I always knew I was meant to be rich. I didn’t care how I got there, just as long as I was able to enjoy the benefits. All the other fishermen would hate to see me coming. I would make my way around, through, even sometimes stepping on them just to get to the top. Yup. That was my mentality, and rightfully so.
You see…..I’m a fisherman. Fishermen are rough and tough, persistent and optimistic, but most of all…competitive. As a fisherman, you don’t get paid that much. You’re barely home to spend time with family and friends. You’re around smelly fish all day and night. Everyone aboard stinks. There are long days, and sleepless nights full of anxiety from the lack of catch. And the worst of it all is the sea is a mean free-willed bully. Although I enjoy the adventure, the race, and the wild chase….. death is always upon us. On average, forty-three fishermen die per year.
So, what kind of hell is this?
I needed a way out. One day, I saw the opportunity. It came to me like a large hot cup of freshly brewed rich smelling black coffee on a home-staying morning from my baby girl Alice. She always makes the best coffee you’ve ever tasted in your life. Yup. Plus, my wife knows how to fry a mean salmon steak too. Gosh!! What a glory! I lucked up with my wife. Eight months pregnant, belly out from January to November, but still beautiful, and a home cooking winner. She’s a real peach, but I’m no watermelon.
Alice puts up with my stinker. Sometimes I’m mean to my Alice. I don’t mean to be. I just am. Working hard all those months at a time, and not able to provide my Alice with those fine softly woven silk garments Mr. Smith laces his wife in really gets to me. He and his wife only visit the fish market to buy it fresh. One by one they point out their fish wanted, while their poor servant is there quickly snatching it right off the ice and throwing them into a wooden napkin-based basket. The sign reads: “6 For $10.” But two they pick! Only two! That’s 2 for $10. The market does not cut deals. I heard too, their servant hands it right to the cook when they arrive home. That’s a servant, a cook, a maid to wash dishes, a chauffeur to drive them around, and the list goes on and on. I only wished I could waste that kind of money.
But I don't anymore. Now I can. All it took was a wild tale of shellfish, violent seas, a vacant island, and a fisherman’s boat to get there. Here’s the story.
My boat captures none other than scallops. That’s right ladies and gents. Those ugly prickly, shell-based, leaches are difficult to harvest. We find them though and sell them in comparison to the expense those suckers have out for our life; $12 to $30 a pound. If we get a pretty good catch, we make a pretty good pay. The pay is enough to carry us over the months we make nothing. Again, scallops are very hard to catch.
Anyways, it was time for us men to go sailing again. Our wives packed our duffels, we said our prayers, kissed our families good-bye, and then headed for the shore. Six months is “the labor.” I really don’t see how we do it, but the work gets done and profits are plentiful or slim to none. That’s our alma mater:
“The work gets done
Profits are plentiful
Or slim to none.
Still the work gets done
Feeding our families
Or bellies sunken.
Oh how I love
The oceans and waves
The catching of fish
To cure every man’s crave.
The manner of storm
We’ll weather the lost at shore
Still the work gets done.”
Repeat that over and over and yup that’s our alma mater. It keeps us nice and strong. Sometimes we’ll break into song, right when we’re sailing against the roaring of the sea, nets lifted that are engulfed with unwanted soaked seaweeds for weeks (no catches), feeling the loneliness of being absent from our families, or the worst of them all; losing a buddy. Still the work gets done.
Soon as we set sail, the feeling of hell and doom came over me, but quickly subsided after a day. “The fisherman’s critters” are what they call it. By September we were really facing some hard times. The weather had been so bad, that the hurricanes winding fury gaped into us like 1000-pound buckets hitting/dropping on top of our small little boat with tons of ocean vengeance, and we lost some of our catch. The boat tipped and rocked against the ocean patterns. Our persistence and survival were drilled so deep within the boat’s formation that it formed its own intentions of being the fittest against the sea on those nights. We all survived exhausted from the day before, but knew that today had to be full of vindication mixed in with a little gratitude. The damage to the boat was very telling. Repairs were being made constantly just to keep “Lady Scally” afloat. She’s a tough 80-foot, 4,000-pound, sea urchin. The sea drifted us near an island off the coast of Florida. It’s called Shell Island and the land has been vacant for years ever since Hurricane Molly came and swept through the city like a Tasmanian beast. It was once a good place to catch, but not anymore.
