Saturday, May 06, 2006

Beware the Ichthyoid Revolution

My family has a small, tub-sized pond in the backyard, created out of a sunken bucket and some flat rocks commandeered from the local quarry. Ostensibly, the pond was established to produce the pleasant tinkling noise that falling water makes bouncing off of stones. But, as usual with my family, we got bored with a toy that had only one purpose. It was not difficult, therefore, for me to convince them that fish would be a cool addition.

After many, many failed attempts as fish caretakers, we finally managed to find a trio (we always buy them in threes-- it's a well-known fact that fish intend to take over the world, so having three fish instead of two will decrease the chance of an ichthyoidal collusion) that could survive in our homicidal hands. As I couldn't tell them apart, I dubbed them "Wanda" (if you don't get that cinematic reference, I'm disappointed) and watched happily as they seemed to thrive in their outdoor environment. Three more pleasant fish never did live. Every morning, they rose to the surface of the pond and waited for my mother to sprinkle some fish flakes for breakfast. They basked in the sun everyday and retreated to the warm depths of the pond during the winter.

My Wandas were the strangest fish to ever be spawned. One of them, a fish that could only be described as an under-achiever, was constantly getting stuck on algae. The other Wandas, oddly enough, teamed up to push the big, dumb lump off of the surface and into the water. They did this each and every time dumb Wanda beached himself. None of us could understand this drive to help their fellow ichthyoid, but it was heart-warming all the same.

Early this spring, however, tragedy struck. Dumb Wanda had beached himself for the final time.

There must have been something about that idiot fish, because the other two Wandas later swam down to the bottom of the pond, never to be seen again. It is my personal belief that the two of them pined away without their dim-witted companion. Without him, there was no reason left to live. And so, I lost all of my fish.

Today, my mother and I decided that the pond needed new fish. We walked to the local pet store and bought three fish, strong specimens all. As we made our way back to the house, I noticed one fish chomping on the fan tales of the other two.

"Hey," I shouted, pinching the bag to separate the ornery fellow from the others. "Stop it, you little bastard!" The fish stared up at me balefully. "Play nice, " I instructed it, placing the bag in the pond to acclimate the little guys to the water temperature. With that, my mother and I took off to Borders.

We arrived home an hour later, weighed down with spoils (can't beat a "3 for 2" sale). Before even going inside, I bounded over to the pond and broke the seal to the condensation-laden bag, dumping the fish into the cool water. I crumbled the bag in my hands, satisfied that the pond was blossoming with life once more.

My mother glanced over my shoulder. "They seem happy."

"Yeah, but-- uh oh." I leaned in closer. "I think we lost one." Curiously, I poked the unmoving fish with the bag, hoping that the rough stimulus would cause it to wriggle back to life. No dice.

"That was quick," sighed Mom.

"We're murderers," I pouted, poking the lifeless corpse again. I was about to berate myself some more when I glanced down at the two remaining fish. Call me crazy, but I swear I heard little bubbly cackles from the deep.

My hypothesis: the dead fish was tail-biting tormenter, the little cannibal that I had given a talking-to. In my absence, the other two had exacted a swift and calculated revenge.

See why two fish together can't be trusted? Guard your homes and families, folks, 'cause nothing is same when fish get a'schemin'.


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