Flesh and Bone: Chapter 2
The waves crashed onto the shore as Roger Tate repositioned his right heel to gain better footing in the frothy sand.
Zoe, his German Shepherd, barked and danced excitedly back and forth across the beach, kicking up miniature tornadoes of sand with her rear paws as Roger’s fishing pole continued to bend at a precipitously awkward angle.
He continue to reel the line in. He snagged the fish, whatever it was, about twenty minutes before. The fish tired, but still had a lot of fight left in it. Roger waded out into the rough wake, where the breakers crashed as he continued to try to reel in his line.
Zoe’s excited barks echoed across the still desolate stretch of beach behind his townhouse. It was early yet, only a little bit after six in the morning. Most of the beach-goers usually didn’t start showing up until after eight.
“Come on you son of a bitch,” Roger yelled as he struggle to reel in the line, hoping it wouldn’t snap. He caught a glimpse of the fish’s back in the waves. It was silverfish-black in color. Roger wasn’t sure what type of fish it was yet, but it looked to be about three feet in length, maybe longer. It was hard to tell with how the water magnified objects sometimes.
Roger stil had about five feet of line out, but he knew if he kep reeling it in slowly and walking backwards that eventually, the fish would get caught in the breakers and practically just get washed up on shore.
“I’m getting too old for this shit,” Roger cursed.
He nearly stumbled as he backed up through where the waves were crashing and breaking. He didn’t come out with the hope of really landing a big fish. A couple pompano or even a flounder would have done the trick.
A blistering sensation erupted along the back of his left calf and he figured it was a jellyfish sting. The waters here were full of them especially now, in late August.
“I should be immune to those bastards by now,” he muttered.
Roger just kept walking backwards now until he was out of the water and onto the wet sand. The fish got caught in the wave and, as expected, it too washed up onto the wet sand.
It was an amberjack and it flopped furiously trying vainly to make its way back to the water.
“Zoe, get the stick,” Roger yelled.
But she paused for a second, cocked her head and then barked.
“I know, I know girl,” Roger replied. “It’s an amberjack, now c’mon and go get the stick baby.”
The “stick” was actually a Samoan war club that was a gift given to Roger by the late Dr. Gonzo himself, Hunter S. Thompson. Roger met Thompson in the early 90’s during a trip to Kona. Thompson had returned to Hawaii to visit the idea of doing a follow-up to his 80’s book, The Curse of Lono.
The project never panned out, but Roger spent the better part of a rainy Sunday afternoon at the hotel bar getting hammered with Thompson.
Six months after the fact, Roger received a strange package from UPS addressed out of Woody Creek, Colorado. He opened the package an there it was, the Samoan war club. It was accompanied by a small hand-written note that, quite frankly, looked like the scrawl of a serial killer. It read simply, “we killed like champions” and was signed by Thompson.
Roger kept it as a showpiece initially, at least for the first ten years that he owned the thing. He eventually began using it for fishing. Since that time, he’d clubbed countless fish, a rabid possum and at least one would-be mugger with it.
Zoe obediently ran to the ice chest and collapsible chair, where the club was jutting upright, shoved down into place in the sand. She got it in her teeth, wrenched it free from the sand and then ran back to where Roger was still wrangling with the fish.
“Good girl,” he said, as she dropped the club right next to his left foot. As he bent down to grab it, Roger noticed blood trickling down the back of his calf. Something else, besides a jellyfish, got him. Probably a sting ray barb, he figured.
Roger didn’t miss a beat though. He grabbed the club and whacked the amberjack hard about the head and gills until it finally stopped thrashing and convulsing. He heard of people catching sharks on the beach, tigers and bulls usually, but he never heard of anyone catching amberjack this close to shore.
He grabbed the fish and the pole and dragged them across the sand.
“Bring the stick,” Roger told Zoe and she grabbed it up in her jaws again and carried it back to the ice chest and chair.
Roger hefted the fish into his ice chest and then cut the line from the fish’s mouth with his Swiss Army knife. He slammed the ice chest shut, gathered up their possessions and then made his way back to the townhouse with Zoe following happily behind him.