It was in Chicago, but I was too busy to tell you about it, so I’ll tell you about it now.
I checked into my hotel, and it was a very nice hotel, one of chain of boutique hotels that are cool enough to seem kind of trendy, but not so cool that the entire staff appears to be vampires (Soho Grand, NY). These hotels are usually three degrees more whimsical than would be, oh, say a brothel designed by Tim Burton but left out of all but the director’s cut of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Nice, but fun, is what I’m saying.
Anyway, when I get to my room, there’s a goldfish by the door. And I look down the hall, and there’s another room with a goldfish by the door, so I realize I’m not the only one.
Well I’m going to be in town for less than forty-eight hours, and the fish is sort of lying on the bottom, on a bed of very-whimsical blue and green marbles, and frankly, he doesn’t look like he’s long for this world. And I think, “There is no way I’m going to bring him in my room just to worry about him and have him die before checkout.” So I leave him there.
Well, I settle in, turn on the TV, brew a little in-room Starbucks, and I hear some commotion outside in the hall. And I go look.
Noone is there, but the fish is all perked up, sort of fluttering there, looking all hopeful, like he’s auditioning for the sequel to Finding Nemo, but I look around and there’s nothing going on, really, so I close the door and go to check my e-mail.
So maybe ten minutes goes by, and I’ve answered the tenth or so letter explaining why it’s not my call whether I go to [insert your obscure town that no one has ever heard of here’ target=’_blank’>, but, in fact, my tour schedule is determined by a complex equation involving market factors, demographics, and the proximity to hotels that can place me in rooms next to people from the LIKE TO SCREAM DURING JACKHAMMER SEX WHILE THE NEWS BLASTS IN THE BACKGROUND Association. (There’s no acronym, so don’t look for it, they are too busy screwing and screaming over the news to spell anything out.) Anyway, so I start to think about the fish — about how maybe I should let him in — about how the fish down the hall was gone, was probably in the room enjoying some seventy-dollar fish flakes from the mini-bar — about how the fish looked eager to please, and how he would probably be a pretty good little friend for a day or two, if I could get past his damp orangeness.
And I go back to check on the fish, to, in fact, bring him inside…
But he’s gone.
I don’t know where, and now, of course, I can’t very well call the front desk and say, “Hey, what happened to my fish?” Because they’ll say something snotty like, “What fish?” Or, “We assumed that you didn’t want him, so we sent him down to the restaurant, wrapped him in some rice and nouri, and gave him a Japanese name, if you get my meaning, Monsieur.” (God the hotel desk people can be so fucking French sometimes.)
So I don’t know what happened to him. The fish.
Is it too much Dickens in my youth, that makes me think that some day, perhaps years from now, I’ll be surfing, or swimming somewhere, and this huge pair of jaws will emerge from the waves, perhaps snapping off my tibia or fibula or other part, and he will look up at me, through his good eye, the other one under the patch (because I’m sure he’ll have an eye-patch, which will show what a rough time he’s had of it) and as my blood runs from between his teeth, and right before I go into shock, he’ll say, “I’ll bet when you left me in the hallway at that hotel in Chicago, you never thought you’d see me again, huh?”
Fucking fish, anyway.
Mint on the pillow? Yes. Excellent idea, that chocolate before slumber.
Fish by the door? Not so much.
Did I tell you about that? I can’t remember.