Hot Pool

It’s really nice to have use of a hot tub; to be able to relax daily after work or sport, or just for leisure. But boy those things burn money, especially if they’re outdoors. So Wayne was delighted when he found its natural equivalent: a hot spring bubbling in a mossy pool in the forest. Strangely the hot pool contained a rainbow carp, which swam peaceably among the bubbling waters.

Wayne didn’t know how the fish would react to his presence, so did not enter the water immediately. He dipped in an arm, and waited to see. The fish nibbled a little and then swam around it. Wayne stripped off entirely and jumped right in. Ahhh! It was the perfect temperature – maybe 105.

He soaked in the hot pool every day after work. The fish became friendly and nibbled his cheeks, and swam between his legs. Sometimes it came right up beside him and touched heads, as if trying to send thoughts.

Wayne spent lots of time in the hot pool, and began to experiment with different poses. He stretched out along its rocky side and enjoyed the bubbles tickling his body; the fish swam alongside. He lay diagonally across the pool with arms spread wide, bubbling waters raising him up; the fish swam beneath, and around him. He sank to the bottom and sat like an Indian Yogi, with hands making mudras; the fish settled in his lap.

Beside the hot pool was a tall Norway Spruce. Wayne had noticed its lower branches shaking periodically, but hadn’t paid much attention. Today he saw a ratty face appear for a moment, and large black eyes peer in his direction; whiskers twitched and then disappeared. The next day the face appeared again attached to a slender, silver body and bushy tail. With its strong limbs and sturdy claws the squirrel danced an upside-down jig on the tree, as if trying to attract his attention. Wayne waved at it and submerged. The fish was bothering him excessively today, almost doubling the bubbles in the hot pool.

The next day the squirrel climbed higher in the tree. It crushed some leaves, creating a sweet, citrus-like smell, which made the hot pool intoxicating. Wayne sank to the bottom once more, making mudras. The fish pecked his feet and thighs.

Wayne began to hear squeaking sounds underwater. He wondered if they came from the gap where the water entered, but when he laid his ear against the rocks, realized it wasn’t from there. Could it be the fish scraping something? But it was swimming freely. Oh no, had the squirrel fallen in? He rose quickly as if a sea monster, smashing ships and drowning sailors. The squirrel was high up, staring at him intently. It nodded with ostentation.

After a few days the squeaky sounds began to adhere, and eventually formed words. “Hey, Man! Can you hear me now? Hello? Hello?”

“Who is this?” said Wayne, which was a dumb thing to do underwater, and he came up spluttering. The squirrel was even higher now, staring down. Wayne submerged again.

The squeaking said, “You don’t need to speak, stupid; just think. I thought you were the one who was more evolved. Anyway, it seems that we understand one another now. Raise your hand and say hello.” Wayne lifted an arm above the water. “Yeah, that’s right. Greetings! Now, look, the issue is this. I’m trying to better myself. Every day I rise a little higher. You’ve seen that. I’ve moved from the ground to way up this tree. Heading skywards. But our friend Fish is stuck there in the waters. She’s swimming in circles forever. I’d like to help her rise also, but don’t know how. That’s where you fit in. I’ve seen your kind. You seem to be able to move between realms – yesterday water, today land, tomorrow sky, the day after, who knows?”

Wayne almost opened his mouth again, but remembered, and thought instead. “How are you talking to me?” He thought. “Squirrels don’t speak.”

Don’t speak! Don’t speak! That’s a good one!” Wayne heard what could only be laughing; the word “chittering” came to mind. “Don’t speak? Of course we speak! All creatures speak in their own way. Anyway, the point is that Fish really wants to join our conversation, but can’t tune in. You know about evolution, don’t you? She is our ancestor. Not the Universal Common Ancestor, but pisces, the same species near enough. Is it fair to leave her out just because she’s less evolved?”

“Of course not,” thought Wayne. “What can I do to help?”

“Now I saw those strange poses you performed. What do you call them?”

“Mudras,” said Wayne. He only knew three from Yoga 101.

“Yes, mudras. Is there one associated with fish?” The squirrel was speaking progressively faster. More like Wayne would expect one to speak.

“Not that I know of,” said Wayne. “But there is the legend of Vishnu taking the form of a fish and saving the first Man.”

“Well, it’s payback time, buddy,” said the squirrel. “Now you save the fish. Why don’t you sit cross-legged in the…”

“Lotus position?” said Wayne.

“Yes, lotus position, and place her on your lap.”

The fish was troublesome, but Wayne held her on his lap, half-in-and-half-out of the water. Wayne closed his eyes, ready to commune with Supersoul.

There was a rushing sound and light touch on his shoulder. Wayne opened his eyes, surprised. There was frothing in his lap. He jumped up, bewildered. The squirrel ran up the tree, grasping the fish. Wayne stared, open mouthed. The squirrel reached mid-way and stopped to look down at him, superciliously. Wayne waited for him to say something, and then remembered that he must to be underwater to hear. There was lots of squeaking-laughing, and then said skiouros, the shadow-tailed, “It’s survival of the fittest, my friend. Survival of the fittest.”

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