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A Secret on Bleecker Street

For the Word Hunt Challenge. Words used "Seashell" "Mermaid" and "Maid" and just in case using both Mermaid and Maid is kind of like cheating... also... "Scallop" naturally.

By Stephen Kramer AvitabilePublished about a year ago 19 min read
A Secret on Bleecker Street
Photo by Florida-Guidebook.com on Unsplash

When the ocean tossed its waves onto the shore, it meant nothing. But when it pulled the waves back in, it was a curled finger, beckoning someone to enter. At least to Randall, anyway.

He didn’t know what possessed him that one day. Because he frequented the ocean. He saw the beckoning waves often. He ignored them every time. But he fantasized about what they meant each night before going to sleep. Fantasizing about waves… how exciting am I? Randall would make the joke in his head, but it didn’t stop his fantasies.

But that one day… the air smelled saltier. The beach was more humid as soon as he pressed his feet into the sand. The seagulls were quieter. Dead silent, in fact.

He noticed all these things. He didn’t know if that was the reason for his emergence into the ocean. But it was the only difference between that day and the others. The waves beckoned him in the same as they always did, with the same gentle lapping. It’s just that he listened that day.

He was amazed how thin the water felt. It offered no resistance. He stepped along the sandy floor of the ocean with ease. The ocean water even pulled him in slightly. Not with strength. Not an undertow. But like a gentle lover urging him to join her in the bedroom.

Okay, these fantasies might be getting out of hand.

When the ocean floor dipped too low, Randall began to swim. Again… with ease. He glided through the water like a paper airplane in the air. One push with his legs and he would sail for a hundred feet. Why was it so easy to swim suddenly?

About two thousand feet into the ocean, Randall spotted someone or something up ahead. He kicked up towards it and saw crimson hair bobbing up and down on the surface of the water. The hair was attached to a cherry red, blushing face of a woman. The ocean water had turned green under the day’s sun. She looked like a bobbing apple in a vast can of lime juice.

She rose out of the water, dipped underneath, and kicked up… her tail! She surfaced her head once more and revealed much of her body, including her seashell cup bra which Randall deciphered to be a balconette bra. Randall assumed she was a mermaid.

“Are you a mermaid?” He asked.

“Yes, I am a mermaid.” She answered.

Randall assumed right. She was a mermaid.

“What are you doing?” Randall asked.

“I have been beckoning you out here.” She said. “I need help. I need to escape. I’m trapped in a horrible place.”

So, she had been the one using the waves to beckon Randall. Randall asked her about this. The mermaid said she would beckon him with the waves, every day around the same time. After the sun reached its highest point and then she was granted her one break a day to eat a meal and then once she finished her meal because she would finish it quickly she would come up here and beckon him. That’s when. Whatever time that was, it lined up with when Randall often came to the beach. Around one-ish. Randall asked what her name was. Ruby was her answer. Her name complemented her hair. Randall complimented her hair. Her face blushed to further complement her hair. She reached out and touched his nose. Something slimy spewed out of her fingers and coated his nose.

And then she was yanked underneath the surface of the water!

Randall submerged his face to see some force dragging Ruby to the bottom of the ocean. It was a swirling plume of air and water, seafoam white, with specks of metal in it. It was latched onto her tail. Randall kicked his feet at the sky and propelled his body down… pushing himself faster than a submarine… deeper than one too… and with no issue. The water… it was so thin, still. The bubbles blew past Randall’s face as he continuously kicked his feet and pushed himself down, down into the depths of the ocean. The bubbles tickled his face and the water increased in its icy touch.

And Randall could breathe. He could feel the ‘something slimy’ on his nose, it had dried and plastered itself to his nose, like a breathing apparatus of sorts.

Ruby continued to get dragged down into the darkening, murky depths. Her arms flailed above and her fin was pinned below her, being wrenched downwards. The surrounding water suddenly lightened in color. Beautiful aquas all around that were easy to navigate with the eyes. Structures all over… on the sloping hills connecting with the ocean floor. The ocean floor was a large rocky slab, littered with small and large buildings constructed of rock and seaweed… and with more… underwater people.

More mermaids… Randall assumed.

