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Fish Stocks Limited

That way we can get rid of all the waste fishguts and keep the stock, the profitable
stuff. Means we can fit more on board and don't have to return to port for longer.”
“Port?”
“The City,” put in Mungo. “You really 'ave lived up a tree all your life aven't
you?”
Ambrosius nodded. He didn't know what to make of these two fishermen. There
was something rough about them, murderous even, yet a peculiar goodness was there
too. “What's a city?” asked Ambrosius.
“Har, har. Your as green as young kelp, you are, lad. A city? Lots of houses,
plenty of people, more than enough vice. Anything you want you can finds there,
pretty much. A lot more besides.”
“I want to be alone,” said Ambrosius. His misery and self- loathing, forgotten
temporarily when he was in perceived danger, were back again.
“Well, that's the one thing you can't 'ave in the City. You seem a bit down, lad.
What you doing on your own out in the middle of the jungle? You could 'ave been
killed.”
“I'm an outcast, a misfit, a loser.”
“Har, har, join the club matey. You'll fit right in 'ere.”
“Have you ever considered a job as a fisherman, son?” asked Jerry.
Ambrosius snorted. “I hate Fish.” He stopped for a second. Now he thought about
it, he really was saying the word as though it were sacred. “I hate fish, even,” he
corrected. “I'm a useless fisherman.”
“Useless? There's nothing to it,” Jerry grinned. “You just cast your net and trawl
along. You catch everything in your path and then haul the nets in and process what's
there. Sure you catch loads of squiggly things, but you just throw them back
overboard. Anyone can fish.”
“Anyone?”
“Anyone,” said Jerry. “Say, I can ask the skipper if he needs another pair of hands
if you want.”
“No, thank you. Is the skipper the boss?”
Jerry nodded. “Aye, and don't you forget it. He's not one to cross, our skipper.
He's as crazy as they come, crazy and dirty. He'd se ll his own mother for half a ton of
hake, mark my words. Best damn captain around, with it. Fishmael is his name.”
“Where is he?”
“Below, matey. He always stays below. Hates the Smug, he does. Only comes
above decks when we moor up in dock, and then he slinks out at night to indulge his
habits in the City. I've never known a man hit the stone so hard as he, but he seems
none the merrier for it. Always a grim look on his face, that Fishmael, like a storm's
brewing behind his forehead.”
“I better not disturb him, then,” said Ambrosius. “You say the City is big?”
“You could walk all day through it and not come clear.”
“Big enough to get lost in?”
“Aye, if you like.”
“Good,” said Ambrosius. “Then take me to this City.”
****
Chapter 9 – The City With No Name
 
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