A Fishy Friendship Tale

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Friendships, life, losses and gains. It is a story about a boy's early life and what he now feels about one part of it. Part fact, part fiction, and some thing not covered at all.

Preston and I were best Buddies in the fifth and sixth grades, just before our "Teen" years started.

I was always a loner, and maybe I got like that because we moved a lot. But no matter where we went I always found one friend if we were there for a year or more.

They were my best friends, the guys I would have went to bat for no matter what. And during this phase of my life, that guy was Preston.

That move destroyed my social life, not that there was a lot to destroy. Just like with Smokey, my best friend before Preston.

I saved Smokey from a beating from another kid that hadn't heard that hitting a guy while he was down was not fair. At lest that was what my Mother always told me and Superman reinforced the idea on the Superman TV show; hay, I was a very impressionable and idealistic nine year old.

Smokey was a mixed race kid with an older white brother. His younger brother, I think he was one year younger, had one eye that always looked in the same direction, straight ahead; he was the same color as Smokey.

The color difference didn't mean anything back then, in fact, I don't remember thinking anything about it at the time.

After the fight break-up, I got in trouble with the teacher that stopped it. I tried to tell her that I really wasn't fighting, I was only trying to restrain Ricky from hitting Smokey while he was down on the ground.

But how I ended up on top of Ricky, holding his arms, I will never understand; good timing I guess.

Anyway, I got in trouble with the teacher for fighting and had to take a note home to Mom. And when I told my Mother what happened she hugged me and signed the note without saying a word.

I had no idea what the hug was for, but not yelling at me was good, so I didn't ask any questions.

Smokey and I were best friends until my Mom got a job at a bank and we moved out of the Navy Housing Project. I never saw Smokey and his brother again.


 

When I moved away from Preston it was because Mom's Doctor told her she had to stop working, again, because of her heart.

So we moved around for a year, but we finally ended up right back in the same Housing Project, but at a different address.

Smokey and his family were gone from their old address, I checked, and Preston's family had moved too. It must have been a good year for moving (?).

The very day we came back to town I ran into Gallagher, a guy I knew from the sixth grade; we were in the same classroom back in the sixth grade.

Gallagher was a Catholic kid and was moved into public school when the head Nun at the Catholic school kicked him out for being too disruptive.

To understand what Gallagher was like, well, you'd have to have watched "The Leave It To Beaver" show on TV.

If you know what I mean then think about the Beaver's older brother, Wally, that is pretty much what Gallagher looked like, even the hair-style was the same.

But Gallagher was lighter skinned like my aunts and uncles; they could never get a tan, they just turn red and then back to white.

Gallagher had a few freckles, too, and his hair was a dishwater brown.

The odd thing was, Gallagher's personality was a lot like Wally's best friend, Eddie Haskell, the deceitful troublemaker, not like trustworthy Wally at all.

Anyway, Like Wally and Eddie, Gallagher and I hit it off. It was summertime so it was time to play.

We made it almost all the way through the Summer months and then Gallagher went off on one of his behavioral tangents.

First he shot me in the back with a B-B pistol he got for his birthday; (What was his Dad thinking?). We were riding our bikes down some side street when it came into Gallagher's head to see how much a B-B pellet would hurt; at least that was what I surmised.

Well I guess Gallagher found out how much it hurt when I stopped my bike and picked it up, then I threw it at him.

After crawling out from under my bike, Gallagher took off for fear I was still mad; I was.

Gallagher let me cool off for a week before showing up at my house with a new toy, a match-shooter he made.

He demonstrated his toy, once, then I told him put it away before he burned down our duplex.

I thought it best to think of something for us to do to get his mind off of the match-shooter, so we went to the public pool, "The Plunge", to swim. I figured with that much water around it would be impossible to start a fire.

The last time I saw Gallagher, we were walking down Atlantic Avenue and he saw a car with the keys in the ignition; it was parked at the curb.

Gallagher looked to see if it was unlocked, and it was. Then he said, "Let's go for a ride!"

I said , "No!"

He said, "Come on, I dare you!"

I said, "If you get in that car, I'll call the cops!"

He couldn't help himself, he got in but I didn't call the cops.

I figured, by the time the cops got there he would be long gone, so I went home hoping that he didn't hurt anybody during his joy ride.

I got a call from Gallagher after he got out of jail, you know, teenager's jail. Yes sir, they caught him about a mile from where he started. I guess the car's owner saw the heist from the door of the liquor-store he was in.

