a Women Writer's' Showcase

Something Fishy This Way Comes
by Margaret B. Davidson

Irene let the phone ring.  It stopped.  She savored the five minutes of blessed peace before it resumed its insistent burr, burr. 

"Damn it, enough already!"  Irene escaped into the backyard, slamming the kitchen door as she went.  She spent the next hour yanking weeds, and with every dandelion, every errant clump of crabgrass she tore from the lawn, she reiterated her determination to be rid of Sonny for good. Fishing was all he thought about.  A few lousy mackerel on a good day.  Not enough to feed the cat!

Fishing and stupid practical jokes -- that's all there was to Sonny.  All there had ever been.   He'd accused her of having no sense of humor, but the truth was that what he called playful often verged on the downright nasty.  She just hadn't thought it funny when he'd stuck that dead frog in the cornflakes box, nor when he'd reversed the hose in the vacuum cleaner so that instead of sucking dirt it blew it back into the room.  Not that the house was spotless, but enough was enough.

As she came back into the kitchen, Irene saw the flashing red light on the answer machine.

"You freakin' bitch!  You know I got nowhere to go.  I'll get you for this, Irene.  You just wait and see..."  Irene hit "stop," and rewound the tape.   She fidgeted that night.  He'd never been violent, but one never knew... 

As she was preparing her meal the next evening, Irene became aware of an unpleasant odor in the kitchen.  She took the trash out, but the smell remained.  Maybe there was something rotting in the garbage disposal.  She turned it on.  Nope, it wasn't that.  Perhaps it was her imagination.  In any event, she'd had one hell of a day at work, and she was too tired to investigate further.   The smell worsened.  Could it be the drains?  Something stuck in the pipes?  She called a plumber.  

"You're right, lady.  It sure does stink in here.  But it aint yer drains.  Ran a snake down 'em.  No blockage that I could find.  S'pose you could have something stuck in one of yer walls -- dead mouse or something.  Heard of that happenin'."

Irene spent the whole day Saturday on a mad cleaning spree.  She scrubbed inside cupboards, moved furniture and cleaned behind it, opened every window, but the smell did not dissipate.  She was beginning to feel ill.  She had no idea what to do next, so she sat down and started to cry - eventually falling asleep, her head on the kitchen table.   Zzzz..  Zzzz...  Awakening, her neck stiff, Irene glanced up.  Oh, gross!  Bluebottles -- three of them -- buzzing around the light fixture.  What on earth...

Irene retrieved a screwdriver from the kitchen drawer and, gagging at the stench, climbed onto a kitchen chair and unscrewed the glass bowl that covered the light bulb.

Two dead fish.  They were slimy and green, furry in spots, with open mouths and accusing stares.  As the bluebottles descended, Irene barely saved herself from falling from the chair in horror.   There were others.  Some in the bathroom, trapped in the light above the mirror.  In the bedroom -- hidden at the back of her underwear drawer.  And he'd gone for the cornflakes again.  There they were, at the bottom of the box.  He'd gone to the trouble of pouring the flakes out of the box, and then replacing them.  The bastard!

Irene threw out every scrap of food in the pantry.  

"Let me see if I got this right, Ma'am," the officer said.  You found dead mackerel and a few worms in your light fixtures.  You think some character named Sonny hid them there.  Right so far?  Okay."  He stabbed at his typewriter keys for a few minutes, before glancing up.

"The thing is, we can't do much.  That phone message was threatening so we can probably get a restraining order.  I'll check on that for you.  Might take a few days.  Thing is, you see, he hasn't done any actual damage.  And you said yourself he has a key, so it's not like it's breaking and entering... " 

It was a brilliant day -- the kind of day that made one want to laugh out loud in sheer pleasure at being alive.

"I'm so sorry, Irene, her friend said, turning and giving her a hug.  When you let him move back in I was sure you guys were finally gonna work things out.  Then that awful accident... Do they know how he fell out the boat?"

"There were dead mackerel in the bottom of it, under a tarp, all squished up and rotten, like they'd been there a while.  They think he must have slipped, like on a banana skin."

"How horrible..."

"Might have appealed to his sense of humor," Irene said, watching as her first shovel-full of dirt hit the coffin."

Margaret B. Davidson was born and raised in England, but now lives in upstate New York with her husband and cat.  Margaret's husband provides moral support for her writing endeavors, while the cat helps with the typing.  Contact Margaret.