She came a-rattling upriver, a battered old trawler bucking a stiff ebb tide. She was plywood and fiberglass but there was an angular beauty about her. Crude blue letters on the prow bore her name: PIF. Her nets were doubled to the outriggers and tied clear of the water, like a tall woman hitches a long dress when she walks barefoot in the rain.
Captain Billy was at the wheel. I cannot tell you of a time when I did not know him. Back in high school we both wanted to run off shrimping. I figured to go to college first, then come back and quote Shakespeare while I pulled the nets, you know, “full fathom five” and all that. Billy reckoned to get right to it. He did but I got sidetracked. I was blessed to run boats from the Bahamas to Hudson Bay, but I never pulled a net. Forty-odd years later, standing on the end of that dock waiting for the PIF, I was fixing to get my chance.
This is an excerpt from the article published in the March/April 2009 issue of Orion. Purchase this issue, take advantage of our free trial offer ($19 for six gorgeous issues) for the print magazine, or subscribe to the equally beautiful digital edition ($10 for six issues) for the full text.