Carson Fisher sat at the edge of the rickety, grimy vessel, fishing pole hanging loosely in one hand as he wiped a tear with the other. There were exactly two thoughts fighting for supremacy in Carson’s brain at that precise moment. They were:
A. The hope that his soon-to-be father-in-law wouldn’t notice the result of his being literally bored to tears, and:
B. The tragic irony of having a last name that had absolutely zero correlation with his primary interests in life.
These thoughts were masked behind what Carson hoped looked like rugged concentration or thoughtful introspection, but in reality looked more like stubborn constipation.
He didn’t want to go on this deep-sea fishing trip for a number of reasons, not least among them the fact that Carson had the nagging feeling Mr. Campbell always had nothing but contempt for him. That and the fact that even after being with Emily for nearly ten years, Carson still couldn’t bring himself to calling her dad anything but “Mr.” or “Sir”, even at his (what Carson saw as phony) insistence to “just call me Bob.”
Suddenly, Carson was violently yanked forward, almost over the edge of the boat. His pole nearly broke from the stress, the boat’s pines even creaked. Mr. Campbell looked at Carson. He’d make a good poker player. Seconds dragged by. Silence.
“Give ‘er some slack.”
Carson did as he was told, fearful that he’d be pulled overboard otherwise.
And just like that, he was.
Carson zoomed by like a torpedo as his dinky little fishing pole pulled him through the water. The first thought in his mind was to let go, but this was replaced at once with the terrifying realization that he never learned how to swim. Just as Carson started to file this fact in his mental list of reasons Mr. Campbell should hate him, everything went black.
“Carson, get up! For God’s sake, kid!”
The images came in waves. First, there was the island made up entirely of garbage. Then came the sight of a cut-up, bruised Mr. Campbell. (God damn it, did he always have to look like a grizzled old action star? It was making Carson look bad.) And finally, there were the slimy garbage monsters holding them both captive. Wait, what?
“Bring the cleanies to me!”
At once, Carson felt the oopy-doopy slime of one of the monsters as it wrenched his arm and pulled him to a much larger garbage monster that sat on a throne comprised largely of old AOL trial discs. The apparent garbage king sniffed the air before addressing them.
“You can almost smell their fresh stink!”
Some of the garbage monsters groaned at this. Others laughed. All of them competed over who could react the loudest to the king’s words. They settled down. The Garbage King hammed it up.
“Both of you cleanies have been charged with trespass upon our sovereign land. Your punishment shall be death. Have you any words?”
“Trespass?! We wouldn’t have even been here if one of you didn’t yank my… Carson… over here in the first place!”
Carson was momentarily pleased at the thought that Mr. Campbell was mere syllables away from calling him his son-in-law. He didn’t say it, of course, but it was something. Even so, the massive confusion of the situation outweighed his satisfaction.
“What in the hell are you things?!”
Many of the garbage monsters grumbled at the indignation of being called things. The Garbage King was livid.
“We are the supreme race of Earth, the masters of the clean and unclean alike! And we shall wipe the smear of humanity from the face of this planet, one cleanie at a time!”
“‘Supreme race’, my ass! You lumps of trash wouldn’t even have a home if it weren’t for us ‘cleanies’!”
The garbage monsters were stunned into silence at Mr. Campbell’s words. This was Carson’s moment, his time to stand up alongside Mr. Campbell. He’d give them all a piece of his mind.
“Yeah… that’s right…” Carson looked around for material to use. His eyes inevitably returned to the throne of CDs. “The ’90s called, they want their AOL trial discs back!”
Mr. Campbell groaned, just in time for the two of them to be wacked on the head by two of the more brute-looking garbage monsters. Darkness.
When they both came to, they were in a dungeon that smelled like the combined fecal efforts of several large animals. A heavy, locked door sealed them in. Carson turned to Mr. Campbell.
“I’m sorry. I really screwed up this time. I’m sure you’re used to this by now, but…”
“Used to what?”
“Me screwing up. Figure you’ve got a tally going, right? ‘Reasons why Carson should never marry my daughter.’”
“Why would I do that?”
“You’re joking, right? You’ve never liked me. I could always tell.”
Carson picked at the ground nervously. His nail struck something. He looked down to see a paperclip glinting amidst the garbage.
“Hold that thought.”
Carson grabbed the paperclip. After several fumbling attempts at the door, he finally got it unlocked. Under cover of the loud snores of the now-sleeping garbage monsters, the duo made their daring escape.
They got on their rickety boat, started the engine. Just then, the garbage monsters roused from their slumber and immediately gave chase. They would be there any second. The engine sputtered.
Carson leapt into action, desperate. He throttled the engine to full power and sent the boat speeding away just before the monsters had the chance to grab on. The two drove on in stunned silence for what seemed like hours before Mr. Campbell turned to Carson. He hesitated for a moment before placing his hand on his shoulder.
“Truth is, son… You’ll make a fine husband for my Emily.”
Carson looked at his soon-to-be father-in-law, incredulous.
“Th-thank you, Mr. Campbell, sir.”
Mr. Campbell smiled, all too used to this.
“Just call me Bob.”