She Sells Seashells

from by Thunderegg

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Well, the way she handled herself up at the bar, I liked everything I’d seen so far. A Scotch, a schnapps, Schlitz straight from the tap, they’d give her more and she’d just set them back. I asked her who it was that she worked for, her answer came clear as golden ore: She sells seashells by the seashore. She sells seashells by the seashore.

I said, You can say that pretty great, and tried myself, but couldn’t get it straight. Stuttering and stammering at all the wrong times, but she said when it’s your job, you eventually get it right. She runs a little seashell stand over in the powder sand, cause she sells seashells by the seashore.

I was impressed, I must confess, that she could lay down her line without a single misstep. It was a mess with all those S’s but she said it with finesse, I tried it again, but still had no success. She leaned in close and said she’d be my coach, said if you want to get it right, you gotta start slow. Repeat: She sells seashells by the seashore.

She said the most important thing is you gotta relax, brought some Red Label to our table and a bottle of Black. I emptied rocks glass after shot glass and by last call, I think I’d gotten the knack. Don’t let your tongue twist up your lips, she leaned in once more, said, just like this: She sells seashells by the seashore.

The barman called out it was closing time, play word games on your own clock, not on mine. And we spent the rest of the night practicing speech, and when I came to the next morning, I was lying on the beach. Alone, alone, and not a soul in sight, but the surf sought to remind me, whispering in the morning light: She sells seashells by the seashore.

I walked forever on the powder sand, searching for the seashell stand, but I found nothing, and then it occurred to me, why would she be selling something that I could find for free? Her words were lined up to deceive, and what kind of fool am I to believe that she sells seashells by the seashore.

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from Spent Butane (1999), released September 7, 1999

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