We just finished shoveling the driveway and sidewalks for the third time in three days. It looks like we’ll be doing it again before bed time.
I decided I need a little break, and if I can’t afford one I’ll imagine one. There’s something I always wanted to try…..(Cue weird swirly music for a scene change)
I drove the truck down a muddy two track through the swamp. The humidity in here was like a weight on my chest. The forest ended and clean white sand stretched before me for two hundred yards.
I pulled up next to a jeep; one of the old kind that still had a tailgate. The tailgate was down and a girl waited on it. She had flawless caramel colored skin that glistened with sweat. She’d tied a scarf around her bikini bottom, and her swimsuit top was two sizes too small.
“You that boy from up North?” She asked.
“Yes,” I held out my hand. “You must be Ghislaine.”
“Uh huh.” She shook my hand. “You buy the net I told you ’bout in my letter?”
“Yes.” I lifted the little bucket from the bed of the truck. I felt like such a rookie with the price tag still on it.
Ghislaine popped the top off the bucket and lifted out my net. She inspected it and spread it in a circle across the sand. She bundled it up with a twist and put it over her shoulder, the rope across her opposite arm. She tucked the end of the rope in her teeth.
When she twisted back and swung forward I wished I’d had a camera. Her flawless skin, athletic build and motion looked like classical sculpture.
“Pay attention to the net this time. I’ll show you again, then you try. If you don’t do it right it won’t open,” she said.
I watched closely and thought I was ready. She helped me load the net and coil the rope. When I let loose, it landed in a clump about four feet from me.
After some coaching she had me throwing it further. It managed to open every third time too.”
“I brought some good local beer, like your letter said. I threw in some kit to cook ’em up too.” She turned toward me and said, “If you manage to catch some. Well, what ya staring at? The sea bobs are all in the water, not here on the beach.”
She gave me a floating basket to put my shrimp in and pointed at the water.
It was hot, but the thick humidity ended at the forest. The air could move out here, and the Gulf was cool on my legs and waist.
After about six tries, my net opened perfectly. I let it drop and hauled it in. There was a shrimp. I plucked him out and put him in my basket. On the next cast, I saw Ghislaine coming toward me against the flames of the campfire she’d started.
She took the wrap off her swimsuit and tied it around her long black hair. Her top wasn’t the only part of the swimsuit that was tiny. “You’re too early yet. They’ll come in a half hour, maybe an hour. Besides you need the practice.”
My net floated against a flawless blue sky as it opened perfectly. It splashed into a beautiful calm ocean and I pulled it back in. Her hand touched my back.
“White boys burn up out here.” She rubbed coconut scented lotion across my back.
I quivered at her touch and opened my net. “Got another one, and some kind of fish.”
“Put ’em in the basket.”
“Is it legal to keep the fish?”
“Maybe, but sole’s good. We cook him with the rest.” She took out a slice of bread and wadded it into a ball, then threw it in front of me. “In about ten minutes, try to catch the bread in your net.”
I turned around and cast the other direction for a bit. Ghislaine threw another ball and said, “Go catch the first one.”
This time I had over a dozen fat shrimp in my net.
“Twice more in the same place. Then fish the other bait.”
When my basket was full we waded ashore.
“Makin’ us my momma’s marecage.” She made a wry smile and said, “You might want that beer to cool it down some.”
I grabbed the growler out of her Jeep and filled a couple plastic Solo cups. The food smelled like heaven as I leaned against a huge piece of driftwood and waited.
The sunset added a pink glow to what was already the most beautiful place ever. The seafood was hot, so hot I had tears trickling down my cheek. It didn’t seem to bother her at all. I washed it down with cold beer and wiped the sweat from my forehead.
“Is it good?” She asked. Her long arms were sprawled along her own driftwood, her legs stretched out against the white sand, and the setting sun lighting her like a professional photographer would.
My mouth was on fire, but it was about the best shrimp I’d ever had. I held out the paper plate and said, “Oh yeah, hit me again and pass the beer.”