By Raji Singh
In honor of National Pet Month, a Fiction House reminder of those furry, feathery, leathery, or fishy special residents in our hearts…
I am James Thaddeus Fiction, the Fifth – a true Fiction. Typhoon tears me from my mother and father on board a sinking ferry near the Lindian coast. I alone survive. I become an orphan foundling, taken in by new loving parents Dr. Ben and Indira Singh. Now I am Raji. These are my found and foundling tales.
* * *
‘CALL ME TURT
‘For that is what is written on my shell. I too am a foundling. A kind human took me in as a shelling. On new shores, I trumpet my anxious call, then wait, fearing there are no more of my kind to hear. I listen. No answer. With fin-claws, I scrape the sand. I sniff. No familial soothing dank pungency to assure me my own were here or still might be in existence? My blare resonates with my melancholy.’
Turt’s leathery head, the shape, the size of a football, bobs above the glassy Lindian Ocean surf. He notices that absent suddenly are the screams and strafing of gulls. ‘Flyers know things,’ Turt thinks, ‘something is amiss.’
Octopi carcass oils pucker Turt’s tongue as they skim past his beak-snout. Blue water fleetingly shines vermillion then dulls. Clear sky mirrors the change. Turt’s sea-senses, honed over the past century-and-a-half, warn of these signs no ‘two-legs’, humans, could recognize: ‘Young Master Typhoon is born, grows beyond the horizon. Snake-sly is he. In a blink, those white-capped fangs will grow deadly. He will devour all who are upon the sea.’
Ordinarily, Turt welcomes riding out a typhoon’s rambunctious nature and thrills at their slapdash spirit. Today he is wary. For Turt is on a mission. He shadows a ferry, the Bashri Raku, to protect three passengers, Dr. James Thaddeus Fiction IV, his wife, their four-year old James the Fifth.
They are taking a two-year Peace Corps leave of their free clinic in Cincinnati that treats the city’s growing number of Lindian immigrants. They hope to recruit a Lindian – a Dr. Singh – to practice in Cincinnati and help them better understand his people’s ways.
Turt has vowed the Fictions eventual safe return to their home half-a-world away.
The family knows Turt is near, though he seldom surfaces. Faithfully, he has followed, down the Ohio, Mississippi, through the Gulf, out to sea. He dines quite nicely on sumptuous scraps the cooks toss overboard, and delicacies that swim too close. Whenever some curious critter queries ‘Whither thou goest, Traveler?’ he explains, then adds, ‘In strange lands, best I follow quietly – lest I end up in two-leg soup served in mine own shell.’
A LOYAL HOUND IN ARMOR TO GENERATIONS
Most of his life, this giant of sometimes land, sometimes sea, has looked after the Fiction line. It started with helping protect the patriarch, the foundling James Thaddeus Fiction, the Carper, 140 years earlier, from all variety of nemesis – man, animal, nature.
At a picnic two years before now, Turt rescued impetuous James V (that’s me, Raji) after he stripped off britches and skimmed quietly into the Ohio. Turt slipped quickly from bank, coursing swiftly to the rescue. Submerging, rising, he emerged with the boy fish flopping atop his shell. He delivered James safely to shore, to frantically searching parents who had looked away for ‘just seconds.’
Why does Turt do this? Quite simply, pet-to-human dedication: He is a loyal hound-in-armor to generations. Only those animals with the freest of spirit, as Turt, choose this highest form of be-knighted pet-hood. Turt has seen all the Fictions’ frailties, foibles, faults, traits that turn humans from one another. Of all pets, only the most loyal fully sense these things, never understand them, always forgive, and make fidelity, as Turt does, paramount. Turt’s bond to the three on board has been fused, hardened, and forged through generations.
Humans would call it love.
Turt will not let even the most powerful Master Typhoon pull it asunder.
But the sky reddens, ripples patter the Bashri Raku’s stern – nudging, warning, ‘The Sea is MINE.’ Belligerence rapidly grows as Typhoon reaches adolescence. Now, waves batter. Wind slaps. ‘All in it, or upon it, belong to ME!’
Next Time: THE TALE OF THE CREATURE THAT SAVES MY LIFE
(Read more of Turt and Calico in the novel, Tales of Fiction House. Join me every Sunday night at the Fiction House, your place for short story, lark, whimsy, and merriment. Meet the many residents as I archive their lives and centuries of adventures. You can read of their origins in my novel TALES OF THE FICTION HOUSE. My novel is available at Amazon, (Kindle and Trade Paperback) and Barnes and Noble.)
©2013 Raji Singh