Salmon by Owen Townend

tonya williams - Roadside Fiction


Photo by Tonya Williams


‘Salmon’ by Owen Townend

Walter was wearing a bulging jacket. It was a dark brown jacket that went past his knees; not the sort of thing he usually wore. It gave off a fusty smell, particularly around the pockets. Walter must have been aware of this because he stuck close to the far right corner of the hotel elevator, from the ground floor up to the fourteenth. When people got on they tended to keep close to the doors.

Walter sprinted up the corridor. He pulled out a key card from inside his sleeve and focused on the even-numbered rooms.

‘One hundred and forty four? One hundred and forty four,’ He mumbled. ‘Should be through these doors. So many doors.’

Walter crashed through the double doors with his fist. He walked all the way up to Room 149. He stopped and walked backwards to the right door. Keeping both elbows close to his sides, he awkwardly leant forward to push the card into place and fiddle around with the handle. When the door finally opened he clutched the lower end of his coat and shuffled in.

Walter shut the door behind him, knocking his shoulder against the light switch. As the lights flickered on, he rushed over to the work table and threw down his key card. He let his hunched shoulders drop and started to unzip his jacket. The fish fell out.

It was a raw salmon wrapped in tin foil. It wasn’t wrapped particularly well, the tin foil was flaky and falling apart. He carefully peeled it all off and checked on the raw salmon itself. The fish was starting to go bad so he pulled out the chair and sat down. Having shuffled as close as possible, he picked the salmon up and raised it to the level of his mouth.

‘Garnish,’ He laid it back down again.

Walter reached into his left pocket and pulled out two cherry tomatoes. He reached into his right pocket and pulled out a small stick of celery. He tore up the celery and sprinkled it over the fish’s exposed gills. He bit each of the tomatoes in half and laid two parts on the fish’s head and two parts on its tail. With greater care than before he picked the salmon up again.

‘Atmosphere,’ He lowered it.

Walter picked up his jacket from the floor, reached into one of the inside pockets and pulled out his mp3 player. He rested the mp3 player on the table beside the salmon and went over to the curtains to open them. Wrapping his jacket around the back of the chair, he sat down again. Having pushed the earphones into his ears, he turned on a playlist called Delicacies.

‘Do I, uh, look…’

Walter stood up and walked over to the mirror. He fastened the top button of his shirt and rolled down his sleeves. He smoothed his fringe and reshaped it so that it was pointing down onto the bridge of his broken nose. He returned to the chair and checked the time. It was 10:15pm.

He shuffled the chair closer. He picked up the fish again and bit into it. A cherry tomato slid off the tail and down onto the carpet.

The room’s phone started to ring. He dropped the fish onto the table and stomped over to pick it up.


It was the hotel manager calling from the lobby. They recorded the call for training purposes.

‘Hello, Mr. Godley. We’ve just received some complaints about where you’ve parked your vehicle. I’m afraid that you cannot park in the bus zone, sir.’

‘I thought it was for buses and vans.’

‘No, sir. The van parking spaces are to the right of the bus zone, closer to the lobby entrance.’

‘Are you expecting any coaches?’

‘Not in the immediate future, sir.’

‘Then why is this a problem? I’ll move it in the morning.’

‘We don’t want to give the wrong impression, sir. If other van drivers see your van parked in the bus zone then they might follow suit.’

‘It’s a meat van.’

‘Pardon me, sir?’

‘It’s my wife’s meat van.’

‘And will your wife be coming to take it away soon?’


‘Well I’m afraid that doesn’t really help our little problem, Mr. Godley.’

Walter sighed. ‘This is really important, is it?’

‘Yes, sir. We don’t wish to cause any further problems.’

‘Well then I’ll just stop eating and go move it then, shall I?’

A pause.

‘On the subject of eating, sir, a member of our cleaning staff has noticed a strong smell of rotten fish coming from your room. Are you eating fish, sir?’

‘Salmon. What of it?’

‘The smell is bothering the other guests, sir.’

‘I just got here!’

Another pause.

‘Did you carry the salmon on your person, Mr. Godley?’

‘Since parking up, yes.’

‘And did you take the elevator up to your room?’


‘It seems you left an…odour in the elevator, sir. Another guest has just this moment come to complain.’

‘Well I’m sorry but what do you expect me to do about that?’

‘If you’d like, sir, we could take the rotting fish and replace it with one of our delicious smoked salmon dishes.’

‘No, thank you. I have just sat down to eat my salmon. My salmon.’

‘Mr. Godley, I do not think that that is sanitary. You could poison yourself.’

‘I’ll only poison myself if I don’t eat the salmon in the next three minutes so if you would be so kind…’

‘Mr. Godley.’

Walter slammed down the receiver. He hurried back over to the table and took a bite out of the salmon. He slid the chair back and grunted. He pulled a torn napkin out of his pocket and spat into it.

He stood up, plucking a few scraps of celery from the fish’s gills and dropping them into his shirt pocket. He slid both his hands under the half-eaten salmon and picked it up, pinching the head and the tail. The remaining cherry tomatoes fell off one at a time, bouncing against the edge of the table.

Walter walked towards the parted curtains and stepped out onto the balcony beyond. He spotted his van surrounded by a bright yellow perimeter. His wife’s van. He focused on the string of smiling cartoon sausages that were painted on the side. He gripped the salmon’s tail and threw it. It landed on the ‘B’ of ‘BUS ZONE’ and exploded into a rotten fishy mush.


He reached into his pocket and pulled out a large piece of celery. He started to nibble at it.


Did you like the story? Opinions? Praise? Please leave a comment below



Owen Townend - Roadside Fiction
Owen Townend is a short story writer who specialises in constructing bizarre scenarios and letting his characters play them out. He is currently attending the MA Writing degree at Sheffield Hallam University where he draws most of his inspiration from. He showcases his latest work on his bi-monthly blog ‘The Makings and Musings of Mr Pondersome’ –

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4 Responses to Salmon by Owen Townend

  1. Jeff Weddle

    Man, you got me when he pulled the fish out of his pocket. After that, there was no way to stop reading…. Well done.

  2. I have to say, I thought this story was bizarre and weird just for the sake of it until the masterstroke of sabotaging his wife’s van with the rotten fish bomb. no-one who walks past is going to be able to divorce the dancing sausage motif from the grotesque rotten fish explosion. Revenge is a dish best eaten raw?

    • Roadside

      I can smell that fish from here. Well in his bio Owen says that he “…specialises in constructing bizarre scenarios and letting his characters play them out.” I think he did that to a tee. As for sushi… not for a while after reading this.

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