"Don't you dare!" she'd say.
They were talking about the koi in the tiny artificial pond the Loser's late parents installed in the 1980s, where five colorful, large fish levitated under water until a surprisingly small amount of food was flung on the surface of their home each day, at which point they'd lunge to the surface to eat as much as they could, not caring if their only companions starved to death right in front of them.
|Dead fish in bags wait to be buried. Someday we'll all end up as some version of the fish in the bags in this picture.|
The Loser's mother knew he was kidding. It was a joke he stopped making a year or so before her death a year ago. She no longer had the energy for mock threats.
Two days ago the man who services the pond came by to clean it out and ready it for the coming winter months, when the fish slow down and don't eat yet still use as much oxygen as at any other time. Yesterday morning, the Loser went to check on them before going to work. One of the five was dead, another was close to it and the others didn't look well. Of course, the fish guy screwed up and the bill (ha!) he left didn't have his cell phone number on it, no one at the company picked up and the website is useless and looks like a seventy-year-old designed it. The Loser finally got in touch with the fish guy around 11 and he managed to save two of the koi.
Koi can live for decades (the oldest is said to be 226 years old) and these were just fifteen.
The Loser's parents loved those fish.
The Loser told the fish guy to put them in bags so he can bury them, which he's about to do. It'll take a large hole. They were as big as cats.
That's how the Loser will spend a chunk of this Thanksgiving Day.
The fish are underground now and will nourish the trees as they decompose. The Loser couldn't just cut the bags open and throw them in like garbage so he did it by hand. They were cold and covered with slime. Their weight felt like soft muscle. Their eyes were clouded over but their colors were still bright.
Before he scraped the dirt back in the hole the Loser threw in some coins. A penny, a nickle, a dime a quarter. He did this so if some day in the distant future some digger found fish bones in an odd place he or she would know that these three fish lived with humans, that they were a part of our lives.