Gallagher told me that his family moved to another city because the authorities said the area that Gallagher was living in was a bad influence on him. What a load ob bull-yucky.

Some Physiologist said that finding new surroundings for Gallagher to grow up in would be beneficial. It also allowed the Judge to let Gallagher off the hook, again. (No wonder Gallagher's Dad had a drinking problem.)

Where was I? --- Oh yes, getting back to Preston.

After Gallagher, it wasn't long before I ran into Preston at the Miss World Contest and Parade that was being held in downtown Long Beach.

Things had changed, with me gone Preston started hanging around with his older brothers and they went deep-sea fishing a lot.

In fact, his brothers became friends with the Captains of several Charter Fishing Boats that docked at Pierpoint Landing, and they acted as deckhands on occasion.

Pierpoint Landing is still there, it is mostly used for Pleasure-Boats now, and the Fishing Boats are all but gone.

You can find Pierpoint Landing on the opposite side of the docks from the Queen Mary, in Long Beach, California.

Anyway, Preston decided that I should learn to ocean-fish since he liked to ocean-fish and that was pretty much all he wanted to do. So I went along because I had nothing better to do and he was my friend.

I never told Preston that I lived in Oregon when I was five to seven years old, and that I started fishing almost as soon as we arrived there.

Back in those days, if you didn't fish and hunt in places like Oregon, then your diet would have been very limited to canned foods.

It rains a lot along the coast of Oregon, in fact Rain never stopped us from doing anything. I remember being in a rowboat with a tarp over our heads, rain was coming down in buckets and we were still fishing.

Strangely enough, I remember the grownups saying, "Fishing is better when it rains."

In that whistle-stop town called Florence, almost everyone had a rented meat locker at the butcher's shop in town, and most of the meat in the meat lockers were Venison.

Fish, on the other hand, was always eaten on the day it was caught; no exceptions.

We always fished from the Siuslaw River and Sutton Creek, never the ocean.

Heck, for two years I lived a stone's throw from the ocean and never knew it was there. Hay, I was five to seven years old and it rained quite a bit; no playing in the sun and surf for Junior.

No, I never said anything to Preston about knowing how to fish, mainly because I didn't like fishing a whole hell of a lot. And besides, I figured that ocean fishing might be different so I played dumb and went along.

All summer we went to Pierpoint Landing late at night. We would get to go on the Half-day Fishing Boats, or so they called them. And we were allowed on board the boats for free because Preston's brother's knew the people that ran the Charter Boats. Also, we were willing to help clean up and empty the bait tank after the fishing day was over; it was a win, win.

If we caught any fish worth selling, then we would sell them to the men who didn't catch any fish and who had paid to get on the boat, not to mention that many of them rented gear. They didn't want to go home to their wives empty handed. It was a pride thing, I guess.

We always divvied up fifty cents each to get into the "Biggest Fish, Pool." If you caught the heaviest or longest fish of the day then you would win the "Pool" for the day.

There was one exception, a fish called a Barracuda were rare to snag, and they were very hard to Bring-In if you even got one on the line, so one dime of every dollar collected went into the Barracuda-Pot. And that pot kept growing as long as no-one caught a Barracuda.

To keep the Captain honest, the amount in the pot was tallied at the end of each fishing day, and the amount was posted on the message board, in the bait shop, for each boat.

If Preston and I made any money, we always split it. It didn't matter who caught most of the fish. And strangely enough, with all his know-how we were neck and neck most of the time.

If we didn't sell what we caught, then Preston's Mother cooked them and would put them in Jars for storage. I got a portion to take home the next time I was over there.

Then came the Barracuda.

Preston and I went out on an "All-Day Boat" for the first time ever. Preston had a new rod and reel, a present from his whole family for his birthday, and he wanted to break it in; you know.

When we got on the boat we paid to get into the Pool, and I went down in the hole to lay down. If I didn't lay down during our trip out, then I would get seasick. But if I laid down until we were out there, then I was good for the rest of the trip; falling asleep was optional.

We were out about ten miles, then headed north towards Palos Verdes Peninsula, that when the Captain dropped anchor and Preston woke me up.

By the time I was on deck, Preston and everyone else had their rods out and were baiting their hooks, or were casting lines into the water.

Preston got so excited that he suddenly had to take a crap.

