The howling wind and rain blew through the curtains of Flannery’s Fish Shoppe. The business was a non descript hole in the backside of a sprawling sea food company warehouse. The mixed smell of fresh and rotting fish permeated the air for several kilometers in all directions.
“Do ya wanna fish?”
Shifty Flannery leaned over the counter. “Who say that?”
“Twas I.” A small voice from beneath his view scratched through the flapping curtain.
Shifty took a curious, but cautious look around the edge of the counter. “Hey, lad, ya wanna fish?”
The little man sat on a sack of salt. “Done fished.”
“Oh, so you’re sell’n fish?” Shifty was used to the fishermen who stopped by with a catch, and for a few quid he could pick up a couple of extra trays of trout or Chad.
“Tain’t fer sale.”
Shifty looked over his shoulder. None of the other workers were in the front of the building. “Ya ain’t sell’n, so, yer given’ me a fish?”
“Nope, be trade’n.”
“Trade’n a fish? Fer what?” Shifty elected to grant a few minutes, the day was slow, and he was yet to make his rent.
“Tis a golden fish I have.”
“Nooo. Ye be pull’n me leg, lad. A funny story I bet.”
The small man tipped his hat and removed a small golden fish.
Shifty marveled at the bight color of the wiggling creature. The gold glistened in the subdued light of the tiny fish shop. “Tain’t a fish to eat tis it?”
“Can be, but golden fish are rare, and hard to catch.” The little man handed shifty the fish.
“Why this little creature is as heavy as real gold.”
The little man produced a balance scale and a weight, then took the creature from Shifty and placed it on the scale. “Tis a full kilo.”
Shifty quickly calculated the value of gold. He had sold his wife’s wedding band, a gift from her mother, it was but a tenth of an ounce and he received a full pound sterling. The golden fish would be worth thousands and more. “Whatcha want for yer fish?”
“The small man laughed. “You have nothing to trade, I see that now.”
“But, I will find something.” Shifty thought about his fish Shoppe and the counters he had carefully built. “I got this here Shoppe.”
The little man put the fish back into his hat. “I’m sorry lad; you have nothing that interests me any longer.”
Shifty came from behind the counter. He picked up the little man and sat him on a shelf over a table of split Halibut. “Don’t be goin’ yet. We can negotiate.”
“I can give you but a few minutes. The baker on the row has a keen interest in the golden fish; for he can renew his bakery with the profits.”
A thought passed though Shifty’s mind. I’ll trick this fella into giving me the fish .
“So, there’s nothing here, well, I kin give ye my labor. For that fish I will give ye my profits from this fish shop. He can have this worthless shop.
The little man thought for a moment. “So you’d give me yer sweat and soul?”
“I would that, do we have a deal?”
“Perhaps, yes, I believe so; but do take care of the golden fish.” The little man removed the fish from his hat and shook the hand of Shifty.
Shifty lifted the man from the perch, and placed the fish in his own pocket. “The deal is done, and I thank you.”
The little man tipped his hat. “Twas my pleasure. Yes, a deal is a deal and is struck. I will wait for the profitable return.” The little man exited the Shoppe into the blowing rain.
“Oh joy.” Shifty took the fish from his pocket. “Now, to sell the bugger and become rich enough to leave this smelly fish counter.”
Though he advertised and demonstrated, nary a farthing was sent his way. The golden fish tarnished and the blacksmith declared it’s worth to be less than plate.
Shifty worked the rest of his days, sweating in the fish Shoppe, but never seeing a penny for the fish or his work. Finally, he laid the fish upon the counter and died a tired man.
That same day, small hand appeared over the counter’s edge, and the fish disappeared.
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