Sebastian the janitor stood in front of one of the tanks. He
danced slowly, his back to Ron. He moaned, "Baby, youíre too
much. I want to come in that tank and give you what I got. Iíll
give you all the fish you want." He pressed up against the glass
and ground his hips in an unmistakable motion. He humped the
glass so hard, Ron thought it would crack. He needed to
"Ah-hum." Ron cleared his throat. He hated to cause any kind
of scene, but this was his job, after all. The black ties would
be at the aquarium soon.
Sebastian turned around. "Ah, dios! You scared me! Lo siento
- Iím sorry, Ronald McDonald. He ran away, leaving his radio in
Ron ignored the back-handed remark and bent over to turn off
the radio and confiscate it. Something moved in the tank. The
tank should be empty. It was Grandpaís 80th birthday
tonight and he was in the main tank for the celebration. Grandpa
was a lungfish from Australia. Probably some barnacles were left
He looked up at the tank to investigate. A hand waved to him
from inside. It was Juliet, the feeder. He wiped his eyes in
shock. She was naked except for a sea-green mermaid tail.
Jet-black hair floated in the water, formed its own waves around
her porcelain skin. She flipped her tail as she rubbed her
chest. She swam closer to the glass.
Ron found himself up against the same glass Sebastian had
been humping, but he didnít care. He placed his right hand on
the glass in wonder. He had seen the movie Splash a million
times when he was in the throes of puberty. This fish was hotter
than Madison. Way hotter. She brought her left breast against
the glass where his hand waited. His stomach dropped. He hasnít
felt this way since Shelley gained 200 pounds. Hell, even then,
he hadnít felt quite like this. He wanted her. And Shelley would
Ron looked around the corner, ears peeled so he could hear
footsteps if need be. Juliet twirled and somersaulted in the
water, then came up for a breath of air. A small bluefish was
tattooed on the small of back.
He walked around the corner to the back of the tank. The door
opened and there she was, a vision of water and latex. Better
than any wet dream heíd ever had. And heíd had them all. Her
hips were wide and ready, wet hair framed her face. Her body
curved in all the right places like no fish should.
"Hi Ron. I was hoping youíd come."
"Hi Juliet. Iíve alwaysÖwell.."
"I know Ron. I know. Come here."
Ron met her in the doorway.
She folded him into her pale saltwater arms and kissed him.
"I have a thing for water. And fish."
"Right." Ron responded in between alternating kisses to each
breast. "The two go well together."
She laughed. "Letís do it in the tank."
"I canít breathe underwater. I canít even open my eyes under
there. Always was a goggle kid."
"Itís ok. You can feel your way, canít you?"
"What about Finn? My job? Your job?"
"Weíll put the curtain down. They usually do that anyway when
a fish is relocated. They just forgot with gramps."
"I donít knowÖ"
"Iíll even let you keep your head above water. Iíll do all
"What kind of man would say no to that?"
"Only a weak one." She responded, flipping her hair, which
spiraled onto Ron like a spritz of rain, her bright red lips
soft as rose petals waiting to be picked.
They stepped into the tank. She took his gray jockey
underwear off. Her mouth was on him like algae.
She came up only for air and kisses. Then she went back down.
The sensation of cool water mixed with the heat of her mouth was
too much. Ron was about to get a lot off his mind when a shot
rang out like the starting motor of a speedboat.
Nibbles teased Ronís knees. "Quiet, didnít you hear that?
Stop that! We have to get out of here."
"Ron? Ron?" Finnís distant voice was near hysterical.
"Oh fuck. Come on Juliet. Fun and games are over."
Juliet clutched harder, her nails stiffened into his
shoulders. He couldnít get free from her grip.
Her head sunk. Her fins tattered. The nibbles had come from
piranhas, millions of them it seemed. Blood mixed with the red
color of their belies and flowered in the tank. She was as dead
as dead could be. They mustíve been in her mermaid tail.
"Well fuck me runniní."
