International Writers Magazine: Fishing in Cuba
Banana peel falls on Ant
made up. She pulled up her short skirt and showed him her chocolate
walks', they say in Cuba. Even more when you're fishing. Why did
these days all seem so indistinguishable?
Momenticos by the truckload? Too many? Or was it that oppressive
scar in his brain pulsing the whole time like an electric bass through
the ocean spray. Layers chelating with pain? Maybe one more heavy
rain would wash it all away. Maybe one more downpour. A fish jerked
He jerked back but
lost it. Should he reel in or was there enough bait left for another
hit? Three kids approached on the meter wide lip of the Malecon from
where he cast. They asked him something. The words were unclear to him
but he knew the meaning.
'Nada uno', he said.
There was one kid about twelve and next to him a chico blancito and
then a cute little fellow with his eyes wide open. The chico blancito
told him the fishing was better further down towards the point but it
wasn't worth the walk with only one hook and snags everywhere.
'Yesterday another guy caught a big one here', he said in fractured
Spanish. He held his hands apart showing the size. 'Una boca grande
y dentas,' he said miming the barracuda like mouth. He told them it
had been caught by another pescador who was fishing with the same method
he was now using. They watched expectantly. He cast the bait and waited
the sun now on his shoulder. It would have been better an hour and a
half before. He told the kids the barracuda-like fish had been visable,
hunting in the shallows below. They searched the water seeing nothing.
He pulled in his line. 'Pase un beun dia,' he said, skipping the s's
as was the habit for Habaneros. Another momentico.
He went the other way, towards the Hotel Nacional, searching the water
for the black lines of the 'cudicas. This was the third morning he had
skipped working on his crappy script. One for fighting, one for making
up, one for the hell of it.
She didn't trust the future or maybe that's exactly what she trusted.
Either way Dick didn't mind. She was hot, young, strong, and confident.
Too confident he thought.
On the way back to the apartment he bought a large bag of shredded cabbage
and a dozen small bananas. It cost him forty cents. It all evened out
somehow. When he chucked a banana peel into the wastebasket he saw the
ants. When the peel hit he thought maybe- in the history books of ants-
a million years away there would be a notation of the tragedy somewhere
after the current eventicos. He had to get back to the crappy script
to stop his mind from wandering further.
It was a story of greed and something else. A thriller too. A man so
bad he couldn't have had a mother. And a woman so greedy she would sell
her own eye at a swap meet. He resented it more the better it got.
© Jerry Billstrom Jan 2008
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