The Big Blue

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

A reserved young boy, Sam, goes out fishing alongside members of the island fishing community. He quickly learns that they do not welcome him. His rough experience takes a turn when he makes an unexpected friend.

The local fishermen of Palmstone hurried to gain a spot on the beach's sole pier- a chain of giant granite boulders that jutted out into the island's eastern bay. Fishermen flocked from all over the island to claim a spot on the massive structure. 

At dawn, they reveled in the bountiful waters. With its thriving reefs, the bay had fast become the lifeblood of the island's sportfishing community. Sealife blossomed in the lush jungles below. Each morning, members from the Palmstone fishing club came to seize the shoals of fish from their aquatic wild. 

Many of the members had spent the better part of their middle-aged lives at the bay, basking in the privileges of their exclusive club. They reigned over the pier at daybreak, sporting their club-sponsored shirts and trove of deluxe tackle.

Sam, a non-member, rode in off his bike to join them on the pier, making do with his tattered t-shirt and jeans. Equipped with a rusted rod and five worms stashed in a plastic bag, the young boy was greeted with a parade of quiet jeers from the anglers. The Palmstone club rarely came across outsiders at the pier and tended not to offer kind greetings. Sam paced himself up and down the pier- deflecting the hostile glares of the onlooking crowd- before managing to find a spot from which to cast his pole. The amber hues of sunrise still hung low on the horizon as he began to bait his hook. Before releasing his line, Sam turned to one of the fishermen next to him, "Excuse me, sir," he began politely. "Are you guys getting many bites this morning?"

The older man had just reeled in a small catfish-a popular bounty in these waters.

"What's it look like?" the fisherman sneered, taking a step closer to Sam, "Would you mind moving away? We've got too many lines going here, and these spots are reserved."

"Oh…alright, sorry", Sam mumbled.

The man and his friends watched on with keen eyes while he walked off towards the end of the pier. As he approached the edge, more club members threw glares his way. "Hey, go get the pier attendant. Don't people know it's for members only," one of them whispered to another.

Sam had now settled into a new spot shared by another Palmstone fishing member and his two sons. He quickly baited his hook and, this time made no conversation. He awkwardly sent his line into the crystal-flecked sea. A few moments had passed before a bite struck the tension of his pole. Sam rapidly turned the handle, reeling the line closer to the pier. As it arrived, he could hear the excitement of another man who'd also gotten a bite, "This might be the Big Blue boys," he boasted to his sons. After a slight struggle, he reeled in his catch, only to find his hook tied to Sam's. His cheers turned into a vicious uproar, "What's the matter with you!" He stormed over to the boy, his fury growing with each step. 

Before Sam could step back, the man snatched the collar of his shirt. "Get out," he bellowed, "You rotten kids are always coming around the beach and disturbing us, and now we gotta deal with you on the pier? I don't think so. No one here can stand the sight of your pathetic fishing attempts. Leave and don't come back around here again."

The man released Sam with a slight nudge, nearly sending him off the pier and into the water. 

The tussle caught the attention of a man nearby who was briskly walking towards them. He wasn't dressed like the other fishermen. He dawned a wildly colorful Hawaiian shirt over a white tank-top, army-style cargo shorts, and flip flops. As he arrived, he hastily ran his fingers through his messy hairdo. He stepped in front of Sam, facing the angry fisherman.

"Finally, the pier attendant's here. Do your job and get that kid out of here. The club doesn't stand for non-members."

The man sighed as the fisherman and his sons continued on with their vehement protests. He turned to Sam, lowering his aviator sunglasses to get a good look at him, "Sounds like you've been busy this morning, huh kid" he chuckled with a sideways grin, lightly slapping Sam on the shoulder. "No worries, fellas, I'll escort the kid off the premises. He won't be bothering you anymore."

The attendant wrapped his arm around Sam's back, gently guiding him down the pier and away from the club members. His brows furrowed at the young boy's slumped posture as they neared the exit. He often came across adolescents stirring up trouble on the beach but seldom caught them on the pier, much less trying to fish from it. The boy he escorted off was cooperative and quiet, unlike his teenage counterparts. Sam's dejected figure brought a frown to the attendant's face; he hadn't stood upright from the moment they'd met. 

