“Look at this bloody thing…”
Calix didn’t look.
“Amazing. The way it uses its foot to get the garbage into its trunk, then from its trunk into the bin…”
“Darwin, I get it. You’re quite able to find one million and one reasons for procrastinating. I’ve asked you to take out the garbage at least…” she counted in her head “…four times in the last hour. It stinks like hell in here! Or are you too busy watching ‘Taking Out Trash for Dummies’ to notice?”
“What can I say?” shrugged Darwin. “Instagram’s so damned addictive. And this elephant video…”
He held up his smartphone for Calix to see. She, of course, made no attempt to engage. Maybe she could get him to drop dead of boredom. That way, he’d finally leave her alone.
“Seriously, it’s funny!” Darwin was trying to wave it beneath her nose now. “Don’t you like funny?”
Calix stuck her nose further into the laptop and kept typing. Nope. There would be no stupid comedy animal videos for her. No way! She had better things to do than watch dumb animals be stripped of their dignity for human amusement.
Her lack of response only put Darwin in a foul mood. He was like a petulant little child, swivelling on his chair and pouting. Then he stopped, and continued to fuss a finger about his phone’s tiny screen. “Fine. See if I care,” he muttered to himself.
Calix sighed inwardly. After an evening of this infantile behaviour, was he now going to leave her be?
Then suddenly: “Calix! I just remembered!” Darwin jumped out of his chair.
Calix nearly wiped the laptop clear off her desk in surprise. And the ballpoint pen. Panting, she turned to Darwin, her look promising nothing but retribution. “What the fuck, Darwin…”
“The goldfish! I found it in the toilet bowl yesterday.” He flapped his arms a little, as if this would aid in her comprehension. It didn’t.
“In the en suite. My toilet bowl. It was having a good old paddle. Happy as Larry!”
“Dammit, Calix. It’s an expression. Do you have to take everything I say literally?!”
“On the contrary, I feel a powerful impulse to not listen to anything you say at all.”
Silence. It was the only decent response. Anything else would have been a waste of words. No matter what Darwin said, Calix would have a counter. So, no words. He’d clamp his mouth shut, flick through his Instagram and ignore the hell out of her.
Calix, for her part, didn’t give a damn. It was all the same whether her friend spoke or stayed quiet. Sure, she betrayed the faintest hint of a smile but that was only because she loved to annoy him. The rest of her face was kept scrupulously impassive as she positioned the laptop back into its correct place and resumed typing.
“Anyway, it’s a free country,” Calix said evenly. “Everyone can be wherever they want whenever they want. I don’t tell the whole world about your visits to the restroom and that sometimes you spend hours in there. It’s your legal right. What I don’t understand is why you don’t think the fish should have this same right?”
Darwin couldn’t help but bite. “I didn’t say it couldn’t! What I’m saying is how the hell did it get there?”
“Are you sure it was a fish? Or maybe you didn’t flush well enough and it wasn’t exactly a… you know… fish?”
“I do not shit orange turds, okay?! Jesus!”
Surprisingly, Calix started to look interested by this point. She shut her laptop and turned to give Darwin her complete attention. It was as if her inner Sherlock had suddenly activated. Yup, she was ready to pick up the trail of the murderer.
“Okay, let’s start again. What did you do in the toilet?”
“I didn’t do anything!” protested Darwin. “Well… I was going to. A number one to be precise.”
Calix nodded, and marked something in her notebook. Darwin blinked in confusion. Where the hell had she suddenly whipped that from? And was that his pen she was using? His favourite pen! Why wasn’t she using her own pen?
“Could you give me more details?”
“Hey! That’s mine!” He indicated his pen. “Get your own! The one you were chewing on!”
“Please. Don’t try to confuse the investigation.” Calix kept writing in the notebook. “Now, tell me, what did you do in the toilet on the 11th of September between 6:30am and 7:15am?”
“I said I didn’t do anything!” Darwin was flapping his arms again. (Perhaps for emphasis?) “I was going to take a piss but then I saw the goldfish in the toilet bowl and decided against it. Look, how many times do I have to say this?”
“Are you sure you’re not hiding some important details?” Calix squinted at him with suspicious eyes. “I’m certain I heard sounds at the time that testify you were not using your nether or nozzle exit. And leave the pen alone, scrooge!”
She snatched the pen away from Darwin’s grasping hands, and shot him a frosty look.
“Okay, so I chundered a little bit,” he sighed, dropping his arms to his sides. “Are you saying that’s a crime? It didn’t hurt the goldfish any!”
“And why do you think the goldfish appeared in the bowl before you started to barf, and not after? Hmmm?”
“What?” Darwin spluttered. “I don’t know! How about you tell me? You seem to know more than you’re letting on.”
Calix guffawed like a horse. “Because I saw how you were drinking water from the aquarium the day before, you idiot! You were as drunk as a fish!”
“I… what?! No! I think I’d remember doing something like that…”
“I tried to talk to you, but got only mooing and bleating. It made no sense to try and persuade you that an aquarium wasn’t the best way to tame your thirst! So, I left you alone.”
Darwin was shaking his head in an emphatic ‘no’. He wasn’t speaking now, just forming words with his mouth and making no sound. Much like a goldfish.
“By the way, you can find a video of this on Instagram.” Calix poked her phone under Darwin’s nose. “You want to like or comment?”
Darwin’s mouth was now a flat, tense line.
“Seriously, it’s funny!” She gave the phone a mocking little wiggle. “Don’t you like funny?”