Fishing For The Truth

| Friendly | September 26, 2016

(I’m sitting on a city bus on a chilly winter day, across the lane from a teenager. She’s wearing a heavy jacket, which is appropriate for the weather, but she has it half zipped and is hiding something bulky underneath it, against her stomach. I can see the handles of a plastic bag poking out the open zipper, and she’s cradling the bulk of it with her free hand. She looks like a bit of a punk, but aside from listening to music on her headphones a little loud, she is minding her own business. A older woman boards the bus, and seems to immediately fixate on the teenager, her eyes bulging and her cheeks going red. She huffs and puffs and stomps past the empty courtesy seats to sit next to the teenager.)

Old Woman: “I can’t believe you people.”

(The teenager appears not to hear her over the sound of her music. The woman huffs and puffs, and actually prods at her until she looks up and takes off her headphones, which only makes her madder.)

Old Woman: “I can’t believe you people! Bringing trash like that onto a bus.”

Teenager: “What?”

Old Woman: “What is that? Booze? Drugs? You think no one will notice if you hide it under your jacket like that? You kids make me sick. So irresponsible! Your parents ought to be ashamed at the way you act in public!”

Teenager: “I don’t drink, lady. Besides, they sell alcohol in cloth bags these days.”

Old Woman: “Like h*** you don’t. How would you know that unless you went and bought booze?! You think I’m blind? I can see it! You think I wouldn’t notice that?”

(The woman reaches out to poke the thing under the teenagers jacket, but the teenager shields it with her arm.)

Old Woman: “See, you wouldn’t be trying to hide it if you didn’t have anything to hide!”

(The teenager sighs, and then unzips her jacket to lift out the object in the plastic bag. It’s another plastic bag, filled with water and holding a large brightly coloured fish.)

Teenager: “Isn’t he pretty? He’s a peacock cichlid. They come from Lake Malawi in Africa, where the water temperature stays at a nice constant twenty five degrees. Of course, I’d hate for him to get chilly on a cold day like today. That could make him sick! If I leave him out in the open his water could go cold. That would be terribly irresponsible, don’t you think?”

(The woman stared, huffed, puffed, then stomped off to sit at the front of the bus, with a face like she’d been made to suck lemons, and the teenager took her fish home without any more interrogations.)

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