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A Fish Tale

by Roy Tsukishima about a year ago in grandparents
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Jason inherits $20,000 along with a unbelievable Fish Tale from his Grandfather

Jason hadn’t seen his grandfather in almost two years, so he was a bit surprised to learn that when his grandfather passed away, he was the lone beneficiary in his will. His grandfather, Walter, had a house by the lake that he used to visit as a kid. Walter would take him out fishing, but he would always end up getting drunk. Jason’s dad used to tell him, Grandpa developed his alcohol problem after Grandma passed away, which was when Jason was around three years old, so he didn’t have too many memories of her.

As Jason got older, he would visit his grandfather less and less, partly because he got tired of his drunkenness, but also because once he graduated from high school, he moved away to Calgary.

As Jason drove up the highway, to get to his grandfather’s house, he almost forgot how beautiful the scenery was on the drive. Seeing the majestic Rocky Mountains in front of him, and miles of spruce trees dotting the highway, it was quite the sight to behold. It was early June, and Jason had the top down on his convertible, so that he could breathe in the fresh mountain air. Living in Calgary, he had almost forgotten what real fresh air smelled like. As he got to the turn to his grandfather’s house, and drove up the driveway, he started thinking back to the times he used to visit as a kid. How his grandfather would always greet them as they drove up. He was usually still sober when they first arrived.

The house was modest, as it was a 3-bedroom bungalow, about 1600 square feet. The house was on a 160-acre property that Walter bought back in the eighties. Walter built the house by himself. It took some time as Walter would work on it on the weekends, and whenever he could get time off from work. His two sons would also help out when they could.

As Jason walked through the front door and entered the house, to the right was the living room that had a large window that faced the lake and a fireplace along the north wall. The window faced west, so in the evenings, you could see the sunset over the mountains with the light shining on the lake, it was quite the view. Facing straight ahead was the dining room with the kitchen off to the left. Also, off to the left was a hallway that led to the bedrooms. Jason could see on the dining room table was a letter which he read, “Dear Jason, if you are reading this, then I have passed away. If you are wondering why I left you everything in my will, it is because you were my favorite grandkid and I knew you would appreciate what I left behind the most.”

Jason thought for a second, “Wow, I never knew I was Grandpa’s favorite,” and then he continued to read on.

“Do you remember in the basement, there is a room that I told you never to enter? Well, you can enter it now. In the room, you will find bags full of coins, mostly loonies, and toonies. In total there is $20,000, and it is all yours. You will also find a little black notebook. In the notebook, you will see where this money came from. I think you will find the story quite unbelievable and you might think this is just some ramblings from a drunken old man. But, believe me, Jason, what I say in the notebook is true and if you trust me, and follow the instructions in the notebook, you can become very rich. Thank you, Jason, and I wish you all the best in your future.

Love Grandpa.”

Jason thought for a few seconds and then headed for the basement. The basement was never finished as there was just a cold room that Walter used to store food in, and there was the furnace room. The only other room in the basement was the one that Walter told Jason never to enter. As Jason walked up to the forbidden room, his hands trembled for a second as he wondered, would he find $20,000? Jason entered the room and turned on the lights and he could see on the floor several bags that must have been filled with coins and a table in the middle of the room that had a little black notebook on it.

Jason walked up to one of the bags and opened it up and saw it was filled with coins. Some quarters, some dimes but mostly loonies and toonies. Also, in the bag was a note that read read $2500. “I guess that means there is $2500 in this bag.” He looked around and counted seven more bags. Jason did a little calculation in his head and thought, “That would be $20,000 if each bag had the same amount.” Jason then walked over to the table and picked up the little black notebook and started to read.

The first page was dated July 17, 1992. “Today was the first day I met Stanley, the talking lake trout.”

Jason stopped reading and thought, “Grandpa was right, this story is going to be unbelievable.” but Jason continued to read on.

“I was fishing on the lake when I caught a fish and reeled him in. When I pulled the fish out of the water and pulled out the hook, the fish started to talk to me.”

“Thank you for taking that hook out of my mouth. My name is Stanley, by the way.”

