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A Man of Few Words - by Swan Morrison

The Semi-vegetarian

I’m a semi-vegetarian. I only eat animals that are particularly delicious. That, of course, excludes the bland taste of farmed meats. Wild game has also become less flavoursome in recent years, which led me to seek alternatives. Specifically, it led me to the pond of my neighbour, Mr Wilson, at two in the morning, and equipped with a net.

Koi carp served with parsley and fresh vegetables is excellent, although would, perhaps, be overpriced at the market rate of one thousand pounds per fillet.

My subsequent visit to the local zoo was intended by way of reconnaissance. It was pure chance to be standing at the penguin enclosure, less than an arm’s length from a lone gentoo. Also that the creature was slightly smaller than my rucksack.

Penguin, I discovered, tasted pleasantly like goose with a hint of fish. I was sufficiently impressed to return to the zoo with a view to another, or perhaps a nice piece of lemur?

My hopes were cruelly dashed by vastly increased security. Flopsy, as I understood her to have been named, had been missed. Extra keepers patrolled unfenced enclosures, and all bags were searched on exit. This disappointingly mirrored the paranoid over-reaction of Mr Wilson, who now spent each night in his garden shed, in view of his pond, shotgun at the ready.

One week later I steered my small van from the main route which passed through the safari park, stopping beneath trees. I cranked levers in the cab to open the rear doors and allow the smell of the bait to drift towards the pride of resting lions. Shortly, one of their number, fearless from captive life, climbed into the vehicle and, with a flick of my quick release door closure mechanism, was trapped. I pressed the button that re-routed the exhaust gasses to the sealed rear compartment of the van, and commenced my homeward journey. The sounds of banging and roaring rapidly abated.

It was dark when I drove into my garage and decided to take a look at my prize. I opened the rear doors of the van to be met by the panic-stricken stare of a terrified and disoriented creature. It knocked me to the floor as it leapt for freedom into the night, towards the house of Mr Wilson.

Two gunshots split the silence. I rushed to Mr Wilson’s garden.

‘I got that bugger that ‘ad me fish.’ Mr Wilson gestured the smoking shotgun towards the lifeless body. ‘Big ain’t it?’ he continued, ‘I reckon it was livin’ wild on them geometrically modified crops. Bastard is that I ain’t got a licence for the bleedin’ gun, so the police are gonna do me for that.’

‘Why tell them?’ I questioned. ‘It’s not as if you’ve shot a person. I could help you get rid of the animal.’

All’s well that ends well. Mr Wilson is grateful that I somehow got rid of the dead cat. Buying three freezers cost, mind you, but they’re bound to be useful. Standing in the moonlight with Mr Wilson, I couldn’t help noticing how succulent he looked...