Mind Fields: Interview With A Fish

Insight Into a Writer’s World

 A note from Arthur Rosch:

One day I was passing the fish tanks in a large pet store. I hadn’t intended to buy a fish. The idea was absurd, as we were then planning to move into an RV. Nothing stays put during the driving portion of RV adventures. An aquarium would be a disaster. Now that we’re hardened RV hipsters, we understand the uses of Gorilla tape, bungees and slip-loks. We can, to a degree, securely fasten doors, closets, cabinets, drawers, small children and  demented adults. In the early days any sudden turn would bring all the silverware out to bury itself in the faux wood paneling.  

A fish swam up to the glass and fastened its eyes upon me. It was a thumb-sized cichlid with iridescent stipples of blue and red. It was stunningly gorgeous.

“Hey,” said the fish. “I’m for you. Get me out of here.”

I tried to ignore the creature but it kept pace with me the length of the aquarium. Other fish got out of its way as if it were a predatory monster. 

“I’m serious,” said the fish. “They don’t obey my orders in here. They don’t know who I am. What am I supposed to do with an undisciplined rabble like this?” Its eyes almost crossed with contempt. “Angel fish? Mollies, guppies, goldfish? Star fish! I have only one good thing to say about star fish. They don ‘t drop their weapons and run when the fighting gets hot.”

 I had to stop. The fish and I squared off and looked deep into one another’s eyes. 

 “General?” I inquired. “General Stonewall Jackson?”

“I know,” he replied. “This is embarrassing. I was a Presbyterian.”

That was how I acquired The General. He liked people. He hated fish. He ate the female cichlid we introduced into his tank. 

We rigged a special travel bowl that hung from a hook on the motor coach’s ceiling. No matter how we bounced and yawed, the nylon sling that held the bowl kept the General’s water nice and placid. When we planned to stay somewhere for a while, we bought ten gallons of bottled water, heated it to the proper temperature and put The General in his aquarium. It was a major pain in the ass.

End of  note. Begin interview.

General Cichlid: Mr. Rosch, you’ve maintained a literary career of extraordinary purity. You sold a story to Playboy Magazine in the late 70’s. It won a prestigious award. The online magazine Exquisite Corpse published two of your satirical pieces. Aside from fleeting brushes with notoriety, you’ve barely sold or published anything at all. In fact, I believe no one besides your partner and your household pets has ever read your most important work. 

Arthur Rosch: First of all, please call me Arthur.This formality is silly. You are one of the household pets who has read my work. In fact, you’ve read more of my work than anyone besides my partner.

General: Yes, thanks for setting up that music stand and turning the pages. You’re a patient man.

Rosch: Fox did most of the page turning.  You know how she is.  Anything for a reader.

General: Let’s get back to the uncompromising nature of your written work.

Rosch: It’s easy to have integrity when you’re not getting paid.  The lack of pay is a great motivator.  There’s always the looming possibility of posthumous fame.  I don’t worry about it too much.  I’m fairly certain I’ll be forgotten long before the quality of my writing is recognized. I’m content to leave my work for my posterior.

General: You don’t find this obscurity frustrating?

Rosch: Not at all. If I became a successful writer, I would have to behave like one. I would have to increase my medications. I would have photos taken of me with my chin on my fist. I would have to travel on airplanes. Who wants to do that?

Further Author’s Note:

As you can discern, The General was a remarkable fish. The preceding fantasy is half true. One story about The General that is completely true involves an amazing leap of faith, an awesome feat of piscatory prowess.

One day I was cleaning my friend’s aquarium. I had prepared a large bowl with about three gallons of his water, and set him to swimming in it while I poured out the rest of the water and cleaned the gunk off the glass and out of the filters. The General wasn’t thrilled about this; he slapped the surface of the water with his tail and darted in angry circles. Before meeting The General I had never conceived that fish could have such elaborate personalities. Now I know better. Animals, all of the creatures on this planet, need to be taken seriously. Fish, fowl, mammal, invertebrate, they are all conscious, each with unique complexity. The General was a lesson.

Having cleaned the rocks, the castle, the toy soldiers, (Yankee and Confederate) and the pumps and filters, I put the aquarium back on the table. I went through the procedure of getting fresh water to the correct temperature and began filling the tank. The General was in the big bowl, about four feet away on a dining table. I was going to net him and transfer him back to the aquarium. Then I would gently pour the water in the bowl back into the tank until it was topped off. 

I approached the table with the net in my hand. I was about to chase The General around the bowl until I had him in the little rectangle of green mesh. He saved me the trouble. With an explosive leap, the fish flew through the air to make a perfect dive into the aquarium. Sploosh!!

Let me make this completely clear. A fish the size of my thumb flew a perfectly accurate arc that must have been at least twenty feet in total extent. If he had missed he probably would have died.

I will assume that the General was taking no more risks regarding demise by friendly fire.

This, I swear, is completely true.


Arthur Rosch is a novelist, musician, photographer and poet. His works are funny, memorable and often compelling. One reviewer said “He’s wicked and feisty, but when he gets you by the guts, he never lets go.” Listeners to his music have compared him to Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Randy Newman or Mose Allison. These comparisons are flattering but deceptive. Rosch is a stylist, a complete original. His material ranges from sly wit to gripping political commentary.

Arthur was born in the heart of Illinois and grew up in the western suburbs of St. Louis. In his teens he discovered his creative potential while hoping to please a girl. Though she left the scene, Arthur’s creativity stayed behind. In his early twenties he moved to San Francisco and took part in the thriving arts scene. His first literary sale was to Playboy Magazine. The piece went on to receive Playboy’s “Best Story of the Year” award. Arthur also has writing credits in Exquisite Corpse, Shutterbug, eDigital, and Cat Fancy Magazine. He has written five novels, a memoir and a large collection of poetry. His autobiographical novel, Confessions Of An Honest Man won the Honorable Mention award from Writer’s Digest in 2016.

More of his work can be found at www.artrosch.com

Photos at https://500px.com/p/artsdigiphoto?view=photos


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3 Comments on “Mind Fields: Interview With A Fish”

  1. Hi Art, like you I enjoy fish. I also enjoy birds and wild animals. I wouldn’t keep any as pets though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. joylennick says:

    You are definitely a ‘one-off’ sir! Tee hee. Cheers! (My husband once kept fish in an aquarium and they used to lay quietly on the bottom, until he played a lively record and suddenly the eels were alive to the sound of music! (Just saying…)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. artrosch says:

    The General was a very special fish but I’m not contemplating being adopted by another cichlid. I better stay out of pet stores.

    Liked by 1 person

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