It’s ten fifteen in the morning when my sister rings my doorbell and almost makes me spill my coffee. Quick glance at my computer, Sorry, buddy, almost got ya… I let her in, we hug, she looks good. Sometimes it just strikes me, she’s the little one, yet so much more grown-up than me. Man, she makes me proud. Anywho.
I put coffee on the stove, we talk. About her kids, about my work, and then finally about what we’re here for. I mean, she comes to visit every once in a while, but today she came to my help. The same way she came to help two years ago.
Coffee is ready, milk is heated and frothed. I leave the stove on and set up a huge pot of water in order to get it to a boil.
„Uiuiuiuiuiui“ makes my sister and I laugh nervously. We both know what’s coming.
I stir my coffee and take a sip. My sis walks into my office and looks at the fishtank. There he is. Albino Pete, younger of my former two Cowboy axolotl brothers. At least I think they were brothers and I think he was younger. I gave them Cowboy names back in the day, cause their fishtank looked like a prairie, white sand and plastic plants. Blackeyed Willy and Albino Pete.
They ate a lot and grew fast to the eight inches they, or rather, he still is. He’s been living alone in the fishtank for the last two years. His brother got sick, stopped eating, was pale – which is saying something since he, too, was an albino, though had black eyes. A semi-albino, not moving or walking the ground of the tank, but floating just underneath the surface of the water. It was clear that I had to do something.
A veterinarian was never an option since I don’t have a transport tank. Internet forums didn’t tell me much, just gave me a bad feeling of doing everything wrong. Until today I don’t know why he got sick.
So I decided to put him out of his misery. My sister came to help two years ago and she is with me today.
We walk back into the kitchen, finishing our coffee. I see little bubbles forming on the ground of the pot. It’s almost time.
I get an empty bucket from the bathroom, and the rubber gloves. I shiver. I look at my sister. She doesn’t say anything, just grabs my shoulder.
„Shot?“ I ask her and she nods, so I take two shot glasses from the cabinet. Bullenschluck from the fridge, I pour one for her and one for me and even though it’s the strongest drink I personally have ever had (it burns like you wouln’t believe, I invented the term „undownable“ for it, I swear) I am able to drink it like water. I breathe out feeling a little calmer, still have to cough, but that’s fine.
The water is boiling for real now. I put on the gloves, take the bucket and go into my office.
I do it quickly, don’t want to make him suffer, will spare all the literally gory details, just know, it wasn’t pleasant.
After it’s done, we go down to the patio to bury him. My sister brought her awesome folding spade for the funeral. Within seconds he’s dug in, right next to where we buried his brother two years ago. I sing „Cielito lindo“ for him, at least as much of the song as I remember (which isn’t much) and we go back upstairs.
We have another shot, taking more time to drink it this time.
My sister leaves to go about her business and as I close the door I suddenly hear the fishtank filter, it seems louder than usual. I pull the plug and look into the axo-less tank.
I need a joint.
Upon lighting it up, I can’t help but reminisce to the day I met the two at a store in Kreuzberg. My sister had gone to get fish for her fishtank and while she got them, my nephew (he was four) and me looked at all the other tanks with all the other colorful floating creatures. We both were especially fascinated with the huge fish they had in one room. I smile as I remember how we spotted this one tank, though, that had these two light-pink creatures in it. They were tiny, maybe 3 inches and they had these interesting things on their neck, which turned out to be their gills, but looked like a fancy red stola. They were cute in a very weird way and I was immediately smitten. I asked the dude in the store to give me some info as to the upkeep of such little creatures and what he told me sounded supereasy. I could ptotally do that… I thought to myself.
However, since a fishtank isn’t and shouldn’t be an impulse purchase, I decided to do some research over the weekend.
And since I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, I did the research. And three days later, I bought the two, bought a fishtank and all the other accesories and they moved in with me.
As I exhale the last drag with these fond memories in my head, I close my eyes and wish Albino Pete all the best for his last ride through the eternal axolotl prairie.