My name is Sam. I live a couple of blocks from my favorite Chinese restaurant, Asian Buffet. They have everything there, over two hundred items. You can't beat it for just $6.50 plus drink and tip.
When they're busy, I usually wait in the lobby, occasionally looking at their aquarium, filled with all types of colorful, exotic fishes.
One afternoon, as I was looking in the tank, one in particular came up to the glass and stared at me. He stared at me for a long time. He was not colorful like the other fishes, but he looked soulful and sad. I was impressed that he spent so much time looking at me; until I too began too feel sad. I couldn't explain it.
My table was ready, so I said bye to the fish and went inside to have lunch. However, I couldn't get him "the fish" out of my mind, or more over, my heart. I didn't eat much, because my spirit was heavy, convicted maybe, I don't know. But my thoughts were drawn to that fish.
After I had finished lunch, I paid my bill and went back to the tank. He was glad to see me. Almost like a devoted dog. I had never had such a response before from a fish. I stayed with him a good long while, said goodbye again and went on about my day.
What happened next is truly science fiction like, but it happened just the same. I started feeling him in my heart speaking to me. I didn't understand it, but it grieved me. I felt he was asking me to come and get him. He was sad and depressed and he wanted me to rescue him.
I tried to ignore the feeling, but it was ever with me.
I stayed away from the restaurant for a couple of months, to avoid the burden that I didn't want to be responsible for. After awhile, I went back and he was still there. I went to the tank and he came right to me. But instead of being happy, he was sad and disappointed in me. I knew he was disappointed in me and I was sorry.
I asked him if he wanted me to take him home with me. He moved his mouth as if he was talking to me. I know that one could say that this is how all fishes act, but I felt this was different. I told him that I would take him home, and then went to have lunch. When I left, I told him I would be back for him.
It was another month before I returned. This time when I went over to the tank, he ignored me as if he was mad at me and very, very disappointed. I started to talk with him and after awhile, he came over to see me. When I told him I would get him out of there, he turned around with his tail toward me. He wouldn't turn around and face me.
I was so grieved, that I had hurt and let him down; I determined to do something about it. I know other people would think me crazy, but who cares. I know what I know.
I talked with the manager of Asian Buffet before sitting down to eat. He spoke very little English, but I pressed him and told him I wanted to buy that fish in the aquarium. On the way home I would buy the tank and the supplies, but until then, I would carry him home in a plastic bag filled with tank water.
The manager went with me to the tank and I pointed the fish out. He nodded his head like he understood and told me he would take care of it. I asked him the price and he said $20.00. I agreed and then he escorted me to my seat for lunch. I got my salad and sat down. Half way through my meal the manager came over and set a plate down in front of me. When I looked down…I saw…it was the fish. He cooked the fish…my friend…was now laying on the plate…dead with his eye looking up at me!
I was in shock. The grinning manager asked if everything was all right. It took me about thirty seconds to fully realize what had happened. He didn't understand me. He thought I had ordered the fish. I had inadvertently killed the soul I was trying to help.
I was sick. I was going to throw up. I put my hand over my mouth and ran to the bathroom. It was all I could do, to not throw up before I got there.
I splashed cold water on my face. I couldn't go back to the table. After awhile, I headed straight for the register to pay. The manager was concerned that something was wrong. I didn't want to talk about it. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. I paid and I headed toward the door. I don't know why, but I stopped by the tank as I was leaving. It looked empty. His soul was the only one I connected with inside the aquarium. I had never felt such grief.
If I had saved him and not hesitated, he would be alive and happy at home with me. I will adjust, but I will never forget and maybe never lose the feeling of the loss. It was a hard lesson to learn, to act and not hold back when lead to do something compassionate.
It is said and it is true, "He who hesitates…is lost!"