The Fountain of Knowledge

The Irish Times & Powers Whiskey recently ran a short story competition. This is one of my two entries. Neither won but I like them anyway. The subject was to write 450 words on ‘What Really Matters.’

McCool, man-big-boy, arrives by the Pool. Surrounded by nine hazel bushes, leanto under overhangy rock, little fire wisps smoke thonder.

From the undergrowth emerges a dishevelled figure. Old, craggy, birdsnest of a beard home to flora and fauna galore, and more. Torn britches, baggy woollen jerkin. Behind trails a shaggy dog.

McCool, by the pool, observes the scene unfold. The oul boy calls the dog, sounds like Endamine, sits down by the pool and flicks a spinner off the end of a rod into the blue water.

Eyes gleaming, he fixes his gaze on McCool.  “I saw you arrive with yer iPhone, yer sneakers and yer shades. If ye wanna stay, ye can help.’

“That’s cool.” replies McCool. “Help what?”

“Catch fish. Salmon. I catch, you cook, we eat.”

McCool the fool, says “As a rule, don’t eat fish, only dolphin-friendly tuna.”

Whatever. Beady eyed, the oul fella glares, ignores, continues:

“Been after it this years. Gold with a red triangle. What a fish, some dish.’

Suddenly the line yanks, yaws and pullies – huge, the golden Salmon arcs out of the water. Golden, beautiful, knowledgeable. Gleams in the evening sun.

“Holy Mackerel’ says McCool, falling off his stool, “Can we catch it.”

“Yes we can” replies the oul fella, knee deep in the drink. “we will fight and we’ll be alright.”

Struggle continues, line-pulls and calms. “Hasn’t gone away you know” says the  oul boy. Authoritatively.

McCool, no longer cool, reaches for the net, salmon-leaps again.

“It’s got magic Powers.”

“Something like that” mutters the oul boy, salmon-steering to the net.

Ashore. Despatched. Fishgutted. Washed.

Spit speared searing sitting above smoking fire. McCool receives his barked instructions:

“Cook, don’t taste. Understand, the fish is mine. Whomsoever tastes firsts sees the light.”

McCool intrigued: “You what?”

“I’m first, you’re second. That’s the way it is. Now, I’m for the yard”

Spit-turning, McCool, still a fool, drops shades in the flames. Reaching firewards, dripping Salmon sauce scalds his hand.

McCool, definitely not cool leaps himself. Salmon-like, handsucks, yowling in pain.

Old fella bolts from the bogs alarmed, distraught, crestfallen, severely peeved.

“You taste the fish?”

McCool, mouth-a-drool: “Just a soupcon…” Eyes a-bright, no more the fool.

“You may have the rest, now you’ve a taste for it.” And, with that he roaded McCool.

Sad perhaps, seat-settled by the fire, beside the pool. A single salmon soars from the water.

Dogwards says he: “Well Endamine, canine friendamine…”

Cap-snaps the golden bottletop, laughs aloud.

“Plenty more fish in the uisce eh….? It’s not what you know that really matters. But how you use it.”

Jug dips a little poolwater diluting slightly his Powers Gold Label. The real Fountain of Knowledge.