Randall saw Ruby get yanked into one of the buildings and so he kicked his feet and angled his body and spun himself towards the building. He flew in through an open window… it was just open… that's how you get flies in the house… and water…

By the time Randall entered the building, he saw Ruby, dusting a countertop. He found himself in a fairly modern underwater home. New appliances, perhaps white in color, but everything looked aqua due to the atmosphere. A couch that was in good condition except for one corner which was falling apart and peeling, strings pointing off every which way like dried leaves on a dying tree. Ruby continued to dust the countertop, particles being flung off the countertop and then just hanging in the water at eye level.

Randall asked if she lived here. Ruby said that she worked here. This was the terrible place she couldn’t escape. Randall saw a chain connected to her tail fin. Randall asked if she was a prisoner.

“Feels like it, the way my boss treats me.” She answered. “But no. Obviously not.”

“What do you mean, obviously?”

“Well, I’m a maid.”

“How was I to know you were a maid? You didn’t tell me.”

“Sure I did. When you asked if I was a mermaid, I said that I was.”

Just then a merperson entered who Ruby identified as her merboss. He was the merCEO of one of the biggest companies down here. And he was a ruthless boss. He was rude to Ruby. And he was rude to Randall, especially in the way he asked who this “ugly-two-legger” was. Ruby said Randall was just a friend. The merCEO was dissatisfied with this answer but left the room, calling back, “I’m docking your pay for not announcing you were bringing a guest, and no lunch tomorrow.”

“But we’ve never agreed on that being a rule. In fact, you said I can have guests at any time!” Ruby called back.

“I changed my mind. And the new rule starts… an hour ago! So, you’re in violation!” He yelled as he slammed the front door shut behind him, which wasn’t much of a slam, considering he had to fight against the medium of water.

“See what I mean?” Ruby said to Randall.

“And he keeps you locked up down here.” Randall motioned at the chain on her tail fin.

“He does. And that is not typical practice down here.”

“I should hope not.”

“I think he keeps the key in his room somewhere.”

Randall didn’t hesitate. He sprint-swam into the bedroom. Well, first into the bathroom, because he didn’t know his way around. Strangely, the toilet just had a hole in the bottom and beyond it, Randall could see the outside of the house. Perhaps it wasn’t so strange. They were underwater. Did Randall expect running water in this scenario? All he knew was, he was never swimming in the ocean with his mouth open ever again.

MerCEO-bowel-movement-juice.

Randall found the bedroom. It was a cluttered mess, even though the rest of the house was pristine. The merCEO probably didn’t let Ruby come in there to clean. Why would he do that? If he had something to hide, that’s why. Randall searched, he pulled furniture out from the wall and scanned behind them, he flung books in the air… the water… they stayed suspended. One book opened and the pages fluttered about, and several photos of topless mermodels fell out and twisted slowly in front of Randall’s eyes.

What’s this guy hiding photos in books for? What's the need to hide them? Is he 13?

Then, Randall found the closet… separated… His and Hers.

Ohhh.

On the top shelf, a shoebox. A dead giveaway. Mermaids don’t wear shoes. Nor do mermen, merCEO’s, mernothing. Randall opened it up. Inside, a rusty old key. He brought it back out to Ruby, who had a saltshaker in her hand. With her fingers on her other hand, she was digging out clumps of salt and eating them.

“You really like salt, huh?”

“Why do you think the ocean is so salty?”

Randall ignored this remark as the first thing it reminded him of was two weeks ago when he was boogie boarding and kept wiping out and probably two gallons worth of ocean water went into his mouth and he swallowed half of it. He tried the key on the lock on the chain and it worked! Ruby was free!

“I need to go back to my old place and get some of my stuff before we escape!” Ruby shouted.

Randall had so many questions. One of which, the most important, being the question of what this escape plan entailed, where they would be going, etc. Instead, Randall focused on a less important question. He asked where her place was and stated how he thought this was her home. Ruby informed Randall she had been trapped here, obviously, with the chain and the lock and the key. But she had technically been living here. But her last residence was with her ex-merboyfriend. He was a merbiker.

Randall followed Ruby as she glided elegantly through the underwater city. She swam gracefully, fin flapping with freedom, weaving and turning around all obstacles. Randall did his best to follow her. But he was also preoccupied. Her last boyfriend was a merbiker? And they were going to bust into the place so she could get her stuff? Randall smelled trouble.

