A Home for Socrates (from “The Riotous Walls”)

(From The Riotous Walls, unpublished short novel)

Socrates the goldfish needed a new home.  He had been living in an ice cream bucket for the last year and it was high time for him to have a nice home that he could see out of like other goldfish.  But what?  The glass fish aquariums at Wal-Mart cost $10.99 on which I could eat for a week and, in fact, unless I came up with a better idea, he wasn’t going to get a look at the wide world until Christmas.

Suddenly I spied the wine jug we emptied  on Saturday night.  It was perfect:  big enough, transparent and it was free.  The bottleneck presented the only problem and it would have to be removed by what means I wasn’t sure, but where there’s a will there’s a way.   I scoured the house and came up with a Neanderthal  repertoire of tools:  sticks, rocks, a hammer.

I was trying to knock just the top part of it off with a hammer when Troy came out of the downstairs apartment to see what the hell all the noise was about.  I didn’t think it seemed like such a bad idea until I started trying to explain it.  I mean, maybe I would be lucky enough to break just the top of it off without bashing the thing to shards and slitting my wrists. You don’t know until you try.

I have something you could use, he offered.
Yeah. It used to be my hamster cage, but he died.  So you could have it.  It’s plastic, but it’d hold water.
Oh. Cool.
What was I thinking, anyway?
That way you won’t cut yourself, he added and went inside to get it.

Talk about nice neighbors.  Troy wasn’t the world’s smartest guy; after all, he works at the rubber factory.  But he had me and my half-baked college degree on that one.