Blue Fish : A Short Story
The following is a recount of a day in the life of both my father and I while living in the suburbs of New York City in Westchester, New York. One of the most glaring realities our family faced while living in the United States was the fact that Americans actually fished for sport rather than for the purpose of sustenance. It was our belief that hunting and fishing should solely be for the purpose of feeding oneself and that doing so for any other reason was wasteful, cruel, and done in vain. This story is not completely fictional nor is it completely non-fictional, rather somewhere in between. I've been contemplating on writing this story for a long time now and hope that I can include it in a compilation of similar stories detailing the recounts of my family's journey to America. Please enjoy and thank you for reading.
“Now hook it like this,” my father said to me while sliding a silver fish hook through the mouth of a shiner he was holding. “Make sure the point comes out on the other side of his body. Hold him steady and don’t let him go.”
“Yes, pop,” I replied.
We started out early that morning before sunrise. My father woke me up and I labored to get out of bed. "It's too early!" I countered. He shook his head: "It's never too early to go fishing," he said in our native Lao. I forgot that today was the day my father was finally going to teach me how to fish. I rose to get ready and watched with jealousy at my two brothers who were still fast asleep. They looked peaceful and undisturbed in their beds. While walking to the bathroom to shower, I wished that I was back underneath the covers of my warm bed. By the time my dad and I were dressed with our lunch and gear packed and ready to go, the rest of our family were all still asleep. It was Sunday after all.
All the bait we used to fish with was caught by using a square green net whose corners was connected by four iron legs. Preparing the net was tough because the legs usually didn’t cooperate and so refused to fit into the grooves of the fulcrum. We used small bits of canned tuna to lure minnow and shiner to our net. My father taught me to drop the bits of tuna atop the net after it submerged in the water. If I happened to drop the bits of tuna into the net before it submerged into the water, the tuna would float to the surface and then simply drift away with the fast moving current.
A Mercedes Benz drove right by where my father's green Raleigh and my purple Schwinn bicycle was leaning, which was against a long, high rock wall. The two of us watched as the car went by. We stood holding our fishing poles while waiting for a bite. A Golden Retriever looked eager to see us while hanging out the passenger window. Sitting next to it was a little blond haired girl who looking out of the other window to the other side of Red Bridge. Her parents kept their eyes on the road and didn't seem to notice us.
Off in the distance, I could see the large Victorians and brick mansions crowding the landscape. The houses were separated by large elms, maples, and beeches and where one property ended another began. Some of the houses had segregated servant's quarters. What once were stables from a bygone era were now garages to shelter the owner's cars and most of the other houses had gazebos or flowery archways like large garlands leading out to foyers or vestibules. Others yet had guest houses and all had very large backyards that were usually accompanied by in-ground pools which were perfect for parties and entertaining in the summer time. The weather always seemed to be pleasant every time I'd visit the harbor. I sat silent in the stillness next to my father waiting for a bite while feeling the occasional cool breeze that would blow over the miles and miles of Long Island Sound.
We watched as a gray bearded man aboard a boat fight methodically with his fishing pole just as soon as his line went taut. "Here he is..." The man seemed announce to us. He was reeling and jerking his fishing pole neither fast nor slow, but with perfect precision much the same way my dad taught me. His fishing pole curved like a rainbow. While watching, I held my breath hoping that both his pole or fishing line wouldn't break. When his catch was near, he reached out with his left hand and caught hold of his line. With his other hand he held a large fishing net which reminded me of a windsock. The man quickly brought his net underneath his catch to save it from getting free. The man just caught a Blue Fish. Sometimes people simply called them Blue for short. The fish the man caught must have weighed at least fifteen pounds.
"Magnificent, isn't it?" my father said. I didn't understand.
"They don't look blue, pop."
"In certain light they do," he explained. "But either way, that is what they are called and that is their name...Blue Fish."
"He must be lucky," I reflected.
"It has nothing to do with luck. That man was here long before we got here. Much the same way we caught Shiner, he caught Shiner. He used the Shiner to catch a Snapper fish and with the Snapper, he was able to catch a Bunker fish. He then used the Bunker to catch the Blue Fish, which enjoy Bunker more than anything else. But this is how it works. This is how he was able to do what he did." I shook my head. "What's wrong?"
"That sounds like a lot of work, pop. I guess we're not catching any Blue Fish then." My father looked sad. He paused before he gave me his long lecture that I did not want to hear:
"You are young. There is much that you have to learn in your life. If you think that you cannot do something, then you cannot. If you think you can do something, then you will find a way. As you grow up, you will find that there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who try and those who do not. In life, you will find regret in doing the things that are easy and be rewarded for doing the things that are difficult. You will have to make up your mind. To not try at all is the ultimate failure. Remember I told you that, my son. Remember my words." My father then stood up and began packing up our gear and was walking back to his green Raleigh bicycle before I could respond. I was surprised at first, but then realized how late in the day it really was. The sun was beginning to set over the Sound. I could barely hear the snow white seagulls hovering in the distance. My mom was getting our supper ready for the evening and we didn't want to be late. It didn't matter that we didn't catch anything that day because there was always next week. We could always come back and fish all over again.
And I will catch that Blue Fish someday, I thought. I just know it.
My Other Short Stories
- For the Love of Buddhism: A Short Story
- If I Had Wings: A Short Story
- First Crush: Reba Ashkar: A Short Story
- Nancy : A Short Story
- Escape: A True Story
- The Road That Leads To Your Heart: A Short Story
- Unrequited Love: The One That Got Away
- See You in the Bahamas: A Short Story
- The Absence of Aurora: A Short Story
- Aboard a Greyhound Bus for the Holidays
- Lao Folktales : The Crescent Moon Comb
- Lao Folktales : The Mango Tree
- Lao Folktales : The Magic White Swan