Fishing in Public

by “Tackle Box” Billy Kelley

Back in action!

Hey folks. How’s things? With me, not too awful bad. I been down with my PNES, but it’s gotten much better. What hasn’t is a newly diagnosed “brain issue.” Makes me dizzy and very forgetful. Course, my Vitamin M (methadone) don’t help that condition any. But oh well. Boys will be boys, right?

Anyways, I’m coming back at you, kinda roundabout route. I’m going fishing! Whoa, you say, what’s so big about that? I mean, you’re Tackle Box Billy for Christsake. Well, lemmie tell you. This is the first time I’m going fishing since the PNES started up God-knows-how-long ago. Do you remember when I said I shake so bad I’d shake the fish out of the water? Well, now we find out.

Actually, PNES has done more for me than you’ll ever understand. It has allowed me to become a real person once again. After all the tremors and fear of death like you never could dream of, I’m really back! (Christ, I get so excited I doubled up my goddamn blood-pressure pills!)

You know, every summer I have a problem finding a mackerel jigger. And now I’m sitting here wondering if there’s anywheres I can get a jigger closer than Veranda Street, off outer Washington Ave., where The Tackle Shop moved awhile back. Then I’m talking to Cliff on the phone and, lo and behold, it’s Cliff to the rescue! He puts me in touch with an outfit on Congress St., Johnson’s Sporting Goods, almost within walking distance. So I take the bus. Not much about the trip to report, just a bus driver with no smiley-face at all. Met a cute Caribbean girl after, though — changed by mood considerably.

Then I go into this tackle-and-dive shop and was I ever glad I made the journey! Oooh, la-la, jiggers and more! You’ll definitely be hearing more about this place, mark my words.

So I’m all geared up and I get down to the bottom of India Street and soon as I see the ocean I can smell it too. Don’t seem possible — is it all in my head? I’ll tell you about this “brain issue” another time, if I remember.

Jesus, it’s an off tide (meaning it’s going out) when I get to the end of the Maine State Pier, but one friendly enough lad has caught two already. He’s using a little do-hickey called a Christmas Tree, which to the fish resembles a small school of even smaller fish. I possess one, of course, but prefer not to use it, as I go for the action of the ol’ jigger.

And I got one! Josh helped me untangle my line — nice guy. Reminds me that I’m practicing my Three Club: pick up three pieces of litter when you go to the water. I’m trying, but there’s no rubbish barrel down here. More proof the city don’t care or even recognize that people fish on this waterfront too. Maybe I’m dreaming, but I count 11 people out here. Anyways, I ended up tossing it back in, but he can’t live, poor guy — severely injured, no chance, but the crabs’ll be happy for the feast.

I’m looking at the sign says “no diving or jumping,” and I remember when we dared to do such a thing. And they did get some of us, but not until after they put up the sign.

Just met Tom and Mary outta Michigan. Lovely couple. And I got to teach a couple other touristas how to properly cast. Nice fellas. We had a pleasant conversation, mainly about my PNES and their teaching jobs in Manhattan. Showing them how to cast was no big deal really, just a matter of using hand-arm coordination. I had an idea about teaching the refugees too — a little “welcome home” party with fishing poles. You know the old phrase, “Teach a man to fish…”

There goes the ferry boat. And what a beautiful day! I can die happy. You know, maybe I’m getting deep, but I can’t help but notice how happy I am and how I’m sad to see how other folks just don’t get it. Like, they talk up a storm about, “Oh, what a great boat ride that’d be. I can’t wait!” But as they troll on by, they all look bored as fuck.

Oh well. Maybe someday they too will look death in the face and then they too will realize what’s important in life. Perhaps they’ll even learn life’s most important lesson: there is a God after all. How do I know? His angel said hi to me this morning. That’s how I know, OK.

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