“OK, here’s the deal,” said Fi and pulled two joints out of her rucksack and showed them to Liam. “Great, now drug dealing in my van,” I sighed. “See what I mean about going to hell?” “It’s not a drug deal,” Fi corrected me. “Well, sort of, maybe, a little bit. Anyway. Liam, these are yours when you deliver up Rob’s bait boat to me and Marcus.” What a girl. Liam looked tempted but puzzled. “Why?” “Because it’s got a fish-finder in it. We want to remove it,” explained Fi.

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“I need to go into town tonight,” announced Fi looking at me as a few of us washed up after tea. “Just a quick visit. Please?”

“Drinking and dancing?” enquired Rob.

“Yarn bombing,” she replied. “And I could do with a lookout.  I’ll be using Marcus for lifting.”

“People only ever want me for my muscles,” I sighed dramatically.

“As opposed to …?” prompted Fi, grinning.

“My wit, charm, searing intellect, many talents and rugged good looks, of course,” I enlightened her. “Obvious really.”

She laughed, reached up and ruffled my hair. Nice.

“I’ll come,” offered Liam. He wouldn’t have been my first choice, but beggars can’t be choosers. But it meant one less enemy angler catching fish while we were out.

“What sort of time?” I asked.

“Say nine?” suggested Fi.

“OK,” I nodded.

That left us an hour or so of fishing time. In those valuable sixty minutes Greg and I brought in two grassies and a mirror, a total of 54 lbs of fish, but Rob’s lot pulled in 71 lbs of common. Damn. We really shouldn’t be gallivanting off to almost certainly get ourselves arrested for defacing public property in Coussac, but what the hell. It meant a lot to Fi and it would probably be interesting.

Liam and I sauntered over to my van just before nine. Fi was already there.

“OK, allons-y!” grinned Fi, shouldering her rucksack.

I fired up the van and we bumped up the drive and out onto the road to the town.

“So it’s knitted graffiti, is it? What’s your tag then?” asked Liam.

“Fishknit Stockings,” Fi told him proudly.

“But they don’t,” Liam pointed out pedantically. “Fish can’t knit anything.”

“It’s a play on words,” Fi explained patiently. “OK, the ‘Fi’ is for me, Fi, then the ‘sh’ is cos yarnbombing is a secret thing, but together they make ‘Fish’ which I love, and ‘knit’ is what I do, but with ‘Fish’ it sounds like ‘Fishnet’ as in ‘Fishnet stockings’, and stocking stitch is a type of knitting. So, I’m Fishknit Stockings. Clever huh?”

There was a puzzled silence from Liam.

“It works on many levels,” I told him.

“Whatever,” he shrugged good-naturedly. “I did a bit of bombing way back. My tag was Mail. That’s Liam backwards.”

“Ingenious,” I nodded solemnly.

Liam looked pleased.

Ten minutes later I pulled into the central square. Fi delved in her bag.

“Here we go, put these on!” She tossed a hat into my lap and one into Liam’s. She pulled that funny peaked-cap thing of hers low down over her eyes. I sighed and put my hat on.

“Now we look really suspicious, as opposed to merely suspicious!” I remarked as we got out of the van.

“Nah, we look cool,” Liam disagreed. “Great hat, Fi.”

“You can keep it,” smiled Fi. “I can rattle one of those off in an hour or two.”

“Cool, thanks.” Liam was chuffed.

We headed off through the town towards the park with the statue.

“Wow, the place is like totally dead,” observed Liam.

“Typical small French country town,” shrugged Fi. “The old folks are all in bed. There’ll be a few kids around.”

“Any cops?” I wondered.

“Unlikely,” replied Fi. “If this town has a gendarmerie at all, it won’t be manned – or womanned – all the time. You have to give advance notice of crimes in these places!”

I relaxed a bit. I knew it wasn’t bad what we were doing, but I didn’t fancy a brush with the French law. It was the guns in the belts that put me off French cops.

