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Fish Stocks Limited

“Why should I give you any money? I think threepence an hour is pretty
generous.”
“Well, lets just say, you have to actually get the houses off people to sell them.
That requires people with large pointy objects, people who I know and you don't. We
call them debt collectors. O f course, you'll have to pay their wages out of your cut, but
muscle comes cheap in this city so you'll be left with at least fifty percent.”
“Where will I get the money to lend people in the first place?”
“Just leave that to me. I've got some contacts. Just make sure you pay them back,
otherwise... well, just pay them back okay?”
“Okay,” said Ambrosius after a moments thought. “I'll do it. I can donate some of
the money to good causes when I've got enough.”
“If that would make you feel better, sir.”
That night Stan invited Ambrosius back to his dive. It was getting towards
midnight as they finally reached the slums of the residential quarter, and Ambrosius
was glad he had a guide. All the local muggers seemed to know Stan and hailed him
with jovial greetings from the shadows. They finally got to Stan's home – a lean-to
shed of sorts round the back of a take-away fish bar – at about one o'clock in the
morning. It stank even for the City, but there was a kettle and some gumbo that
looked like it had been simmering in a battered tin pot for the last decade. The two
new business partners sat down and enjoyed a cup of crushed, roasted hookbeetle
coffee (a delicacy of the city) and a bowl of gumbo each. They talked for an hour or
so. Stan was interested in the world of the treetops, seeing it as one big opportunity
for a scam, whilst Ambrosius was enthralled by Stan's tales of his money- making
antics and other dodgy dealings. At last they decided to turn in, and, with alien tales
of innocence and depravity swimming in their respective minds, Stan and Ambrosius
slept.
****
Chapter 11 – One Fine Day
The urge to yawn is contagious, it is said, and this contagion spread across the
City with great speed as the Smug peered over the horizon. Washerwomen yawned,
dunny men yawned, policemen yawned, thieves yawned, dukes in their towers and
tramps their gutters yawned, wastrels and workaholics yawned, even dogs and cats
yawned. Ambrosius yawned.
“Good morning, sir,” said Stan, yawning too. “Looks like it's to be a fine day.”
“Yes, said Ambrosius. A fine day.”
“One fine day,” she said, “I'll sell that old pony-trap and get something sparkling
and new.”
“What are we going to do?” asked Ambrosius.
“One fine day,” he said, “I'll take them away from this sink- hole and we'll have a
proper family holiday for once.”
 
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