Well, Randall’s sense of smell didn’t work too keenly underwater… if it did… he’d be breathing water… and very dead. Also, Randall wasn’t good at gaging situations which was the more literal issue versus the metaphorical one. They arrived at the house and Ruby’s ex-merboyfriend sat on the couch, a thin and frail merman. Not a scary biker with a tail fin like Randall thought. It turned out, Toby, the merbiker, was an avid collector of bicycle pieces which sunk into the ocean. He had tires and spokes and banana seats and gears hanging all over the place. He was instantly intimidated by Randall’s presence and sunk deeper into the couch.

Randall and Toby made awkward small talk about bike parts while they waited for Ruby. She finally emerged with a bag, half-packed, and several things in her hands. Among them, several more scallop bras. Many of which, Randall assessed, were halter bras. Ruby asked how many scallop bras he thought she would need. Would they last on the surface… things of that nature. Randall explained to her that they made bras from other materials on the surface and she would probably be fine to leave them all and buy new ones. She said she didn’t have money. Randall said he did and he would buy them for her. He would just need to know her measurements. He asked what cup size she was and much to his delight she said “sea… shell.” He wasn’t sure if it was the perfect accidental moment that was handed to him from above… or if Ruby had a secret sense of humor.

Ruby then pulled out a scallop and asked if she would need that. Randall said there was no need, there were plenty of seafood places she could eat at above the water. Ruby, Toby, and the scallop all gasped. Ruby said the scallop was not for eating. It was her purse. Randall said she should just bring it in that case and looked down at his feet sheepishly.

With that, the two took off before Toby got too far into his story about how he thought he found a pair of bike handlebars but it turned out to just be a couple of hammers. That was really the whole story. Randall had no idea how Toby thought there was anything more interesting to extract from that story. Randall followed Ruby to the surface and they splashed through from the watery medium into the air-filled one Randall was so familiar with.

Ruby pulled the slimy, crusty thing off Randall’s nose and put it over her own. In the light, it was almost invisible, Randall realized. In fact, only if someone knew to look for it, would they see it. A transparent breathing apparatus. Brilliant.

Randall and Ruby swam to shore, snuck onto the beach and into Randall’s car, Ruby laid down in the backseat since it was difficult to fit her large tail in the front, and they drove off.

Next came the part Randall forgot to ask about. What were the rest of the details to this escape plan?

But Randall couldn’t ask in that moment. It would have been awkward.

I know I just helped you escape your underwater prison and it’s your first time on dry land, but uh, where you planning on staying? You got a friend in town or uh, like a uh, coupon for one of the nearby hotels?

Randall drove to his home on Bleecker Street, not far from the ocean. It was obvious this was where Ruby would be coming to stay. And stay there she did. Randall felt the grace period before he could ask her where she intended to live would extend to three days. Enough time to get over the mess of being imprisoned, rescued, fleeing the only life she ever knew, blah, blah, blah.

Randall was going to bring the subject up after three days. He convinced himself he would. But as the days went on, he wanted to ask Ruby less and less. It turned out, her “sea… shell” cup comment was a joke. She had an excellent sense of humor. She knew a bit about human culture and life from sunken magazines and books and the occasional passing fishermen as she floated just below the surface. Ruby was fun to be around. And she was the one who insisted on getting a job to help pay for groceries and “renties” as she called it. Randall had no idea where she got that from, but he never corrected her because “renties” sounded like a fun time.

Randall asked what she would be qualified to do. She reminded him… that she was a mermaid. That’s what she was qualified to do. She was the mermaid for the merCEO. Before that she was a mermaid for a mermayor. Before that she was one of several mermaids for a merlandpolo player, which the mere thought of confused Randall so he didn’t ask. And her very first job was as a mermaid for door-to-door merbusinessman.

It all made too much sense. Randall was sloppy and worked a lot of hours. He barely had time to clean and with his free time never desired to. But he hated a messy house. Perfection! He now had a live-in mermaid. Ruby would take care of all the cleaning and laundry and organizing. She cooked a few meals… Randall had to get her to make the full meal first, then split it in half, then season her half to her liking. Her meals were delicious just as long as she didn’t add the salt. She was a salt fiend.

