Joe C's Story: Chapter 5
“All right, git on up the’ah!” Joe C points.
Stevie’s already shimmying up the nearest pile. His bare feet grasp each knot on the smooth, bark-less pole. A bulky coil of tarred hemp draped over his right shoulder, heading for a block hanging from its spindly top.
Stevie climbs the net’s mesh as if it were a rope-ladder. Threads new line. Scrambles all the way around to the other side of the Bowl from where the Nellie & Mary is tied. These saplings are much thinner than stout wharf pilings. The net sways and shakes. Shudders to his passing. Vibrations telegraph all the way around its perimeter.
Josey hauls on the anchor lines. Grapples for stray gear visible on green-rippled sand a dozen feet below their keel. Clear water magnifies everything on the bottom. Shells and pebbles loom and wobble across his vision as if painted on the underside of ripples riding atop pulsing wavelets. Sammy manhandles the new net. Pulls home on a halyard, a brace. Antone sees to it that
each line runs free. Prepares for the next task before its called for.
Joe C barks orders. Demands they do what’s already half-done. Curses when they meet a snag. His temper carries him from his spot aft by the wheel high-up onto the net-pile. He bounces off Sammy, trying to shove his immovable bulk aside. Intent on replacing the young man’s brawn with his own cranky will. Sammy continues to do the lion’s share of the hauling, pulling, and lifting while allowing Joe C his illusions of mastery.
The sun sets behind them. The net gathers the deepening indigo gloom. Torn netting replaced. Its Heart repaired. Sammy glows with the heat of his exertions. Stevie yawns. Reaches for their bow-line looped around a nearby piling. Josey catches this yawn like an infection. It spreads across his placid face. Antone looks the same as always, husbanding his strength. He holds his exhaustion close. His effort is a marathon. His race measured in decades.