The Cat-fish and the Carpenter

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
A talking fish asked a favor of a carpenter. Really?

Submitted: November 16, 2015

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Submitted: November 16, 2015

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Traveling downstream, along a wide and slow moving river, we see a large cove flanked by a grove of trees and a wooden boat dock.

At the center of the cove is a clearing that stretches into the woods and at the heart of that clearing stands a house. The house sets back from the river, possibly for the need of shade in the summer and to cut the wind in the winter.

The house sports a large porch that faces the cove and there is two rocking chairs, nicely placed, for viewing. There is a tire swing hanging from the tree nearest the porch.

To one side of the house stands a large shed with an assortment of saws, hammers, files and other woodworking tools that hang from one wall; the doors are always opened in the spring and summer months, except at night.

This is a Carpenter's home and his business, and it has been so for nearly twenty years.

Times are hard nowadays, mainly because the Carpentry business is slow. So slow that the Carpenter must take in work repairing and finishing boats. That may not seem to be a big deal, but that means the Carpenter will have to do much of his work at the river's edge. And that can be a poor work place in the heat and humidity of the summer.

The Carpenter's wife, Irene, takes the children to school each morning and then she works at her crafts store until school lets out.

The store is an old two-story farmhouse that Irene's Great, Great, Great, Grandparents built before there was a town here.

Over the years, bits and pieces of the farm property was sold to other farmers, or to business owners. Now all that is left is the house and about five acres of land.

The house sets at the edge of town and there is a huge fire-pond in back of the house.

The fire-pond is a nice one because it has water flow from Rocky-bottom creek, at least, for most of the year.

The bottom floor of the house has been used as a store for two generations now. However, when Irene took it over from her Uncle, she asked Josh to help her make a craft shop out of both floors. The sales shop and goods are downstairs, the sowing tables and chairs, for the sowing guild and quilters, are upstairs.

The store hardly pays for itself and if it wasn't for the steady streams of retired vacationers that stop in during the spring and summer, well then, Irene would have had to sell the place long ago.

Still, it gives Irene a sense of purpose and allows her time to socialize, mainly with the ladies that live in the area.

Irene hosts sowing circles and quilting clubs all the time. And with the gossip going on in that store, it is no wonder that this town doesn't need a local paper.

 

Getting back to the Carpenter, his name is Joshua, Josh for short.

After breakfast Josh heads out to the work shed and gathers some needed tools, then he heads for the dock to work on whatever boat that is waiting for his attention.

Every day Josh has the same routine, he works from 7 a.m.. until 12:30 p.m.., then he takes a half hour for lunch and goes back to work until Irene calls him to wash for dinner.

For lunch Josh has a pie that Irene makes the night before. Sometimes the pie filling is from dinner leftovers, maybe beef and potatoes, chicken and rice, or maybe ham and beans; but whatever is in it, it's always good.

In some parts of the world they call these pies "Pasties", other places call them "Miners Pies" because of the thick crust that is formed around the curved edge. That crust is somewhat like a narrow woven rope and it allows whoever is eating it to have something to hold onto as the pie is eaten.

While baking the pie, that rope-like edge gets very hard and is not easily eaten, but that is what it was designed to do.

Coal, tin, and other miner’s hands can get very dirty and contaminated during working hours. The miners hold the pies by that hard edge and eat out the middle, and then they toss the crust. Josh doesn't eat it because it is too hard.

Each day Josh would toss the crust away and the birds would eventually find it. They would peck at it, or some chip-monk would cart it off.

***

 

Just before lunch, one sunny day, Josh heard a voice say, "Hay!" Josh looked around and saw no one, so he went back to work.

A second time the voice spoke, "Hay you, look down here in the water!"

Josh smacked his ears with his hands while looking around again.

"What the HELL are you doing?" The voice questioned.

"I'm clearing my ears! Josh said without thinking about who he was talking to.

The voice came again, "Look at the water in front of you, I'm in the water!"

Josh glanced down and saw a good sized Cat-fish with it's head sticking out of the water.

"Finally," said the fish, "it took you long enough!"

"No Way," exclaimed Josh!

"No Way, What?" questioned the fish.

"No way, that you are talking. Fish don't talk!" Josh responded with a nearly horrified look of wonder in his eyes.

The Cat-fish responded while sounding rather understanding, "I know, (right?), it surprised the hell out of me the first time I did it. Come to think of it, that wasn't very long ago. It is hard to keep track because I seldom have a chance to talk to anyone; fish don't talk. You Know?

