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The Ecstasy of the Fishmonger
© MCMXC Timothy Patrick Butler

Albrecht Johannsson was not only quite a good typesetter, but he was also a whiz at barbecued pork. Oh, how the children admired his deftness with a basting brush! Those who could justifiably call themselves his relatives were proud people indeed.

Albrecht's industriousness seldom went unrewarded. His beautiful wife greatly enjoyed cunnilingus and Albrecht was asked to demonstrate his oral dexterity at least once an hour. Albrecht himself was seldom seen with an erection, but as he himself put it, "I think there's something plugging it up."

Yes, Albrecht had a nice fifteenth century type of life, even though he was born on October ninth, 1764. At that time in Germany, there was some sort of political activity going on, but Albrecht rarely interested himself in the work of bats and hoes. Instead, he went to his sticky, inky workshoppe and set the type for a new day's world. Up at dawn, out at noon, 'round the clock he went. To see him at work was to witness at least something, and none of the French townsfolk would argue with that!

Typesetting was important, both to him personally and also in a larger, more general social context. Every day, as he spilled his lunch beans, he would comment about his "S"s and "Q"s. His apprentices would often practically beg to hear some dusty old yarn about days gone by, and Albrecht would oblige them more often than not, though he was known to extract fresh semen from the boys and sometimes he would even examine them in the same way that a physician examines a sick man's colon.

One day, however, an awful smell wafted into the typesetter's town. The stench was greatly akin to that of a great, rotten fish and the stink was so stinky that it stunk up the whole countryside for as far as the eye could smell! The Fishmonger had returned at last!

Heimon was the local Fishmonger. He had been gone three entire seasons, and the townspeople had anxiously been awaiting his delicately perfumed return. Among his various wares and accoutrements he was nearly certain to have a great load of fresh (yet foetid) cod and tuna and trout and halibut and mackerel and red snapper and manta ray and dogfish and sunfish and barracuda and occasionally even a thrice-pickled tongue of porpoise, but often enough this delicacy tempted him so enormously that he would choose to forego his usual profit-taking in order to indulge himself. People in nearby towns complained violently of the lip-smacking din when Heimon was about, but they were never paid any heed, especially since everyone knew that no war waged within smelling distance of Heimon the Fishmonger would last for very long or be at all efficacious. It was a case of Spanish confusion.

(The elderly townspeople did not participate in the whoopings and jocularity of the younger folk upon Heimon's return. His blasphemous odor and his prophet-like charisma drove doubt into the brittle bones of the dying. The Fishmonger's flowing orange beard and red eyes did not in any way assuage the old ones' suspicions about his infernal allegiances, to say nothing about the color of his pubic hair. To them, there was something uncouth, less than kosher, just plain WRONG about this beloved Fishmonger.)

And he was beloved! The young women of the town would often bring him a quilt or piece of burlap to relieve himself upon while they stripped off their clothing and cast it at his feet, all the while dancing in an unspeakably lewd fashion. The young boys of the village made Heimon a necklace of their circumcised foreskins to wear around his home during the off-season. Men who had not shaved for weeks and months shaved on the day he came, and kept shaving for as long as he cared to stay. The Women's Guild always prepared a great feast for his return, a feast which always included his favorite dish, inverted epidermis soufflé with peach pit frosting and a glass of saliva.

The township that Albrecht called home was rather far inland, so fish did not frequently grace one's menu as often as would a tender chuck steak or an eye of heron. It might seem as tough the rarity of fishy delicacies would constitute a sufficient reason for the joy of the townsfolk, but there was another, more wonderfully awful reason.

As the Fishmonger stopped his moose team and began to unload his putrid and vile wares from his cart of plenty, he spake unto the crowd of admiring peasantry that surrounded him, saying. " I beknowen unto meself thet ther' is no a few among ye who dost bethink, 'Nao wha' do I do wi' dat big ol' load o' fishy stink tha' I bebuyen from th' Fishmonger? ' Well, beworry yuirself no' me goodly people, for Ise a' till ye wha' to do. Make you bemaken einen Fischee Stew!"

Fish Stew! Fish Stew! There was not a soul in the town who would not gladly gouge out both kneecaps from their own knees with an ordinary letter opener for but the chance to smell the very odor of the Fish Stew that Heimon the Fishmonger now told of.

"But firs'," said the Fishmonger,"ye all mus' hab th' recipe for whi' to bemake ye the stew of fishyfishfish. Who amon' ye doth haben th' means to write down sych a recipe? Who amon' ye?"

Faster than a burning chameleon, Albrecht the typesetter exclaimed in the most testosteronish voice he could muster, "I behaben the means!"

At this, the people gave forth a great cry of joy and begged Albrecht, the happy and popular typesetter, to record and distribute this delicious recipe that Heimon had chosen to bestow upon their muddled consciousnesses.

Albrecht invited Heimon into his tent-cottage and the two great geniuses between themselves concocted a plan to distribute this great recipe among the people. Albrecht and his faithful and stalwart apprentices worked up and down the clock typesetting and relaxing and printing and yarn-spinning until Albrecht was wrecked and wracked with near fatigue. In the end, though, the typesetting was a major success!

That made Albrecht feel good, but it made the Fishmonger feel even better.


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