“Cat, any plan this Saturday?” Annie asked me.
They called me Cat in the office, a typical and ordinary nickname if your name is Kathryn. Or Catelyn. Or Catherine. Or…you get what I’m trying to say. I don’t hate that nickname – sick of it, probably, but it’s not a big deal. The irony, though. I do like fish, but not like cats do.
“Wait, wait. Let me answer that,” Reggie chimed in as if he outpaced me in pressing the button to answer Annie’s question, “Yes, she has; it’s Dante.”
The oohs and aahs from the crowd in the office. Gina just has to insert something into the fire, “Or is it Dante who has plans for her?”
The oohs’ getting inappropriate. I smiled, “You guys know too much.”
Or did they?
In my 23 years of living, I learned that you shouldn’t always tell the whole truth unless you need to. But you shouldn’t lie, either. Especially if you can’t track your own lies and more importantly if you don’t even know your own truths. It is okay to be vague, to give enough information for them to stop asking questions.
Let them know enough to have their own construct then you draw circles around them.
So, everyone here knows that Kathryn always goes out to meet Dante on Saturday. Always. At first, they noticed that I never accept any invite for Saturday. Then one of them – Reggie, obviously – had to ask why. After a while, he asked, who.
It’s understandable. Reggie has an interest in me. It sounds conceited when I say it, but I’m not a moron. I know when someone’s interested, their behavior mostly betrayed their cause. He wanted to know more. To get closer. When I asked, Annie confirmed it, while innocently thinking that if she spilled the truth she’ll get credit as the matchmaker.
To settle all of it at once, I answered with honesty in my voice: “I’m meeting Dante.”
And I am, honestly. I meet Dante every Saturday. That’s all they need to know, and they’re glad to know enough so they cheer. They know the basics of casual dates, so they can put together the gist of it; a date night, maybe movies, café, dinner, and see where the rest of the night takes them. Kathryn and Dante: a love story.
Telling them I’m meeting Dante stopped them from asking more questions, which means I don’t need to mention that Dante isn’t my boyfriend. Dante’s my confidant – or, my confi-Dante – and I always meet him at the City’s Aquarium. I don’t need to share that Dante lives in there, in one of the aquariums.
I don’t need to tell anyone that Dante is a shark.
Dante isn’t the shark’s name, probably. Kathryn’s the one who called that shark Dante. For all she knows, it’s just impolite to address her confidante as “shark”, so Dante it is. People named cats and dogs even pandas; so why wouldn’t she name this shark?
It’s been going on for a year or so. At first, she visited the city aquarium whenever she felt sad. As life fucked her harder than usual, her visit to the aquarium became more frequent.
Marie left her and took Gary with her. Kathryn has been dating Gary only for eight months at the time, so she didn’t mind it that much. But Marie was her best friend throughout high school and university. The double betrayal rammed a steel ice pick to her heart repeatedly. The wound only fester.
Then there’s Dad who can’t stop weeping in silence since Mom left him, and her little brother Billy who just can’t get hold of any decent job – or can’t act decently at work, who knows. So, although it might seem like the world circles around Kathryn, it’s actually life doing several total dick moves on her.
Not the most original sad story, not even the saddest; but we don’t do comparative suffering. We’re just establishing that, sometimes, life likes it nasty that way.
She used to just sit on a bench by a corner of the aquarium, looking at random fish swimming. She doesn’t listen to music while doing so, because it’d only make her uncomfortable as the fish never move accordingly to the music she listens. She just sits there, watching.
It’s soothing, sure. She had read it somewhere that aquariums – especially a big ass aquarium with a lot of fishes in it, can ease our mind and helps us relax. Even without the journal to scientifically prove it, she’d believe it because it happens to her.
Then there’s this shark that swims like he doesn’t mind the world. She thought that he could’ve eaten those fishes around him but he didn’t. She doesn’t know why and she doesn’t want to find out, probably something boring like he’s been trained that way or they kept them to a point he never hungry enough that he needs to hunt. No matter.
All she cares about was the chilling, semi-relaxed movement this particular shark has. Murderous but calm. Tense, but one can’t really tell.
Kathryn stopped sitting at the bench and started following wherever Dante swims. She asked some of the aquarium’s workers about what type of shark Dante is, and some said tiger shark, and some others said sand tiger shark.
Whatever, you’re Dante to me. You’re a shark, and you’re Dante.
She thought Dante must’ve noticed her looking at him funny, acknowledged her interest in him, and decided to take her for a tour around the aquarium. It was weirdly fun and exciting. In no time, she walks around with Dante swimming beside her. She sometimes smiled out of context, then she started whispering her own rant about her life throughout the walk.
Dante obviously can’t hear her and he can’t understand any of it if he could, but since he didn’t make any comments or offer solutions she didn’t ask, it was good enough for her. Kathryn thinks it’s fine if Dante knows too much. It’s not like he can tell on me.
And even if Dante left her, it won’t be because of his choice. He’s in an aquarium. He won’t leave and took anything from Kathryn. He’s a shark, murderous but it has no malicious intent. He won’t hit her. He won’t hurt her. He’s obviously not going to betray her.
And so, there it is, Dante the Shark is Kathryn’s closest confidant. Once things in her life are more settled, she started to piece everything together accordingly, fixing whatever was fixable in her life while still finding time to visit Dante. That’s what happened in a year, generally.
