“Darwin, dear! Come to me, you son of a bitch!”
His face had the look of someone who’d taken a bite from a peeled apple only to realise it was raw onion. What the hell did this mad woman want now?
“I sometimes think it’d be better if I didn’t share a flat with you.”
Calix ignored Darwin’s caustic barb and beckoned him over. Yeah, that was typical. He could threaten to attack her with a tyre iron and she wouldn’t flinch. Nothing fazed her.
“Money’s dust, but my self respect isn’t,” Darwin muttered to himself. And he wasn’t even sure what he meant. It just felt like the thing to say in that particular moment.
Calix was pointing at the shelf with the look of Caesar saying the sacral “Et tu, Brute?” moments before being killed. Or doing the killing. Darwin had a funny feeling that the second option was more likely.
“What? It’s a shelf. There are things placed upon it. That’s its function.”
“I’m not retarded, Ezra.” Calix pulled a face. “I ask you, where’s the fucking fish thing?”
“The what? You’re a writer. How is it you cannot use your words all of a sudden?”
“You seem to have forgotten that I take lessons in Krav Maga. I don’t only belong to the school of high versification, you know.”
“Fine. So you can beat me with your fists as well as your tongue. What do you mean by ‘fucking fish thing’?”
“Fish! Fish! The aquatic craniate bearing gills that lacks digit populated limbs!” Exasperation was creeping into Calix’s voice. “It swims underwater? God, Ezra! Surely you’ve heard of fish!”
“You’re asking me where the goldfish has gone,” he said a little blankly.
“Well, you’re not as irredeemable as you make out.” Calix threw her arms up. “Yay! Let’s celebrate this fact, shall we?”
Darwin rolled his eyes. “Okay, I can do without the sarcasm.” He indicated the empty shelf. “I’ve got no idea where the fucking thing’s gone. Perhaps it grew legs and walked away in disgust.”
“Nice guess, Hercule. But in this case it would have left a fucking dust trail, wouldn’t it?”
“Not necessarily. It’s a fish. Fish are wet.” Darwin searched the shelf and the surrounding floor. “It would have left a trail of water…”
Incredulous, Calix watched as he got up on tiptoes to check the near the corner wall. He did realise that fish didn’t have lungs, didn’t he? How would it have gone anywhere if it couldn’t breathe out of water? Idiot!
And suddenly he said, “Oh, there you go!” He picked something up and waved it in front of her. “Looks like a letter. That isn’t your handwriting, is it?”
“No, it’s yours,” sighed Calix, barely hiding her annoyance. What a moron!
Seeing that she was trying so hard to keep her composure, Darwin backed off. He focused his attention on the letter instead. It was slightly soggy and the ink was a bit smudged, but at least it was mostly legible.
“Dear C & D, I have a very important message…”
“What is this?” laughed Calix, her annoyance quickly melting away. “Did you scrape this shit from out of our spam inbox? I can already guess what it’s going to say. We’ve won 1,589,125 euros, right? Oh, go on! Don’t break my heart. Please say we did and that we need to pay them a fee to have our prize money processed!”
“It’s not a scam.” But that’s not what his face was saying. In fact, Darwin was scrunching his nose in what seemed to be disbelief. “It’s for real. And… I think the goldfish wrote it.”
That caught Calix by surprise, so much so that she forgot to insult Darwin with her next comment. Well… it was more of a question really.
“The goldfish?! The goldfish wrote the note?”
She looked for all the world like a little girl that’d been told that clouds weren’t made of fairy floss. And this piece of information just wasn’t able to fit in her tiny cute head, let alone be processed.
Darwin nodded. “The goldfish.”
“Could you please do me a favour and explain?”
The rattled, almost polite, version of Calix was rattling even Darwin. He wasn’t used to seeing her at a loss like this. The sight made him inwardly cringe.
“I can’t.” He looked back at the piece of paper. “Fish don’t write letters. Only… it did.”
Darwin found a chair near the coffee table and sat in it rather heavily. He placed the letter on the tabletop and attempted to smooth it out, only his hands made the ink smear a bit more. “Okay,” he said softly, “I guess I should finish reading this.”
All Calix could do was nod.
Darwin harrumphed, then began to read.
“Dear C & D, I have a very important message…
Sorry, but I’ve had enough. What’s a goldfish to do when the two humans he loves most are at each others’ throats all the time? Every hour of every day is filled with your constant backbiting. It’s stressful, man! STRESSFUL!
I’m going on a trip to Ibiza with the express purpose of kicking back in a glass of rum and coke balanced on the navel piercing of an impressively norked chav. Don’t worry, I’ll be back in two weeks. In the meantime, I suggest you snippy suctorians work out your shitty problems, and learn to cohabitate in peace.
See ya later, motherflippers. It’s been real. A little TOO real.
Augustus Adelaide Harold III”
Darwin leaned back in the chair, letter still in hand. Calix squeezed her eyes shut. It wasn’t clear for a moment if she was trying to digest what she’d heard or was simply in pain.
“Augustus Adel— What?! What the fuck was its name?”
“Augustus Adelaide Harold III,” repeated Darwin obligingly.
There was a pause. An uncomfortable pause. A light had suddenly switched on behind Calix’s eyes. “Hang about…” she said, as if to herself. Then she reached into Darwin’s pocket and fished out a leaflet. Before he could stop her, she read: “The most popular royal baby names.”
Darwin offered her a sheepish grin.
“Augustus?! Adelaide?! Fucking Harold?!” She looked at him with a mocking smile. “Oh my god, Ezra! You’re the worst! You were unable even to invent a cool name for a fish?! And what’s with the three on the end? Really?!”
Darwin’s grin slipped into a look of embarrassment. “I was trying to think of a name with authority. I guess it didn’t work, huh?”
“Oh, Ezra…” Calix sat in front of him on the coffee table. “You lovable idiot! You’re incorrigible.”
“Why did you invent this bullshit?”
“I guess…” he began, then seemed to think better of it. “Nah. Never mind.”
Now it was Calix’s turn to roll her eyes. “Okay. Whatever. If it makes you happy then… ugh. I don’t know.” She looked around. “So, where did you hide the poor fish?”
It was at this point that Darwin’s eyes grew as big as saucers. He sprang out of his seat like an electrified eel and raced out into the back yard. “Oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit oh shit…”
Calix shook her head and smiled. Yup, Darwin was quite mad, the adorable goof. This much would never change. Of that she was certain. She made a cuckoo sign, then walked off to poke her nose into her laptop.