Decades ago I spent two years writing nothing but short stories. It was one of the happiest writing experiences of my life.
In the midst of all this, I used this ‘short story’ that I adapted from memory from something read years before that. I have no idea where I originally read it. A Google search finds four results, all citing the original story but not saying where it originated.
It actually (to my memory) originated in the Concentration Camps during the Holocaust. Perhaps nobody knows its direct source.
However – here is the way I expanded and presented it.
In 1935, the Chancellor of Die Dritte Reich, Adolf Hitler, invited his friend, Benito Mussolini, and his adversary, Neville Chamberlain, for a quiet meeting in southern Bavaria. An old castle was put at their disposal, complete with acres of woodland and a small lake. During a break in the talks, Hitler invited his two guests to go fishing with him. It was a warm day, not too hot, but enough to make one feel drowsy. Chamberlain proposed a fishing contest to liven the occasion. They would see who could catch the most fish in a given half hour.
The others agreed, and the British Prime Minister went first. He sat calmly beneath a tree, fishing line trailing in the water. When his half hour was through, he had a respectable pile of fish beside him.
The next half hour was Mussolini’s, and he took full advantage of it. He dove headlong into the water, his arms outstretched, and started grabbing frantically at anything which swam past. After a hectic and wet half hour, he came out of the water and stood by his large pile of fish, grinning happily at Chamberlain.
The final half hour was for Hitler. He spoke into a telephone, and immediately bulldozers, heavy trucks, loads of pipe, and numerous pieces of equipment arrived. Hitler had the lake drained. Within twenty minutes there was nothing left but a muddy hole, filled with flopping fish. Hitler stood on the rim and looked down.
“Well?” asked Chamberlain. “Aren’t you going to get them?”
Hitler looked over to the Prime Minister with a cold, condescending glare in his eyes.
“They have to beg me first.”