by Jim Ruland
One night before the fisherman went to sleep he removed his wedding ring and placed it on the nightstand. The next morning his wife was gone. He put the ring back on his finger later that evening and when he woke to go fishing the following morning his wife lay by his side as if nothing had happened. A few days later, the fisherman and his wife got into a terrible argument. The fisherman went out in his boat and flung his wedding ring into the sea. The following morning his wife was nowhere to be found. The fisherman regretted his rashness and cried for his wife’s return. While preparing dinner, he found the ring in the belly of a sardine and slipped it on his finger, vowing never to take it off again. In the morning, his wife was in her usual place, sleeping soundly as ever. But the unhappy couple continued to bicker. After a violent confrontation brought on by too much wine, the fisherman cut off his ring finger and threw it into a sky whirling with seabirds, and it was carried off—ring and all—by a pelican. The next morning, when the fisherman awoke, his wife lay snoring on her pillow. “What are you doing here?” he demanded. “The disco was closed,” she replied. “What happened to your finger?”
Jim Ruland is the author of the novel Forest of Fortune and the short story collection Big Lonesome, and the co-author of My Damage with Keith Morris, founding member of Black Flag, Circle Jerks and OFF! He is currently working on a book with Bad Religion. His work has appeared in many publications, including The Believer, Black Warrior Review, Electric Literature Recommended Reading, Esquire, Granta, Hobart, Los Angeles Times, McSweeney’s, Oxford American, Funhouse, Mississippi Review, Wohe Lit and Zyzzyva. Jim runs the Southern California-based reading series Vermin on the Mount, now in its fourteenth year.