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No Rose Garden He looked around him. It was the usual bag. Mostly cod, haddock and pollock. Money fish. There were also a few halibut, some whiskered ocean catfish, skates bigger than restaurant trays and the ugly monkfish with gaping jaws showing nasty teeth. There were scorpionfish that croak like frogs, undulating starfish, spiny sea urchins that Vinnie liked to crack open and eat on the spot, disgusting sea cucumbers, whelk, scallops that were being stockpiled for a meal, sea clams, a couple large lobsters, hermit crabs, limpets that old timers like Richie (and his father and Vinnie too) coveted for their taste and their alleged effect on virility, seaweed and the occasional tire and aluminum can. A whole undersea community. Sal, Tony and Richie began cutting. They worked bent from the waist. Grabbing a fish by the gills with their cold-stiffened fingers,

they turned it belly up and plunged the tips of their knives between the two swim fins. If Sal hit it right, and it was rare that he didn’t, the knife cleanly missed the hard bone beneath the surface. Then he stabbed down, slashing out at the same time. It was all one motion, after which the fish’s innards seemed to burst from their scaly container as if there hadn’t really been room for them inside the fish. Practically before the knife had cleared the fish his left hand was tossing it into the next bin where Vinnie, Bat and Rennie were sitting, lined up along the rail. After a minute, after he had cut 20 to 30 fish, depending on their size (some of the bigger cod held him up), Sal’s yellow gear was spattered with blood. It was truly a slaughter, one Sal didn’t like to think about. But it was part of the job, and he was good at it. Only once had he made the mistake of really looking at the fish his left


Profile for Tidewater Times

Tidewater Times December 2018  

Tidewater Times December 2018