by Nolan Liebert
I had a phonograph once and just one record. It was a very important record. Nobody liked to listen to it except me. It was a shark.
“Listen to this,” I’d say to my friends. I’d put the record on and turn the crank. Out of the horn would come the wet crack and silence of a shark being harpooned. It was followed by a riotous cheer, the zip of the cross-cut saw, the wet flopping of the headless shark, and the helpless struggle suddenly stopping.
“Turn it off,” they’d say. “Nobody wants to hear that.” Or, “We can’t dance to that.”
They didn’t understand. I didn’t want them to dance. I wanted them to listen. Instead, they left and slammed the door.
The recording continued, seemingly forgotten, for some time—sailors shouting, the sound of wooden kegs being cracked, ale sloshing on the deck, laughter, singing. The shark was not in any of this, not from the beginning.
The sounds ended abruptly, much like the shark, but before the end, there were a few minutes of silence, like everyone had gone to bed. All you could hear was the ocean and the sound of the needle scratching the surface.
Nolan Liebert hails from the Black Hills where he lives with his wife and children in a house, not a covered wagon. His proximity to the Sanford Underground Research Facility feeds his obsession with dark matter, as his farmboy roots fed his obsession with plants, herbs, and alchemy. His literary experiments appear or are forthcoming in An Alphabet of Embers, Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry, and elsewhere. You can find him editing Pidgeonholes or on Twitter @nliebert.