portion of the artwork for Michael Cooper's fiction
The Love Boat
Michael Cooper

The Blue Man Group’s aboard the sinking ship, you heard? Find these men and throw them to the nurse sharks, giant toothy fish so dumb, at night, you can hear them thump their heads against the hull. Let the 116 single men and women aboard see whether these three men really have blue insides.

You’re 117, a man with breasts who moves from one one-bedroom apartment to the next when rent goes up at the end of the year, with a sister to whom you never again spoke once your parents split; your separate allegiances to each parent like Dark Age watchtowers. So watch the sharks turn the water around these Blue Men red because they can’t really be that blue.

But searching at night is hard when the ship’s gazillion lights don’t work anymore. During the day, the resident doctor says the ship don’t go north, south, east, west, only go down one foot a day like a city of magnets stretches up from the ocean floor.

117 isn’t an accurate number. There are deck hands and cooks, safety officers and Blue Men, supposedly. Someone says they saw Rod Stewart with his blistery tan and his cordless microphone, but this isn’t so much a concern. No one seems to care whether they see land again either. 58 stay below deck in the gold ballroom, where the brass band never stops playing, where the people who have found one another hardly stop dancing, the horns bleating their own separate tunes, exhausted people jerking like marionettes manned by jittery children, people who tell you, “Get that flashlight out of here, 117.”

One bright day, the resident doctor asks, “Did you grow up hating your sister, even though you never saw her?”


But the doctor continues. “I don’t think that it’s a city’s magnetism or the Earth core’s gravitational pull that’s going to do us in. I think your sister is somewhere way down there and she yearns for your company.”

You find them that very afternoon in the spa, which can’t produce steam or heat on an energy-less ship. The Blue Man group is intact, all three huddled in the corner, shivering with their arms wrapped around each other, and their legs, too, like some big blue pretzel with lungs and eyes that go wide when the flashlight beam pauses on them.

“It’s OK,” you say. “I’ve decided not to feed you to the nurse sharks after all.”

But you go overboard. You jump right into a wet cloud of sharks and puffers, though everything darts away like you’ve got your own magnetic field. You swim away from me, too, and there’s not much that I can do. People’s bones aren’t steel and bolt. Peoples have brains and gasses, cells and liquids that would look pretty spread across a canvas, as long as tubes of acrylic purple and pink lay somewhere nearby.

By dawn, you spot an island, swarms of blue-eyed goats with foamy mouths trampling the ocean’s foam. They’re rabid, but even they run from you. By midday, other singles will have caught wind of your discovery. By dusk, they’ll have joined you, and with them, three Blue Men run from the surf to go and find their own hiding place. No one will find them there, not even you, though everyone will seem to think that the goats look a little heavier than yesterday.

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 36 | Spring 2012