A Laundry Bag and a Crab Net

Posted: August 26, 2010 in Book Excerpts

Book Excerpt from Chapter Heading A Laundry Bag and a Crab Net (Fall 1969)…

The fisherman I’d spotted earlier apparently noticed my frenzied lack of composure, and was paddling in my direction. As he neared, I saw he was an elderly, black man; his boat certainly matching his age. He coolly pulled his skiff onto the shore, and said, “Seen you jumpin’ around out there like a wet rat on a hot roof, you okay?”

I lifted my foot closer for him to survey, and explained my fears of what it might be-a ray barb-and how Mom warned me about such creatures hidden in the sandy bottom. He rested my foot in his weathered hand, said to hold still, and yanked the foreign object out like a veteran surgeon. I wanted to yell from the pain, but gritted my teeth and let out a muffled grunt instead. I was very, very scared.

He cocked a grin, exposing the shiniest gold tooth I’d ever seen (and I swear I heard a “ting” when the sun bounced off it), held the object up high and said, “It’s a barb, all right; a driftwood barb. Not gonna die, not today at least. Best you drag yourself under that oak by the lot and wait for your mama. God bless you, son.”

Now, that’s what he said, but it wasn’t what I heard. All I heard was, ‘it’s a barb, die today, drag yourself, mama, and God.’ Without another word, he was off, paddling against the tide, and not looking back.



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