“A Fishy Negotiation” is one if the stories, for children of ages 4 to 104, in the book “The Odessa Chronicles”.
Odessa is a Barn Owl with an attitude, who befriended Jaxon (a magical Jackalope). The two of them met Dewey (a cat with all the usual cat characteristics based around a desire for a life of luxury), and the three of them moved into an empty farm.
Joshua Pebblestone bought his dream farm. His life was now going to be spent immersed in the peace and quiet of rural life, but then he found that he had three lodgers! Jaxon worked his magic which allowed them all to communicate with each other and, by some cunning feline manipulation, Joshua was soon known as the man-servant!
The man-servant had no idea how full of adventures and humor his life was to become, with the antics of his three lodgers. He also had no idea that they would quickly steal his heart and be his best friends!
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“A Fishy Negotiation” (Part I):
Dewey opened his eyes, and stretched. It was morning, and the sun was coming through the windows. He would have preferred to still be asleep, but Jaxon had prodded him to wake him up. As he turned to get off his cushion, he saw Jaxon with a big smile on his face. “It’s time to get up, my sleepyhead friend.” he said. “The world has woken up to a wonderful new day, and you are laying here missing it all.”
Dewey gave him his best look of disapproval, but then noticed the smell of fish being cooked! Now he had a reason to get up.
“Hey, Man-Servant!” called Dewey. “When will my fish be ready?”
The man-servant called back, “This is my fish! You’re getting your regular breakfast!”
Jaxon was trying to stop himself from laughing, as he watched Dewey’s expression change from excitement to obvious disappointment. “Wait a minute,” said Dewey. “You know that fish is my favorite food, right?”
“I do know that.” said the man-servant, “but this is my breakfast that I am cooking.”
Dewey did not know what to say in response to that, so he turned to Jaxon. “Does that seem fair to you?”
Jaxon was still grinning. “Well, Dewey, the man-servant does like fish, and he is the one doing the work in the kitchen.”
Dewey then spoke very loudly, so that the man-servant would hear. “Well, Jaxon, I think we need to get a new man-servant around here, because this one is simply not working out.” The man-servant heard Dewey, but did not respond.
Dewey went over to his bowl and ate everything in it, and then went up to the man-servant. “When you have finished eating that wonderful piece of fish, my cushion needs fluffing up a bit. The sofa cushions are getting a little flat, and the sofa covers need some minor repairs, where my claws have gone through, and perhaps you should vacuum my rug.”
The man-servant nodded and continued eating his fish. When he had finished, he got up and put the plate and cutlery into the sink, which was full of hot, soapy water.
Dewey was quite exasperated. “Hey, Man-Servant! Why are you ignoring me? Why didn’t I get fish for breakfast?”
“Well, it’s like this,” said the man-servant. “You didn’t ask me for fish this morning.”
Dewey looked puzzled. “Yes, I did!” he said. “I said, ‘When will my fish be ready?’”
The man-servant was not smiling any more. “That’s my whole point, Dewey. You expected that fish to be yours, without even asking if it was.”
Dewey walked over to his cushion and lay down, just as Odessa arrived. She looked at Dewey, and then at the man-servant. “Have I come at a bad time?” she asked.
Dewey looked up at her. “The man-servant ate my fish this morning.”
Odessa tilted her head to one side. “Really? The man-servant did that? That sounds a little out of character to me.”
“Well, he did!” said Dewey.
Odessa flew up and landed on the man-servant’s shoulder. “So, Man-Servant, what’s up? What’s all this about you eating Dewey’s fish?”
The man-servant turned his head to look at her. “Odessa,” he said, “Dewey really needs a lesson in good manners.”
Odessa stared in disbelief. “But he’s a cat! Cats don’t have manners.”
“That may well be,” said the man-servant, “but I see no reason why he can’t learn some.”
Odessa was shaking her head as she called to Dewey. “Come here, you troubled feline. I will volunteer to act as intermediary between you and the man-servant, while you two sort this fishy mess out.”
Dewey wandered over to where Odessa and the man-servant were standing. “I want my fish.” he said.
Odessa rolled her eyes. “Dewey! That is not the way to get anything. You should be politely asking, and not demanding.”
The man-servant interrupted. “Thank you, Odessa, and Dewey … you would do well to listen to her.”
“Okay,” said Dewey to the man-servant, “how was I supposed to ask for my fish?”
Odessa was jumping up and down at this. “You shouldn’t ask the man-servant such a question. His knowledge of English is close to pitiful. You need to be coached by someone who understands the finer points of the language.”
“But I don’t know anybody like that,” said Dewey.
The man-servant was now looking at Odessa. “Who do you think Dewey should get help from, Odessa?”
Odessa had a big grin on her face. “You said it, Man-Servant. Get help from Odessa!”
The man-servant shook his head. “I shall leave you two alone, so that you can work together without interruptions.”
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Part II of “A Fishy Negotiation” will be posted on Thursday.