In his landmark surrealist novella “Trout Fishing in America”, Richard Brautigan described the sale of a used stream in need of relocation.  Written in 1961, Brautigan foresaw the commoditization of American waterways, where the streams he loved to fish are bought and sold by the linear foot.

I got off the bus right next to an abandoned Time Gasoline
filling station and an abandoned fifty-cent self-service car
wash. There was a long field on one side of the filling station.
The field had once been covered with a housing project dur-ing the war, put there for the shipyard workers.

On the other side of the Time filling station was the Cleveland Wrecking Yard. I walked down there to have a look at the used trout stream. The Cleveland Wrecking Yard has a very long front window filled with signs and merchandise.
There was a sign in the window advertising a laundry
marking machine for $65.00. The original cost of the mach-ine was $175.00. Quite a saving.


There was another sign advertising new and used two and
three ton hoists. I wondered how many hoists it would take
to move a trout stream.


There was another sign that said:


THE FAMILY GIFT CENTER,
GIFT SUGGESTIONS FOR THE ENTIRE FAMILY


The window was filled with hundreds of items for the entire
family. Daddy, do you know what I want for Christmas?
son? A bathroom. Mommy do you know what I want
for Christmas? What, Patricia? Some roofing material

There were jungle hammocks in the window for distant
relatives and dollar-ten-cent gallons of earth-brown enamel
paint for other loved ones.

There was also a big sign that said:

USED TROUT STREAM FOR SALE.
MUST BE SEEN TO BE APPRECIATED,

I went inside and looked at some ship's lanterns that were
for sale next to the door. Then a salesman came up to me
and said in a pleasant voice, "Can I help you?"

"Yes, " I said. "I'm curious about the trout stream you
have for sale. Can you tell me something about it? How are
you selling it?"


"We're selling it by the foot length. You can buy as little
as you want or you can buy all we've got left. A man came in
here this morning and bought 563 feet. He's going to give it
to his niece for a birthday present, " the salesman said.


"We're selling the waterfalls separately of course, and
the trees and birds, flowers grass and ferns we're also selling
extra. The insects we're giving away free with a minimum
purchase of ten feet of stream. "


"How much are you selling the stream for?" I asked.


"Six dollars and fifty-cents a foot, " he said. "That's for
the first hundred feet. After that it's five dollars a foot."


"How much are the birds?" I asked.


"Thirty-five cents apiece, " he said. "But of course
they're used. We can't guarantee anything."


"How wide is the stream?" I asked. "You said you were
selling it by the length, didn't you?"


"Yes, " he said. "We're selling it by the length. Its width
runs between five and eleven feet. You don't have to pay anything extra for width. It's not a big stream, but it's very
pleasant. "


"What kinds of animals do you have?" I asked.


"We only have three deer left, " he said.


"Oh What about flowers?"


"By the dozen, " he said.

"Is the stream clear?" I asked.


"Sir, " the salesman said. "I wouldn't want you to think
that we would ever sell a murky trout stream here. We always make sure they're running crystal clear before we even think about moving them. "


"Where did the stream come from?" I asked.


"Colorado, " he said. "We moved it with loving care. We've
never damaged a trout stream yet. We treat them all as if
they were china. "


"You're probably asked this all the time, but how's fishing
in the stream?" I asked.


"Very good, " he said. "Mostly German browns, but there
are a few rainbows. "


"What do the trout cost?" I asked.


"They come with the stream, " he said. "Of course it's all
luck. You never know how many you're going to get or how
big they are. But the fishing's very good, you might say it's
excellent. Both bait and dry fly, " he said smiling.


"Where's the stream at?" I asked. "I'd like to take a look
at it. "


"It's around in back, " he said. "You go straight through
that door and then turn right until you're outside. It's stacked
in lengths. You can't miss it. The waterfalls are upstairs in
the used plumbing department. "


"What about the animals?"


"Well, what's left of the animals are straight back from
the stream. You'll see a bunch of our trucks parked on a
road by the railroad tracks. Turn right on the road and follow
it down past the piles of lumber. The animal shed's right
at the end of the lot. "


"Thanks, " I said. "I think I'll look at the waterfalls first.
You don't have to come with me. Just tell me how to get there and I'll find my own way.


"All right, " he said. "Go up those stairs. You'll see a
bunch of doors and windows, turn left and you'll find the
used plumbing department. Here's my card if you need any
help. "


"Okay, " I said. "You've been a great help already. Thanks
a lot. I'll take a look around."


"Good luck, " he said.


I went upstairs and there were thousands of doors there.
I'd never seen so many doors before in my life. You could
have built an entire city out of those doors. Doorstown. And
there were enough windows up there to build a little suburb
entirely out of windows. Windowville.


I turned left and went back and saw the faint glow of pearlcolored light. The light got stronger and stronger as I went farther back, and then I was in the used plumbing department, surrounded by hundreds of toilets.


The toilets were stacked on shelves. They were stacked
five toilets high. There was a skylight above the toilets that
made them glow like the Great Taboo Pearl of the South Sea
movies.


Stacked over against the wall were the waterfalls. There
were about a dozen of them, ranging from a drop of a few
feet to a drop of ten or fifteen feet.


There was one waterfall that was over sixty feet long.


There were tags on the pieces of the big falls describing the
correct order for putting the falls back together again.


The waterfalls all had price tags on them. They were
more expensive than the stream. The waterfalls were selling
for $19.00 a foot.


I went into another room where there were piles of sweetsmelling lumber, glowing a soft yellow from a different color skylight above the lumber. In the shadows at the edge of the room under the sloping roof of the building were many sinks and urinals covered with dust, and there was also another waterfall about seventeen feet long, lying there in two lengths and already beginning to gather dust.


I had seen all I wanted of the waterfalls, and now I was
very curious about the trout stream, so I followed the salesman's directions and ended up outside the building.
O I had never in my life seen anything like that trout
stream. It was stacked in piles of various lengths: ten, fifteen, twenty feet, etc. There was one pile of hundred-foot
lengths. There was also a box of scraps. The scraps were
in odd sizes ranging from six inches to a couple of feet.


There was a loudspeaker on the side of the building and
soft music was coming out. It was a cloudy day and seagulls
were circling high overhead.


Behind the stream were big bundles of trees and bushes.
They were covered with sheets of patched canvas. You could
see the tops and roots sticking out the ends of the bundles.


I went up close and looked at the lengths of stream. I
could see some trout in them. I saw one good fish. I saw
some crawdads crawling around the rocks at the bottom.


It looked like a fine stream. I put my hand in the water.
It was cold and felt good.


I decided to go around to the side and look at the animals.
I saw where the trucks were parked beside the railroad
tracks. I followed the road down past the piles of lumber,
back to the shed where the animals were.


The salesman had been right. They were practically out
of animals. About the only thing they had left in any abundance were mice. There were hundreds of mice.


Beside the shed was a huge wire birdcage, maybe fifty
feet high, filled with many kinds of birds. The top of the cage
had a piece of canvas over it, so the birds wouldn't get wet
when it rained. There were woodpeckers and wild canaries
and sparrows.


On my way back to where the trout stream was piled, I
found the insects. They were inside a prefabricated steel
building that was selling for eighty-cents a square foot. There
was a sign over the door. It said


INSECTS