Breaking the Line



by Ken Lizzi

The line jerked quiveringly taut, the rod bowed, held in a graceful yet perilous arc.  The reel spun out forty pound test like a hypervelocity spider.

“Fish on!” I called.  And indeed it was: a dorado, a flash of rainbow green in the sun leaping and diving, shattering the glittering liquid diamond plate of the Pacific.

“Very good, Dylan, that is indeed a fish,” agreed Scott, mimicking the tone of an adult indulgently praising a small child.  “I realize that it is an accomplishment for you to recognize a fish, not having managed to bring one aboard the boat before.”  He chased his sarcasm with the remainder of his morning Bloody Maria – a peppery concoction of tequila and tomato juice poured into plastic cups by the mate of the Marlin III.  Mine rested, half-finished in the cup holder of the port fighting chair of the forty foot vessel.  “Try not to let this one get away from you.  No one is going to reel it in for you..”

“C'mon Scott, I get by with a little help from my friends,” I said, and then tuned him out as I always did, ignoring his good natured jibes, having little attention to spare as I battled what felt like three dozen pounds of thrashing muscle, an aquatic pit bull tussling at the end of a leash.  Time slipped away, and I lost all awareness of my surroundings: the boat bobbing a mile off the tip of the Baja  peninsula, the captain keeping the bow steady, the mate standing by with the gaff hook, Scott pouring another Bloody Maria, waiting for his rod to signal a bite, the dazzling morning sun growing ever hotter.

The gunshot snapped me out of my fugue state, and the fish, until that moment the center of my universe, was utterly forgotten.

“You need a vacation,” Scott had said a couple weeks prior to our fishing excursion.  I'd been forced to admit that he was right, yet not without a struggle.

“It's not a good time, Scott.”  I sipped my beer and shook my head.  “I don't think I can leave the office.  Spring is just around the corner; business is going to start coming hot and heavy.”





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