So are the chains.
We look forward to viewing
Your last remains

Dad had a machete remnant from his National Guard stint. The first time I “drove” a car I was 3 on his lap south from Grayling to Lansing at night; used the blade later to behead a blue racer coiled in a tree down a wooded ravine near our path to the Wabash River. My brothers, friends and I were awed. Perfect now to splash in ketchup and place with a manikin we dismembered in the downstairs tub.
I was 16 and away on a college visit that night, thus missed our live grisly bash concoctions. DePauw University’s Beta Theta Pi house had cold-air barracks. I did not return.
Mom and Dad said after friends at the party raved. Those crazy Sullivans. I envied we were so social.

Goblin alone in his tank doesn’t haunt me. Near nothing does.

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