This is a quick little piece I wrote last night during my writers group session with the Writers of The Woodlands. There were a lot of great pieces assembled in a short 30-minute span. The object was to create a literary non-fiction short piece. My good friend and fellow writer, Alicia Salazar, led our group, discussing essay writing. I hope you enjoy.
I must have been a child. I say around thirteen. And let’s see, he must have been sixty-six.
His boat had found some rocks, which wasn’t beneficial for the fiberglass hull. There were crushed marks where the fiberglass had begun to splinter. It wasn’t beneficial, but it wasn’t unusual. Papaw tried to park the boat as close to the jetties as possible. For some reason, the fish were right there. Right where a small space existed between the boat bounding on large waves and the anchor keeping it ever so hazardously separate from the large, square granite rocks.
The hull had found the rocks and the fishing trip was cut short. Fishing was in Galveston, but home was in Houston. The boat sat at home in the driveway. Papaw grazed his hand slightly around the penetrated areas, examining the damage, assessing a diagnosis.
From a bucket, it must have been, was black tar that hardened or at least stiffened into a goo that would dry, yet remain soft. It was sloppily applied. Scraped across to cover the minor scratches to the potentially harmful cuts.
I watched him. I knew my way around the hull and inside the boats. I could clean it and could run the motor with the water hose attached to it in order to flush it out without burning up the motor. These things I did. I understood them. But I didn’t know about the damage and how to fix it. I didn’t know much about ensuring that the boat wouldn’t sink by means of black tar and a paintbrush.
The only thing I knew about it was that it worked. It left chemical rings in the bay whenever the boat came to a stop near the rocks and I placed the anchor out again. I would watch the rings renew with each bounce caused by a wave.
I understood that near the rocks was where the fish were. The big fish. The ones we wanted.
I didn’t think about the danger of being so close until the first time we had hit the rocks and we had to pull away and eventually take the boat back to Houston for homemade repair. I suppose in order to catch those fish, you have to get close to the rocks. You have to be ready to repair the hull just in case. You have to understand that you can get back in the water, next to the rocks, and try it all over again. But you also have to understand that the boat will never be the same. You will never approach the rocks exactly as you did, although you will still try to get dangerously close to them. And, from that point on, you will always leave little rings in the water as a reminder of what you had to do to come back.