Ron clutched the top of the tank. Fear took a hold of him and
his lazy ass got the hell out of there. To anyone watching, he
looked like a gold medal Olympian pole-vaulter. A few of the
piranhas had taken chunks out of his belly. Another minute in
that tank and heíd be a goner. He grabbed his clothes and pulled
his shirt on but was still picking piranhas off his legs when
Finn came running around the corner.
"Ron, did you hear that shot? Whatís going on?" Where are
"Finn, itís a long story."
"Just get your pants on, Ron, this is important. Look what I
He handed Ron a crude ransom note.
It was spelled out like all those ransom notes you see in the
movies. Letters were cut from papers and magazines. The "es"
fell off of "fishes". It must have been pasted with Elmer glue.
"But itís Gramps birthday. Heís in the main tank for the
party." Ron shook.
"What have you been smokiní Ron? Who throws a party for a
fish? The party is for Christmas. See all the white lights and
all? Jesus!" Finn was ready to strangle him.
Ron turned the note over. There was a sea-green stamp of a
bluefish. Where had he seen that before?
"Hey, this stamp matches a tattoo Juliet had on her back! She
must be in on this."
"Who is Juliet?" Finn looked at Ron like he was the biggest
fucknuckle to ever step foot in the aquarium.
"The feeder, Finn, the feeder. Sheís been killed, someone
wanted her dead."
"But if she planted the ransom note, who killed her? And who
has a gun?" Finn scratched his chin.
Another shot echoed in the aquarium.
"I think weíre about to find out, boss."
"Mike, letís get this show on the road." Gill opened the
aquarium door and held it open for his partner and the strange
Japanese man with the chef hat on. No guards stood watch, they
had all been paid off.
"Hang on a sec Gill, Iím feediní my gigapet."
"Youíre about to feed on steel soon, boy. Keep your finger on
the trigger and off of that damn kidís toy."
"Itís not a kidís toy. It builds up memory which makes ya
"Youíll always be as dumb as a bag of rocks, pet rock or not,
"Jeez hang on, just let me feed Skippy and then weíll go."
"Bang!" a bullet shot out of Mikeís gun like a cannonball and
ricocheted through the aquarium door.
"You fuck! What the fuck did you do that for?"
"It was a mistake, Gill. Everybody makes Ďem."
"Not you. Not anymore." And with that, Gill shot his partner
dead in the eye. Mike would giga no more.
"What did you do that for?" Oy, the chef couldnít take his
eyes off of the pool of blood that ebbed out of what used to be
"My job is just to hack and slash, it doesnít take much
thought. I sometime make hasty decisions. You, however, are
going to cook up some mean pucker fish, my man. Iíve got a
feeling about you." Gill patted his back, pushed the door open
further and motioned for Oy to go ahead.
"Puffer fish, not pucker fish. And I only brought ten puffer
fish. Ten!" Oy protested, pointing to his satchel and
emphasizing the word "Ten".
"Thatís enough, man. Thatís enough. One bite and theyíll flop
dead like fish on the hook." Gill laughed. "Iíve heard about
those puffer fish. Deadlier than cyanide they are."
He dragged Mikeís useless body through the door and stuffed
it in a nearby closet that looked unused. The sleet and rain
would take care of the blood outside.
They walked through the quiet aquarium to the banquet area.
Louis, the chef, was kneading dough for the shrimp
croquettes. The smell of salmon filled the air. He patted the
dough expertly, gave it a smack and turned it this way and that
until it was perfect. The recipe had been handed down,
generation to generation. Just like the gold watch he always
carried in his pocket. It didnít tell time anymore, but he
didnít care. His late grandfather always said, "Teach a man to
fish, and heíll eat for a lifetime." But Louis was never a good
fisherman. So he compensated by frying it up instead of killing
He was knuckle deep in dough when they came in. Gill snuck
behind him and with Louisí own knife, slit his throat. Maroon
droplets tainted the dough as Louisí blood pumped its final
rites. His last breath sounded like a sigh and he grasped onto
the pocket watch in his pocket as he fell down. Then he was
A shocked Oy gasped for air.
