The ship has sailed. “Rise, Ye Sea Slugs!”

Silas Howard
Darla didn’t blink. She recoiled from sleep and worried that at 15 years old, with fame nowhere on the horizon, she may have missed the boat. Things were not well at home so she strayed as much as possible. To escape she dreamed of saving the deep blue sea. Underwater, in another universe, her goggles enlarged those big, blinkless eyes. The snorkel pushed her lip out in away that made her feel sexy. She had hands like tonka toy bulldozers. Always scooping him up and dumping him somewhere he didn’t want to be.


The sea cucumber could be described as a very angry guy or very funny guy depending on your disposition. Everyday Darla grabbed him, floating his rusty-orange body above the teal water into the hot August sun. The world of air was so heavy and loud…so over-lit. Darla marveled at his discomfort. The way he refused to puff up, even when she eventually returned him awkwardly onto a kelpy ledge. His body pulled in tight, constricted, he would roll in slow-motion down, down, down to the last possible ledge near a starfish. It was a good show. The sea cucumber was a guy who above all valued impossible dreams and Darla was full of them.


The first time I realized I had a dick I was 14 at my coke dealer’s apartment. I sat and twitched and watched his girlfriend, Darla, watch TV. AJ, my dealer, obsessively cleaned one of his many guns.

Darla, the subject of my desire, would be dead in a month.

The smell of gun cleaner, (like sugar and blood), the repeated stroking action, her fidgeting body on the couch next to him…I’ll admit, it was a major fucking turn on, but hell, when I was high on cocaine, sitting too close to a xerox machine was a major turn on. Being high made all the best possible tomorrows happen in one night. Until the sun came up.

Darla’s large eyes never seemed to damn blink. When she looked at me, always a half smile on her lips, I tried not to blink as well but my eyes would water up and I’d break it. She’d always win.

On the TV a Cyndi Lauper video played. It in it Cyndi ran from room to room while her daddy chased her and her girlfriends around the house. Her bangles catching light as she sang to the camera. “They just a wanna, girls just a wanna have fun.”

This was one of the most depressing apartments; black curtains nailed over every available window, long winter ahead full of static, sparkly heat that bit me every time I touched metal after scuffling across the shag carpet.

It was a living tomb. A place I wanted to move into and never leave.


The thing was, aside from their extraordinary nutritional value, sea cucumbers were about the most resourceful drama queens Darla had found in the deep blue. For example, when they eat, looking like a herd of orange carnations, munching their way through the rich organic mud, mouths too full to breathe—they simply breathe through their assholes. When provoked by fear or startled by a predator they would expel their internal organs. They then re-grow these organs, often leading to many domestic disputes. Complaints such as “Leave me alone, I haven’t got a pancreas” or “Not now, I’m growing a new liver” left a trail of resentments and missed connections.

Their homes in the coral reefs were dying. The oceans had heated to unprecedented temperatures, killing the algae, turning the coral white.

Darla devised a plan, a dream. The more withered and harsh the reality the more grand and demanding the dream. She would start a campaign to save the sea.

Darla was a saver.

He waited.

The next day she was back, air bubbles rising around her like molten silver globes as she scanned the ocean. He tried not to act desperate but he had counted the minutes until her return though he simultaneously dreaded it.

It was loss at first sight; Darla was all he thought about. He knew it would never work but that didn’t prevent him from being tortured by hope. If his hope had a face it would be like one on a “Lost Pet” flyer posted ubiquitously on tar soaked telephone poles. A face that cried “find me!”

At last he resorted to puffing up. This always made her head turn. She swam down and scooped him up busting through the surface, holding him up for inspection to the sunlight. Although it was not really pure sunlight, in his research he found that no such thing as pure sunlight existed. We have never known direct sunlight. Pure sunlight is a blue shaft falling perfectly straight, and probably the life of the earth would not endure it for an hour if submitted to its unchecked intensity. The ground-glass globe of air produces the white or yellow light, known to us as sunlight, and its intensity is absolutely dependent upon the density of the atmosphere––the thickness of the globe. Everything officially labeled and named is only gossip. The sea cucumber reflected on how humans must feel when language comes into their lives as tiny babies; what a great loss that must be. He loved the way she gasped for breath when they broke through the surface of the water.


At the age of 19 Darla decided that living in a one-bedroom, wood paneled apartment with a man twice her age wasn’t the life for her. She shot herself with one of his very clean guns. But on this night she was still alive. And I could have watched her watch television all night.

That was the night I got my first hard on. There it was, my phantom hard on. Actually it was my rolled up member’s only jacket, you know with the tag line “When you put it on something happens.” Anyway it rested over my leg and somehow the coke or something gave me this body high that made the coat feel like an extension of myself. Totally weird. I got up and got a glass of water just to cool down. When I returned AJ handed me the clean gun to put in the case so he could start in on the next one. As the metal barrel landed in my hand a big blue spark followed by a loud snap made me jump as though I was hit. That made her laugh for the first time all night. AJ woke from his chain cleaning to notice her laugh. She checked the clock and turned the channel to her favorite show—an episode of Mutual of Omaha. A narrator emotively gave the facts as the camera discovered the underwater world… “They sprout from beneath rocks like orange carnations…”

Their apartment was in the north end of town. Tar covered homes littered with rusty chevys and some of the butchest women I have ever seen, all straight as hell, yelling out doorways in gravelly voices at kids who had fallen in love with anger.

I wanted to save Darla, to be her knight in armor and rescue her from the apartment with the thick black curtains and the endless nights of gun cleaning and TV. When she smiled, it was as if she woke from a coma. I would do any stupid thing to make her laugh. I was hardly a candidate for saving anyone. She told me once that in one of AJ’s porno mags she saw a female centerfold who had a dick. “Can you believe that?” But she didn’t’ say it like it was a freak thing, she said it like it was a dream come true. “If I was gay, I would fuckin love to find a chick like that.” She stared at me with those damn un-blinking eyes and smirked. She knew exactly what she was doing.

If I could have gotten her out of the house… If I could have I’d have taken her away to a place with no night. I’d take her to Trondheim, Norway where in summer the sun never goes down. Regret stole many days from me, an endless loop of “what if’s.” More evil than the worst come down off coke. Cocaine in the brain affects the pathway known as the “reward pathway”—the area of the brain activated when one has a pleasur- able experience like eating, sex, or receiving praise. It triggers an abundance of joy; doubling the dopamine receptors one literally feels better then you’ve ever felt in your life. This works until the transmitters go on strike and then you need the drug just to feel like you did without it. Take from tomorrow and live extra big today.

In the end she blew off her head. AJ stopped dealing drugs and went into selling real estate. I landed a car in a tree trying to get out of town.