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‘You can pin a maggot on a mackerel but you can’t pin a mackerel on a maggot,’ whispered the featureless child, his unheard words of wisdom floating away on the wind.
There was lot of wind on the Suffolk coast that day and it was busy dragging the kite belonging to the father of the featureless child along the far side of the beach.
‘Feck it, feck it and feck it,’ scalded Dad.
The snake on a rope thought he said ‘fetch it’ but his impulse to slither over and fetch it was curtailed by a sharp yank on the tie-rope around his neck. His trunk slinked and then coiled up into itself; his gasping tongue protruding to fork the passing currents of air.
Amongst the masses of messed up line attached to the kite emerged a giant ugly deep sea fish. It stank and shouted at a woman and a baby ahead of it.
‘Not mackerel, not a maggot and not a monkfish,’ mumbled and murmured the featureless child.
‘Mmmmer mmmmer mmmmer, can’t make any fecking sense of any fecking thing you say, lad,’ blasted Dad.
‘Sssssand shark, it’sssss a sssssand shark,’ hissssssed the snake.
Dad went to have a closer look. The stinking sand shark bit. He came back with the kite but without his hand.
‘That takes the biscuit,’ sobbed Dad.
‘That took your hand,’ corrected the featureless child.
Dad looked at him for a moment. ‘I understood that bit, lad, you’re right. Good to hear you talk normal for a change.’
The snake slithered back with Dad’s hand.
‘Thanks, snake,’ said Dad with a playful yank at his tie-rope. ‘Now let’s go home, your Mum has got some serious sewing to do.’
Writer: Alan McCormick’s collection of short stories, and shorter pieces illustrated by Jonny Voss, Dogsbodies and Scumsters, is out now on Roast Books. Alan was recently Writer in Residence for the Stroke charity, InterAct Reading Service. His short stories have won numerous prizes and have been widely published and performed, often in London with the Liars’ League.
Artist: Jonny Voss studied illustration at Brighton University and then went on to study at the RCA. He has been working in London as an illustrator since 2000 – see jonnyvoss.com. Alan and Jonny collaborate on illustrated shorts as SCUMSTERS – see scumsters.co.uk, dogsbodiesandscumsters.wordpress.com, 3ammagazine.com and deaddrunkdublin.com.