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Old Hitler Rich feared the water of Boca Grande Pass; no body of water looked like Boca Grande Pass for a hundred miles either North or South. To his left, the blue faded into the brackish green of Gasparilla Sound. To his right opened the brilliant turquoise of the Gulf, but Boca Grande Pass loomed a deep and impenetrable cobalt blue. As the tide rolled in and out with the passing of each day, the Pass tumbled and boiled like a great salt rapid. He didn’t dare touch the surface or dangle his toes over the sides of his kayak, not even along the shore where bottom was visible; the current could easily tear a boy from the surface and send him to the depths. Rich had known since a young age not to wade into Boca Grande Pass; he had seen the dorsal fins and clouds of baitfish leaping into the air to escape the cavernous maw of some unseen Goliath Grouper or Tarpon. Though he had grown up in the Carolinas, Rich visited the island several times a year with his family. His mother had grown on the island, and on long car trips she would recount the stories of great catches and Tarpon runs since the island’s settlement. In sixth grade, Rich faced suspension at his middle school for referring to Goliath Grouper as “Jewfish,” a ghost of his mother’s islander lexicon. At fourteen, he still didn’t understand the controversy over the massive grouper’s name. There, sitting suspended above the salt in the plastic hull of his kayak, Rich fantasized hooking a grouper, bearing solemn respect for the fish’s impossible power and size. Rich sat atop the hull of his kayak instead of in the seat cavity. Two pontoons reached out like arched shoulders from both sides of the stern, granting him the ability to perch atop the craft despite the tumult of the Pass. From there, Rich could stare right down into water and thus avoid the intense glare of the sun’s refraction on the waves. It also allowed him to store his tackle and additional rods where his feet were supposed to be. From a distance, motorboat captains and their fishing clients peered with curiosity at the odd triple bodied profile of the pontoon kayak. They joked that Rich’s shirtless adolescent body looked like some sort of waspy Budhha sitting cross-legged atop the hull, unshaken in the tumult. Rich turned and looked back at the beach, careful to keep from leaning too far over the blue below. He could see his parents and his dog standing knee-deep in the surf watching him paddle. His big sister walked down the beach alone, head angled down as she scanned the beach for whelk shells. At that moment he felt that every thing was in its right place. His family was on 33 / VLR

Profile for Virginia Literary Review

Virginia Literary Review: Spring 2017  

Virginia Literary Review: Spring 2017  

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