Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wednesday before Thanksgiving, 1973, it was gray and raining in Pleasanton.  Some wind in the bay.  Not enough bad weather to making docking a problem.  Hoot brought The Annie H in close, reversed the engines and let her drift sideways to the bumpers.  His father waited on the dock in his orange Helly Hansen Narvik suit.  Tall, and almost as fair as his son with a permanently sunburned face, he seemed slumped, resigned today.  Something was obviously wrong.

“You got bad news.  I can tell,” Hoot called to his father, cranking the wheel to bring the stern in tight.  “I’ve got a hold full of lobster, so whatever it is, it’s just going to have to wait until I’m weighed and paid.”

“Donna’s dead,” Hoot’s father said, his voice flat, barely reaching the boat from the dock.  Eyes unwilling to lock onto Hoot’s eyes.  Silence falling.  Rain dripping from his elbows.  The scraping sound of gunwales rubbing against boat dock fenders.

What?” Hoot responded, that one word breaking the tension.  The crew getting busy unloading without the usual hoopla.

“I’m sorry, Son.  I thought you’d want to know.  But not over the radio.”

From Troubleshooter

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