The gates to the park were shut, but not locked. We quietly slunk in. Fi crouched down by the statue and pulled some things out of her rucksack.

“Right, human crane, over here!” she instructed me, tucking the knitted items under her arm. “Liam, keep a watch for anyone coming please.”

“Right-o,” agreed Liam. He wandered over to the gateway and lit a cigarette. He wouldn’t be too stretched. There were only two houses nearby and they were both shuttered up. The town was deserted. It was almost creepily quiet.

I knelt down and Fi climbed on my shoulders, like she had done in the shower room.

“This is getting to be a habit!” I remarked, as I carefully straightened up.

“You do it so well!” laughed Fi, patting my head. “Now, hold still.”

I watched as she nimbly fitted a stripy mitten over the philosopher’s upheld hand.

“Much better already,” I observed.

“Now the matching scarf,” said Fi. “Can you take a step to the right please, Marcus?”

“Your wish is my command.”

Fi quickly wound the short scarf round Monsieur Leroux’s stony neck.

“Just the bobble hat left!” announced Fi.

Qu’est-ce qu’on fait?” chirped a voice in my ear. I jumped in surprise and lost my balance for a second. Fi cluctched at my shoulder and wobbled for a moment before I managed to get us both under control.

I looked round. Two teenage boys were standing next to me, watching Fi with interest.

Salut!” she waved.

“Liam!” I yelled at the smoking figure. “You’re a useless git! You’re meant to be keeping a lookout.”

“What?”

He spun round and saw the lads.

“They’re just kids!” he shrugged and came over.

Tu fais quoi?” asked the taller of the two boys.

Je fais le relooking,” replied Fi. “C’est le graffiti – avec le tricot.”

“Extra,” nodded the other lad.

Fi went back to work.

“Drat, I can’t quite reach high enough like this,” Fi groaned. “Marcus, can you get right up against the statue? If I stand on your shoulders and brace myself on Monsieur L, I should be able to do it.”

She was already kicking her boots off.

“Be careful, Fi,” I cautioned. I stretched up both arms. She put her hands in mine and, as I took her weight with them, she slowly stood up.

“Straightening up,” she announced.

She let go of my right hand, but sensibly kept hold of my left.

“Yup, I can just reach! There we go.” The hat was on.

Our audience applauded as Fi sat back on my shoulders and I knelt down and delivered her safely back to the ground.

“Thanks Marcus,” she said, and kissed my cheek. “You’re a sport.” I glowed.

Liam had joined the lads now.

“Ah, les mecs!” he smiled, and did a complicated hand shake thing with them.

“Friends of yours?” I asked.

“They’re the ones I got my sheet off,” he explained. “Alexis and Michel.”

I shook hands and Fi did the kissing thing.

Tu en veux encore?” they asked Liam. He looked blank. “Er, you wants more sheet ?”

Oui, please.”

I didn’t catch what they said in reply.

“Their friend at the café has some,” Fi translated. “Just up the road.”

“Come on then,” said Liam, striding off.

“I guess we could shoot some pool while he does his dealing!” suggested Fi.

“This has become a night of crime,” I grimaced.  

“Yarn bombing isn’t really crime,” Fi pointed out. “Well, OK, technically it is – it’s kind of defacing public property. But in a fun way and it can be removed quickly and easily and doesn’t leave a trace behind. It’s harmless.”

“And so is smoking pot,” Liam added over his shoulder as he disappeared off with the French lads.

“I’m going to hell in a handbasket,” I realised.

“Oh, I must take a photo,” Fi remembered.

She pulled her little digital camera out of her rucksack. She took a couple of flash photos and smiled proudly at me.

“They’ll be up on the net when I get home,” she told me. “There are loads of yarnbombing pages.”

“Really? I feel very out of touch,” I sighed with a smile.

“Oh cheer up, I’ll buy you a drink,” soothed Fi.

“Uh oh. Drink-driving, more crime!”

“OK, I’ll get you a hideously strong coffee, will that do?”

