Catching Fish

Contributor: Samantha Memi

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I got the call at four in the morning. “Steve, get up! We’ve got a job.” That was the last thing I wanted to hear. Some kid had got himself drowned in the river. Jed was on his way to the station. I’d have to meet him there. As sleep drifted away my first thought was Mary; I saw her running down the street towards me, felt her arms around me, her warm breath on my neck as she whispered “Who’s the most beautiful woman you know?”

Getting out of bed was the hardest part. My breath stung the air into cloudy reactions. Two hours before sunup the earth held the cold. What if some crazy kid was floating down the river? Hurrying now wouldn’t help him. I needed to fix the heating.

I had forgotten to buy coffee. I couldn’t function till at least two coffees. I found a pack of ready ground in the back of the cupboard. It was unlike Mary to have overlooked it, perhaps she had kept it for an emergency like this. I smoked my last two Luckies and set off for the station.

The sun was just peeking over the horizon as I arrived. The chopper was fuelled and ready. Jed explained that Davie couldn’t come because he had been fixing his old flat-bed Buick and it needed new piston rings. He said we would manage okay between us, I wasn’t so sure. We took the cargo hoist and tongs with the idea of winching him up as neither of us could go down and hook him.

When we got there we could see why they couldn’t get a boat to him; he was stuck on a rock in the middle of a spring torrent which had washed away most of the bank and left vicious peaks sticking up from the frothy water. Bruce was there already looking mighty important standing on the bank, his car behind him with the door open and the red light flashing. Jed kept going on about how the Packers beat the Bears and how Rodgers was the greatest quarterback since Favre. But all I heard was Mary clumping down the hall dragging her old-fashioned heavy case I had told her to throw away years ago, and her words ringing in my head, “Don’t touch me, don’t touch me.” Why did she scream like that? I had never hit her. What had gone so wrong to make her believe I would do that? Why did she leave? I told her I’d find a better job. I even promised to give up drinking.

The tongs wouldn’t hook in right. I hadn’t used them much before. It was Davie who did them mostly, but with his busted piston rings I supposed he deserved a couple of hours lie-in. I just wished I had stripped my motor down. It needed it. So did I.

Then the boy got caught. I tugged him tight and the tongs swung him up into the air. Everyone on the bank was waving, except for some guy staring into the water, close enough to get wet. Bruce radioed to bring the kid in, said the loner was his dad. Jed took us directly over him and I dropped the kid at his feet. Simplified identification I reckoned. Then we shot off. Jed had to get his daughter something for her birthday. I had to kill a Jim Beam.

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Samantha Memi is a patisserie chef in London. Her recipes for a happy life can be found at
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