"Hey, tough guy," he exclaimed, slapping the boy's back. "Don't mind those old anglers. They're just upset they wasted another morning searching for the Big Blue, don't take it personally." 

Sam seemed surprised at the man's enthusiasm. "Thank you, sir."

"Sir? Geez, kid, I'm not one of your teachers. Call me Dallas."

Sam nodded and betrayed a smile from his blank demeanor. As they reached the end of the pier, he managed to say, "I'm Sam." 

"Hey, he speaks! Nice to meet you, Sam," Dallas replied, shaking hands with the boy. "Tell me, what brings you out to the pier this morning? Not many kids head our way when all the fun's by the beach."

Sam looked around to see if any club members were within earshot, "The Big Blue. I've come to catch it."

Dallas chuckled at the prospect. He wasn't surprised at the young boy's ambition, stories of the Big Blue were common in Palmstone, and he'd heard his fair share of fishermen claiming they'd one day capture the incredible bounty of the bay, but none had ever come close. Few have ever laid eyes on the legendary Big Blue. Most of the islanders regarded it as local fishermen's lore. But, the conviction in Sam's voice as he made the same claim, so many others had before him, brought a smirk to Dallas' face.

"That's quite the ambition, my man. But let me tell you something, you're looking in the wrong place. A big fish like the Big Blue can't be caught from the pier. Like I've been telling those thick-skulled anglers for the past ten years, you need a boat to catch something like that. Larger fish swim in the deep waters of the bay-you'd think these guys would know that. But they don't want to hear it-they're too wrapped up in keeping people off the pier."

The boy appreciated the advice; although, Dallas' words hinted that he, a mere pier attendant, knew more about fishing in these waters than he led on. Sam was somewhat suspicious.

"You seem to know a lot about the local fishing scene for a pier attendant. Have you ever tried heading out into open water?"

The answer to the boy's inquiry was complicated. Not only had Dallas taken a boat far off the coast of Palmstone to fish, but he'd actually done so on countless occasions. Though he preferred to conceal it from the club members that came to the pier, Dallas was an expert fisherman. He'd spent his whole life fishing in Cape Cod before moving south to the tropical island of Palmstone a few years ago. If the overzealous fishing community here learned just how knowledgeable he was, they'd never stop badgering him for tips and such. He'd found a quiet home on the island as a simple pier attendant and found no reason to comprise his peaceful outings to the bay. However, the soft green eyes of the boy offered him a sense of calmness, he felt comfortable sharing with Sam. 

"I might be the only one on the island who has," he answered as he scanned for anyone close by.

"You ever see the Big Blue out there?"

"See it?" Dallas laughed. He leaned close to Sam and whispered in his ear, "Kid, I've caught the damn thing."

Sam was not convinced. "How do I know you're not just making that up."

A fair question, Dallas thought. On the island, it was common for fishermen to concoct tall tales about encounters with the elusive fish. "I'll prove it to you. Tomorrow morning at five, I'll be down at the marina on the other side of the beach. If you're serious about catching the Big Blue, I'll see you there."

"Hold on", Sam said, pondering on whether to take up Dallas on his proposition. "I thought you said you'd already caught the Big Blue."

"I like to keep a low profile around the island. So, to avoid any unwanted attention around the bay, I sent him back out to sea where the sucker belongs."

The boy paused for a moment to gather his thoughts—the offshore breeze wrapped around his face in his reluctance. Sam still had his qualms but found it hard to imagine the kooky pier attendant had anything to gain from leading him astray. This was a once-in-a-lifetime type of offer, and he had no reason to pass it up. Finally, he replied, "What's it looks like?"

"You'll see," Dallas promised. He pointed to the boy's fishing rod. "Leave that at home; a hooked minnow would snap it in half. I'll have a spare rod for you tomorrow."

With that, Sam hopped on his bike, placed his now trash-bound rod on the handlebar, and rode off. 


The pastels of dawn lit up the sky as Sam arrived at the marina. He wore a plain t-shirt, his finest crisp blue jeans, and had taken his father's old fishermen's hat from his parent's room. Sam's parents weren't concerned about his avid interest in fishing. As long as he wasn't bumming around the house all summer, they didn't seem to mind how he spent his days. 