“Now you’re talking,” I smiled.

We hurried into the warm, noisy café. Liam was safe and sound, ensconced at a table with the two teenagers. We messed around at the café playing pool and a couple of video games. Fi beat me at all of them. But then I wasn’t fully concentrating. The café was warm so Fi pulled off her figure-hugging polo-neck jumper and revealed an equally figure-hugging and much less prudish low-cut teeshirt. And those tight jeans showed off her tight ass. Very pleasant distractions. Liam disappeared for a while and came back looking mellow. I could have stayed longer as I was really enjoying myself, but my phone chirped. It was a text from Andy. Rob had just caught a 50 pounder, and Josh had had a 42 pounder about twenty minutes before. Our team hadn’t caught anything since we’d left so we were falling right back behind again. Andy wanted us back to catch fish.

“Time to go, kids,” I said. “We’ve got to catch carp. Well, not you Liam, you’re team’s trashing us!”

“Huh, we know why,” frowned Fi. She was still narked about the fish-finder. Then her face lit up. She was a woman with a plan. “I’ll catch you two up.” She shot off towards the corner table where Alexis and Michel and their mysterious friend were sitting.

We moseyed back towards the van. A couple of minutes later Fi jogged up behind us. She looked pleased.

“So, was that fun, or was that fun?” demanded Fi as we drove out of Coussac.

It had been fun. Everything was with Fi.

About halfway home, Fi suddenly said: “Can you pull over, Marcus, please?”

“You should have gone at the café,” tut-tutted Liam.

I found a safe spot to stop. I flicked the hazard lights on. But Fi didn’t jump out to nip into the bushes. Instead she turned to look at Liam.

“OK, here’s the deal,” said Fi and pulled two joints out of her rucksack and showed them to Liam.

“Great, now drug dealing in my van,” I sighed. “See what I mean about going to hell?”

“It’s not a drug deal,” Fi corrected me. “Well, sort of, maybe, a little bit. Anyway. Liam, these are yours when you deliver up Rob’s bait boat to me and Marcus.”

What a girl.

Liam looked tempted but puzzled. “Why?”

“Because it’s got a fish-finder in it. We want to remove it,” explained Fi.

“Yeah, it’s cheating,” I nodded.

“We need you to get it,” Fi went on, “because if we start hanging around Rob’s tent, he’ll get suspicious,” said Fi. “He won’t suspect someone in his group.”

Liam still hesitated.

“He’s a mean bastard,” he observed. “If I piss him off, he won’t let me fish at his place any more probably.”

“He won’t know,” insisted Fi. “We’ll only need the bait boat for, what? Five minutes?” She looked at me.

“Should do it,” I nodded. 

Suddenly Liam smiled. “Yeah, I’m in. It’ll be really funny to bugger it up!”

He did a high five with Fi. I started the engine.

“It’s got to be tonight,” said Fi. “We only have another 36 hours to catch you lot up.”

“OK, as soon as it’s all quiet I’ll nab the boat. He always leaves it at the front of his tent so shouldn’t be too hard. I’m very stealthy.”

I hoped he would be or there’d be an almighty row breaking out.

Derek had caught a 14 lb grass carp but that was the only fishing action from our team that we’d missed. Fi and I put a couple of rods out again. I decided to switch to another savoury boilie. Best had given me a few bags of cheese and garlic 20 millimetre to try. Well, these were French fish, maybe it would tempt them. Fi had been catching on sweetcorn during the day so she stuck with that.

Andy strolled over for a chat and I told him about the deal with Liam.

“Bloody hell,” he exclaimed loudly, “I didn’t know they’d got a …”

“Sshhhh!” I hissed, just in time.

“Cheating bastards,” he whispered.

“Not for much longer,” I smiled. “I have an idea how to sabotage it!”

“I’d take an axe to it myself,” grumbled Andy.

About eleven it got quiet. It sounded like most of the guys on the far side had gone to bed. Suddenly a bite alarm squealed loudly. It was Greg’s. I stumbled quickly along to his swim. He was reeling in enthusiastically.

