Two men were fishing in the early morning, the mist rising around their little boat. One line twitches, one angler works the reel, the net is lowered into the water.
“Hold!” cried the fish, as the wide mouth of the net envelops it.
The two men look at each other.
“Do not kill me, please,” pleaded the fish.
One man spat tobacco into the water, a heavy brown lump that sank entire into the green muck. “Ayuh,” he said. “Talking fish,” he said. “What will you give us, an’ we don’t kill you. You a wishin’ fish?”
“No,” said the fish. “That would be crazy. But I have never done anything to you — why must you kill me? Let me go, let me live, I pray you.”
The two men looked at each other. “No deal,” said the one without the lump of chaw in his cheek. They pulled the fish into the boat and whacked it a few times with one of the oars, just to be on the safe side. Its eyes glittered madly as it died, and its cold piscine lips shaped a mighty fish curse against them.
They fry the fish up for lunch. It’s delicious!