Spatterdock God

An image of a spatterdock, a yellow flower growing on the water.

I do not believe in New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I resolved to do something at last. I would launch my fleet.

It was New Year’s Eve, and I would not have done anything out of the ordinary were in not for a moment of inspiration I experienced in my shower. I was going to wash up for an evening of bed and bourbon, when I had a vision: I witnessed a convoy of barges burning in the night. They were crossing the iceless channels of the Great Lakes, on route to Detroit where I live.

As I stood in the lukewarm spray everything came to me. I would collect the vast waste deposits of the north shore of Minnesota, the wilds of Wisconsin and Ontario; the iron tailings of the UP; the trapped out/burned out forest tracks of Michigan and Manitoulin; the faeces, plastic bags, and abandoned tackle and bullets from the Crown Lands, State Forests, National Parks, and campgrounds of the region. I would pile all of it onto barges. Then I would light those barges on fire, creating an everlasting blaze no fireboat, snow or rain could quench.

When I got into bed, I toasted myself and said, “Nipigon, you will accomplish something at last.”

On New Year’s Day at dawn, the barges appeared. They were first sighted in Duluth, Minnesota. Some hungover revellers wondered at the giant bonfires sitting offshore, moving north/northeast like a herd of water striding fire beasts. By noon, the barges were passing Thunder Bay, Ontario, forming a line now extending due east, straight across Lake Superior’s wide middle. That evening, fishermen in White Fish Bay, Michigan sited a caravan of flame making its way towards the Soo and the entrance to Lake Huron.

The U.S. Coast Guard sent a cutter and fire boat to investigate. The cutter’s skipper discovered that the barges were unmanned. When the fire boat shot water at the stinking flames soaring from the long, flat platforms the crew learned quickly that nothing could calm the blaze.

When the barges entered the Soo, giant water cannons awaited them from both Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Tremendous arcs of water shot across the narrow expanse separating two great countries. Thousands of people gathered to watch the flames of hell enter the locks of their cities and threaten their homes and businesses. No watery fusillade, no hope or prayer from the fearful multitudes could subdue the inferno they saw.

By the morning of January 2nd, the lead barges were floating past Alpena, Michigan. This “fleet” extended hundreds of miles back to Duluth and into the harbor of Superior, Wisconsin. The ships simply materialized at the harbor entrance. Ghost ships, you might call them. The Coast Guard and local fisherman barricaded the harbor, but the barges kept coming, slipping through the blockade like smelts.

I enjoyed watching the breathless news reports on television. This spectacle had gone viral; it was a global phenomenon. By noon, there were barges at the Bluewater Bridge between Sarnia, Ontario and Port Huron, Michigan, at the entrance to the St. Clair River. Again, a blockage was attempted but the barges ran through it like it was not there. That evening they reached Lake St. Clair and floated past the tycoons of the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club who watched the mysterious enemy enter the Detroit River.

When the first barge was in sight of Belle Isle, a squadron of American Apache helicopters fired upon it. The explosions shot high up into the sky like an Independence Day celebration. I watched it all from my front row seat on the Belle Isle beach. Let me tell you, those missiles were terribly tempting. Oh, the things I could do with them . . .

But enough about all that. How many stories have you already read about an American city succumbing to holocaust? We live in an age of apocalypticism. My personal saga is far more interesting. You want to know how I got the name Nipigon? No doubt you’ve never heard that name before.

For those of you who know your geography, Nipigon is a Canadian lake just north of Lake Superior. It is a place that has known deforestation and overhunting. It still entertains overfed sportsmen who are undertrained and poach whatever they choose. These trigger-happy folk are guided by some Northwoods residents who feel they have no choice but to exploit the lake and its denizens otherwise they will starve or have to move away.

I come from that lake. I emerged, like Brahma, from a lotus flower, or what is also known locally as a spatterdock. For years, I grew among the summer reeds, a stout and squat pond lily. Hunters threw things over me, whether it was their piss or their bobbers or even plastic grocery bags. Once I had a bag over my head for more than a year; it sank down to my roots in the lake bottom for the winter and came back up with me the following spring. It took a muskrat to finally remove it.

This incident led me to teach myself how to walk. I sprouted new roots that I used to lift my body up and out of the shoreline shallows. I nurtured myself on the discarded carcasses of human meals and eventually hitchhiked my way down to Detroit, slipping over the border like so much illegal citrus.

Unlike the Gods you see in movies, I have not spent my life doing great deeds. I have been waiting for inspiration, hoping that my moment of genius would finally arrive. And praise me, it has.

The fact that my moment came while I was in the shower make sense. Showers are the place where everyone - Gods included- entertain grand thoughts. We often sing our hearts out, imagining a performance on the world’s greatest stages. For most, those thoughts never get past the towel rack. But like I said, I’m a God. A God who started life as a lowly water lily. Beware how you treat the flowers.


An image of Jeremy Nathan Marks, a person with short dark hair and a mustache looking to the left.

Jeremy Nathan Marks lives in Canada. His work appears in place like 365 Tomorrows, Every Day Fiction, Microfiction Mondays, Ginosko Literary Review, Sledgehammer Lit, The Journal of Expressive Writing, As It Ought To Be, Ginosko Literary Journal, and Eastern Iowa Review. His collection, Of Fat Dogs & Amorous Insects is published by Alien Buddha Press.