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the beach; they had never let him paddle in the Pass before. He felt big in his kayak, and flexed his new masculinity with every paddle stroke in the current. Maybe, he hoped, he would bring home an enormous Snook they could eat. It was a half-conscious notion of a primitive thought. Mostly the sun felt good on his back as it evaporated the surf spray that prickled cool on his skin and speckled the lenses of his sunglasses. When Rich reached the mouth of the Pass at the top of the current, he set down the paddle and reached into belly of the kayak for the beefiest rod he had. Inch by inch, he guided the fluorocarbon line out of the reel and through the ring guides of the rod until he reached the tip. Next, he tied eight inches of woven steel leader to the tip of the line before cinching it to the largest stainless steel hook he could find at the island tackle shop. Rich had spent two entire years of savings from babysitting and mowing lawns on the outfit; he gleamed over it with pride. He had even custom ordered titanium gears for the inside of the reel to prevent rusting and to guarantee the advantage in any fight. With the rod in his left hand, Rich reached back into the hull and grabbed the dead stingray he had caught the previous night with a leftover piece of shrimp. He slipped the hook through its belly and left the point protruding from its back. In another motion, he sliced off the stingray’s tail and let it down into the water. With his left index finger, he flipped the bail and watched the stingray plummet out of sight trailing a cloud of blood. With that, he laid down across the length of the kayak’s top so he could tan. The rod sat firm in the belly of the kayak, held in place by his legs so that he could feel any strikes. The wind pushed his salty blonde hair over his eyes, and he trailed the distorted rainbows in his vision caused by the sunlight crossing his squinted eyelashes. He could hear a distant fisherman laugh as he rested his bare arms on the beams connecting the pontoons to the kayak and let his head wobble against the hull as waves bumped by. While they struggled with the motor throttle to maintain the correct drift, Rich let the wind and the tide carry his kayak meter by meter toward Gasparilla Sound. The boy would have looked like Christ on the Cross drifting by if not for the sleepy smile across his lips. It only took a few minutes for the combined tide and wind to push the kayak into the shallow water at the mouth of the channel, and Rich noticed the water calm underneath the craft. He leaned forward and grabbed the rod only to have it torn from his hands. The entire rod flew forward and would have gone overboard had the grip not caught on the edge of his seat. He launched his hands forward in time to recover the rod, only for the rod to almost pull him out of the boat. Rich slid forward into the cockpit of the kayak and jammed his bare feet against the footholds. The rod again tried to tear from his 34 / VLR

Profile for Virginia Literary Review

Virginia Literary Review: Spring 2017  

Virginia Literary Review: Spring 2017  

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