Piranhas In Paradise

Putting My Feet In The Dirt September Writing Prompt#11- Trespassing In Paradise

Red Bellied Piranhas

I used to have this image in my head, it was an image of a river shaded by trees and sailing on the river under the branches  was a little boat and sailing along in that little boat were three people.

One of the people  in the boat stood up, the boat rocked and the person fell in.

All of the sudden the water looked like it was boiling, the people in the little boat were shrieking and when the water stopped boiling a skull with a few strands of hair bobbed up and down and the river swept it away.

Piranhas- if they could exist anywhere they could exist in the rivers by my house- why not?

After all, you could buy them at the Pet Store.


Some kids played  ” Hot Lava ” and like a lot of other kids so did I.

I expanded my repertoire- I introduced my friends and siblings to Piranhas.

Unlike Hot Lava where you were on your honor to ‘burn alive’ and shriek when you fell in, when we played Piranhas  some of us were  Piranhas so pinching was a big part of the game.

It was awesome.

Before I turned 10 years old Piranhas were getting to be famous in the movies and comic books- mostly horror  comics -so it wasn’t hard to get everyone on board with man eating Piranhas even though  pinching was involved and in some cases this boy who was from a family that started ‘rock fight teams’ for fun started biting too.

In case you’re curious, the Rock Fights were actual rock fights and believe it or not  there wasn’t any malice involved. We stopped though because in the middle of one of  the fights Todd was attempting to hit his own brother and his brother ran for it and the rock sailed through their living room window.

Back to the fish.

I knew the Piranha story was a bunch of hooey first hand.

We used to have an aquarium and my Dad used to take us to the pet store to buy plants

and fish for it-

Anyway in the back of the store in a dark room was where they kept the  Piranhas. I used to think they kept the  mean fish in the dark because they were scary- the reality   is some of those ‘mean fish’ were also nervous by nature and I guess the low lighting helped to keep them calm.

On one of our visits to the Pet Store  I was wandering around and I came up to the tank of Piranhas and yes…. I did it.

I stuck my hand in the tank. I couldn’t help myself. I figured I could pull it out before they stripped my hand  to the bone – that was the down side but the upside was, I’d get to have a skeleton hand.

All those poor fish did was crowd into a corner at the bottom of the tank and I knew I had scared them pretty badly. I pulled my hand back out and shook the water off. They were still in fish pile in the corner. That really bothered me. I may have been Captain of the Neighborhood Rock Fighting Team and head Piranha Pincher, but I was never mean to animals.

I went to find my Dad and asked if we could get some Piranhas and he told me they were really hard to take care of and if you didn’t take good care of them they’d die. I told my Dad I promised I would take care of them and could I get a couple.

He said no, but he did buy me an Angel Fish and some Neon Guppies.

I really did hate knowing the truth about Piranhas.

It was right up there with knowing Vampires didn’t exist, there were no Martians waiting to attack the Earth and that if someone made me really angry I couldn’t go to a Voodoo Priest and have them turned into Zombies.

I felt like my corner of the Universe, which was full of magic and monsters and was under attack and that one day I’d lose it all together.

I thought when that happened the monsters would all disappear.

But then I grew up and I did lose that special place but it turned out the monsters didn’t disappear.

They were replaced with far more vicious monsters and these monsters don’t follow any rules and they look like anybody you’d pass on the street- or sitting across from you on the train, or maybe standing next to you at the grocery store or staring out at you from your television screen on the evening news.


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