"Take this, I got to hit the Head," he said as he handed me the rod and reel.

I already had my Fishing Belt on so I took the rod and took Preston's place along the Port side of the boat.

I never expected anything to happen, so I just stood there waiting for Preston to come back.

Then came the TUG on the line and the tip of the pole bobbed downward just a little. "Was the a nibble?" I wondered.

Then, Wham! The line jumped out of the water and Preston's reel started spinning like crazy. The end of the pole was now bending towards the water and it was all I could do to hold onto it!

Whatever had a hold of the hook was running scared, and it was fast!

I set the drag tighter on the 30 pound line and hoped for the best.

"Zeeeeeeee!" The Reel slowed but the fish was still going; I tightened a little more and held on to the rod with all my might!

Then, all of a sudden, the pole straightened out and the line just went limp in the water.

"Darn, I lost it," I mumbled as I started reeling in line.

Then I heard the captain of the Boat, he was standing above and in back of me, and he yelled, "It's a Barracuda son and shes coming back at you."

I had heard stories about how Barracuda would get free of a line by reversing course and going under a boat, suddenly hitting the line with a full speed run and snapping it.

Then I heard someone say, "Go around the stern and make it snappy!"

Well I will never know how my line managed to get past all those other fisherman and their lines that were in the water, all the while never getting tangled with anyone else's line.

Nor will I ever know how I got to the starboard side without running into someone. I just kept reeling in line and looking for gaps to walk through.

When I got to the other side, there was Preston. That freckled face of his was red as a beet and his sandy hair was blowing in the breeze. I was living his dream and he had no control of the situation.

My first thought was to give him the rod, but no. Wham! Zeeeeeeee! The Barracuda was on the run again!

I was very careful not to let the fish snap the line, I lightened up on the Drag and then started tightening it again. The fish was tired, I could tell the difference from when she first started running.

Preston was barking orders, but I swear I never knew what he was saying, I was just following what I was taught in Oregon.

After what seemed like hours, I heard Preston yell, "Pull her closer, I got the net!"


 

That Barracuda, she was a big one. To a kids eyes she was at least forty feet long and Butt-Ugly, but I think I heard the deckhand say something about four feet, tip to tale. Still, that was nothing to sneeze at.

We won the Barracuda Pool, and we sold the fish in a bidding war. The Big Fish Pool went to a guy that caught a Tuna, the Tuna was a little shorter but much heavier.

It was a great day, well, it was great until the end. That is when I learned a life-lesson about friendships and money. I learned that moving away was not the only way friendships were lost.

That evening, as I was leaving Preston's house I asked for my half of money, which would have been about twelve dollars.

Preston said, "No." He said it was his gear that I caught it with, so the money was all his. He never said that when we used his brother's gear to fish with.

We argued for the first time in our friendship, the first and only time. And when his older brother came out to see what was gong on, I told him.

He looked at Preston and said, "You guys are friends. What's the deal?"

Preston boxed himself into a corner and his pride got in the way of good judgment. He took the money over friendship and over the right thing to do.

As I walked home, I was sad, not for the loss of the money but that my friend would do that to me.

***

Today I realized that Preston was the reason I was there to catch that Barracuda, and he had the gear to do it with, so maybe he did deserve the money.

At this stage of my life, I could care less. But if I was to Talley it all up, then I'd say that Preston got twenty-four dollars. And I got the memory of catching Preston's Barracuda, which is Priceless!


 

D. Thurmond / JEF

03-24-2021

 


Submitted: March 24, 2021

© Copyright 2021 D. Thurmond aka JEF. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Vance Currie

There are so many things like about this story, JEF. It is, among other things, interesting, entertaining, exciting (the battle for the barracuda), and moving. From beginning to end, my attention never flagged (and I am inclined to have a short attention span).

Thu, March 25th, 2021 9:25pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for the input, Vance, your comments are happily taken. --- A long attention span is not one of my Super Powers, either, I guess that's why I like to read and write short stories and poems.

Thu, March 25th, 2021 2:47pm

Suzanne Mays

I enjoyed reading this and hope its all true. It seemed real like you were seeing it all in your mind.

Fri, April 2nd, 2021 1:47pm

Author
Reply

Much of it is true, but some things were left out. --- Thanks for reading and even more for commenting. Have a week.

Fri, April 2nd, 2021 3:16pm

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Other Content by D. Thurmond aka JEF

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