Andy looked at his goldfish. “They say money can’t buy you happiness, but that doesn’t apply to gold coins.”
Each morning, he put his hand inside the fish, and pulled-out four or five.
He learned that the goldfish produced more, if it was basking in the sun, and fed five times a day. The cost of fish food alone, was running up the bill. The lady at the pet store, kept giving him fishy looks.
“You buy a lot of fish food,” she said. “What kind of fish do you have and how many do you have? With the barrels you’re buying, you could feed a whole fish farm.”
Andy just smiled at her, mysteriously, and let her ask her questions. People who worked in pet stores were crazy, anyway, he thought.
When he got home, the fish was waiting.
“Dad, what do we do with these gold coins?”
“Save them up in that leather bag I gave you, and then I’ll melt them down into gold bars. I’ve checked with the Jewish pawn brokers. They let me know that two Japanese brothers will give a fair price for precious metals, smuggled, or not. They don’t care. Secrecy is their middle name.”
“What show are you watching?”
“It’s a murder mystery of some sort. I think there’s a vampire in it.”
“Is it any good?”
“I think so, but I started watching it, in the middle. You should be writing. TV will rot your brain. It’s what old folks do, because there’s nothing left between their ears but wax.”
Andy walked into the TV room and sat in one of his dad’s leather chairs. The stuffing was coming out in several places, where the mice had burrowed in and nested. When he shifted his weight, the chair squeaked. It wasn’t the springs.
When the show hit a commercial, Alan picked-up the National Inquirer and started reading. Andy stared up at the ceiling where the cigarette smoke was staining the white paint.
Technically, there was no smoking allowed, but practically, nobody followed that rule. It was like that question on the insurance adjustment form, “Are you a smoker?”
The whole world is biased against addicts, but first, they make you addicted.
There was a scrambling sound in the living room, and then, breaking glass.
Andy rushed in to see Beaker the cat, standing over the fish bowl with a golden tail, like a forked tongue, sticking out of its mouth.
“Beaker, you just ate a million dollars. Cough it up. That was dad’s retirement, and my collage fund,” but Beaker swallowed in response.
Andy reached for his pocket knife.
“No. Don’t do that,” Alan said. Squeeze him.
But no matter how much pressure they applied to the cat, Andy and Alan couldn’t get the fish to swim out.
In fact, Beaker’s breath smelled like he had already digested his lunch.
“That’s the fickle nature of fortune,” Alan said. “Oh well, we probably have enough gold to get us through the next decade.”
Alan went back to reading the National Inquirer, as if nothing had happened.
Andy was devasted. I guess old age puts wealth in perspective. It’s not a big deal, when death might steal your life.
“I know what I’ll do, I’ll schedule another therapy appointment. It’ll only cost 100 dollars.”
“I think you’re out of luck,” Alan said from the other room. “Your psychoanalyst lives two blocks down in 209, am I right?”
“Well, it says here, that he was murdered, or at least, the police think he was murdered. They found a lot of blood and a broken mirror. They suspect it was a disgruntled patient. Alister was eccentric in his methods of mental health treatment. His memorial is scheduled for next week. In the meantime, his office is a crime scene.”
“I wonder if they cleaned up the broken mirror?” Andy asked. He was looking at the living room wall, when he said this. “I’m going for a walk.”
It was a sunny day, and Andy’s shadow was following him on the sidewalk. When he got two blocks down, there was the yellow tape, and a notice from the police, not to trespass. Andy walked into the waiting room, and through the door of Alister’s office.
It was barren, with the exception of blood stains on the floor, a chalked outline of a little man, and smashed mirror fragments that had fractured everywhere.
Andy reached for the drawer, for one of those big plastic bags, Alister put the fish in. Then he scooped up the shards until the whole mirror was in the bag. He walked out of there, like Santa Clause. And when he got to the apartment, he began to unpack the mirror.
“What did you get?” Alan asked.
“Do you remember that mirror, I told you about, that I looked into?”
“Well, here it is.”
“Trust me, the killer won’t be looking into this mirror.” Andy stared at his fractured reflection for a moment. “All I need to do, is fuse it together.”
To be continued…