"Hack and slash, my man. Hack and slash. And then you dash."
Gill giggled. His rhyming skills were definitely on the ball
tonight. With each killing he got a little higher, his head
swelling bigger than a stomach full of puffer fish.
"Do your thing, Mr. Oy. Make me proud. The guests are
starting so arrive, so Iím gonna lay low, look around. Try to
blend in." He bent down and took a bow. His penguin suit looked
Oy started to prepare the soup that would serve as both the
appetizer and the main, and final, course. First he gutted the
puffer fish, keeping their heads intact. Then he waited for the
water to boil.
"We have to call the police. Letís use the phone in my
office." Finn looked less composed than normal, his pale face
broken out in a beady sweat.
"Good idea." Ron was dazed, unable to comprehend the
situation. Was Juliet really dead?
They walked to Finnís office. One the way they passed a tall,
handsome gentleman slicking thick brown hair back, looking in
one of the fish tanks at his reflection. His suit was spotless.
He turned to them. "Excuse me, gentleman. Where would the
Finn smiled in relief. "Oh, theyíre just around the corner.
Are you on the Board?" Finn used any chance to pucker up and
kiss some ass.
"No. But you may be tied to one soon if you donít play your
"Huh?" Finn squinted his eyes to get a closer look at the
Gill pulled his gun out. "Letís not make this difficult. I
need to see Dr. Taub or Gramps is as good as Gortonís frozen
fish. Got that?"
"Yes, yes sir. But Dr. Taub hasnít arrived yet..."
"Well then letís go somewhere quiet where we can chat and get
to know each other until then, shall we?" Gill walked away.
Finn and Ron followed. Ronís undigested Swedish fish gurgled
in his stomach. This was going to be a long night Ė that was if
he survived. He hoped Shelley forgot about the event. Or decided
to settle in with a bag of Cheetos for the night instead.
"Please, Shelley, donít come." Ron prayed.
Dr. Taub parked his sedan and brushed the snow off his
jacket. It looked like a healthy sprinkling of dandruff, and
that wouldnít look good to the Board of Directors. They just had
to award him, and the aquarium of course, the grant. He saved
the lives of hundreds of rare frogs, seahorses and fish. And
without that grant, the aquarium wouldnít last another year.
He walked into the aquarium. The Christmas trees were
decorated with ice-blue fish ornaments. What a nice touch. Heíd
have to give his secretary a bonus Ė the trees were her idea.
One of many he pawned off as his own. The white lights reflected
off the glitter on the fish ornaments and onto the floor,
creating the effect of a mini aquarium.
Cocktail hour was just ending and people started to take
their seats. Dr. Taub popped an Altoid and walked up to the main
table of honor to greet the Board of Directors.
"Charlie, Patrick, how are you? Lovely Chicago weather out
there, isnít it?" So started the small talk and necessary gibber
gabber. He couldnít wait for the food to come so they could
stuff their mouths and leave little room for bullshit.
"How are the conservation efforts going, Dr. Taub?" Charlie,
one of the board members asked.
"Oh, wonderful, Charlie, just wonderful. Currently we are
breeding mantella frogs and partulla snails, which as you know
are very rare, on the border of being extinct. Then of course
thereís the conservation efforts with seahorses and other rare
The wait staff brought the soup and bread out. Thank
goodness, Dr. Taub thought.
After they were served, Dr. Taub placed his napkin on his lap
and began to spoon the soup to his mouth. His cell phone buzzed
in his pocket, making him jolt. Who could be calling?
He placed the spoon down. "This is Dr. Taub."
It was Finn, the security manager.
"Dr. Taub, we need you down in the right wing of the
"Why Finn, whatís the problem?"
"Dr. Taub, I canít talk, but I must stress that itís urgent."
"Ok, Finn, Iíll be down soon."
"Now, Dr. Taub, now!"
The urgency in Finnís voice made the doctor jump to
attention. He excused himself from the table and rushed off. He
didnít hear the gags and moans as he left.
Shelley parked her car in the aquarium parking lot. She shut
the engine off and checked her lipstick in the rearview mirror.