Anyway, a few weeks ago some kid was fishing and had me on his fishing hook. Then after he got me out of the water he tried to get the hook out of my mouth. When he finally succeeded, IT happened; I said, ("OUCH!").

Boy, you should have seen the look on his face, total shock, kind of like the look on your face right now.

Anyway, he was so shocked that he dropped me and I feel into the river, thank God."

"You can talk. How is that possible?" Josh repeated.

The fish replied, "We've already been over that, I don't know the how, just the when and the where."

So Josh questioned, "Well then, why me? Why are you talking to me? I don't have you on a hook."

"Well it's like this," the fish responded, "I been watching you for awhile and I'd like to ask you for a little favor. It's about that bread that you throw away each day. I'd like to eat it if you would throw it in the water, somewhere near the shore would be great."

“I don't know, I usually give it to the forest critters, like the chip-monks and the birds," Josh replied.

"Well look at it this way, you have chickens and a cow, (right?), you feed them and you get stuff back from them. But when you feed the birds and chip-monks, you get nothing back. However, if you toss the bread in the water, then your feeding me and other fish.

Now I know that you fish, from time to time I've seen you, so it is the same thing as with your chickens and cow." the Cat-fish said, trying to sound very convincing.

"Hold On! You want me to feed you and then eat you?" Questioned Josh with a wrinkled up nose.

The fish replied, "Fish don't generally die of old age. There is always a bigger fish, or a human, that is going to have you for dinner, that's just the way things are. So a fish has to try to make things as enjoyable as possible for as long as possible.

There are not many things that Cat-fish eat that are very enjoyable, we're bottom feeders, ya-know; so some nibbles of fresh bread is like the best thing ever. It livens up an otherwise slimy diet. So think about, it would really help me out."

With that said, the fish slipped back under the water and was gone.

 

The next day Josh ate his pie and tossed the crust into the water. The crust just floated there for some time, until, suddenly, it bobbed around a little. Then it disappeared under the water and when it resurfaced, it was not as long as it once was. This bobbing happened several times, and so did the dunking, then the crust just wasn't there anymore.

This tossing, bobbing, and dunking, went on for a couple of weeks, so Josh thought that he was never going to see that Cat-fish again.

***

One day, right before lunch, Josh was working on a row-boat when he dropped his tape-measure in the water. Within a minute a Cat-fish surfaced with the tape in its mouth.

Josh took the Tape from the fish and said, "Thanks!" without thinking. But at the same time he thought, ("This can't be the talking fish, this one is much bigger.").

The fish replied, "No problem and you're very welcome!"

Josh was still in disbelief as to how big this Cat-fish had become, and told the fish so while he was having his lunch.

Josh sat down on the dock and took the pie out of the bag. He ate it as he tossed chunks of crust to the fish, and they talked for some time.

The cat-fish explained that many kinds of fish can grow in accordance with the amount of food that is available to them. And because the cat-fish was getting most of this bread, he was getting bigger.

Well it seems that they both seemed to enjoy the occasional chit-chat and the meal together, so it became something that they would do about one day a week. 

In the winter months Josh didn't have much boat work, so he didn't come to the dock like he once did. In fact, Josh wasn't home in the daytime for most of the winter. He would take some of his tools and leave with Irene and the kids in the mornings; but he still came to the edge of the river in the afternoon and tossed some bread for the fish.

***

 

That year Spring arrived with warm breezes flowing along the river. The winter frost was gone and the Cat-fish was hungrier than ever.

The fish came to the dock and lifted his head out of the water to see if Josh was there. Josh was standing on the dock with a hunk of bread in his hand.

Plop, it hit the water!

Well, fish made short work of it and just as he was about to take the last bit...

SWISH!

The Cat-fish found himself in a net with several other fish. He was caught!

Josh reached into the net and pulled the Cat-fish out, then before he could say a word Josh dumped him in a water drum. The water drum was about half full of river water.

The next thing he knew Josh loaded the drum onto a small trailer that was attached to their car, and he drove off.

Josh arrived at the store and Irene opened the gate that was attached to a new fence; the fence surrounded the fire-pond, all the way around and to the rear of the store.

There were new signs hanging on the store front and on the fence which said:

See & Hear The Talking Fish!!! 

Adults = $5, --- Seniors & children = 1/2 Price

 

 

 

D. Thurmond / JEF --- 11-14-2015

 


© Copyright 2019 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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