Hurley Winkler

Hurley Winkler is a writer from Jacksonville Beach, FL. She works for the podcast Swamp Radio, covering the rich culture and history of Northeast Florida. She is an English major at the University of North Florida. Her work has appeared in Perversion and the anthology 396 Hours.

 

The Red Snapper (July, 2014. Issue 44.)

When the red snapper rises from the belly of the ocean, it vomits its own stomach. The snapper’s glowing eyes pop right out of its head, hitting the deck next to the glowing stomach sack.

The pirate steps hard on the flopping snapper then picks it up, yanking the stomach from its mouth. With the fish’s stomach in his hand, he tosses the body of the snapper off the bow. He is alone with the stomach. The pirate places it on the deck for a moment to allow it to bake in the sun. He waits.

He picks it up and knows it is ready because it is hot. He eats it.

The sides of the snapper’s stomach burst open on the pirate’s teeth, easing digested shrimp down his throat. A small hook lodged in the stomach’s lining nearly catches the back of the pirate’s mouth. The pirate feels it scrape by.

He chews while glancing toward his anchor, which he knows is gleaming on the floor below. The sun has risen higher now to burn the tops of the pirate’s shoulders. He swallows the last of the lining and grabs the anchor’s rope.

The pirate heaves to bring the anchor from the water. The anchor hits the deck next to the snapper’s eyes, releasing a clump of sand and bits of shell brought up from the ocean floor. The pirate plucks a few flakes of shell with the ends of his fingers, flicking them overboard to keep his deck clean.

He sees the body of the snapper drifting on the surface of the ocean near his boat. He notices, touching his belly with his barnacle fingertips. The pirate sees the snapper’s eyes near the anchor and picks them up, carefully tossing them out to the snapper. He misses and the eyes sink.

“I’m sorry,” he says. The snapper floats.

The Legendary