While most wills leave loved ones big estates, bank accounts or cars, I was left something bigger than I could ever imagine.
A seven foot marlin.
Julie and eyed the eighty four inch fish, reeled in by my four foot eleven Aunt and bequeathed to me.
It was hanging over her king size bed, the blue wash board fin larger than the headboard. She was helping me pick up “Marley” along with some other belongings that my Uncle Jack insisted I’d have.
Considering that the only possession of value that I owned was a wok, I was grateful for any handouts, including the two swivel chairs from the seventies, perfectly preserved in plastic covers.
“It’s all yours,” my Uncle Jack beamed, his bald head perfectly round. My eyes zoned in on the scab that’s been on his nose since the last time I saw him.
“Thanks Uncle Jack,” I smiled. “My thighs remember sticking to those chairs.”
He shuffled over to a bookshelf. “Don’t forget these.” Jack piled onto my booty three new books my Aunt wrote on nursing. They never made the New York Times best sellers list, but were translated in Chinese and Spanish nonetheless.
“Or this.” His stubby old hands picked up a flowered suitcase. The sight of the petite canvas suitcase unzipped a boatload of memories.
“You’ll find out.” He smiled.
I gave my uncle a big hug, his flannel shirt dwarfing his shrinking body, then loaded the van.
The nose of the fish almost reached the radio, making changing stations difficult. We listened to a static-laden WXRT as we made it to Chicago, the marlin’s open mouth giving the impression it was singing to the Beatles.
As we pulled into the front of our building, the Friendly Towers, I scratched my head. “Okay Julie, now that I got the fish, how do I get it on the wall?”
Julie threw on her flashers. “Ben will help you.”
“Ben. He’s tall, with a straggly beard.” She turned on her flashers. “Sorta looks like Jesus.”
“All of the guys at Jesus People look like Jesus,” I grunted, “even the crust punkers.” “But Ben doesn’t have tattoos or a nose ring.” She popped open the back door. “Just a real deep voice.”
Julie’s description helped. After we unpacked the van and managed to get the marlin into the lobby, I snooped around the dining hall for a tall, non pierced version of Christ and saw Ben, lurching over the fruit bowl with a banana in his back pocket. I asked him if he’d help me with the fish.
“Whoah, let me get me drill.” Julie wasn’t kidding. Ben’s voice was smoother than a baritone sax.
As Smooth Jazz Jesus put the fish on my wall, I surveyed my booty, placing the preserved chairs in the room and the pristine books on my bookshelf. I anxiously unzipped the flowered suitcase, wondering what was inside.
I was hit with a blast from the past– the smell of my Aunt’s face cream–which powered the musty smell of the other treasures. Letters from her brother during WWII. A tattered report card from elementary school. A faded Baptism certificate. Coral earrings and cocktail rings. Yellowing news clippings of my Aunt in various hair styles and eye frames, receiving accolades for her work.
Ben packed up his drill and nodded. “This fish ain’t going nowhere.”
So there I was, in my fishbowl size room with one heck of a large roommate. Next to its nose, I hung up a two inch clipping, Local Girl Gets Post at Illinois U and smiled.
I don’t know which was the biggest catch.