2/28/11

Stephanie Barber

The Otter

Nobody on this godforsaken planet had any business knowing the first thing about the boy. But it was a stupid town full of stupid people with stupid nothing to spend their time at so soon as they get any old stupid idea that's what they up and do. This idea they came upon about the boy what they called The Otter was stupid and plus a hundred other adjectives the language got for everything that's not good. Why they called the boy The Otter no one seems to know. He wasn't particularly wet or grey, and well, when I think about otters I think about rocks and I never did think about rocks when I thought about the boy and I don't believe anyone else did neither. Rocks have a solid and heavy to them and the boy was whatever is the opposite of that. Though it is certain true a lot of folk get their nicknames by being whatever the name ain't. 

But I don't think anybody knew about any name reasoning behind calling the boy The Otter because by the time he came to our town everybody who'd ever known him in the past had etherized. That's how the boy put it. He said they all done up and etherized. He didn't say it menacing like. 

He spoke smooth but not oily and he spoke low. 

The Otter was a boy, sure, but he wasn't gonna put himself in school and he wasn't to get himself adopted. He spent a spell as a hand for Guntherson but Guntherson claimed the otter too suspicious to be around cattle so he let him go. Then he had an attachment of some sort at the Thunderbird and what he did there was plant a small flower garden on one side of the porch. That position ended after some traveler made a mistake all in the flowers one night and The Otter came upon him mid execution as it were. 

And it went on like that. Jobs ain't always got the right adhesive to keep a person at 'em. The Otter had ones with and ones without the indignities provided by employment costuming. He had some happened in the day and some happened in the night. He had ones required him to talk and those kept him mute for 10 hour spells, but I don't need to tell you all every detail, some of you know more about this story than I do. Hell, some of you is this story. I'm just parlaying it here by this false otter abode in hopes of illuminating some of the stupidity some of you partook in and others of you created. 

Not that there's much can be done about it now. Sometimes a something takes over a town, or a country or smaller, a family, a whatever. Has been like that since the beginning of time and we was apes doing what we ought not be doing just because we spied one of our neighbor apes doing what he ought not be doing. some scientist can tell you how you can see this in worms or tomato plants or gentle looking foxgloves all antique lavender ringing up towards heaven, but it don't much matter that it been going on so long. That ain't no salve. I'm still ashamed of y'all and I'm ashamed of myself and our town's worms and foxgloves and soil and I'm gonna guess at you all not finding it strange this here actual otter ain't coming out to say howdy to any of us. I'm guessing you might be hard pressed to meet what seems more like dark round doors to the underwater than a pair of eyes on a smallish wet animal.



Stephanie Barber is a filmmaker and a poet who lives in Baltimore, MD. Her books are These Here Separated (Publishing Genius 2007) and poems (Bronze Skull 2006). She performed "The Otter" in front of an otter exhibit at the Smithsonian National Zoo at a reading sponsored by Publishing Genius and Beecher's Magazine. The otter did not appear.

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