“Feels like a good fish!” he grinned.

“Don’t lose him,” I warned.

Fi joined us. We watched silently as Greg played the fish. Fi shone her torch on the water as the fish came in closer. Its back broke the water.

“Common,” I noted.

“Yeah, and big,” added Fi.

It was. Greg finally landed 46 lbs of healthy, glistening carp after another ten minutes of hard work. He carefully unhooked it.

“You know, I don’t think he’s been caught before,” observed Greg. “There’s not a single mark on his membranes.”

Greg picked up his fish and Fi shot off some photos quickly. That weight of fish isn’t one it’s comfy to hold up for too long. It was a smashing fish.

“I wish I’d caught him,” said Fi enviously. “He’s so pretty!”

“Girls and pretty things!” laughed Greg.

I helped him lower the landing mat back into the water. Greg opened it and after a few seconds the carp serenely swam away.

“What did you get him on?” asked Fi.

“Leftover tea!” grinned Greg.

“What? Sausage?” We’d had Toulouse sausages, mash and haricot beans for tea.

“Yep.”

“You mean you didn’t eat all my lovely cooking?” I protested.

“Just as well,” Fi pointed out. “We’re catching Rob’s lot up now. And if our evil plan works, we’ll take the lead!”

We filled Greg in about the bait boat.

“Text us when you’ve got it,” he said. “I’d like to have a good look at it. Rob’s been real cagey about letting anyone near it. Now I know why!”

“You’ll text me too, won’t you?” Fi asked me.

“Of course, it was all your idea.”

“Was it? Way to go, Fi!” Greg approved.

“OK, see you guys later.” I went back to my bivvie. About two seconds after I’d stretched out on my bedchair, there was a loud rustling outside.

“I’ve got it!” Liam hissed, unzipping the front of my tent. “Be quick mate!”

He laid the bait boat on the bedchair. I sent texts to the others and soon my bivvie was full to bursting. Liam went back outside to keep an eye on Rob.

“It’s a nice bit of kit,” said Derek admiringly.

“Yeah, this isn’t your run of the mill bait boat,” I nodded. “This is top of the range.”

“You don’t sell ones like that in your shop, do you?” asked Fi.

“No, I mainly sell the self-build kits. Micro-Drop – I think they’re excellent. And a bit friendlier on the wallet than one of these. Now.” I studied the fishfinder unit attached to the bottom. “Aha!”

“What are you going to do?” asked Fi.

“We’re into high tech stuff here,” I winked at her. I flicked the small switch at the bottom. “There.”

“Is that it?” Andy was appalled.

“It’s enough. I’ve put the finder into demo mode. Next time Rob sends it out, it’ll pop up zillions of fish everywhere. He’s not too clued in technology-wise so he won’t guess. He might not even know it’s got that mode at all! Simple but brilliant!”

“Awesome!” sniggered Greg.

Fi called Liam in and handed him the two joints. “But put the boat back first before you light up. And please don’t become a junkie because of me!”

“Yes, and no,” replied Liam. 

Liam shot off chortling quietly back to Rob’s tent.

“Now let’s see how well they do!” grinned Andy.

“What can we do to bring more fish in though?” shrugged Greg. “We’re a man short and one day to go.”

“And 99 pounds of fish behind.” I’d been keeping my records up to date. “Keep chucking the bait in,” I suggested. “Spod till you drop! We’ve got Norm’s to use between us. If we run out, I’ll go into Coussac to get more.” 

“Sounds like a plan,” yawned Fi.

Andy, Derek and Greg sauntered off to their tents. Fi lingered.

“Do you think we’ll beat them?” she asked.

“Let’s hope so,” I shrugged. “Keep bringing them in like you’ve done today, and we will. You’ve done some great fishing. You realise you’ll be a fixture in the team now!”

“I’ll cope,” she said happily. “I’m having a brilliant time. Thanks for persuading me to come.”