“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. At first, I thought I was drunk and I was hallucinating that this fish was talking to me. I grabbed a bottle of water and drank some and threw the rest over my head thinking that should snap me out of this hallucination, but I was wrong.”

“What do you think you are doing?”

“I want to wake up from this nightmare.” I said, still having my eyes closed as I thought I was still hallucinating.

“Listen, Walter, you are not hallucinating. I am talking to you.”

“You know my name?” I said, as I slowly opened my eyes.

“Of course, I know your name. I have been watching and listening to you these past few weeks.”

“You have been?”

“Yes, and I decided today was a good day to finally meet you, so I purposely hooked myself onto your line, so that you could reel me in.”

“Why do you want to meet me?”

“I have been looking for a human I could talk to, someone I could trust and who could use my help.”

“Your help? How can you help me?” I asked, still thinking I was crazy to think I was talking to a fish.

“Well, you see, I know that you are a widower and I know you are lonely, so I thought I could give you the money I have saved up, in hope that it makes you happier.”

“What do you mean, money that you have saved up? How can a fish save up money?”

“Well, you see over the years, people have lost money into the lake, some of it is paper money, some of it is coins. I have no use for it, but I know you humans like to have it. So, what do you think Walter, could you use some money?”

“Well, I guess a little money wouldn’t hurt. But, how will you get it to me?”

“You let me back into the lake, and I will swim down to my layer and collect some of the money in my mouth. Then, I will swim back up to your boat and you can pick me up again and I will spit the money out for you.”

I was not sure what to think, but I decided what could I lose, dinner maybe. So, I let Stanley go and a few minutes later he did return and he spit out about twelve dollars in coins. He did this several more times, until I had collected $212.75. Stanley told me to return to this same spot anytime and he would give me more money. Stanley asked for just one thing in return. He loved marshmallows, so he asked that next time, I should bring him some and he would exchange the money for the marshmallows.

Jason stopped reading and thought for a second. “Could this be true? Nah, Grandpa was just in a drunken stupor when he wrote this. But, if it is not true, where did all this money come from?”

Jason continued to page through the notebook and the rest of it had dates, with dollar amounts next to it. Until he got to August 21, 2001. Written there was, “Stanley passed away, but his son Lewis was taking over for his father. The only difference is that Lewis likes strawberry marshmallows.”

This again continued until June 14, 2009, when Walter wrote, “Lewis passed away, but his daughter Elizabeth was taking over. Elizabeth liked a variety of different flavored marshmallows.”

Then again on August 3, 2017, Walter wrote, “Elizabeth passed away, but her son, Stuart was taking over. Stuart, like his mother, liked a variety of different flavored marshmallows.”

This again continued until July 22, 2019, when Walter wrote, “Stuart was killed in an accident with a jet boat. His daughter Samantha is taking over. Sam, as she likes to be called, likes just the strawberry marshmallows.”

The last entry in the notebook was dated June 2, 2020, and had written next to it $176.50. Jason thought, “That was two days before Grandpa passed away.”

Jason grabbed his cell phone and started to add up the amount of money Grandpa collected over the years. In the end, it totaled $468,947.85. “Wow, that is a lot of money. But Grandpa only left me $20,000. What happened to the rest of the money?” Jason thought for a minute, “Oh yes, Grandpa did like to gamble and he did like his trips to Vegas. I guess this fish money paid for his gambling addiction.”

As Jason flipped through the rest of the notebook, the remaining pages were all empty until he got to the last page. Written there was this, “Jason, Sam is waiting for you, just take the boat out to the middle of the lake and Sam will meet you there. Don’t forget to take strawberry marshmallows. There should still be a few bags in the pantry.”

Jason went upstairs and looked in the pantry and indeed, there were eight bags of strawberry marshmallows. “I guess grandpa likes to keep his marshmallows well stocked.”

It was late in the day, so Jason wasn’t going to go out onto the lake today. But, would he head out to the middle of the lake to meet a talking fish called Sam? This whole thing sounded ludicrous, but Jason thought he would sleep on it, and decide tomorrow whether or not to go out to meet Sam.

