Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An Unlikely Fish Story

Tom Snaggerstock couldn't sleep.

He tried counting sheep. But after reaching 35,678, without so much as a yawn, he gave up.

It had been 6 months since Agnes broke off their relationship. Not that he missed her.

But darned if he wasn't lonely. He had dated a few times but they were all disasters. Still and all, he never lost faith in the idea that somewhere out there was the right girl for him. He just had to find her.

He looked at the clock. Four in the morning. What an ungodly hour to be wide awake.

There was nothing else to do but get up. And then what' Reading held no appeal. He doubted if early morning television would offer much escape.

And then came the idea. He would go down to the docks. The fishing boats would be coming in. There would be plenty of activity. Perhaps even a fight or two. You never knew about the early morning docks. .

When he arrived the boats had just been unloaded. The night's catch was being sorted into bins and buyers were making their selections.

Then he saw 'her'. He wasn't certain what drew him toward 'her', but the attraction was inescapable.

She wasn't what you would call attractive. I mean, how attractive can a dead fish be? But he knew he had to have 'her''or at least he assumed it was a 'her'. It didn't matter. She was going home with him.

He went over to the burly fisherman who was sorting his catch. 'How much for the big fish over there,' he asked, pointing to 'her'.

'You want just one fish'' the man growled. Tom nodded yes.

'Look, Buster, this ain't no fish shop. You want fish you buy wholesale and you buy in quantity.'

'How many do I have to buy?' Tom asked.

The fisherman looked him up and down. 'I'll make it easy on you, pal. An even dozen. Can't sell any less than that.'

Tom knew this was crazy. He didn't even know what kind of fish they were. And he certainly wasn't going to cook them. But he shrugged and said, 'Okay. One dozen. Be certain to include the big fish.' He pointed to 'her'.

The fisherman shrugged, grabbed 12 fish along with 'her', and wrapped them in a brown wax-like paper. 'That's an even $20.'

Tom knew it was a total rip-off but he wasn't going to ague. He paid the money and left.

When he returned to his apartment, he dumped the fish on the kitchen table. They all looked pretty much alike except for 'her'. For a dead fish she certainly had charisma.

So now what' He could give the extra fish to Mrs. Aberdine on the first floor. She seemed to be always cooking fish. Even her apartment had a permanent fishy smell about it. But what would he do with 'her'. The only logical thing seemed to be to cut 'her' open. Although why that seemed logical escaped him. It was just the thing you did with fish.

Taking a deep breath and a sharp knife, he made the first incision. He continued cutting until she lay completely open. Then he saw the ring.

He hadn't seen one of those things since he was a kid. It was an absolute, genuine, authentic Bat Man decoder ring. And the wheel still worked.

Also in the fish was a plastic capsule with a piece of paper inside. It contained what appeared to be a coded message. He remembered exactly how the ring worked and within a couple of minutes had the message decoded.

The message was obviously a telephone number. Forgetting that it was still early, he dialed the number. A sleepy female voice answered.

Tom almost hung up but said instead, 'I guess I woke you up. I'm sorry. But I just found this Bat Man decoder ring in the belly of a fish along with your telephone number.' Suddenly he realized how stupid that all sounded and wanted to hang up again.

He was ready to apologize when the voice said, 'That's wonderful! Do you know where Barnaby's is on West Seventh?'

Tom said he did.

'Can you meet me there for breakfast at 6:30? I'll explain everything to you. And bring the ring.'

When Tom walked into Barnaby's he saw her immediately. She was beautiful. Long golden hair, a fascinating smile and eyes that blessed him with a welcome. He didn't say a word. Just walked up to the table where she was sitting and put the ring down in front of her.

She smiled at him, picked up the ring, took a chain from her purse, threaded it through the ring and put the chain around her neck.

'I guess you're kind of curious about all this.'

Tom nodded. 'You might say that.'

'Let's have coffee and I'll tell you the whole story.'

Once they were both equipped with mugs, she started in. 'The decoder ring belonged to my older brother. He was killed in a motorcycle accident last year. I found it among his things and decided to wear it on a chain. It sort of made me feel like he was still part of my life. You see, I always worshipped my brother and hoped I would someday find someone just like him.

'Yesterday, I was out on a fishing boat with another of a string of Mr. Wrongs. When I caught this big fish, I suddenly had a really stupid idea. I took off the ring and stuffed it down the fish's mouth. I thought I might kill her but it didn't seem to bother her. Then I took a headache capsule from my purse, dumped out the contents, wrote my telephone number in code on a small piece of paper and added it to the fish's throat. Then I tossed her back in the water.

'I figured if there was really someone out there for me, he would somehow find the ring and know how to work it. Actually, I never really expected to ever see the ring again.'

Tom smiled. 'How about breakfast? Then let's go for a long walk. I think we both have a lot to talk about.'

Success Lesson: True love may have all the appearance of a dead fish'but look on the inside.

' Doug Grant, 2010

About The Author
Doug Grant has been a freelance writer for over 40 years. Here is another of his Funky Success Stories with a success lesson at the end. Enjoy more free funky fun breaks at

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