Kathryn found a replacement for Marie: a new confidant, this time a complete opposite of Marie. She was a vegan human and Dante is literally carnivorous. Dante knows everything about Kathryn, including her plan to murder Marie.
“What do you think? Is it crazy for me doing this?” asked Kathryn. Dante just swims, stares at her in silence. “You’re right; why would I ask such a stupid question when I already know what you say won’t change my decision.”
“Yep, that’s true. Between us, I’m the one who always has a knack for pointless rhetoric and all that drama.”
“So anyway, I already bought a gun and a silencer. The best time to get her would be when she headed home from work. Gary’s unemployed, but tends to hang near the convenience store so it wouldn’t be a problem whether I shoot her when she’s on the way home or when she’s arrived at her apartment.”
“Wait, should I kill Gary too…? Hmm, if they’re both dead, that would be nice. Oh, how about I make it looks like domestic violence went wrong? Ugh, but Gary can still defend himself in court…”
“Yeah, you’re right…it’s too much work and it can be traced back to me. I better stick to the original plan, a robbery gone south.”
“I’ll do it in a couple of weeks from now, on a Wednesday night. Gary will not be home the next morning so he wouldn’t look for her until at least the next day.”
“No, she wouldn’t have a gun. She hates guns. She and I both, actually. Back when she wasn’t a bitch and I haven’t met you.”
“No, I’m not saying that to make you happy. You know you’re better than her, you’re my confidante.”
It goes on and on. That day went like every other Saturday. What Kathryn didn’t know was, Reggie was coincidentally also in the aquarium that Saturday; he saw her, but instead of coming over to her and say hi, he followed her around. Closely.
The sequence took turns somewhere it’s not supposed to be taking. Reggie doesn’t go to the police, since he can’t be sure whether it was serious enough. Is it truly homicidal thoughts? She said she bought a gun and a silencer, is it true? She made plans, yes. But is she’s going to do it for real?
Every night throughout the week the whole thing tortured him, and every day when he sees her he tried his best not to think about it. Cat? Kathryn from the office that he adores, that he has a crush on, that he thinks he knows, is…like that? It’s unusual, at best. At worst? It’s all true.
When he’s remembering every conversation he had with her, Reggie can’t believe he missed it. Cat never said Dante’s a guy she’s dating, she just said she had a plan to see Dante every Saturday. She let everyone, including Reggie, believe that she’s dating someone who’s constant enough in her life to take her every Saturday. She just smiled at the cheers. And that’s it.
Reggie didn’t even know about those names Cat mentioned to the shark. Marie…and Gary…she never mentioned them ever. Not even accidentally…and now she’s planning a murder and talking about it with a shark. It’s too elaborate to be a lie, but isn’t it too crazy to be true?
Reggie can’t decide, so he waited. He came to the aquarium the following week, followed her closely and carefully. Not that he doesn’t have a thing to do, it’s just somehow exciting for him too; like role-playing. He’s a private investigator, trying to prevent a crime before it happens.
Two weeks after the initial spying, it appears that Kathryn is ready to carry out the plan. Lucky for Reggie, she told Dante all about it. The when and the where and pretty much the how. Unlucky for Reggie, he has been enjoying this whole spying game a little too much he has not yet decided how to prevent all of this.
It’s Sunday, he’s running to some scenarios over his head, addressing his repressed, denied crush he has towards Kathryn and intentionally complicates things. All he knows for sure is he has to intervene, he doesn’t want her to go to jail. He doesn’t want her to be a murderess too, despite her murderous thoughts.
She’s still cute despite the homicidal thoughts. I just need to stop her from turning into a murderess.
He knows that’s not healthy, but he doesn’t listen to himself at times. As people usually do.
Come Wednesday, Reggie took leave and goes to Marie’s soon-to-be-slain ex-best friend’s apartment. ‘A robbery went south’ means she will probably kill Marie in her apartment. Midway, he’s starting to think that not bringing a gun himself is not exactly a good idea. He and Kathryn aren’t that close. Nothing’s stopping her from killing him then kill Marie.
It can be traced back to her, though. Plus, she doesn’t know I’m going to be there. It will throw her off-guard. Bringing another gun would probably set her off and make things worse.
He waited near the apartment. For two hours, going over his plan to divert her from her plan by making a conversation and ask her to have some drinks. Saying his friend lives nearby and probably will make her at least postpone doing her plan.
And there she was, Reggie can see her across the street. The car that escorting her just went away. Reggie raises his arm and waves. She didn’t see it.
This is it.
Kathryn crosses the street and Reggie walks towards her.
“Cat!” Reggie called her. She turned.
She’s still calm. “Hey, what’re you doing here?”
“I should ask you the same.”
Reggie already prepared for this part so he went for it, “My friend lives nearby. I was visiting him, he’s sick. I promised to visit him for a week now, I can’t bail on him again. That’s why I didn’t come to the office today.”
“Oh, me too. I’m going to my friend’s…so, see you,” she said, and walking away after closing the conversation with a hand wave.
I gotta stop her. “You’re going to Dante’s?”
She halts her steps and turns around again. She approached him. Her stare froze Reggie where he stood. Mesmerized. She walks like she’s about to kiss him. Or kill him. Or both. Reggie can’t decide, but it’s not up to him. Can a kiss kill you?
Once she’s close enough, she lets out a whisper. With a lively tone.
“No, you silly Reggie. Dante’s in the aquarium…” Kathryn grins as she pulls out a gun and points it at Reggie’s tense and defenseless crotch, “But you already knew that, didn’t you?”