The marina was located on the western tip of the bay. The docks were packed with both small commercial fishing boats and private yachts- some of which were likely owned by members of the Palmstone fishing club Sam presumed. He smirked at the idea of the members fervently trying to keep others from invading the bay's only pier when they had the luxury of fishing in the serene open waters, undisturbed by any beach-goers. Sam continued to mingle with the comical thought as he eyed a familiar man dressed in a garish shirt.

Dallas wore a different Hawaiian shirt than he had the day before. However, it still bore the same untamed burst of colors and tropical patterns. He liked to keep it unbuttoned in the torrid island weather, revealing his white tank top. Dallas had just finished loading the fishing gear onto his boat when he caught sight of Sam on his bike darting towards him. 

"Glad you could make it," he called out. 

Sam stopped at Dallas' boat. Based on all the luxurious boats he'd seen along the way, he expected to arrive at one of equal class. Disappointment set in when he found that the boat he'd journeyed to was the smallest in the marina-by far. The Mistral was an old-fashioned white speedboat with orange stripes painted along both sides of the hull-big enough for only two people plus any fishing gear. 

"C'mon, hurry up, throw your bike in the back; we gotta be out in open water before the sun's fully up."

There was a note of zest in his voice as he motioned for the boy to quickly dispatch his bike by the stern of the rugged Mistral. Sam swiftly did as he said and boarded the vessel-eager to venture out to sea.

It wasn't long before they reached the deep waters of the bay. Dallas at the helm made quick work of the trip. The sea was calm, and the gentle beat of mellow waves granted a smooth ride for the Mistral. 

Sam gazed out at the now faraway island. Both he and Dallas momentarily laid back in their seats, stretched out in the late July sun, marveling at the rare view. The faded brush of trees crowned the island's western mountain crest, the waterfront buildings were faint in the distant mist, and the great pier of the bay appeared trivial from the briny deep. 

"Alright, my man," Dallas finally said, slapping Sam on the arm. "Time to fish." 

Dallas reached over to grab the rod he'd brought for the boy and handed it to Sam. Next, he shuffled over to his small bait tank and plucked a mullet from it. 

"This little guy's still alive, so be careful. Go ahead and bait your hook; I want to see how you do."

 Sam took the lively mullet from the net Dallas held out and tried not to let the slippery scales get the better of him. He struggled to cradle the fish upside-down before managing to take a split-eye rigging needle with a Dacron loop-expertly fashioned by Dallas- to puncture through the mullet's eye sockets and head. 

"Good stuff, kid. Now remove the needle."

Sam attentively disconnected the rigging needle from the loop and placed it on his hook, twisting the Dacron tight. He then passed the hook under a bridle to keep it from facing downwards once underwater.

"Not bad, let's see how you cast the line."

Sam cast his live bait out to sea in a sweeping forward motion, much less awkward than the day before. He could feel the line tensing as the mullet flailed about in the water. He hoped the little guy remained alive long enough to get a bite from the mysterious Big Blue. 

"How long is this going to take?" Sam asked.

Dallas chortled at the question. The one essential quality all fishermen must possess is patience.

"You got somewhere to be?" Dallas simply answered. Sam smirked at the remark, realizing how ridiculous his question was- he knew what he'd gotten himself into when he agreed to join Dallas.

"Just keep your eyes on the water and pay attention to your line, cause your reel's going to spin real fast when he bites."

"How are you so sure he's around?"

"Oh, he's around, he replied, then mumbled, "He's around."

The marine activity in the spot they'd settled into was scarce. It was a part of the bay few came to a fish, an unlikely place for Dallas to choose, which is why it was perfect. The turquoise waters shimmered under the fire of sunlight, allowing them both to survey the surface where the hook landed. They watched on sharply as a couple of reef sharks swam past their way, followed by a small barracuda and then a school of yellowfin tuna; nothing worthy of being named the Big Blue.

Then, just when Sam was ready to reel in his line to check on the state of his bait, something quickly sent his reel spinning. The power of the tension nearly swept him off balance.

