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Old Friends and the Sea, Part One

Friday, December 8, 2017

David squinted as he looked out over the horizon of the ocean surrounding him and his three friends, quickly taking a sip of beer as he felt some dribble down the side of the can. Between the heat of the summer sun and the warm ocean breeze, David was quickly working up a sweat. Looking to the bow of his twenty-eight foot boat, he watched as his girlfriend and her sister laid tanning in their bikini’s.

 

His girlfriend was particularly risqué due to the fact that it was a size too small for her, and her generous assets were practically overwhelming the thin fabric that fought valiantly to preserve decency and propriety. David smiled at the thought of what he and Kate could do later back at the hotel after a day of sunning and fishing; that is, if his friend Eric would get his act together and woo Kate’s little sister Elsa. Eric, like David, belonged to the oldest frat house on campus back at the University of Texas, and like their charter said, “brothers must always strive to aid one another,” which David found Eric to be sorely lacking in at the moment. Instead of hanging out with the girls, offering to rub lotion on Elsa’s back and generally flirting, he was sitting on the port side of the boat, feet dangling over into the calm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, drinking beer after beer and catching fish after fish.

 

Now, to be fair, they were in a contest with two other groups of their fellow brothers over who could catch the most fish from sun up to sun down, and Eric was never one to be given a dare or challenge without pursuing it full tilt. But from the way Elsa would look over at Eric’s broad, toned back and sigh every few minutes, David knew that he could get his fellow brother laid and his own girlfriend happy enough to do the same for him.

 

David’s thoughts were interrupted as Eric’s line began reeling into the water from an unseen force. Setting his bottle of beer down quickly, he grabbed the handle and began reeling the fish in, nice and slow. Whatever it was, it was big. He’d let it swim loose for a few moments before pulling it in closer and closer, before repeating the process. Slowly, over the course of ten minutes, Eric got the darkened form of the fish to appear near the surface. Long and broad with a dark grey complexion and a wide head, David stood open mouthed at the sight of an eight foot Hammerhead shark floundering by the boat that his friend had just begun to reel in.

 

Now this was not the first shark of the day, as the Gulf was full of them (even after the oil spill) and they’d developed a protocol for catching one. One would reel it to the surface while the other would go and fetch a long barbed harpoon, which they would then use to pierce the side of the fish multiple times until they could wrestle it from the briny deep. With the last one they caught, a small Blacktip shark from this morning, they’d merely severed its head and used the rest of it on the grill and for bait, in hopes of luring bigger fish in to catch. Apparently, it’d worked.

 

It looked like another shark would be going that route in the next half hour or so. The girls thought this was disgusting (save Elsa, who was too doe-eyed over Eric to notice anything disgusting such as cleaning a freshly caught shark) and tended to stay at the bow of the ship sunbathing and chatting instead of coming over to see what they were busy pulling in.

As David emerged from the cabin with the harpoon, he moved quickly to Eric’s side, white knuckles over the long handle of the steel harpoon. Leaning over, he stabbed into the side of the Hammerhead, before twisting the hook and pulling up to remove a large section of flesh. The more blood the shark lost, the weaker it would be. The beast opened and closed its maw wildly, trying to bite through the thick line that had been used to hold the Blacktip meat; Alas, the hook was somewhere in its gullet and the harpoon was piercing the side of the wild creature once more, creating another gaping hole for which blood to cloud the water murkily.

 

“What’d ya’ll catch?” Kate called out, obviously having noticed the two men working so hard on bringing in the large shark.

 

“Hammerhead. Big one!” David grunted, lunging down with the harpoon once more to pierce the rough hide of the shark.

 

“Looks like we got more incoming,” Eric said through gritted teeth, tugging up to pull the Hammerhead partially out of the choppy water. “The blood’s attracting others!”

 

David looked around and indeed, there were several dark shapes circling the boat now, swimming close to the shark before peddling away. Due to how misty the water was with the shark’s blood, they could hardly make out what could be attacking the injured shark. Abandoning his post for a moment, David went to the long cooler and fished out three bloody slabs of Blacktip, moving to the side of the boat and hurling them into the water as far away as he could, in three separate directions.

 

“Good plan!” Eric groaned as he began hoisting the twitching form of the shark from the water, reaching down to grab the beast by the ridge of its head, firmly out of the beasts range to bite. Not that it had the energy to it would seem, as it slowly opened and closed its jaws as it rose from the choppy waters. David moved in to help, spearing the side of the Hammerhead with the harpoon and offering leverage for which Eric could rely upon in dragging the massive fish onto the deck of the ship.

 

Kate and Elsa came over, both glistening with tanning oil, and stared at the beast in shock. “You reeled in a Hammerhead shark?”

 

“That’s so cool!” Elsa exclaimed, hoping from foot to foot, bouncing enough that Eric even took notice, David was happy to say.

 

“Yeah babe, you know we gotta win this contest, Eric here is from Port Aransas so he has to be the winner. And me, I just am a winner.”

 

“And how is that?” Kate asked, looking David over critically.

 

He moved up and slung an arm around her shoulders, moving in to kiss her cheek. “Cause I got you babe!”

 

Kate chuckled at that, shoving David away playfully. “Cute line. So what are you going to do with this thing?”

 

“Same thing we did with the Blacktip from earlier, hoist it up on the crane and take a picture with it, then cut it up into parts for more bait.”

 

“Ooo… I wanna help!” Elsa exclaimed, an excited gleam in her eye as she openly stared at Eric’s chiseled form, and especially at the tattoo of a phoenix going up the right side of his rib cage. Eric, the shaggy blonde, didn’t seem to notice as he was already pulling the hook for the crane down and piercing the tale, hammering the hook through.

 

“Give me a hand Dave?” He said, looking at David as he moved to pull the Hammerhead up by reeling it with a crank that pulled on the rope slowly. David moved over to take a hold of the crank and began pulling it back slowly, hoisting the tail of the hammerhead up slowly as they all got ready to get into position for a photo. After three or four minutes, David locked the crank in place and moved over to stand next to the head, on the opposite side of Eric, both holding up their fingers in the peace symbol as Kate readied the camera.

 

It all happened in a flash of light, forever immortalized on a Polaroid that was printing out as the girls began screaming. The Hammerhead, bleeding from multiple stab wounds, with heavy fishing line trailing from its mouth and a large metal hook rammed through its tail, lunged to the left, clamping it’s maw down onto Eric’s shoulder with a meaty crunch. His bellow of pain was quickly followed by twin piercing screams from the girls and a flurry of movement.

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