Friday, 19 October 2007

Just Tuna

Duncan Cheshire has just submitted a Cat Boat story about Just Tuna. it's a bit of an epic. good work, Duncan. good work.

here is Duncan's story:

Just Tuna

Just Tuna crouches at the tip of the mizzenmast, his claws sunk into the bleached and cracking wood, hissing at any cats that pass or glance up at him, and spitting at those who stand and stare. Just Tuna sways with the ship and the roll of the ocean. The other cats do not like Just Tuna. They think he is socially inept. He’s hard work, they say, he just can’t have a laugh, and he doesn’t seem to care for Tunnel Of Love. If the other cats had a choice, they would turn him off the ship at the next sight of land.

“He’s hard work, that Just Tuna”, says Joshua Spassky.

Mickey (‘The Grinch’) squints into the midmorning sun at the expectorating feline. “He needs to take a break”, he says, “listen to a bit of Springsteen.”

“You talkin’ to me?” preens her whiskers and rubs thoughtfully at one ear with a saliva-dampened paw.

Mickey (‘The Grinch’) cups his paws to his mouth, “Hey”, he shouts, “you need to take a break, man. Listen to a bit of Spring-steen.”

A volley of sputum lands at their feet, spattering them with a hundred glistening droplets. The cats shake their heads and wander away.

When he comes down from the mizzenmast, Just Tuna takes up a fishing rod and landing net and takes up his position at the side of the Cat Boat.

Just Tuna fishes for twenty hours straight.

He catches mackerel, herring, marlin, John Dory, silver dory, sunfish, sardines, grouper, stargazer, striped cowfish, Moray eel, kelpy, barracuda, barramundi, crested weedfish, leatherjacket, hoki, anchovies, cod, bush club squid, giant squid, colossal squid, sawtooth shark, tiger shark, angler fish, puffer fish and a Portuguese Man O’ War. He lands a pod of dolphins. Just Tuna battles with the creatures of the deep, and Just Tuna wins.

Just Tuna is the apex predator of the Pacific Ocean.

The other cats gather around, perusing the bounty of the sea, and selecting the finest specimens for their supper. Just Tuna keeps fishing. After a while, Joshua Spassky comes over, chewing on a tentacle. “Are you going to eat? Those dolphins look good”.

“Fuck the dolphins”, says Just Tuna. “I just want fucking tuna”.

Joshua Spassky looks sadly at Just Tuna and, rubbing his distended belly, wanders away.

Just Tuna is as thin as a runner bean. His ribs and shoulder blades poke through the threadbare upholstery of his tortoiseshell fur. Just Tuna runs on adrenaline and spit. Just Tuna’s mind is subsumed in thoughts of the dark, oily red flesh of the tuna, of the delicate meaty texture, of the mild, mild tuna taste. Just Tuna begins to drool, globules of saliva dripping from his chin. Toward the end of his twenty-hour fishing stint, he catches a tuna: not a big one, but big enough. It is the first tuna he has caught in months. Dropping his rod, Just Tuna eviscerates the fish with one swipe of his claws. As the guts fall around his feet he tears into the flesh, consuming the fish in under a minute.

Just Tuna slumps against the gunwale, his breathing ragged. After a while, a change comes upon him: he washes himself, adjusts his three-cornered hat and sets off around the deck. He no longer looks emaciated and unhinged, he looks slender and informed. Circulating among the cats, he passes the time, listens to Tunnel Of Love, professes his admiration for the work of Bruce Springsteen, and puts his name down for a turn at carrying the Christmas pudding. The other cats are suspicious at first, but warm to his charms, impressed by his erudite observations and quick wit. We got him wrong, they say, he’s alright.

Just Tuna fishes for a while, but does not catch anything.

Laying down his rod, he joins Joshua Spassky, Mickey (‘The Grinch’) and “You talkin’ to me?” for a game of 500. Some sharp cardsmanship and well-chosen partnerships see him come close to winning the game. During the tenth hand, Just Tuna’s stomach begins to rumble, and his pupils dilate.

“I can see”, he slurs. “I can see… where we’re going”.

Joshua Spassky looks into the black pits of Just Tuna’s eyes, and the future looks back.

“What can you see?” asks Joshua Spassky.

Just Tuna’s face splits into a deranged grin. Dribble runs down his chin.

“What we’re looking for”, gurgles Just Tuna.

The cats lean forward expectantly.

Just Tuna’s pupils shrink to the size of pinheads and he flings his cards at the others, hissing in their faces. Leaping up, he grabs his rod and begins to fish again. He lands three metric tons of assorted non-tuna seafood before collapsing from exhaustion. The cats pick him up and take him to the brig. Joshua Spassky lingers, looking through the barred window. He makes sure there is plenty of water in the cell.

*

The cats salt and preserve the seafood. They have plenty to eat. They take turns to carry the Christmas pudding, and listen to Tunnel Of Love at full volume. They fall in love and out of love, and fight and bicker and promenade. Released from the brig after three weeks, Just Tuna races to the tip of the mizzenmast, where he hisses and howls and spits at the other cats.

On this particular day, Cat-tain Marvel is captain of the Cat Boat. He consults the charts with the helmsman for the day, Joshua Spassky. Cat-tain Marvel runs his paw along the charts, coming to a rest on an area called the ‘Grande Banks’.

“Set a course for the Grande Banks, Mr. Spassky; the stores are running low and these are the greatest fisheries in the ocean. Every kind of fish is found there, apart from tuna.” Cat-tain Marvel strokes his furry chin, purring contentedly.

Joshua Spassky looks at the charts. On the northern edge of the Grande Banks is a small area called ‘The Tunary’, with medieval-style pictures of tuna leaping from the sea.

“What about there?” says Joshua Spassky, pointing at The Tunary.

Cat-tain Marvel, the fur rising on his tail, takes a long look at Joshua Spassky. “I am captain of this ship and you will follow my orders, Mr. Spassky. Unlike the rest of the cats on this ship, you may wish to catch your own supper, but we do not. We’ve all seen what happens if tuna is caught. I suggest you set a course for the Grande Banks.”

Joshua Spassky lowers his eyes. “Aye, aye, Cat’n.”

Joshua Spassky goes to the helm and steers the Cat Boat in the direction of the Grande Banks. The shivering Just Tuna, hunched at the tip of the mizzenmast, draws his gaze. Joshua Spassky remembers the night of the 500 card game, and the quality of the conversation. In the gusting wind, Joshua Spassky lets the wheel slip slightly, pointing the Cat Boat toward the northern edge of the Grande Banks, near the border with The Tunary, where the fishing is good.

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