Arthur left the Fishiecrats before the convention was over. He decided that watching “prostitutes” and “special interests” wasn’t as much fun as the fish and the Senator cracked it up to be.

He asked the tuna the way to the shore and finally received a straight answer from the fish.

“That way,” said the tuna, who returned to the convention to work mightily for a candidate he didn’t believe in so that another candidate he didn’t believe in wouldn’t win the election.

Arthur, similarly, began the long walk home across the ocean floor.

He walked past shipwrecks and he walked over mountains. He passed fish with glowing eyes. He almost passed a shark but walked the long way ‘round a wrecked submarine to avoid it. He met up with the wizard in an undersea coral cave and was almost captured until he teamed up with a school of neon fish to overcome the wizard and escape. And he walked over more mountains and through a few valleys, and through forests of seaweed and past plumes of diamonds and hulks of rust.

It was all very overwhelming for a kid who just lived with shopping carts because his dad had run away. He was getting very tired when he spied a dolphin with its back turned to him and thought perhaps it would give him a ride. He’d heard that dolphins sometimes did that sort of thing and it was very tough to walk and occasionally swim beneath the sea.

“Mr. Dolphin! Mr. Dolphin!” cried Arthur as he crawled over the rocks and kelp towards the steed.

The dolphin swum round to face Arthur. It had two children in tow and was smoking a handrolled cigarette. It took the cigarette out of its mouth and passed it to the eldest dolphin child.

“Peace, mon,” it said. “Stand up!”

“I’m looking for a way home,” said Arthur. “Do you know how to return to the shore?”

“Have you ever listened to da seashell on de shore?” asked the Dolphin.

“Um… yes,” said Arthur. He had done no such thing, but he knew what the Dolphin was talking about. If you put a seashell to your ear, you can hear what is happening beneath the ocean. Arthur had never been beneath the ocean before this, and had been scared of what he might hear. After this, of course, he listened to seashells all the time, and even talked back to some of his old fishie friends.

“Well, I tell you how to get home, mon. You take a shell from the ocean an’ listen, you hear de surf, an’ da soun’ waves take you home.”

“Thank you,” said Arthur. “Why are you smoking a cigarette?”

“We all do, mon,” said the Dolphin. “Have yourself a toke?”

The youngest child handed the cigarette to Arthur. Arthur put up both his hands and said, “no!” The dolphin child shrugged and passed it to his sister.

“Your choice, mon. Da sea is a free place.”

“If you all smoke, how come I’ve never seen any dolphins smoking before? You never smoke at Sea World.”

“Of course we never smoke on de surface. You kill us all we do that.”

“We don’t kill anyone for smoking tobacco.”

“This ain’t no tobacco, this is herb, mon. If we smoke tobacco, you probably put us on a pedestal. ‘Look, the dolphin smoke the tobacco and nothing wrong with them.’ Give it time, mon, you be killing people for smoking tobacco too. But this is the joint, the herb, the sacred breath of Jah.”

Arthur took a longing look at the cigarette, but it was not offered again.

“Jah love,” said the Dolphin, and he and his children swam away.

Arthur picked up a seashell from the sea floor. He turned it over a few times and made sure it wasn’t being used by anyone. All seashells are abandoned homes of things beneath the sea. But not all of them are abandoned yet. Arthur saw that this shell was empty so he put it to his ear.

He heard the surf hitting the beach wave after wave. He heard the seagulls swooping down from the sky. He heard the joggers’ feet slapping on the wet sand and their dogs jogging along behind them. He heard children crying. The dogs barked as they went about their daily run before being locked again in someone else’s home. A navy plane flew overhead. Arthur’s eyelids drooped. He lay down on the ocean floor with the seashell at his ear and he fell asleep.

When he awoke, it was night on the beach and everyone except for one of the joggers was gone. Arthur put the seashell down and walked off of the beach and back to the graveyard. He had some trouble breathing before he got used to pure air after being underwater for so long.

The Democrats are the party that says government will make you smarter, taller, richer, and remove the crabgrass on your lawn. The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it. — P.J. O’Rourke (Parliament of Whores)