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Pigeons and Fish

From the basket of his leaning bike he took a homing-pigeon and tossed it into the air; it circled us once then headed west.

“That’s a stray, not one of mine; hope to fuck it’s not there when I get home.”

We were standing on the sea-wall watching the river as the turning tide emptied back into the bay. Tiny fishing boats were chugging upstream, fighting both tide and river.

“I usda do that.”

“You have a fishing boat?”

“Usda; too much work. Lot of maintenance, and you need to know a welder. The brothers and I had boats but we all had fuckin’ heart-bypasses and one of us died; so we quit.”

He pointed: “See those boats, all the same colour; they’re all brothers, they help each other.”

I looked out towards dots on the horizon: “More boats trying to get in before the tide’s out?”

“No. When the tide’s on the way out, it catches the trawl behind the boat and spins the boat around; you can’t work on an outgoing tide.”

He leaned towards me, confidingly: “I usda take the birds out into the bay, and release them, for trainin’, but now I just bring them here; they were still good enough to win first, third, fourth and sixth places in a French competition, last year.”

He placed a foot on his bike-pedal and scooted himself forward: “I hope that little fucker isn’t there when I get home.”

Flash Fiction by Paul Clancy

Published in Autumn 2017


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