Goldfish at the Buddha
We walked through the rain dressed for the wedding. Suits: blue and brown, something from Something Brothers and something from Salvation Army, dry cleaned and half wrinkled. Him and me walked down the sidewalk and behind us his car did a double beep and his keys jangled down into his pockets.
The rain came off the roofs where there were no gutters, gutting out a line in the sidewalk where tomorrow the pavement would be smooth.
There was a taxi idling. There was a police car with its running lights on. There was a storm gutter gulping down a styrofoam cup that was smashed and a slick ad printed in twelve colors advertising discount fashion in terms of tennis shoes and colored socks.
There were two types of fish in the tank between the tables and the cashier's desk: big ones and little ones. The little ones were blue or clear and were hiding around the edges they could find. They hid around the edges of leaves and they moved to hid around the edges of the glass and around to hid near the edge of the water where it met the air in bubbles. They were hiding in the outer circle of the tank. The big fish were orange and yellow in the middle. They weren't swimming. They were hanging there, suspended in the fluorescent illumination, putting one orange eye each way.
What do they call the fish that look like goldfish but are bigger? I said.
Those are goldfish, he said. He didn't look.
I expected there to be a Buddha - the place was called The Something Buddha - but instead there was a wooden dragon. The wooden dragon took up most of the wall and the colored wheel of fish masked the doorway from the tables so that when we walked in the door all the eating people looked watery.
Everything on the bottom of the place was decorated in red. Table cloths, place mats, carpets, the waiter's pants. Like a peyote dream. Like a wheel barrow with a chicken. When he put my glass of water on the table the water turned a water red and left a ring around the year of the rooster. The ring rung the words, Selfish and Lonely. Avoid the Ox.
I had a friend, I said just to say something, who's name was John. He drove a goddamn big car.
What is actually in Kung Po? he said. Can you order the one without the other?
There was a man there wearing a hat. A hat like porkpie. He was wearing his hat and spooning rice and sipping his tea and twice he looked at me but he said to his friend, this is all going to end, my friend, this is all going to end. I wondered what was under his hat.
One of the goldfish blinked. But I don't think fish blink so maybe it was me.