Life went on. Ruby tired of living in “air” and asked if something could be done. Randall purchased a large aquarium that hardly fit into his place. Half of his living room was taken up by the behemoth, but it made Ruby happy to have this place for herself. She spent a good 50% of her non-working hours in the aquarium.

Randall got promoted at work. He was making a lot more money now and always told himself when he could afford it, he would get a better apartment. But moving Ruby and the aquarium seemed like too much work so he just stayed put at his place on Bleecker Street. He got better at buying bras for Ruby. His bra-buying game was elite. So elite, his level of comfort in the bra stores exuded a peculiar confidence that radiated to all the employees. That was when he met Ellen.

Ellen worked at a new bra store that Randall tried. Randall knew they weren’t actually called bra stores. But he called them that anyway. Just like on the first of every month he paid “renties.”

Ellen was interested in just what Randall was always doing at the bra stores. The bra community spoke of him highly and often. He was a legendary and much-storied figure. Ellen would talk to Randall every time he came into the store. She asked him a lot of questions about what he was always doing there. Eventually, Randall agreed to tell her if she would go on a date with him first.

Ellen agreed. They went out for dinner. Randall had a veggie plate. Ellen had lobster. Randall was concerned about her apparent infatuation with seafood but he brushed it off. The date concluded, Ellen kissed Randall on the lips, and then quickly asked him about the bras. Randall said she wouldn’t believe him if he told her, he would have to show her. Ellen said that sounded like a line. Randall agreed. But then he also noted how it sounded like a line from a movie that the main character would say and then the love interest would always find out that the main character was not lying. Ellen agreed.

Ellen went with Randall to his place… and she met Ruby. Ellen received the full story, details and all, including Toby’s stupid story about the handlebars that weren’t handlebars. As Randall retold that portion of the story, he laughed. Maybe there was something funny to Toby’s story. Ellen was mystified. The story, Ruby, she was enamored with it all. She was now infatuated with Ruby. She came to Randall’s place often, for dates with him, but also to talk with Ruby.

But the novelty soon wore off. After a couple months, Ellen was very self-conscious about the other woman in Randall’s life.

“She’s my mermaid.” Randall would reason. “That’s all. Strictly business. Also, we’re friends. But that’s it. Because we’re roommates… that’s why we’re friends. So, strictly, business and friendship and roommates. That’s it!”

Ellen would constantly bring the subject up when they went out to eat. She didn’t like how much Randall was doing for Ruby. The fact that he wouldn’t move from his place on Bleecker Street because of her. The aquarium he bought her. She often implied that she thought the two were having sex. Then, one night, she said it.

“What? That’s ridiculous!” Randall was shocked. “How would it even work? I don’t even know if it’s possible. I mean, obviously, they must be able to do it with one another, but even if I wanted to, I don’t think I am equipped. She has that tail fin… it’s one big whole thing… how would I even… and whatever, it’s a moot point. I don’t want to. And we aren’t.”

Randall realized afterwards he should have never given the “Even if I wanted to” angle when defending why he had not had sex with his mermaid. No partner wants to hear that. He should’ve just said they hadn’t and he didn’t want to. He may have dug his hole deeper.

A few days after that discussion, Randall got another promotion. More money. Ellen said it was plenty of money for a new place. Randall agreed. He did want a new place and he did want to move in with Ellen. And with all this money, he could hire some movers to move Ruby’s aquarium, get a really great company, pay them a lot, make sure they handle it with care. And he could bring her to the new home in the car afterwards.

Ellen said she would not live in the same home as Ruby. She didn’t want to share a home with her boyfriend and another woman. She gave Randall an ultimatum. It was Ellen or Ruby. Randall asked what he was supposed to do with Ruby. Ellen said it wasn’t her problem. She emphasized that it wasn’t the problem of either of them. Ellen went on to say that Ruby was an adult and could handle her own life.

“An adult mermaid living on land.” Randall said.

Ellen didn’t like that. “Her or me.”

Those were the last words Ellen spoke to him before storming off. Randall was left to sit with that for days while he considered his decision.

Finally, Randall came to a decision. He went to Ellen with an answer to her ultimatum… but it included an ultimatum of his own. He told Ellen that he would live with her, they could move, but they weren’t going to be moving into any of the big homes that they had been scoping out. He said they would move into a moderate-sized home. He wanted a house that was nice, but cheaper, so that way he could have more spending money for himself. Ellen was over the moon. She didn’t care if it wasn’t the big house, she was just elated that Randall made a mature decision and chose her over a mermaid.

