:: Article

The Long-Term Effects of Vice Versa

By Nathan Dragon.

Take your time he tells himself, however he can’t take a thing. He’s convinced he, hexxed, lost it in the famously tall grass or he gave it away to someone by accident in a wad of things.

Still, he’s been rushing it.

He has to tell himself again, It’s like this: slow and at least seemingly redundant, or just as likely, unlike that. It’s much easier if you can lay it all out in front of you though. Supposedly. They say it’s easier — having it spread out and smoothed out. Something about seeing the full picture, about how to get a good look at it at all and if that’s possible.

Step back a little, a little to the side.

Then how to approach it, while acknowledging, again?

The Marine Biologist has been frustrated. Like he’s in front of something greenish-blue, flat, tall, and expansive, obstructing him from any view past it, and restraining him from any movement he’d be capable of at the same time pushing back against him pushing up against it.

It’s all in the knees. Bend them a little. It’d be easier. Crouch and lift. He’s tried.

It’s like this: like he’s been hooked up and plugged in to a shock machine, old fashioned electro-shock treatment, with his face pressed into the greenish-blue wall. Making a smooshed face, like that face you may have once rushed to make when you were young, pressed up against the window in the back seat of whatever relative’s car. And there’s this lab coat guy talking into his lapel. He’s not a colleague of the Marine Biologist, that’s for sure, couldn’t be a Marine Biologist. More like an Oceanographer to the Marine Biologist, because of the rivalry thing, though that’s not it either. Because even the Oceanographers aren’t this weird about the specifics, MB thinks, trying to get his bearings.

Then Lab Coat Man says, this time towards The Marine Biologist in a condemning tone: What color is that? pointing.

He’s being very demanding, MB thinks. Uh, it’s greenish-blue sir.

The Marine Biologist gets shocked.

It’s actually blueish-green, Mr. Marine Biologist. Try again.

It’s blueish-green, sir.

He gets shocked again and it goes vice-versa for a while.

He knows that it’s all he can do so it’s all he does.

He knows what it is otherwise, outside of this. He’s getting jammed up. But he doesn’t give them their damn rise, he guesses that’s what they’re after. How people like that kind of thing.

Which one is it? is it in an ability to act rationally, or irrationally, according to the situation? terminally, or, with even the proper terminology, denoting and dubbing things what they really are, matching words with their proper meanings — other words? What if it weren’t teal but turquoise or turquoise and not teal?

He’s getting something simple here mixed up.

He tried to remember what he’s learned so far.


He remembers he was standing there. Actually, he was sitting there missing something, as it sometimes happens, and sometimes it’s something you don’t expect. Sort of a pulpy luck that comes with it.

He was distracted by something tomato blue that’d itched him.

He was smiling to himself, silly with the thought of something far off and a while back, and then with the hiccups for some time before anything else started.

Before he left for the grocery store—which is how he has fun now.

Which is fine.

He knows his name at least. Even if he doesn’t know who he was — anaphylactic memory block-loss. Along those lines.

It was always these kinds of things keeping him in; in a was it this way or that way sort of way, if the conditions could be slightly more perfect and less busy.

Sometimes he remembers when it finally came twinkling back to him. He said to himself, Ahhh, uh huh, then a few lines about an airport. A specific airport at night. He could see glass blinking and placed it.

Maybe he’d been making this up though; something, a possibility he was always aware of. Hard to say. But it made him feel almost noir sitting with himself at the sticky kitchen table.

But what’s the one thing versus the other?

This morning, the Marine Biologist woke up frustrated. Not wanting to be pushed.

One time, in the blue of fish lights, he saw a service dog lose its cool. He thinks: that’s what it felt like.

Nathan Dragon’s writing has appeared or is forthcoming in NOON Annual, New York Tyrant, Egress, The Collagist, and 7×7 LA.

[Home page photo: Frank Robhot.]

First published in 3:AM Magazine: Sunday, September 29th, 2019.