The Greatest and Best Fish in the World: A Tribute

Having not written anything guj for what seems like ages, something happened over the Labor Day weekend that was incredibly non-guj, and for which I will write a tribute post.  My beta fish, Brutus, crossed over.

Brutus was never a very intellectual fish.  When poised with the problem of how to fit his mouth around the morsels of food I gave him, he failed at an alarming rate.  As he would lunge towards the surface, fully expecting to direct his mouth around the pellet, he would, more often than not, completely miss his target.  This caused the then tumultuous water to reverse the buoyancy of the pellet and drive it down to the murky rocky depths.  Brutus never even seemed to notice.  He would sit at the surface, waiting for another pellet from me, his dutiful master.

When he stopped eating as much, I never thought too much of it.  “He’s getting old,” thought I, “and has had enough of foolishness.  He must have learned that if he grazes the bottom of the tank, he will be able to suck the nutrients out of yesterday’s forgotten foodstuff, and will continue to live forever based on this new plan.”  Ah, but there was a nagging voice deep in my subconscious reminding me that he is indeed getting old, and perhaps this loss of appetite could mean other, more serious things.

I am not a veterinarian, nor do I think a veterinarian can do anything to cure an aging beta fish.  I do not harbor any regret for not having done more to sustain his little life.  All I could do was sit at my desk and watch him slowly decay, his breathing becoming more and more labored, his attitude more and more lethargic.  But I do curse this world for creating something so fragile, and forcing me to love it.

Brutus was a gift from my wife.  She wanted me to have a companion at my cubicle.  His presence seemed to brighten any day.  He was so eager to swim up and look at me when I arrived in the morning.  Yes, this was really just anticipation of the food pellets soon to rain into his tank, but it was pleasant nonetheless.  As days turned into months and finally years, his presence on my desk became a fixture, and I couldn’t imagine working if it weren’t beside him.

There were a few scares.  He stopped eating for about a week a year ago.  I was sure he was a goner.  Many of the symptoms I witnessed over the past few weeks were witnessed then as well.  But somehow, miraculously, he began to eat again, and I nursed him back to health.

When I changed jobs to a different building down the street, I entrusted Brutus to a coworker at the first job, while I moved and got settled in the second job.  When I finally retrieved Brutus from this woman, his tank smelled like a forgotten pond in a redneck’s back yard, and he seemed absolutely miserable.  I cleaned his tank, gave him some food, sat and talked with him, and he was happy.

Now he lies at the bottom of the tank – resting, peacefully, finally.  He is not struggling to breathe, and he is not forcing himself to rise to the surface in a futile attempt at eating.  I don’t have the heart today to flush him.  Maybe tomorrow.  Hopefully soon, because this is kind of depressing looking at a dead body all day.

I want him to stay peaceful, and I don’t want to think of his little fish body being blasted through miles of plumbing to end up in a water treatment plant.  He’s better than that.

Goodbye Brutus, old man.  It was a pleasure getting to know you.