Tuesday, March 13, 2012
My father Charlie by River Jordan
My father Charlie was a Gulf shrimper here in Texas and he liked to tell me about events that happened while he was out on the water. This is my interpretation of one such story from his point of view.
** The day was hot and still. There was no wind rippling the water and it was like looking at glass. I looked out toward the horizon looking for tell-tale signs of the shrimp that should be running, but all was unusually quiet on the water.
“Eh, Capi,” one of the deckhands called out. “We gonna take a clavaso.” The deckhands were laughing and carousing, enjoying the respite from the hard work. They wanted to go diving in the water to cool off.
“Simon,” I responded. They immediately threw off their shirts and dove into the water. They were grown men but when it came to time off from work, it was as if they had reverted back to childhood.
I watched them for a while, laughing at their antics.
The sunlight reflecting off the water would be blinding for most people, but I squinted my eyes just so and scanned the water once more.
Throwing off my shirt, I dove straight down into the cool, calm water of the Gulf. Almost immediately, my stomach cramped up as I felt an eerily familiar roughness scraping down my body. My brain screamed out a warning to get out of the water.
Unfortunately, my body was frozen in the dive but my brain registered that it was a huge shark. The shark skin roughened across my body from my shoulders to my thighs. It was the biggest I’d ever encountered.
Finally, my body snapped out of its paralytic state and I immediately scissored back up toward the surface of the water. I used the shark itself as leverage. As soon as I broke through the surface, I shouted out, “Tiburón!”
The others quickly scrambled onto the trawler.
I pulled myself up the side of the boat and onto the deck. The deckhands shouted out in Spanish to the shark as it swam toward the bow of the boat.
“¡Fuera de aquí! Get outta here!”
I thought to myself that the shark’s wake was almost the same as the wake of my trawler.
It swam off into the horizon and soon after, the shrimp came out from the deep. It was the best haul of the season.**