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The Allegory Stupid of Jacob Starfish

Something began to drain from the world. As he died, Jacob's mind was surprisingly blank. This embarrassed him. "Even in my unconscious, dying state, I should have something flashing before my eyes!" He held on. The only thoughts he could focus on were those of reincarnation. He thought about the pigeon he had caught earlier in the day. "I'd like to come back as a pigeon. A regular-sized pigeon. Life would be so simple! I'd just fly around all day and eat bread...back and forth and back and forth."

And so Jacob died. He was reincarnated. He was not reincarnated as a pigeon, regular-sized or otherwise. He was not reincarnated as a bird of any kind. He was reincarnated as a bum.

Not an infant bum, but a grown-up bum, 57 years old with a nameless dead wife and two kids, Roger and Marcy. Roger owned his own plumbing business. Marcy was a researcher of some kind. It had been ten years since their mother had been killed in a traffic accident. Neither had even spoken to him in eight. Sometimes his children thought of him as dead, too. He didn't think about them much, either.

And he had a bit of a drinking problem, and no place to live. During the day he would wander the parks or sit in the library. He slept where it was warm and ate things that people threw away and went to the shelters when there was space. He would ride the trains. He muttered things. There were people that said hello to him, but no one who knew his name. He wasn't even terribly sure of his name. His name wasn't Jacob any more.

One spring morning he awoke on a Subway train in Brooklyn. Light streamed through the windows. The train had gone above ground. He sat up, stretching. An empty mini-bottle of something fell out of his coat pocket and rolled across the speckled floor. It stopped at a rumpled pair of slacks bunched up around a pole.

He considered his own pants, which had never been new. The belt loops were holding up, but the knees were wearing thin. From his pocket he took a hunk of a bagel wrapped in a napkin. He cracked off a piece and ate it. He looked out the window. The sun was shining. A few bright clouds hung in the clear blue sky.


Date Written: March 24, 2004
Author: Jacob Starfish
Average Vote: 4.25

03/24/2004 Jacob Starfish: PART IV
03/24/2004 Jacob Starfish: PART I
03/29/2004 John Slocum (4): I like this denouement, we've come full circle, with the train, the sun, the pants. It's a slightly bleak and depressing ending, and for some reason I like it that way.
03/30/2004 Benny Maniacs (4): The finishing cycle to an ambitious and mythological saga. I like that he was reincarnated as a bum and would like to see someone illustrate Mr. Starfish's ideas - Mr. Pony perhaps. But since that's not going to happen, I'm going to picture those illustrations in my own head (Pony's).
03/30/2004 Jimson S. Sorghum (4): Yeah, don't forget Rogers' plumbing, too. That fucker shoulda seen it coming. I guess none of us do. sigh...
03/30/2004 Jon Matza: So long, Starfish.
03/30/2004 Jimson S. Sorghum: letters i've written/never meaning to send...
07/6/2004 Mr. Pony: Shhhh Shh Shh. Go to sleep.
07/7/2004 TheBuyer: Just read the whole thing all the way through for the first time and skipped all the comments. Sure I'd seen them here and there on my random short field trips, but who remembers those trips. Then I went back and read the comments. The comments for this whole series bothered me. It seems to me that at the time everyone was too busy trying to guess the game, which is half the fun, to get the allegory. Also, someone alluded to or mentioned outright, I don't remember which, an element; I'm going to drive home now.
07/7/2004 TheBuyer (5): Okay, that was a gruelling drive. There was a fucking helicopter on the freeway medi-vac'n some lazy bugger out of a twisted wreck...anyhow.
the separation element. Getting to read the whole thing all the way through all at once kicks ass; I hate to wait. Conversely there would have been riotous bitching if youd published this all in one go. There's more, but commenting further would be The Insipid Asskissing of Jerky Satirefish, Prat MC. So five all the way through except for the bits I already voted on. up yer bum.