Frank lifeless body floated on it side drifting in the current. We’d planned to celebrate our third anniversary with his favorite dinner.
Richard spotted him floating in the tank as I prepared his favorite meal, brine shrimp.
“Fannie, I think Frank died,” said Richard watching Frank’s body float along the top of the tank.
“What?” I asked surprised. I spotted Frank floating around the tank. “Oh, Richard, I can’t believe he died,” I said as a tear ran down my cheek. “He looked fine this morning.”
“Fannie, it’s okay, We’ll get another goldfish,” said Richard putting his arm around my shoulder. “Do you want to flush him or shall I?”
“I can’t do it. Do you mind?” I asked choking up. “I’ll clean his tank, it’s going to be a while before I want another fish.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of him.”
After dinner, I emptied Frank’s tank. Covering it with kitchen towels I placed the tank in the hall closet.
The next morning we found a notice posted on the door. Our building was for sale and the landlord would inspect each apartment the following day starting at 8 a.m.
The inspector and our landlord arrived at ten. The inspector, armed with a flashlight, tool belt and clip board, entered first.
“The carpet looks good, no signs of mushrooms in this one,” he said making notes.
Richard and I looked at each other. Our eyebrows met our hairlines as we mouthed, “mushrooms?”
Running a flashlight around the hall closet. He poked the walls and checked the flooring for damage, leaving the door open before moving on.
“The floor seems solid,” he said checking off another item. Entering the kitchen he said, “the cabinets are in good condition.”
The landlord stood by the door and looked into the open closet. “I see you have a fish tank,” he said. “Just so you know, your size limit for a fish tank is five gallons, so you don’t want to put that one into service.”
“Not a problem,” said Richard smiling.
The building sold in April. Our new landlord offered a more pet-friendly lease. In addition to our cats, we could add a dog and fill a twenty-gallon tank.
Our next door neighbor celebrated by adopting a Great Dane named Sandy.
The first time Sandy visited, Wicket slept at the end of the hall. Sandy walked toward the hallway sniffing everything in her path. She sniffed Wicket who unfurled like a jack-in-the-box. Startled, she stared at the cat. Wicket turned sideways, arched his back and hissed. Sandy backed up two steps. Wicket sat down, yawned and washed his face.
Tiffany, Sandy’s owner, said, “I thought for sure Sandy would eat him.”
“Wicket, for such a small cat, you sure are a fireball,” said Richard shaking his head. “It must be all that orange fur.”
“Well, I guess we know who rules the roost here,” I said laughing.
“Well, Tiffany, sorry to break up this party, but we are off to the pet store to pick up a 20-gallon tank,” said Richard.
“What kind of fish are you getting?”
“We’ll be getting some goldfish,” I said, “but we need to wait a couple weeks until the tank bloom subsides or we will kill the fish. It’s taken me several months to get over the last one we lost.”
“Fannie gets very attached to her fish,” said Richard smiling at me.
“Is that how you lost your last one?” asked Tiffany watching Sandy investigate the kitchen floor.
“No, we had Frank for three years. He was the first pet Richard and I got after we got married.”
“Well, have fun. Come Sandy, it’s time to go home.”
Sandy stood six inches from the cats’ food dish. Saliva pooling on the floor. Wicket sat behind the bowl staring Sandy down.
“Sandy, come,” said Tiffany. Sandy did not move. “What is the matter with you? Sandy, come.”
Tiffany walked over to the dog, taking her by the collar pulling her away from the bowl. Sandy did not budge. Wicket rubbed against Sandy’s leg. The spell broken, Sandy followed Tiffany out of the apartment.
“Fannie, have you figured out how he does that?” asked Richard.
“Not yet, but I think we can thank Ms. Peach for that skill. She tried to eat him when he was a kitten and he somehow bested her. We’ve never been able to figure out how.”
“Ms. Peach, really, that’s hard to imagine.”
“Yeah, I know. My mom loves to tell that story,” I said wiping up the saliva with a paper towel. “Let’s go get the tank.”
Setting the tank up in the living room took about two hours.
“Well now we just have to wait two weeks, then we can go pick out our fish,” I said cleaning up the last of the packaging.
Two weeks later, Tiffany stopped by with a small package. “I got you guys a gift for your new fish tank,” she said handing me a bag.
Opening the bag revealed a plastic bag filled with water and a fancy black goldfish.
“Wow, I’ve never seen anything like it, what is it?” I asked admiring the fish.
“It’s called a Blue Oranda,” she said. “So what are you going to name it?”
I looked at the fish for a moment and said, “How about Blue Shamu.”
“Blue Shamu?” asked Richard laughing, “what kind of a name is that? Can’t you give a fish a normal name?”
“Of course not. My name is Fannie Cranium. My mother’s name is Velverlorne and my aunt’s name is Verla. Do you really believe I have a normal relationship with names?” I asked laughing. “Come on, Richard. Besides, you got to name the last one.”
“Blue Shamu it is then.”
“Richard, since we have so much room in the tank, we should get him some friends.”
The next day we added, Mini-me, George Washington McClintock, G.W. for short and Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve after my father’s favorite radio personality from the 1940’s. The name just sounds fishy.
Two weeks into the new tank accommodations, Blue Shamu bought the farm. After dinner I found him floating in the corner of the tank. Fishing him out of the tank I stood there contemplating.
In a moment of weakness I placed him into an empty spice jar for later burial. I couldn’t bring myself to flush him, instead putting him in the refrigerator.
I forgot to tell Richard.
Richard, working late in the office, decided he wanted a midnight snack. He walked into the kitchen. Opening the refrigerator he spotted a small bottle on the shelf. He picked up the bottle.
A glassy eye fixed its gaze on him. Gasping, he dropped the bottle. It bounced off the refrigerator door, hit one of the shelves, bounced back against the door, hit the bottom shelf and landed on the floor where it rolled under the kitchen table resting against one of the chair legs.
Awakened by the noise, I asked, “Richard, are you all right?”
Richard said, “Yes, Fannie, everything’s fine. I dropped a glass. Nothing broke, go back to sleep”.
Richard decided not to get upset. Instead performing the burial at sea for me. As I fell back to sleep, I vaguely remembered hearing him humming “Taps” just before the toilet flushed.