I Was a Fish-killing Fool

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Part Nine: Full Prime Beauty

Postby Marvell » Sun Mar 16, 2008 1:11 pm

The second trip on the Amfish was much easier than the first. For one thing, I didn't have to deal with seasickness this time; my sea-legs were inappreciably diminished by the three days on shore. Poor Okie Terry never got over it; for 90 straight days he was seasick, which is just mind boggling to me. That dude was hard.

Also, I got my big promotion - from now on, Daryl and I ran the heading machines on our shift; I got to operate the stylee one with all the bells and whistles, and Daryl braved the naked blade with his metal-gauntleted hands.

I got good at beheading fish with a Marlboro stuck in the crook of my lips, like Bogie or Belmondo; the curling smoke gave me a badass squint, and I thought - I have never been cooler in my life.

In the mess hall, during meals and after shift, Al C. was coming out of his shell. Turns out the quiet thing, as with everything Al C. did, was a stratagem - he was, by nature, profoundly garrulous.

I would be hard pressed to fit every memorable Al C. quote into multiple volumes, much less a single post - but one stands out:

One time Al C. was arguing with this other guy Oscar (who came on the boat towards the end) about cunnilingus. Oscar was expressing his utter contempt for this disgusting and unmanful act, an attitude which Al C. found astounding: with a smirk of profound lewdness Al C. said, "I like peanut butter - and jelly too!"

I still don't know what the hell that means in a literal sense. But at the level of poetry I knew exactly what he meant.

Al C. was from Brooklyn, originally - a basketball scholarship first took him to Alaska, and when his hoops career was over (never clear exactly why, but I got the sense it wasn't a completely savory affair) military service kept him there. He had been married at some point, and he told tales of great, if fleeting, business success - but easy come, easy go. And now he was reduced to working the fishing boats, a downward career trajectory Al C. seemed to take in stride; he was constantly telling us about his various schemes to make it back to the top.

Hell, Al C. was constantly telling us something, every minute of the day. It got to the point where I just tuned him out; he was like white noise.

And I threw down with him once; I forgot what the hell he was yapping about, but I was trying to get something frustrating accomplished and he wasn't helping. And finally I turned around and standing on my tip-toes I put my face as close to his as I could.

"You wanna do this, Al?" I asked, with the exaggerated politeness I display when I'm completely furious. "Is this your thing, that you want to do?"

Al C. looked at me very calm, and slowly backed his 6'3" and 235# away. "Nah - it's cool G," he said softly. "You got it."

My new cabin-mate was a twitchy little dirtball guy - he may have also been a Daryll, or a Darrell - frankly, I forget. He was a 'combie' - a combination deckhand/factory worker. If there was deckhand shit to do he got to go do that, which was more fun. But if they didn't have anything for him to do he had to come down into the hold and pack fish. I didn't really see enough of him to gain much of a lasting impression, but he seemed like a good egg; among other things, he let me use his walkman when he wasn't there (the cheap one I had broke down almost immediately); and so at the end of a hard day of fish killing I used to put on that Ocasek album, jack off to my memories of the various girls I had loved; and then trip on off to sleep, sliding at peace into the glistening romantic darkness:

But I still feel the same
Lost like tears in the rain

I love the mystery of you

With the crew I was relaxed and confident; I was the go-to guy - when something difficult or strenuous was required, or some extra-effort put forward; when someone needed to take a break because of injury or exhaustion, and needed someone to cover for them, I was the man. And jokes I made, or observations I put forward, quickly became part of the boat's culture.

For one thing, I was the official keeper of time left to served.

As I whiled away the merry hours whacking the heads off of fish, in my mind I endless divided and subdivided 90 days - the length of our contract- by various sub-units of time. So that at any point in the day I could rattle off all kinds of percentages and ratios - how many days left, hours left; what percentage of the contract had we already served, what percentage had left to serve; what percentage of the total time left to serve did today's shift represent. I was the omniscient oracle of our increasing itchiness - to get paid, and to get the hell off the Amfish.

