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The International Writers Magazine: Fishing in Cuba

A Banana peel falls on Ant
Jerry Billstrom

They made up. She pulled up her short skirt and showed him her chocolate brown legs..

'Time walks', they say in Cuba. Even more when you're fishing. Why did these days all seem so indistinguishable?
Momenticos by the truckload? Too many? Or was it that oppressive scar in his brain pulsing the whole time like an electric bass through the ocean spray. Layers chelating with pain? Maybe one more heavy rain would wash it all away. Maybe one more downpour. A fish jerked his line.

He jerked back but lost it. Should he reel in or was there enough bait left for another hit? Three kids approached on the meter wide lip of the Malecon from where he cast. They asked him something. The words were unclear to him but he knew the meaning.
'Nada uno', he said.
There was one kid about twelve and next to him a chico blancito and then a cute little fellow with his eyes wide open. The chico blancito told him the fishing was better further down towards the point but it wasn't worth the walk with only one hook and snags everywhere.

'Yesterday another guy caught a big one here', he said in fractured Spanish. He held his hands apart showing the size. 'Una boca grande y dentas,' he said miming the barracuda like mouth. He told them it had been caught by another pescador who was fishing with the same method he was now using. They watched expectantly. He cast the bait and waited the sun now on his shoulder. It would have been better an hour and a half before. He told the kids the barracuda-like fish had been visable, hunting in the shallows below. They searched the water seeing nothing.

He pulled in his line. 'Pase un beun dia,' he said, skipping the s's as was the habit for Habaneros. Another momentico.
He went the other way, towards the Hotel Nacional, searching the water for the black lines of the 'cudicas. This was the third morning he had skipped working on his crappy script. One for fighting, one for making up, one for the hell of it.
She didn't trust the future or maybe that's exactly what she trusted. Either way Dick didn't mind. She was hot, young, strong, and confident. Too confident he thought.

On the way back to the apartment he bought a large bag of shredded cabbage and a dozen small bananas. It cost him forty cents. It all evened out somehow. When he chucked a banana peel into the wastebasket he saw the ants. When the peel hit he thought maybe- in the history books of ants- a million years away there would be a notation of the tragedy somewhere after the current eventicos. He had to get back to the crappy script to stop his mind from wandering further.
It was a story of greed and something else. A thriller too. A man so bad he couldn't have had a mother. And a woman so greedy she would sell her own eye at a swap meet. He resented it more the better it got.

©  Jerry Billstrom Jan 2008

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