hen P-XIE refused to justify her surgery, the reporter asked if it was so she could marry a fish. Her publicist cut the interview off. But that became the story. Pop Icon Gone Fishing: Are Real Men Not Good Enough for P-XIE?
Three months later, on a sun-soaked Saturday afternoon outside Saint Louis, police erected concrete barriers around a shore-side lot along the Mississippi. They led up half a mile to the front of the gated clinic where her operation had been performed. The lot was packed before noon: tailgaters, reporters, photographers, bloggers. The righteous, the curious, the bored. Some came with signs. Some sold beers. A woman hawked T-shirts that read: I Wish I Were a Fish out of the bed of her truck.
At 4:30, a repurposed U-Haul left the clinic, trekked down the half-mile of onlookers, stopped at the shore, and pulled open the back. Two doctors hopped out, cranked some cranks, and levered some levers until a five-by-ten tank rolled out to the end of a platform. P-XIE faced the crowd. Her signature pink hair had been shaved off. Diamond studs gone from under her left eye. Bubbles lazed out of two slits beneath each ear. Her chest was bare down to her belly button where the tail began: thick, blue, scaled. It reached the bottom of the tank, fins curled up against the glass.
One of the doctors circled the tank. She ticked something on her clipboard, asked P-XIE questions, ticked again and again. Each time she ticked, P-XIE did something different. She flipped, twirled, bent, flexed, covered her ears, held her nose, and blew until bubbles fountained from her gills. The woman nodded and walked back to stand beside the truck. P-XIE crouched low in the tank, tail coiled beneath. She sprang up over the rim and dove into the Mississippi. All was quiet. One moment stepped over another, and P-XIE popped back up with a smile. That’s when the first rock fell into the water beside her face.
Then another. Another. Bottles, rocks, garbage, half-eaten food, and more fell in angry little splashes around her as she slipped below the surf. When she didn’t come back, a few young men climbed over the barriers and dove in after her before the police could grab hold of them. More came. Then others. It became a raucous party. Soon, the police gave up and opened a section of barrier to let kids through. People laughed and splashed and played and forgot all about P-XIE by the time she hit the gulf.