And, to my amazement, she hugged me. I put my arms round her in reply and held her close for a brief moment. She smelt so good and felt so firm and warm. And her breasts against my chest, well, they felt a bit too nice. I hoped to God she hadn’t detected that movement in my groin.

She broke away smiling happily. “We’re gonna win. Mark my words Marcus!”

“Go fish, baby.”

I was up again at four. I hadn’t fancied a broken night, even though God knows we needed the fish, so I settled on a very early morning instead. That wouldn’t let the team down too much. Anyway, all the other four had had their rods out all night and not caught anything.

It was freezing and black as pitch. But I loved it. There is something so special about being the only person awake when it’s dark and quiet and seeing the world gradually start to wake up around you. And it was very gradual. Fi emerged from her bivvie about seven and came down for a chat, but Greg, Andy and Derek still hadn’t appeared by nine. They missed me catching a 39 pound common. When I’d first seen his silvery back breaking the surface, I’d thought that maybe this was Fi’s rogue fish again.

So now only 50 lbs to go. But then Josh, Phil and Nat all got good fish so we were now 144 lbs behind, sod it. Fi was spodding like crazy, good girl, but the others on my team were still waking up, grumpy and slow. But they perked up when Rob brought out his bait boat. We all watched fascinated. What would happen?

Rob sailed up and down, up and down, up and down. He didn’t seem to know where to drop the bait today. Could that be because there were fish everywhere? His expression was a picture – astonished delight and puzzled rapture, rolled into one. Andy and Derek were sniggering fit to bust. I found it hard not to chuckle. Rob eventually stopped dithering and dropped the bait, then brought the boat in. He confidently cast out to where he’d made the drop but didn’t get anything all morning. He put the boat out again twice more, but blanked. Brilliant!

Meanwhile, my team’s patient baiting up paid off. Suddenly we were landing something every ten minutes – a couple of grass carp, a tench with illusions of grandeur which had taken a 20 mm boilie, God knows how, and then some colossal carp. Greg hooked something huge. He called me over to help land it. Fi ran up too. It was a whopper of a mirror, easily the biggest one I’d ever seen, a rugby player of a fish. Talk about quality. It weighed in at 69 lbs. Greg did a Norm with the shaking hands and shocked swearing for a good half hour afterwards. And then, unbelievably, Fi caught him, just  before midday. I was so pleased for her. She could publicly boast about her new PB now. Andy and Derek helped her land her guy, but Greg and I joined them for photos and general back patting. Fi hugged us all once her catch had been safely returned to the lake. Then she gobsmacked us all by announcing. “I’m so happy, I’m going to show you my boobs!”

Andy rubbed his hands happily and Greg got his phone ready for photos. Fi dived into her bivvie, presumably to divest. But she wasn’t topless when she came out. Instead she was clutching a bundle of flesh-coloured knitting.

“What d’you think?”

She held up her handiwork – two generous sized knitted boobs with nipples exactly the right colour sewn onto a fleshy background. We all stared open-mouthed.

“My gran never knitted anything like them,” Greg managed at last.

“Um, they’re very nice, but why have you knitted tits?” Derek wondered.

“I’ve made three sets of them and I’m going to sew them round the telegraph poles on Julian’s drive, as a goodbye pressie,” she explained happily.

“Yarn bombing with boobs,” I smiled. “Nice! Carla will love them!”

“You’re a nutcase,” sighed Andy sadly. “Come on, back to fishing. Are we catching up?”

“Hang on, let’s see.” I had the list in my pocket. “They were on 1,255 at breakfast time, and no-one’s got anything yet. We were 1,111, we got 69 pounds twice, a 2 pound tench and 29 pounds of grass carp – so we’re at 1,280. Ahead, but only just. Still bloody close.”

“Come on gang, we can do this.” Greg stalked back to his rods, and we followed suit. Everyone would have to feed themselves today. I wasn’t taking time off for catering. We were damned well going to win this year.

 © Rorie Stevens

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