Over the next few months, the two looked for houses, finally landing a cute one just three miles away from Randall’s current place on Bleecker Street. Ellen asked Randall what he would do with Ruby and he repeated Ellen’s words. “She’s an adult. She can handle her own life.”

Ellen was so proud.

The two finally moved into their new moderate home. They were so happy. Randall proposed to Ellen shortly after, making a joke about how they did things backwards, but that that’s how he always does things. Ellen laughed at his joke. She said yes to his proposal. The two were even happier.

Randall’s new job was rewarding. More money, more responsibility, however, it also came with more time for him to take off. He was often able to skip out early. Randall delegated work to other coworkers and was able to leave if his work was finished.

That was perfect, because then he was able to head over to one of the bra stores, pick up a few nice pairs, perhaps even stop at the beach for some seashells, and then head to his old place on Bleecker Street. His still current place on Bleecker Street that he still paid for with the money he saved by buying the moderate-sized home. He would head over, bra bag in hand, knock on the door five times, then two times, then head in. Ruby knew the secret door knocking code so she always made sure to be decent… seashells on. Randall would head inside, talk and laugh with Ruby, in her apartment that he paid for… but that she kept very tidy.

The two would watch TV, have long discussions, laugh about anything that came to mind, and just have an innocently good time. Randall would head home at the usual, expected time, back to his home. His dirty, filthy home that neither he or Ellen ever wanted to clean. They were both the same way.

If only Ellen would let Ruby come and be their mermaid, their house would be immaculate. But Randall would never tell Ellen about his situation. He figured it wasn’t a big deal. It’s not like he was having sex with Ruby anyway. Not that he would even know the first place to start if he wanted to! Also… he didn’t want to. But even if he did…

Life continued on that way. Ruby had her own life. She saw Randall several hours a week. It was a good time for both, especially for Randall, hanging out with a good friend who he shared a past with. He would head home and have a lovely life with his soon-to-be wife, Ellen. Even if their house was dirty and unorganized.

Ruby stayed in her new place, never able to head outside in the world above water. So, she spent a lot of time watching TV and movies. She became that person who was able to watch everything and stay caught up with every show who you envied because you would be like, “I don’t have enough time to watch everything I want to. How do people have the time to watch all this stuff?”

And it was heaven for her. Far better than her past life. She started a blog that became very successful because she had a unique take on all the shows and movies she watched. She reviewed them all and wowed people with her fresh vision.

She especially enjoyed comedies.

That’s why, if you drive by Bleecker Street slowly with your windows down, you just may be able to hear the uproarious cackle of a woman with all the time in the world to watch all the shows she wants to watch… the cackle of a merwoman, that is.

Or a merblogger, perhaps. It’s tough to figure out their naming convention. They seemed very tied up with titles and jobs, the merpeople.

**************

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About the Creator

Stephen Kramer Avitabile

I'm a creative writer in the way that I write. I hold the pen in this unique and creative way you've never seen. The content which I write... well, it's still to be determined if that's any good.

https://www.stephenavitabilewriting.com/

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Comments (5)

  • Samia Afraabout a year ago

    I am 45 days behind in reading all of my subscriber stories. This was very enjoyable and humorous--- bust-out-loud funny. Ty

  • Complement, compliment MerCEO's bowel movement juice Sea...shells The merbiker Toby The scallop purse and the collective gasp! These were brilliant stuff! Both Randall and I were confused with merlandpolo player 🤣🤣🤣 I wish I had Ruby's life! Merblogger is so cool! I loved your story so much!

  • I've heard mermering that this is a very tongue-in-your-own-cheek-because-it-wouldn't-be-in-Ruby's tall fish tail. (How's that on a scale of... mer to fish?) Question for you. What kind of gas does a merman use? Why Ethel, of course.

  • Real Poeticabout a year ago

    This is really descriptive. I especially appreciated this line, “He was amazed how thin the water felt. It offered no resistance” It’s almost like I was really there.

  • Captivating story. Very creative!

Stephen Kramer AvitabileWritten by Stephen Kramer Avitabile

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