I sat alone until a man came and picked up the paper cup with a straw planted in the top setting on the floor.
This is where I was sitting, he said.
I asked if he minded if I sat there too. He said no, it was okay.
Newspapers were on the seat next to me and a plastic bag stuffed with something I would later figure were some of the man’s clothes.
He wore a white t-shirt, tan baggy pants and a bright blue ball cap that said I’m Hooked, and a fish or two stenciled on the front
I asked him, Do you like to fish?
He smiled and said, yes, he liked to fish.
Where do you fish?
Is that fishing from the pier?
Yes. I go out on boats, too.
His eyes looked weary but friendly. He glanced at me, looking me in the eye, taking me in, scanning. I tried to keep the conversation going. I liked talking to him.
What kind of fish do you catch, I asked.
Eldorado, yellowtail. It’s hard to catch fish near shore now, he said, because it’s almost all fished out. You have to go way out.
How far out?
Maybe a hundred miles.
Then you go out overnight?
Yeah, you sail all night then fish all day, then come back in late at night.
Do they feed you too?
Sometimes someone will donate a fish they’ve caught, and the cook will cut it up and cook it. They feed you, though, yeah.
And they supply the beer?
They supply the beer. Sometimes the guys will clean the fish and filet them for you, too. You don’t want to be having to clean all your fish, so they do it for you sometimes, right on the boat.
We rode on. The man thought for a moment that he’d missed his station. He determined that had a couple of more stops to go.
I’m going to
Have you ever fished in
No. There are great fishing places up there, though. Off of Kodiak Island, on the
I saw that show, too, I said. It was spooky. You could see where the bear had broken off branches and grass, then there were the remains of the body.
They even played the tape of the sounds of the killing, the man said.
I couldn’t listen to that, I said. Too weird.
He smiled and nodded.
I was in Seward and I saw the fishing boats coming into the harbor, I said. Big rolling carts full of halibut. I showed him with my hands stretched apart how large they were.
He asked how long ago I was in
I lived there for three years back in the nineteen seventies, he told me. Worked for someone studying vision improvement.
On my trip, I said, we drove seventy five miles on a gravel road on the
That’s near Porcupine Flats, he told me. Lots of squashed porcupines on the highway. That’s why it got its name.
The first day I got to
Right. Usually the clouds cover the mountain top and you can’t see it.
We followed the mountain all the next day and we could see it all the way.
I’m finished with this section, I said and I held up the automotive section. This is a hundred and ninety thousand dollar car, I said, pointing to the lead story. You can buy a small condo for that much money. He laughed.
I got out of prison today, he said.
Today? I asked.
Yeah, this morning.
How long were you in there?
And nobody could come and pick you up?
I told my daughter to stay home. Told her not to come down and get all caught up in it.
Well good luck, I offered.
I think things are going to go well.
Thank you. I’ll hang out with my buddies for a couple of days.
Maybe have a couple of beers?
Already had a couple, he laughed.
Good. You’ve got fishing, a daughter. Some place to go. I think things are going to be all right.
Well, here’s my stop. Enjoyed talking with you.
Me too. We shook hands.
Here, don’t’ forget the paper, and I handed him the automotive section.
The automotive section. The hundred and ninety thousand dollar car. He stuffed it into the plastic bag and went down the aisle to the platform.