It was smeared. She blotted and reapplied a fresh coat of coral
pink, her favorite shade. It reminded her of orange sherbet. She
hoped they would serve that for dessert at the dinner. She
licked her lips.
The lot was full. She would be late to her own funeral. She
liked to make an entrance. This was what she told her friends
and family, but really she thought she could sneak in unnoticed
arriving so late. But as big as she was, that was a pipe dream.
Shelley entered the aquarium and took in all of the lights.
Her eyes shone like a mirrored disco ball. She loved decadent
things and could smell the money in the air. She walked into the
banquet hall and was greeted first by the stench of fresh vomit.
She plugged her nose and noticed that all of the guests were
either lying still on the floor, or slumped in their chairs. She
knew this was going to be a boring party, but this was
ridiculous. Where was Ron?
Shelley exited the room and breathed fresh air as she walked
down the hallway. Something was fishy here. Loud voices came
from the back of the aquarium. She walked toward it, finding
herself in a dark room and the sounds of frogs croaking.
"Shelley, get out of here!" Ron stood up and tried to shove
her out, but it was too late. Gill had her in his vice grip.
"Well, who have we here?" Gill looked Shelley up and down
like he wanted to devour her. Or kill her.
"Itís Shellfish." Shelley said in a whisper soft voice that
was not her own.
"This has nothing to do with her, man, leave her outta this."
Ronís voice rose in panic. "Wait, what did you say Shelley?"
"I said Shellfish, Ronnie."
"So. We finally meet." Gill couldnít wipe the shit-eating
grin off his face if he tried.
"Yes, Gill. Itís about time."
"I always did like my gals big."
Shelley walked up to Gill and planted an open-mouthed kiss on
him. They break apart after a minute of sloppy kisses.
"Like a fish out of water." Gill murmurs.
"Iím just out of practice." She said, looking at Ron like he
was 2-inches tall. "Let me warm up."
She pushed Gill against the wall and worked him over. Ron
couldnít believe what he was seeing. Jealousy took hold of him
but he quickly pushed it down. Shelley and Gill moved to the
floor. She pulled his suit pants down and started to suck. Her
coral pink lipstick smeared all over. She just smiled and licked
it up, making almost the same noises she made when eating
"Oh, Shellfish, thatís it, right there." Gill was in a state
"Right there?" Shelley asks.
"Mmm." Gill was speechless.
Ron saw Shelleyís mouth open like she was going in for the
kill. He had a sick feeling he knew what was coming next, having
been nicked by Shelley before.
She bit down hard, and did not let go.
"Aaaagh! Fuck!! Let go!" Gillís upper torso squirmed like a
fish without water. Shelley had taken hold and wasnít going to
She finally chewed off what she wanted and spit Gillís
appendage on the floor. Her mouth was bright red with his blood.
"Bitch!" Gill was curled into the fetus position. He was
going to bleed to death. But he wasnít going to die without a
He reached for his gun. He pulled it out and aimed at Shelley
in between convulsions.
Ron put his hand on his own revolver. He hadnít shot anybody
since the incident. But part of him, the old part of him, wanted
to protect Shelley. And this crazy fuck Gill would probably kill
them all anyway. Why Gill hadnít checked for weapons heíd never
know. Probably because Rent-a-Cops didnít warrant much respect.
Ronís heartbeat quickened. He could almost hear it. It felt
like a fishís tiny thump of its heart when being pulled off a
fishing pole. He had to take action. Now. There was no time left
He took aim and fired. He shot Gill right in the heart. Gill
looked confused. Then he was down for good. His gills had run
out of air.
"Thank you Ronnie. I wondered if you had the balls to do
that. I bet my life that you did." Shelley wiped her mouth off
and reapplied her coral pink lipstick. "And I won."
"Shelley, whatís going on? Who is Shellfish? And how are you
hooked up with this guy, Gill?"
"Iím the one who hooked him, Ronnie. He took my bait - hook,
line and sinker. See, I needed his muscle to get in here and get
the money from the Board of Directors. And from generous Dr.
