Dash the Ripper
By Joanne Malley
That warm, June day moves to the forefront of my memory. It’s the day we happily embraced the arrival of the quintuplets. Well, they weren’t exactly quintuplets, but there were five of them!
“Oh, Mommy, Mommy, can I help take care of them?” my daughter asked, as she jumped up and down with excitement.
“Of course, honey, you can be mommy’s little helper,” I replied.
To make her feel even more special, the privilege of naming them would be all hers.
“I’m going to pick the bestest names Mommy!”
“I like Dasher, Bones, Daisy, and Hunky,” said Lauren with pride.
“I’ll name the last one Dory ‘cause that goes perfect with Hunky. Ya know, like “hunky dory!”
“Whatever you like, honey.”
I did agree about Hunky and Dory; they really do go together. Literally! They’re never apart. They were the perfect fish couple!
Even though caring for the fish wasn’t exactly my responsibility, I often checked on them through the glass. I enjoyed observing them, and wondered if they observed me as well. I got a little self-conscious thinking about how the fish might view me through that thick, glass tank. Did I look like the fat lady in the Fun House at the carnival? No fair. I already did my time in the fat clothes when I was pregnant.
There always seemed to be a lot of action going on inside that tank and I was glad to see they were all having fun. However, I think Dasher, the aggressive, hungry one, was having the most fun. He was also the sneakiest, as well as the fastest swimmer. We often called him Dash because of his speed.
We soon experienced the passing of one of our fish and did our best to console our daughter. We were very gentle and performed a touching ceremony in the yard.
“Hey, honey, maybe you could sing a little song as a tribute to Daisy,” I whispered to my husband.
One look into his eyes, and I knew my request made him fuming mad. He hates looking like a fool even if it was only me, Lauren, and one dead fish listening on.
Reluctantly, he obliged and the beautiful burial service was concluded. It’s amazing what we do for our kids!
Should I have cried at the funeral for our fish? After all, I was kind of like the grandma, wasn’t I? Well, I did shed a few tears of pain when my husband sang. Does that count?
Anyway, life went on and Dasher continued to have his fun with the remaining fish. I soon noticed that the health of another fish was faltering. I wondered if these fish were catching some sort of disease. I remained perplexed, as well as helpless, since animals with fins aren’t exactly worthy of house calls.
Another funeral was soon scheduled after I found Hunky on the bottom of the tank. When I inspected him closely, it looked like his side was bitten. How would Dory ever survive without Hunky?
Two more months passed and two more fish died. I was convinced that the name plaque next to our front door should be changed from “The Malley Family” to “Malley & Family Funeral Home.” We were getting quite good at performing the perfect ceremony.
Even though the loss of so many fish was a bummer, one good thing did come out of the last few deaths. My husband’s voice was improving with all the practice.
Now that four fish were dead, I became suspicious. I immediately pegged Dasher as a murder suspect. He looked guilty to me every time I peered into the tank. I know I didn’t have concrete proof, but Hunky did have that bite taken out of his side. Dasher was the aggressive, hungry one, you know.
Four years have passed since the last fish died and I often felt Dasher got what he deserved—a sentence of loneliness with enough time to think about what he did!
Last week, Dasher finally died too and, oddly enough, I felt sad. He was the only fish I cried for. I think it was guilt.
From the depths of our fish tank, I was reminded that God does not want me to harshly judge others, for I will also be judged.
Just in case Dasher really was Dash the Ripper, I offered him forgiveness as well!