WEDNESDAY: The Close Call

BY JAMES BARKER

Copyright is held by the author.

NOW, THAT’S what I call a fish. A beauty, lying there in the slush.

My son should be here to see this. He would be amazed. Impressed. He should have come out.

Not everyone can catch a fish like this. I bet all those folks at the head of the bay aren’t catching a damned thing. You have to go out, further than anyone, earlier than anyone, to catch a fish like this. That’s what I do, that’s what I have always done, and so did my dad, and his dad, too.

My family, we know the sea. It has been good to us.

And, I guess you could say, it has been less than good.

But I have the fish. And, maybe, I’ll have a few more.

It is really hot now. March is a queer month. It can be minus 10, like now, yet the sun can be hot. Hot. The ice is queer, too. Black patches, everywhere. Not so good. When the ice is bad, it’s brown in places. Slushy, like where my fish lies. And as everyone knows, when the ice is black, there is no ice.

I should be thinking about going back to the head of the bay, soon. It’s a long haul back, when the ice is like this.

I expect that when I get near the shore, it will be black, black, black, all along.

On the west side of the bay, there’s a tree, fallen, that will give me a nice bridge to the shore. I’ll get as near as I can, and then do a rush over the black stuff to the tree, and pull myself along the tree to the shore. I’ll be wet, for sure, and cold, but I’ll be there. And with my fish.

I’d like to know if anyone is catching, shore-wise. Best keep my eyes out. I don’t want to have a smaller fish than them, after all!

Hey.

Looks like there’s a person up on the light tower, looking down at some commotion.

I’m real wet, and cold, but I’ll climb the tower to see what’s happening. Maybe check out the fishermen.

Lordy Lordy, the tourists in their red plastic suits are launching a skiff into the bay! What a commotion! They look so stupid in their red suits. You can’t row a skiff in all this slush,  don’t they know?

That’s a woman on the light tower. I just got up here, and she is dressed like me, in a heavy wool parka, wet through and through and covered in ice, and, I bet, damned cold. I’ll set up near the other rail. I don’t want to . . .

God, her eyes. Jesus. Lashes frozen. Her eyes. They are damned sad. Cold and sad. She looks at me, and turns away.

My hands are on the rail. Ice covers my hands. My hands . . . My hands just look like her hands. She looks at me. Sad, cold eyes. And she looks at my hands.

My god.

No. Please, No.

I look at her. I want to say to her, but I cannot speak. I want to say, I just want to see my son.

  

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