The Penzione

An actual, original feghoot. I haven’t posted one in a long time. (By Reginald Bretnor writing under the pen name Grendel Briarton.)

For years, Ferdinand Feghoot maintained an affectionate relationship
with Mrs. Pigafetta, a middle-aged Sicilian mermaid who kept a
penzione for shipwrecked sailors on an island near Taranto.

On summer evenings, they sat together at the door of her commodious
waterside cavern, singing sentimental operatic arias.

Then once, on arriving, he found her in tears.

“Cberubino mio,” she sobbed, “today I cannot sing, even for you.
Inflation destroys me! Yes, even here on my island! How shall I pay
for my pasta, bologna, red wine, to feed the poor sailors the sea
brings to me?”

Feghoot thought for a moment. “You have another cavern under this,
don’t you? Below sea level? You’ve told me that fish are very
intelligent. Why not rent it to them? They could pay you with pearls,
or with small fish for your table.”

“Never!” she cried. “The great greedy flat fish would move in at
once, manta rays, sting-rays, the rest! They would eat up my profits.
I would have to put up a sign to prevent them. Then my sailors would
say, ‘You board fish in the basement. This is a disorderly house!”‘
They would all swim away.”

“Not if you put up a sign they’re used to, cara mia, one that doesn’t
seem to apply to any kind of fish.”

“Can there be such?” She flicked tears away with her tail.

“No Skate-Boarding,” said Ferdinand Feghoot.

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