Okay, one of the more serious but less known side effects of substance abuse is “The UFO Syndrome” This theory states that if you’re drunk or stoned out of your mind you might as well not bother to tell anyone you saw a UFO even if you really think you did. The little grey men could be dancing naked in a Conga line to old BeeGee’s tunes while abducting Elvis but if you’ve so much as been in the same area code with some decent hash there’s no point in trying to explain what you saw to anyone, or at least to anyone other than that Pink Unicorn that’s camped out in the passenger side seat of your hovercraft.
So there I was, back in 1986, or maybe 1987, who knows at this point, washing a twenty-five gallon aquarium that hadn’t been cleaned out since Captain Ahab’s leg was just a sapling. The water in that container was as dark a green as I’ve ever seen, apart from dreams, and it stank. While the garden hose was slowly suctioning off the stuff at the bottom I was scraping the sides, and suddenly it came from beneath the deep and tried to attach itself to my face. All I saw was a flash of white, green, and I swear on the grave of Timothy Leary, I was not that stoned and I saw a massive white hand coming at my face as I screamed like a little girl and ducked. See where the UFO Syndrome kicks in? You have no idea what was going on in that fish tank but just because you know I had been drinking and smoking pot you think my view on reality had to be altered to the point you won’t believe something came out of the tank and attacked me.
You would be absolutely correct, of course, not to believe me, because nothing of the sort happened. But it could have and you’d be there all skeptical and shaking your head, and worse, this one time you’re right ruins the future totally for anyone smoking pot and taking guitar lessons from Bigfoot, if they decide to let you in on it. But something had sprung from the aquarium, I knew that because there was slime on my face. The apartment floor of the crackhead was littered with…litter, so there was no telling what it was, or where it had gone. I poked the piles of stuff with a stick I found on the floor until it jumped from one pile to another. The crackhead had been keeping a massive Bullfrog in the aquarium. I chased it under lounge chair and managed to corral it up in a plastic bag that had once held the better part of a pound of pot. But also under that chair was a power drill, and skill saw. I corralled these two items up, too, and in just a few weeks, I would barter these items for my very life.
Meanwhile, the aquarium was nearly empty. I could almost lift the thing now, but I wanted it to be as free of the green slimy water as it could get. The water flowing from the hose had slowly formed a toxic green pool in a low spot in the yard of the crackhead. One of his neighbors had a cock-a-poo and this animal rolled around in the green mess and went back inside to show mom. Mom screamed when she smelled her dog, assuming incorrectly it had rolled in the corpse of a zombified elephant with body odor. The woman then went outside to discover the source of the malevolence and then backtracked the garden hose inside where I was just coming out with the tank and the lower tenth of it still awash with green slime. I sloshed green water on her at the front door, and as I did, something leapt from the water and attacked the poor woman, and that’s when I discovered there was also a foot long catfish in the tank.
Both the catfish and the Bullfrog were released into the wild, yes, into a swamp, where both might live long lives. The woman who had been attacked by the catfish had gotten some green stuff on her and had gone to the Emergency Room to find out if she needed shots. I took the whole mess home, stopping by to release the animals, and yes, it’s important to me you know there were no frogs or catfish or even cock-a-poos harmed in this adventure. And I also want you to know this was all done with great peril to my very health. Can you imagine what would have happened to me if a cop had pulled me over? Okay, here’s this long haired guy with a bullfrog in a plastic bag that smells of pot, a catfish in a plastic trash can with some green water in it, and a twenty-five gallon fish tank with a half inch of green slime in the bottom and some power tools in the back seat. If that isn’t against the law then I’m totally unsure why we bother at all.
I made it home alive, of course, and when it for right down to it, the aquarium was in great shape. The gravel in the bottom was incredibly beautiful. It had multicolored rocks with dark blue chucks missed in, like rice krispies for LSD fans. I strained the green stuff out of it with my spaghetti colander for about an hour then soaked the colander in bleach. The tank itself had to be cleaned with a razor blade, again, but it was in good shape as well. The pump ran very quietly now it was no longer trying to force air through primordial ooze. The hood was clean, the light worked very well, and to my surprise, the heater worked perfectly. After just a few hours, a twelve pack, and some UFO sightings, I had the Amphiuma in his new home, along with a half dozen cheap goldfish. Honestly, it was a beautiful aquarium.