The Odd Fishmonger

January 14, 2016, Prescott-  (The following is based on a Scavenger Hunt prompt including love letter, werewolves, taxi service, lost key, fish sticks.)

Laszlo had grown up in a Hungarian community in Constanta, a port on Romania’s Black Sea coast. So he found it second nature when, as a young backpacker exploring the outer limits of our world, he decided to stop a while on the island of Lamu, off Kenya’s golden shore.

He camped on the beach,  filleting and grilling the fish that he caught, each morning, and bringing it to a local woman, who dipped the meat in a spicy batter and baked it her beehive oven.  She then sliced the fillets into fish sticks, which were sold to German tourists, who reliably showed up for a quick lunch, each day, nearly ten months out of the year.  Lasz got enough of a percentage from these sales to allow him to live a simple, but satisfying life, under the radar of the National Police.

One day, while walking the beach, with a metal detector he had purchased, Lasz found a lost key.  It turned out to fit the trunk of a taxi, and had been lost by a former Somali pirate who had also settled on Lamu, and used his vehicle as sort of a Lamu-style Uber.  The taxi service was quite lucrative, and the grateful ex-pirate offered Lasz a partnership, making him an alternative driver, three days out of the week.

This, once cleared with a suddenly attentive Kenyan police captain, involved a bit of “gifting” to the captain.  Lasz drove the captain’s children to school, free of charge.  In return, he got a work visa.  Between the fish mongering and taxi service, Laszlo was becoming a fixture on Lamu.

He wrote his long-ago sweetheart, a Romanian girl, who had studied at the London School of Economics, and who was casting about for a future.  Nadia was intrigued by her dear friend’s love letter, and made arrangements to travel to Kenya.  On the night before she was to fly from London to Mombasa, she was approached by two rather scruffy, but suave, men.  They learned of her plans, and asked whether they might accompany her to Africa.  They did not seem to have any ulterior motives, and were not threatening to Nadia, so she agreed to meet them next morning, at Heathrow.

The men showed up on time, documents and tickets in hand, and the three boarded the plane together.  It was a delightful flight, from London, over Europe and the Mediterranean, North Africa and Sudan.  As the plane flew over Uganda, however, night fell.  Then, the two suave, scruffy men started to transform.  Somewhere over Lake Victoria, encountering a full moon, the werewolves appeared.

Laszlo waited several days for his Nadia, until a news flash from the BBC reported that a plane had gone down, with 300 aboard.  All but three were dead.  The three missing passengers were not found, but the word among tribesmen on the north shore of Victoria is that two hairy wolf-apes, and their captive white woman, are occasionally spotted in the rough terrain above the Lake.

9 thoughts on “The Odd Fishmonger

  1. OMG Gary!!! Your fiction is even better than your poetry…or equally as strong! A career as a writer can begin at 70 just as easily as at 21. This short story, following prompts is just so excellent! Remember, my job for the past 15 years is to read short stories of writers like Kate Chopin and Joyce Carol Oates and help people analyze them. You are really good, Gary.


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