A Fishy Story
‘Are these your fish?’
Mary Lampton turned to see a small, shabbily dressed man holding out a sheet of newspaper with two fish on it.
‘No,’ she said, ‘they’re not mine.’
‘Really?’ said the man, who then turned and walked away.
Mary stood and watched as he made his way across the grass towards the boating lake, where a boy was throwing pieces of bread to three excited ducks. Nearby, sitting on a bench, were the boy’s parents, taking things out of a picnic basket, and the man sat down next to them.
‘Come on, Mabel,’ she said to the Yorkshire Terrier sitting patiently at her heels, ‘let’s go home.’
As she walked home, Mary thought about the oddness of the incident. It wasn’t the man himself, as odd as he was, but the fish; that’s what struck her as the really strange thing, because a couple of trout is exactly what she was planning to cook for supper that very evening.
Once home, Mary made herself a cup of tea, thumbed through a magazine as she drank it, and then got on with her domestic routine. Not long after six o-clock, Mary’s husband, Roger, breezed in from work. She was at the sink, washing dishes, when he walked into the kitchen.
‘Did you remember the trout?’ she asked.
‘Yes,’ said Roger, ‘I remembered the trout.’
Mary turned round to see Roger holding out a sheet of newspaper with two fish on it, and she had to pause for a moment before taking them from him.
‘Were they very expensive?’ she asked.
‘Actually, they were,’ said Roger, ‘I had to buy them twice.’
‘What do you mean?’ said Mary.
‘Well, I decided to have lunch in the park, and I picked up the fish on my way. There was a funny little man sitting on my usual bench, talking to himself, which was annoying because I was looking forward to reading my book, and he would definitely have been a distraction. Anyway, I put the fish and book down on the bench, and turned to get my sandwiches from my brief case; when I turned back, the fish and book had gone, and so had the man. I couldn’t believe it.’
‘In that case,’ said Mary, ‘you definitely won’t believe this,’ and she went on to recount her own brush with the strange man.
Just as they sat down to supper, the doorbell rang, and Mary got up to answer it. She wore a stunned expression when she returned, a few moments later.
‘What’s that you’ve got in your hand,’ said Roger.
‘Your book,’ mumbled Mary.