About Articles Poetry Video Images Services Events
Edited Words: 152,263
Articles: 180
Poems: 52
Videos: 25
Images: 10

February 9, 2006

The Vegetarian Cod


Elijah Scattergood sat quietly in the corner of the pub. Not only was he afflicted with a seventeenth-century name, he was also plagued by a rampant imagination and a deeply inquiring mind.

Elijah looked down at the battered fish before him. Before ordering, he had asked the barmaid if the fish was vegetarian. She had politely checked with the chef who had informed her that this particular cod, though tempted by bloodworms and other invertebrates, had subsisted on a diet consisting only of decomposing kelp. She continued, "And though kelp is technically not a vegetable, it is a type of brown algae, which is plant-like."

He considered how life seemed to get consistently better. His architecture partnership had recently lost a large client, but he had come to realize that all setbacks seemed, in the final analysis, to be for the greater good. He started to eat his cod and chips. The dark, old, oak beams of the eighteenth-century pub were warped and whittled. The white walls were un-flat, pot-marked, and stained slightly brown by years of cigarette smoke.

Perhaps he was just lucky. It seemed like there were always setbacks but then when he stepped back and looked at his life over a long-enough period of time, it seemed that he always came out on top. It was as if whenever something terrible happened it was to make room for something even better. He remembered the time that his beautiful arts-and-crafts home had burned down. He had designed it himself and had it made in the traditional manner. It turned out that in the designing of his new dream-home, he had come up with a whole new architectural style, known as subversive-pre-post-modernism, for which he had now become world-famous.

He took a sip from the top of his Guinness and then chewed on a piece of cod. He remembered reading about Benjamin Franklin and his mastication habits. Franklin believed, along with a whole society of others, that each mouthful of food should be chewed fifty times. He thought it was fifty, maybe it was sixty. He wondered how many times had he chewed this mouthful.

It seemed to Elijah that, in general, the more aware he got, the happier he felt. It seemed like there was some connection between being aware and being happy. His mind drifted back to Franklin. He was a proponent of vegetarianism and he wasn't sure what to do about fish. And then one day he just kind of realized that it was okay to eat fish. He said as much in his autobiography; and that was that.

His thinking continued: perhaps a larger awareness enables the bigger picture to be seen and perhaps the bigger picture is always a good picture. Perhaps, he thought, seeing the bigger picture over history is just one way of seeing the bigger picture in general. His thoughts turned to Einstein; what was that he said? It was something about it being important for us to ask if the universe is friendly or not.

Elijah's plate was empty. He reached for his packet of Benson & Hedges, pulled one out, lit it, and threw the match into the large fire-basket beside him. The tongues of flame licked at the logs and consumed his match.

Maybe it's like a ratchet, he thought. Maybe awareness only increases. But sometimes he seemed to become very unaware, like that time when he started shouting at his client. This guy couldn't decide where he wanted the fireplace. Elijah had had to redesign the roof three times because he kept changing his mind. He breathed out a plume of smoke. At least he wasn't as frightened of poverty as Edwin Lutyens was; that man worked himself like a dog.

So then he got it: perhaps it's that our awareness is always expanding but that sometimes we're not aware of it. I like it, he thought. He smugly looked around the old inn. Couples and groups of three or four were eating dinner together. There was a gentle clanking of cutlery and plates, and a low chatter. The barmaid looked at him. He was looking in her direction in deep thought and then snapped out of it, looked into her eyes, and smiled. He wondered if the whole fish thing had been a wind-up.


Font: S M L
Receive by email:
Designed by Duncan Riach RSS Feed Icon   Site Map Copyright © 2006 Duncan Riach. All rights reserved.