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Sharkey: The Fish Stall

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July 23rd 2014  |  0  |  Category: Comedy , Fiction , Other  |  Author: Daryl  |  1466 views

“So fresh ye can still smell the fear of god in them when they were caught!” bellowed Sharkey, his hands brandishing a fish and thrusting it forwards at people at random intervals.

He hadn’t sold one fish yet, and Cathal had given him until 5 o’clock to sell the whole lot. It was now one o’clock and Sharkey was starting to worry.

His attempt at singling out people in the crowd to sell them hadn’t gone well either.

“Liam, these fish are so full of flavour you won’t taste your wife’s food again!”

“You should give this Cod to your man Máire, if ye want to make sure he stays home today!”

“This Salmon is as tasty as you look manky, Seán!”

It wasn’t even a huge stall, just a table full of fish on boxes of ice and a light tarpaulin roof. The morning had been chilly and he’d spent the first half an hour of his shift drinking whisky to keep him warm.

The weather still hadn’t improved, being somewhat windy around noon. As such Sharkey had partaken of more of his insulatory medicine, the result being a more lively and boisterous sales performance. It still hadn’t resulted in a single sale, though.

It was nearly 3 of the clock and Sharkey was getting very panicky in his increasingly-inebriated state. He was lost in his own thoughts and took no notice as his wife sidled up beside him.

“Just after finishin  getting the messages Séamas and I thought I’d see how ye were doin.”

“Ah, a storín!” Sharkey exclaimed, pulling his wife close to him with his right arm and with his left taking another dram to keep the cold away.

“Enough of that stuff now Séamas, how much fish have ye sold by now?” She glanced at the piles of fish still in the baskets and expected a low tally.

“None.”

“What ye mean, none. Yiv been out here all day and yiv not sold one?”

“Nah, sold nuthin, nada, sweet faic-all.” He said morosely, the drink finally hitting him.

His wife could see him launching into one of his infamous tirades when she stopped him and asked how long he had left. Sharkey told her.

“Right, well I’ve to get home soon or the lil ones will be missin us both.” She dropped her shopping bags, took off her coat and donned one of the aprons.

She quickly surveyed the crowd and made intuitive belows.

“Christine, your fella’d be wantin a bit of fish tonight cause you’re always sayin all he ever eats is meat.”

“The same to you Missus Janine, sure you were only tellin me yesterday how much ye wanted a change from McCarthy’s poxy beef.”

“Imelda! Yiv 20 mouths to feed! Give them something on the cheap, sure these are goin for pennies!”

She stayed for more than an hour, bringing the women in and nearly wringing the money out of their hands.

Sharkey, who was just able to stand by this stage, was mightily impressed. The sentimental side of him, which came to the fore at such times, welled up inside him. His wife was Joan of Arc, saving him in the nick of time. She was Cleopatra to his Augustus, Juliet to his Romeo, Charlie to his Chaplin.

After a while, and nearly all the fish were gone, Cathal and Eugene came by to count the takings. They were shocked. Except for some mouldy haddock, all the fish were gone!

The tent wasn’t on fire, Sharkey, the man himself, wasn’t laid out in a gutter somewhere piss-drunk and even his missus was there to congratulate him. It was well-known he and his wife didn’t exactly get on.

“You’re after makin a fair birra profit for us dere Sharkey, me aul mate.” growled Cathal. The man seemed incapable of sounding anything less than angry at all times.

“Yeah, looks like we made the right choice hiring ye after all, here’s your take.” He put the money into Sharkey’s wife’s hands, since the man himself looked like he was about to keel over.

Poor bastard must have been working himself to the bone all day, thought Eugene sympathetically. Turns out Sharkey wasn’t as bad as all that.

When the brothers had left, and the stall was packed up and taken away, Sharkey and his missus walked home arm in arm.

She had his money but he still had a simple smile on his face. It was a good day’s work, all in all.

I could get used to this, he thought.

 

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