The following is a
short story in a collection of articles originally produced for
NPR written by Carol Wasserman. This tells the story of Barney,
read on ...
PS "Ed" is
When Barney died, after
the doctors had done what they could, and determined that his
passing had been due to natural causes, his caretaker threw him
in the freezer and called Ed. Who drove over the bridge a few
weeks later and picked up the body.
Barney had spent a
good part of his life at WHOI, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
in Woods Hole in the aquarium, where he was a particular favorite
of the staff who looked after him. At some point he had become
depressed and had stopped eating. And, as Ed says, "How are
you going to force a ray to eat?"
A Cow Nosed Eagle Ray,
specifically; an exotic fish, flat and elegant. His body sat in
Eds freezer for a couple of months, waiting for some slack
time in the ceramic fish industry. Eventually Ed made a mold of
Barney the ray, and added him to the new summer line.
Ed has a little shop
on the old road to New Bedford. He sells copies of the shiny colorful
scup and stripers and flounder which swim around out in the bay.
And sweet candy-colored little tropicals who met their deaths
in home aquariums. Its hard to get the big fish, though,
before theyve been gutted and cleaned by fishermen. And
so Ed relies on the kindness of a network of people who make their
living disposing of deceased museum exhibits.
"I think this
is a fair trade-off," Ed tells me. "Barney was dead,
but hell live forever now and be seen by hundreds of people."
And isnt this
promise of immortality through art exactly the thing upon which
so many of us - also destined to go The Way Of All Fish - hang
our slippery hopes?
Courtesy of Swimming
at Suppertime by Carol Wasserman published by Random House