Page 52 - WTP Vol. XI #5
P. 52

Hooked (continued from preceding page)
no memory of writing this. At the time of writing, these cherished childhood friendships were expe- riencing acute growing pains. Some of us weren’t even on speaking terms, the fallout from break-ups and related discord. Despite the drama, in my home- sick state, I must have missed them. As I was being catapulted into the vast cold unknown, I must have needed to spend time with something so warm and nourishing, soothing and familiar.
stupid. Only Peter.
John and Chris were fishing. Peter, Devin and I were crabbing. We were doing more eating of our snacks than anything else.
Pete suggested we drop another crab line since the fish weren’t biting but the crabs were. I started to look for the extra trap.
“Pete, where’s the other crab trap?” I asked scanning the stern.
 I devoured every word, envious of the energy to draw all that detail and cringing a bit at the same. I read on:
“I don’t know, I don’t see it,” Pete replied. “I left it up front,” Devin interjected.
Our neighborhood streets, each one on a parallel bulk- head lined lagoon, created a grid of waterways that meandered, looped and careened. We lived at the top of the lagoon where it fed into a wider cove before it opened into Barnegat Bay.
I started the text. And paused.
The cove was at most a hundred yards from our dock, which was how far I was allowed to go in the boat without an adult on board. The cove is where we planned to anchor. Indeed, all that planning and we were a football field away from my dock. But to the five of us, ranging in ages from seven to eleven (I was ten), it was an adventure.
Pete would return my text with a phone call late to- night, after work, after dinner, after his kids were in bed. He’d call amped up over this unearthed treasure. This would be one of our marathon catch-up sessions.
A singular detail caught me by surprise:
And I needed to write. My writing workshop met in the morning, and I had only just started drafting the story I hoped to share with the group. I didn’t have time for a Pete chat tonight. And I couldn’t text him this gem and not pick up his inevitable call.
We situated ourselves according to activity. Fishing in the bow. Crabbing in the stern. In a boat this small, casting a fishing line was a pretty bad idea. But we allowed those fishing in the bow to cast, so long as they made sure no one was behind them.
I’d wait.
I’d wait until I had time. I’d wait until next week.
Casting? Casting was allowed? I would have sworn there was no casting.
Casting—throwing the hooked and baited end of a fishing line out into the water—is a risky undertaking in a small kid-filled boat. If we were casting, it undoes the moral of the story. It changes who’s to blame. I had been telling the story my way for decades.
As I moved toward the bow, Dev let out a “Oh shit.” I turned around to see that Devin had knocked over the bucket of crabs which were now scurrying around the boat. At that precise moment John yelled, “Watch out, I’m casting!”
I needed to report this discovery to Peter, right away. We’d, first, crack up, eyes tearing, gasping for breath. Once recovered, I’d appoint him the arbiter.
I began to step back and out of the way of John’s fish- ing line, when I spied a crab where I was about to place my bare foot. “Hang on!” I yelled, when I felt something graze my right cheek. Thinking the fishing line had swept by my skin, I instinctively lifted my hand to my face to brush it away. Instead, I discovered that the fish hook had gone clear through my cheek and into my mouth. There was no blood. But I made up for it with a blood curdling scream. I cried, and screamed some more. I couldn’t think. I could barely breathe.
Only Pete could help me remember when it changed. Arm in arm, we would crawl back into our collective memory, the creepy stalker-like savant memory we shared, to piece together this beloved tale. Only one other person would bask, as I do, in the churning of
a single detail. Only one other person would under- stand, as I do, how imperative it was to scrutinize. Only one other person would appreciate, as I do, how hilarious it is to care so much about something so
It hadn’t ever crossed my mind that one of us would
“I’ll get it,” I offered.

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