"Steady now, kid," Dallas warned him. His warm tone deadened the boy's nerves.

"Let him run with the bait for a bit."

Sam did as the seasoned angler suggested and allowed whatever he'd hooked to swim off. This allowed him to adjust his settings and prepare to reel in the catch.

"Quick kid, start fighting him."

The boy initiated the tug-of-war with a couple of firm pulls in rapid succession. A few splashes emanated from the powerful wrestling of the fish as it neared the surface. Yet, no figure was visible in the clear waters. Sam continued to tug at the line, timing the increments in which he spun the reel with Dallas guiding him in the process. 

The animal was both mighty and tenacious. Soon, the minutes began to tick by, and fatigue slowly crept upon the young angler. The melodious tempo of the early morning waves sprang into a spirited waltz. The Mistral began to rock at a vexing pace, much to the annoyance of Sam. He started to franticly spin the reel at a haphazard rate, which made him lose control of the line. What he'd hooked was slowly inching away from his grasp. The unknown fish unleashed a frenzy of maneuvers to stymie the pull of the rod- preying on the young fisherman's inexperience. The fight was rapidly coming to an end. 

A sheen of perspiration framed the boy's disheartened façade. The crestfallen form of the kid Dallas had met on the pier only a day ago was beginning to reveal itself.

"Sam, take a deep breath; you're losing control," Dallas muttered into Sam's ear. He rested his hand on the boy's back, trying to soothe his panic. He did as Dallas said and inhaled heavily to gather himself. 

"Reel him in nice and slow, do not rush."

Heeding the experienced fisherman's advice, Sam gradually regained the distance he'd lost between him and his bounty. The water began to ripple at the surface, and they could now see a large shadow jetting along below. 

"Faster now."

Sam increased his tugging speed. Suddenly, a sharp figure emerged from the bay. Sam still could not see what it was. The line was nearly at the boat when the fish rocketed upward out of the water. For the first time, Sam got a look at what he'd caught. The size of the enormous fish was unlike any he could have imagined. The gleaming body of the majestic creature was a deep blue, with a broad tail fin and a crowning dorsal fin that coasted down the back. The most distinct feature of the fish, Sam noted, was the daunting skewer protruding from its body. It was unmistakable; Sam was about to reel in a colossal blue marlin-the rarest of finds in the waters of Palmstone. 

"C'mon, kid, keep reeling him towards the boat, Dallas shouted, cheerfully whacking the boy's back. Sam was still frozen-awestruck at the sight of the giant marlin he'd seen fly out of the water. He was confident this beast was the elusive Big Blue. Quickly, his astonishment waned as he spun the final whirls of his reel. He'd done it. The Big Blue was now pressed up against the port side of the Mistral. It took all of Dallas and Sam's strength to pull the marlin up on the boat. They did their best to avoid its bludgeoning skewer. 

"Hold on, Sam, we can't take this big guy with us back to shore."

Sam met Dallas' gaze, nodding in agreement. He knew that the Big Blue belonged at sea. The massive marlin was the wonder of the bay. It had brought him and Dallas together, and its legend fueled the fishing community of Palmstone. 

"Be seeing you", Sam told the marlin as he peered into its beady eyes.

With a heavy push, his catch was launched into the waters of the bay. Dallas and Sam watched on as the marlin dove into the sea, vanishing in the depths. 

The mystery of the Big Blue would live on. 


The trek back to the docks paled in comparison to the whirlwind of events Sam had experienced the last few days. Time went by quickly. Soon enough, the two fishermen returned to the marina. 

"Well, kid, I'll see you around, the Mistral is always up for another adventure." Dallas waved him off as he grabbed his bike. 

The languid sounds of the club members from the distant pier now seemed pitiful. They did not know what the two of them had seen out in the open ocean. Nor will they ever. 

"Thank you," Sam called out to Dallas. The man's distinct grin was plastered on his face as he watched Sam leave the beach.

As Sam passed the pier, he stopped to watch the fishermen. He stood a little taller than he had the day before. And the Big Blue was no longer on his mind.


Submitted: November 01, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Nick Rook. All rights reserved.

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