The murder had been a long time in coming, but it was well worth the wait. Dale’s third wife, Damaris, had tragically drowned. One minute she was sitting in a wheelchair in the sunshine reading Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind and the next minute she herself was gone – floating dead in the garden goldfish pond, wheelchair and all.
Husband Dale was distraught. “I never knew wheelchairs could float,” he gasped at the policeman. People in morning sometimes say the silliest things. Later he added something about “fortunately she didn’t get the book wet.”
It must be stated clearly from the beginning that Damaris didn’t need to sit in the wheelchair. She was perfectly well in all respects. Her visiting sister, Brierley, was using the chair because she had sprained an ankle while messing around with Dale in the garden. Brierley had gone inside the house “to have a rest and put her foot up” and Damaris was sitting in the wheelchair because it was convenient and she liked to watch the fish. Suddenly the unbraked wheelchair went whizzing into the goldfish pond, and although Damaris was a reasonable swimmer she couldn’t untangle herself from the chair.
The deed was done! It was a tragic accident. As soon as they can dry the wheelchair Brierley will be making a fast entrance down the aisle of the nearest church. Let’s hope Dale doesn’t try any funny business with his latest wife. After all, Brierley has secret, perhaps handy, photographs of Dale holding Damaris under water.
When Natalie came home from school she overheard her mother say to her little brother, “You’re not to do that again. It was very naughty.”
“But the cat was hungry.”
“I told you not to feed the cat between meals. It will get fat. So feed the cat only in the mornings and in the evenings. I’ve enough to do without having to run around covering up for your naughtiness.”
Later Natalie asked her mother what was wrong with feeding the cat, and her mother said that it was wrong to overfeed pets. “You should know that because of your goldfish. You can feed them too much and they overeat and die.”
For the rest of the day Natalie noticed that her little brother was pouting. He never liked being told off, and Natalie made it worse by reinforcing what their mother had said, and told him that “he shouldn’t overfeed his cat. You are a very naughty boy” – which made her little brother pout even more.
Later, when Natalie went to feed her goldfish it almost looked the same but she was pretty sure it was a different fish.
The annual summer plague of flies arrived at the same time as the next door neighbours went on vacation. Little Bonnie Candice from next door asked Martin if he would look after her pet goldfish, Harold. Of course he would!
Almost everyone knows that insect repellent, if sprayed near a goldfish bowl, will kill the fish. Martin didn’t know. Harold the goldfish floated upside down to the top of the glass bowl.
Martin didn’t know what to do. All goldfish look the same. Perhaps he should replace it and not tell little Bonnie Candice. She wouldn’t know the difference. Perhaps he should tell her, come out clean, and she would have to begin to face the realities of life. Decisions! Martin decided to replace the goldfish and tell no one. The mere thought of the different goldfish – that and the flies – completely ruined his summer break. He couldn’t sleep. He was totally stressed. He couldn’t relax. It was the worst summer of his life.
When little Bonnie Candice and her family returned from their vacation, the goldfish was returned with a great deal of trepidation. Little Bonnie Candice did not seem to notice the difference.
A week later Martin saw little Bonnie Candice and asked how the goldfish was doing. “Oh,” she said, “I got sick of it and flushed it down the toilet.”