After I and the six loaded the anchor to the ocean floor, we all jumped off to look around. There were lots of naked shrubs and brown sand. My mind begin to sway as my bare feet hit the ground. With months of being over water my brain wasn’t given a chance to adjust to the change. There is always that different feeling in your body. It’s a feeling of rocking back and forth. Although unusually disturbing every single time, I was not surprised. The feeling is a reality check of me connecting back with the earth. The feeling is indescribable, as well as incredible. A sheer peace. A piece of mind. A feeling of safety. A feeling of gratitude. But not just yet.
The devastating thought of having to board once more to head back home crumbled my satiable armistice. I was only an hour away from a devastating three weeks of “stuck at work.” There’s not enough card games, beer bingeing games, or exercising competitions to appease me. The catch is pretty much over. All the rest is seeing what else is out there.
As I was trying to ignore the temptations of my lousy thoughts, something spectacular caught my eye. Never had I seen this before, but again it’s been a while since I’ve been on Shell Island. Lots has changed due to the hurricane, and this may be one thing gathered by the storm. Interestingly enough it was still intact. No one could have built them because no one frequented the island. There were five of them in sort of a star formation. I figured I go straight in to check out one of these tipis. Since it was intact on the outside, maybe the inside wouldn’t be so bad. I walked inside the first 20 ft high, 30 ft wide tipi. It was empty. Nothing really seemed that fascinating except for the structure of the tipi. I was so amazed there were no cracks or scrapes in the wood and the coat appeared to be shiny with a blade smooth texture. I walked out and went inside all the others. It was the same thing, except for the last one which was slightly different. This tipi was located at the top. Not only did it have the shiny blade smooth texture, but there appeared to be red hieroglyphics drawn on the wood. I stepped in, and the exact same patterned drawings were inside. The drawings looked to be ancient with androgynous figures interacting with what appeared to be clouds of purple smoke and blue fairy dust. The smoke and dust came from some kind of flute or handheld instrument. I had never seen anything like it. As I ran my fingers along the many indentations, time drifted away, and I could hear the others shouting for me to return to Lady Scally. Just as I turned my body to head toward the door my eyes caught a glimpse of an artifact hanging on the wall. It hung there by skin of a tree and a nail. The artifact looked just like the handheld instrument from the hieroglyphics. Without two seconds to think, I lifted the artifact from the wall. To my surprise, it was very heavy, and I thought to myself, this must be worth a fortune. There was no doubt in my mind, I was taking this back home with me. I gave the golden 12-foot object a shake and to my disbelief purple smoke, and fairy dust came out. Shock ran through my entire body, and I dropped the handheld instrument. The artifact did not break. Neither did it land with a big bang, or a crack. The item simply made a lightly, peaceful, glorifying, Tibetan-like sound. Pleasurably soothing my once anxiety filled feelings of going back to hell on water, I thought to pick it up and drop it again. But when I went to pick it up, I noticed gold sparkles underneath. To my wildest realization it was just that. Not one or two pieces, but plenty. Holding back my yelp, afraid the others would hear and investigate, my body gave way to what my voice did not do. After jumping the fast-paced holy dance for about 20 seconds, my body felt heavy. I suddenly felt dizzy, my knees felt heavy, and I collapsed right there on the floor.
When I opened my eyes, I was on the boat. The guys had made me a nice comfy bed and I was wrapped in not only a warm fleece, but swindle. I felt like I had been robbed. Jumping to my feet, I searched the cabin ferociously, but it was not there. My fortune! Where had it gone? Did someone take it? Had I dreamt the whole ordeal? Again I felt light headed, and again I collapsed to the floor. There was a sound. The familiar sense of contentment immediately and joyously brought me out of my stink. As a matter of fact, there was fruity musk smell in the air. I jumped and looked under me, but it was not there. Confused and puzzled, I did not know what to do. It was not under the hammock, the shelves, my body, nowhere. So, I dropped back down and there again was the sound. In a seated position I looked under me again. It wasn’t there. I checked inside my clothing, in my socks. I even looked inside my pants. Nothing. Then finally I looked inside my pocket. There was no handheld instrument, but “they” were there. The funny thing about it all, was that one else knew.
And that my friend, is how I and Alice got our fortune.