Taub, here." She gestured to Dr. Taub who was as pale as an
"What money?" Dr. Taub looked as perplexed as Ron and Finn
"I know you have big money here, Dr. Taub. You get donations
all the time, not to mention all of those grants. Iím the one
who convinced Juliet to deliver the ransom note. That silly
wench thought Iíd be freeing all the fish you have here. What a
naÔve girl. And you fell right into her trap, Ronnie. Iím not
surprised. Iím also the one who arranged to have the piranhas in
her mermaid tail. And, I had the chef flown in from Japan to
cook up the Board of Directors a little treat. Speaking of
which, hereís Sebastian now."
The janitor, Sebastian walked into the room with a Hefty bag.
"What does a chef from Japan have to do with any of this?"
"Oh, thatís my favorite part. See, he cooked up a brew of
puffer fish soup for your guests, Dr. Taub. Do you know how
poisonous puffer fish can be? Well, Iím sure you do, being a
smart doctor and all."
"Yes, symptoms of puffer fish poisoning can include
paralysis, respiratory failure and nausea. You fed the Board of
Directors puffer fish?" Dr. Taub asked.
"We sure did. We figured that once they were paralyzed,
Sebastian here could pick their pockets without a fight and weíd
have double the loot. Those board members always carry around a
wad of cash on them. Not to mention Rolexes and diamonds."
"You do realize that theyíre dead now? Not just paralyzed?
Puffer fish poisoning requires immediate medical attention." Dr.
Taub raised one eyebrow.
"Well, I thought theyíd stay paralyzed for a while, but who
cares anyway. Weíve got what we need from them. Now we just need
you to pay up. One million big ones, Dr. Taub. Or Gramps wonít
live to see his 81st birthday."
"Well, that is a pity." Dr. Taub looked deep in thought.
"Yeah, for you if you donít pay up."
"No, sadly I couldnít pay you if I wanted to. Youíve just
killed my only source of income. Now Iíll go bankrupt as will
the aquarium. See, I was depending on the Board of Directors for
a big grant to keep the museum going."
Police sirens wailed in the distance.
"Itís over, Shelley." Ron looked at her and almost felt sorry
"Youíd better turn yourself in. It will be best that way."
Finn put his two cents in. "And Sebastian? Youíre fired."
Sebastian hung his head and resembled a poor Santa Claus with
his deflated Hefty bag in hand. He couldnít have brought in too
much money by the looks of it.
"It isnít over until the fat lady sings!" Shelley yelled and
came running for Ron. She had her eye on his gun.
Ron sidestepped out of the way, it wasnít too hard to avoid
the Goodyear Blimp, and she flew toward the tank Gramps should
have been in. She hit the tank at full speed, and fell to the
"You guys can go on. Iíve got some unfinished business here.
Iíll be out in a second." Ron said.
"You sure Ron?" Finn asked while taking Sebastian into
"Iím sure. Go on."
"Ok, man." Finn started walking away with Dr. Taub. He turned
back. "Good job today, Ron. I see a promotion in your future."
"Thanks Finn. Itís gonna be a great new year. Now go find
They exchanged smiles and Finn went off with the others.
Ron looked at Shelley. She was crumpled at the base of the
tank. But he knew she wouldnít be for long. He needed to act
now. Get rid of her, once and for all. He thought of putting her
into the tank with the piranhas, but heíd never be able to lift
her. But there was one thing he could do.
He aimed and shot at the tank. The first and second shots
didnít take, but the third one cracked the glass and a few more
shots and the water avalanched onto the ground around Shelley.
The piranhas were hungry and would have lots to feed on.
He quickly walked away before the tide of water could reach
him. He put his hand in his pocket and brought out the baggie of
Swedish fish. He ripped the head off of a yellow one and
devoured it. He ate the rest of the fish one by one as he walked
out to meet the falling night. Outside, he was left with only an
empty baggie. He was free. Heíd become a bigger fish now and the
world was his oyster.
"Happy Birthday, Gramps, wherever you are." He whispered.