The next day, Jason thought it wouldn’t hurt to head out onto the lake and do some fishing. It has been a while since he has been out on the lake, so he thought he would at least try, although a part of his brain thought this was a crazy idea, as there was no way that a fish called Sam, was going to meet him in the middle of the lake.

Jason made himself a sandwich for lunch. Then he grabbed a few bottles of water from the fridge, and stuffed them along with his sandwich in a lunch bag he found in one of Grandpa's kitchen cabinets. He then gathered Grandpa’s fishing gear, grabbed a bag of strawberry marshmallows, and headed for the boat. Jason took the boat to the middle of the lake like Grandpa instructed and threw in a few strawberry marshmallows into the lake. He was not sure if this was what he was supposed to do, but he thought it seemed like a good idea.

A couple of hours had passed and no fish had come up to greet him. Jason thought this was crazy, why should he believe a fish tale from his drunken Grandpa. He was about to head back to shore when he heard this.

“You must be Jason. I recognize you from a picture Walter showed me.”

Jason was startled and he looked down and saw a fish staring right back at him. Jason stammered for a few seconds and then said, “Are you, Samantha?”

“I prefer to be called just Sam.”

“Sorry, Grandpa did tell me that. He also said you like strawberry marshmallows. Would you like some?”

“Yes, I would indeed. I am sorry to hear about your grandfather passing away. He was a good man and I did like talking to him. At least when he wasn’t drunk.”

“Yes, Grandpa liked to drink.” Jason said, as he grabbed a few marshmallows and threw them into the lake.

“Thanks, Jason, it’s been several days since I could enjoy these delights.” Sam swallowed a few marshmallows and then said, “I wasn’t sure if you were going to show up, as Walter wasn’t sure you would believe his story.”

“To tell you the truth, I was not sure what to believe, but I thought I should at least try. I was about to give up and head back in, when you decided to make contact.”

“I was sizing you up. Walter said I could trust you, but I wanted to make sure. It looked like you were giving up so I thought I better make my move now, or you would never show up here again. So, Jason, do you want to continue the duties your Grandpa started with Stanley and continued with his descendants?”

Jason thought for a second and then said, “Well, Grandpa did entrust me with this information, and I don’t want to disappoint him, so sure, it’s a deal, I will carry on for my Grandpa.” Jason reached out his hand to shake with Sam.

“Jason, fish don’t have hands to shake with.”

“Sorry Sam, what are we supposed to do?

“We could kiss.”

“What!”

“Just joking, there is nothing we are supposed to do. You just show up here whenever you need some money and I will be waiting for you. Don’t forget to bring the strawberry marshmallows. And try to come fairly often, as I don’t like going too long without having marshmallows.”

“That works for me.”

“I also need to let you in on a little secret, that Walter did not tell you yet.”

Jason was intrigued, what could this secret be? “So, what is this little secret?”

“Last month, I found some yellowish rock on the bottom of the lake, and there seemed to be a lot, scattered all over. I showed a sample to Walter, and he told me that it was gold. Something that is worth a lot more than the coins we had been giving him. Walter looked into what it took to get a license to pan for gold, but he found if you are only panning for gold in Alberta, you don’t need a license. In the following week, I gave Walter some gold, and he took it in to see what it was worth, and he informed me, I collected almost $8,000 in gold. At this point in Walter’s life, he knew the end was near for him, so he told me he would hide the gold in a secret compartment that is in the north-west corner of the room where you found the coins. If you go back to the room, you should find a tidy sum of gold.”

“So, if I never bothered to come out and find you, I would never have found out about the gold.”

“That is right. This was a test from your grandfather to make sure you were worthy of the prize that awaits you, as there is still a lot of gold in the lake.”

“That son-of-a-bitch.” Jason thought for a few seconds and then said, “Well, I guess I passed the test. I hope Grandpa is proud of me.”

Jason spent the next hour talking with Sam and getting to know her and her family and finding out her daughter Sarah was next in line and that he should start thinking about who would be next in line from his family.

grandparents

About the author

Roy Tsukishima

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