“Chance–the hinge of the world, and a grain of dust; the stone that starts an avalanche, the pebble whose concentric circles widen across the seas.”

                                                                                    -Thomas Wolfe

More than once upon a time, a fish swam in the sea over Kansas

…but he was not alone.

He could never know that, in a hundred million years, his eight-stone fossilized self would find its’ way to the worktable of a frame-maker in California. Actually, he probably didn’t know much, after he met his unexpected end.

The snaggle-toothed specimen was preserved in perfect open mouthed splendor, as if he was about to bite a giant prehistoric pizza.

Its’ stage name was Xiphactinus Audex.

For three months I shared my shop with his meter wide, open maw, displaying rows of fifty or more teeth up to two inches long, jutting out at bizarre angles as if passing fish might simply become impaled on them, with little effort from their owner. His eyes, though blank and empty, still showed surprise, and a little irritation. Xippy roamed the inland seas of North America in the Late Cretaceous period. They grew to about the size of a pick-up truck and fossils have been found with six foot fish still in their abdomen, the opportunity of digesting having been interrupted. This bad boy, however, met a more direct fate: about three feet down from the fanged jaws, Xippy was missing. In his absence were the obvious marks where the bigger fish sawed him in half. His head fell to the silt on the sea floor while the rest of him was breakfast.

The fortunate diner was probably an ancient Ginsu Shark (Cretoxyrhina), who “devoured its’ victims by slicing them into bite-sized pieces”…which would have made for an interesting spectacle since the xiphactinus was covered in three layers of armored scales.

My intimate contact with this prehistoric parable afforded me several nights of turbulent dreams. Schools of predatory pursuers, with cartoon teeth, intent on slicing and dicing my all-too-vulnerable self, before turning to stop-action stone.

Not a moment too soon.

That the dreams were portentous, is irrelevant;  I needn’t go on to describe the obvious parallel to life on earth today…except to say, that Xippy lives among us still, traversing Kansas in a Mercedes…with a toothy smile.

“ No good fish goes anywhere without a porpoise.”

-Lewis Carroll


~ by theoxherd on May 13, 2013.

One Response to “Xippy”

  1. I’m a fan of your writing (and I’m picky). Tho, I must say so rather than simply click “like.”

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