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Fisherman And The Gringo
A small-town fisherman has an interesting encounter in a cantina.
Tony De Lima
|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (1)
The Old Man (Short Stories) A story on the end of a great man's life. [775 words]
Fisherman And The Gringo
Tony De Lima
The Fisherman and the Gringo
By Anthony de Lima
It was a small town. It had little electricity, sandy streets, stray dogs and salty air. It had little running water and an unimpressive statue of Madero.
Two old men sat in overused plastic Corona chairs with thick glasses and dusty clothes. They spoke softly. They were reminiscing and comparing the new with the old,
occasionally pointing to a passing car or fruit cart with dogs following like hungry gulls. A warm bread and flour smell emanated from a small corner tortilleria.
Two young ladies, bathed in the afternoon sunlight, pouring in from the wide, open doors facing the marina, rolled and pounded dough. They chewed gum noisily with their mouths open.
A small, dirty dog slept along the wall in a comfortable orange glow of the setting sun. Looking out from the tortilleria the marina was beginning to fill up. Larger boats first;
they were farther out to sea and had to return early to unload. The marina was nothing more than a protective jetty and a sandbar-shallow bottom. Only two docks and a sunken,
rusted trawler resided there. On a lamp post next to the dock hung a sign that read “Biev nidos a la Cruz d Huan caxtl .” It had been weathered quite badly.
Seagulls rested on pilings. Pelicans stood guard. A small motorboat made its way into the marina. It wasn’t a large boat nor was it a small boat.
The siding was worn and peeling and was tiller-steered. “Mariequita” was painted on the side. Inside the boat, nets piled high, soaking wet, overflowing with fish and hanging
over the edge. The afternoon sun was red and tickled the waves on the horizon. Clouds above were pink and blue and red at once. Domingo, the fisherman,
heaved out a load of snapper from his boat as light faded. His face was hardened from the sea; he had a bristly moustache and soft eyes. His hands were callused and rough.
He had dark skin form the countless hours under the Mexican sun. Bits of salt lined his arms and back. Domingo finished unloading, threw on a shirt and walked to town.
The tortilleria was closed. The plastic Corona chairs were empty. The fluorescent street lamps flickered violently on and the bugs of night danced around them.
A faint beat of a cumbia band could be heard coming from the cantina. It was a small cantina, just an old wood door in a colorful wall. It was a bare cantina. The bar
was basic with mismatching bar stools and the paint was peeling in places along the wall and had three or four naked bulbs dangling from wires on the ceiling. Domingo walked
in and ordered a beer. He drank it with fervor. Domingo ordered another beer and enjoyed it slowly, with lime. Two stools away were a gringo and his wife. He looked at them over
his bottle as he drank. The gringo took a stool next to Domingo and Domingo eyed him questioningly.
“Hello,” said the gringo “I’m Robert and this is my wife Megan.” His wife smiled half-heartedly.
“Hey, Domingo, mucho gusto.” He said, shaking Robert’s soft yet firm hand.
“I saw those fish you caught today.”
“Oh yes? You like to feesh?”
“Me? Oh no,” Robert chuckled to himself “I am a business man.”
“Ah,” Domingo grunted as he sipped his beer. For it is common knowledge that most small-town working men fear the exploitation and rape of their business.
“Usted es un ‘business man.’” Domingo muttered with little enthusiasm.
“Yes, I’m here on vacation with my wife.” Robert explained. There was a short pause in which Robert sipped his tequila. “How long does it take you catch the fish?”
“Only a little while.” Domingo replied with a fisherman’s flair.
“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” Robert asked with serious intrigue.
“I make enough money to support my family’s-” he searched for the word in English but was unable “-necesidades.” He replied proudly and somewhat defensively.
There was a short pause. Domingo ordered another beer. He squeezed a lime into the bottle. He offered Robert a beer. He politely declined.
By now the cumbia band had finished its last song and was packing up. Only the two old men sat at a round table with their backs against the decaying wall.
It was late. Another young couple was whispering excitedly. Robert’s wife got up to leave and kissed him goodnight. He said he would be along shortly. Robert turned to Domingo,
“What do you do when you aren’t fishing?”
Domingo thought for a second then replied slowly and pensively, “Bueno, I go home, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria; in the evenings I go to the
plaza, sip some tequila with my friends and play guitarra.” He strummed an imaginary guitar.
“You could make more money, Domingo.” Domingo merely stared vacantly at Robert. He continued, “You could stay out longer and catch more fish.” He paused.
Robert licked his lips and continued slowly, “With the proceeds from your fish-”
“How do you know all this?” Domingo interrupted.
“Oh, well, you see, I’m a Harvard MBA.” Domingo wore a puzzled expression. “I, uh, I help people make money.” After a short while he continued.
“With the proceeds from your fishing you could buy a larger boat. From the earnings of that boat you could buy an entire fleet of fishing vessels. You would no longer sell
to a middleman; you would sell directly to the processor. You would control processing and distribution.” Robert took a breath and sipped the end of his tequila. He resumed,
“Of course you would have to leave here.” He gestured around the room. “You would have to move to Mexico City to control your expanding company, Miami then of course New York.”
They stared at each other for a minute or so.
“And how long would all of this take?”
“Oh, fifteen, twenty years maybe.”
“And then what?”
“Well, I guess you would offer an IPO and sell your company.”
“Then after that, what?”
“Well, I don’t know, retire I guess. You could play with your children, take siestas, drink tequila and play guitar.”
Domingo lifted his beer, smiled at Robert and drained his beer. He paid Robert’s tab, got up and left.
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© 2006 Tony De Lima
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