Essay by Mal

Who are you people?

A loose conglomeration of Sons of the Donner Party, Daughters of the Hesperus, Cartheginian elephant drivers, urchin divers, personality cultists, French firemen, and a shut-in with a house full of cats.

Why’ Triggerfish’?

For not insisting on meaning anything.

How did you all get together?

We all happened to attend the International Convention of Internet Scam Artists held in Abuja , Nigeria , in June of 2003, and got to talking after a presentation by guest-speaker Billy Collins on Scamming Poets With Disparate Metaphor: The Role Of Irony In Self-Delusion.

We decided then and there to merge our fates into a single purpose, sealed with a blood-exchange ritual performed by a local shaman named Steve.

So Triggerfish is an internet scam?

Not exactly, no, I wouldn’t call it that. We just need access to an account with $10,000 as a good-faith gesture prior to publishing your poems.

Can I trust you to hold $30 million for a few months, 50/50 split?

Sure, I wear cargo pants with huge pockets that extend past my knees, plenty of room for wads of walking-around money. I’ve never worked in a bank, but I know my way around a drive-up window. Drawer or vacuum tube, I’m adept with either one, and usually swipe the pen.

Can you even count to 30 million?

HA! I can count to 30 million by fives, twenties, hundreds, prime numbers, multiples of 61, in Chinese, in binary code; I even sang 30 Million Bottles Of Beer On The Wall once all the way through to the last bottle, and then put ‘em all back in random sequence, fully accounting for every drop of Schlitz.


Don’t ask.

Have you ever been to North Dakota ?

Yes, once, and following the Yellowstone River to the border was like a trip into Heart of Darkness, a journey to confront my basest fears and most savage instincts. When I got there, I was forced to listen to petty bureaucrats with Norwegian accents complain about potato farmer subsidies and express middle-age angst over having spent their lives in fruitless pursuit of car ownership and decent television reception. The horror.

But didn’t they feed you caviar?

Yes. FROM A PADDLEFISH! Paddlefish eggs, they were smiling and eating paddlefish eggs and drinking Coors Light. Talking about curling leagues and accordion contests, slapping away at mosquitoes the size of finches. I managed to escape just before they started to polka.

Would you ever go back?

Listen, I go back there every time I fall asleep, slipping into a nightmare, trapped in North Dakota after dropping my passport at the Montana border and watching it blow all the way to Minnesota without touching the ground. And now no adjacent state will let me back in. Even Canada ignores my pleas for political asylum. I wake up in the middle of the night, shuddering with a mute scream of the damned.

But I need you to pick up the money in Fargo .

Half of $30 million is not enough.





Scroll to Top