Under The Birds

The trash bag enveloped the fish guts, any last romantic hope of grand escape forever dissipated. An extra large bag lay on the ground awaiting to dispose of another bag and itself with it.

Idiot seagulls, frenzied, diving and grabbing bits of Styrofoam or poking at a wayward bobbing device. A mirage, sea birds in the distance, up and down, diving at each other, alas but on a shallow shoal. These are the anomalies. A “bird work” was a sign that fish were at hand. Manic  seagulls pounding the ocean’s surface for debris of fish left from the bigger feeding fish well below the surface. As a clockwork, if one could follow the birds one could catch the fish below.

The three men moved quickly as if in formation with neatly pressed khaki fishing attire. They appeared to have just departed from an aquaplane. Hovering over the cleaning station with their fishing rods righted against their shoulders as rifles, they inspired nervousness in the fishermen they looked upon. That nervousness would soon transform into dread.

“Where’d you catch ’em?” questioned the squat, stocky leader of the three. The mustached white man wore a crisp cap without any insignia. The 6-foot-4 black fisherman at his side wore a crisp and clean white Stetson. There was an immediate sense that these three “fishermen” must actually be game wardens. Craig hoped the singular skinny trout laying on the cutting board in plain view would somehow be ignored. The observers stared at Craig, the cutting board, at the remains, at the filet knife and back around again, nodding their heads in apparent mock approval. “Bird work in the bay,” came the answer.

“Yeah? We just did a bird work in Houston a week ago,” flatly and expertly stated the leader of the aquaplaners with the enthusiasm of someone who would rather be driving and not fishing.  His comment was stupefying; far away from Houston, whatever birds were working a week ago would not be working now. Only now did Craig notice that the tall man had a crappie jig neatly affixed to the tip of his fishing rig, which he now appeared to hold unnaturally outward as if on display. For saltwater fishing, this lure was not even a proper bait to use. Unnerved, Craig wondered what these men were really doing here.


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