Sea Side Stories

By Dave

The Big One

Goober and I went down to Darnell Bunlap’s house early this morning, to help him catch the big one. Darnell’s been trying to catch the big one since he came here in 1968. Darnell, that is. The big ones have always been here, though few if any of them from 1968 are still alive. Darnell was hoping Goober and I would change his luck this morning, because he’s been fishing off his deck for a long time, with not very good results—fifty-some years and no big ones—other than that ninety-pound whitefin that turned his deck furniture into kindling (Darnell’s…the fish had no deck furniture—and no deck, as far as we can determine—or he probably would have wrecked that, too).

Most folks can’t understand how anybody can fish off a deck, reasoning that the water has to be too far away to toss a line into. Although the water’s quite a ways from Darnell’s patio, it’s quite a ways down. And quite a ways out. About eighty feet down, in fact, and about thirty feet out. If you lean way over and look way down, you can see a lovely little cove surrounded by rocks, which is why Darnell can fish off his deck so easily. If it overlooked the beach, his line would drop onto sand, and there’s very little fish of any quality lying on the sand. This is local wisdom, gleaned from hard experience. Uh, yeah. Anyway…

The deck sits out about ten feet over the cliff, and in most ways it’s just like all the other cliffside decks around here, except that out on the far corners are two big weatherproof stereo speakers. This is something you don’t see every day. Darnell likes to fish to music, not a bad thing when you don’t catch much and have a lot of time to kill while reeling in an eighty-foot line. I’ve always liked watching Darnell fish. His cast is prodigious, as it would have to be to project far enough to clear the breakers. He starts out kind of slow, with a piece like Bach’s seventy-fourth symphony in d-whatever, moves into something like Beethoven’s concerto for strings and strumpets, and when he sinks a hook into something, he kicks in The Ride of the Valkeries, which has gotten him so excited, he’s had to nail up catch-netting in case he falls over the railing…again.

Aside here: The name ‘Beethoven’ has fascinated me since childhood, because it can be parsed in so many ways, each, uh, parse(?) imparting its own spin on the word. For instance, Beet Hoven, which suggests a hoven (whatever that is, perhaps a modified hovel) for beets; or Bee Thoven, which may or may not be a community of bees; then there’s Beeth Oven, which might be from one of those early nineteenth century ‘Grim’ Fairy tales, the oven in which Beeth is placed, to be rescued, perhaps (perhaps not, this being grim and all) by his sister, whose name you are asked to supply in the comment section of this web site (Beeth and..?). Lastly, it might
be a word with suffix, indicating ‘made of,’ such as something made of Beethov: ‘His clothes were made of a tweedy Beethoven fabric…’ Such is the beauty and utility of Ludwig van’s name (Oh bliss! Bliss and Heaven!). But I digress…

The tide was way in this morning, and Darnell was sure he was going to get the big one. He started right out with some heavy-hitting Grieg, moved smartly into Verdi’s Requiem ‘Dies Irae,’ and, finally, the tried and true R of the V’s, with no success. The fish probably couldn’t hear the music, so I suggested a little-known tune from ZZ Top (RIP Dusty), called Under Pressure. I told Darnell if he couldn’t catch fish to this rock-n-roll classic, there were no fish to be caught. I brought it up on my playlist and plugged it in.

Well, despite his extensive music library, Darnell had obviously never heard anything like that! He started jumping around like a tractor with a spastic throttle, slinging his line all over the place, dancing over to one rail and back to the other, looking sort of like an elderly, overweight, balding, male version of a really untalented Paula Abdul…if you squinted really hard, and I mean so hard your head hurt. We cranked up the volume so the fish would wonder what was going on and come to investigate, but they must have been deaf. Finally, Darnell said he was going to make one last monster cast and, if he didn’t get anything, we were going to get drunk. I told him that, as a rule, 7:30 am was a bit too early for me to be drunk, but I’d come along and stack the cans for him.

So Darnell wound up and let fly with what would have been the best cast of the day. Would have been, because on the backswing, Darnell hooked into Conkwright’s collar, and ol’ Conk went out about thirty feet and down just about the whole eighty. Darnell got him stopped with maybe ten feet to spare, but the extra weight pulled Darnell over the railing and into the netting.

I cracked open the first beers at 7:45, right after the salvage operation. Every rule has an exception.

Up Next:
Goober The Porschephile


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