But it wasn't quite to the level of desperation, yet - in fact, that trip, with that crew, was almost enjoyable.

When my brothers and I were small I invented an imaginary singing group, like the Beatles only made up entirely of anthropomorphic cats. It just seemed like the next logical conclusion - I had seen The Banana Splitz on TV, and I loved The Beatles and I loved cats. I named the band "The Kitty Chorus" (already a copywriter at five), and I told my brothers about it, which turned out to be a genius move - they got it immediately. And since there were four of us, and there were four Beatles, we immediately made up our different rocking cat avatars, and then started designing albums.

We got markers and scissors and construction paper, and started making little crafty facsimiles of record albums, with track listings and liner notes on the back and everything, and while the first few 'albums' were made on black construction paper in a workman-like gesture towards verisimilitude, the more mature Kitty Chorus albums feature a wild assortment of colors to their display of 'vinyl.'

My oldest brother Gordon - whose fabulous feline alter ego sported the unlovely moniker 'Balpo' - was responsible for the fabrication of most of the Kitty Chorus albums. Among them is Balpo's solo album, Full Prime Beauty.

And that's what I think of when I think of that second trip on the Amfish; I think of glorious long evenings standing on the deck, watching the Aleutians drifting by and the dolphins racing off the bow. I think about the one time I watched a pod of orca, not fifty yards away, doing tail stands and all the things they dangle fish over them for at Sea World - only in this case, it being the whale's idea.

And I think of what I was becoming that summer, what was burning away in the forge of experience, and what remained.

Full Prime Beauty, baby. Life was making me strong.

[End of Part nine]
Last edited by Marvell on Sun Mar 16, 2008 4:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Darthcrank » Sun Mar 16, 2008 1:51 pm

Good stuff Marvell.
I'm re-thinking eating fish for dinner though.
Out of curiousity, did working the fish boat ruin your appetite for fish?

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Postby Pogoagogo » Sun Mar 16, 2008 2:33 pm

Loving this Marvell.

I'm going to miss it when it's complete.

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Postby Marvell » Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:33 pm

Darthcrank wrote:I'm re-thinking eating fish for dinner though.

Out of curiosity, did working the fish boat ruin your appetite for fish?

Not really - I never really liked fish much, even as a kid.

There were exceptions - pan-fried alpine trout for breakfast or late dinner when backpacking, for instance. But fish has just never been a thing I dug.

I like shrimp, clams and some scallops - the small, flavor-full kind. I had some fried scallops at The Great Dane once and they were these giant, inedible lumps of fatty matter - I don't know if they're breeding the giant rat-demon scallop of Borneo in a desperate effort to feed the American scallop market or what, but as a tasty scallop it was a no-go.

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Postby nickled&dimed » Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:51 pm

Ned Flanders wrote:Unlike most of Marvell's posts, this is actually interesting.

Don't leave out the part about shore leave and hookers when you get to that portion of the story.

Yes, don't forget the part of the story when you first met Ned.

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Re: Part Nine: Full Prime Beauty

Postby donges » Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:14 am

Marvell wrote:he told tales of great, if fleeting, business success - but easy come, easy go. And now he was reduced to working the fishing boats, a downward career trajectory Al C. seemed to take in stride; he was constantly telling us about his various schemes to make it back to the top.

Hell, Al C. was constantly telling us something, every minute of the day. It got to the point where I just tuned him out; he was like white noise.

Al C. is Sheppy?!?

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Part Ten: A Question of Comic Genius

Postby Marvell » Mon Mar 17, 2008 3:28 pm

So - it didn't take us anywhere near as long to fill up the freezer the second time around, and by the last week of June we were back in Dutch, and offloading.

Once the offload was done there was another round of comings and goings. Most significantly the whole Maine crew left; so all of a sudden we had a new skipper, and a new first mate.

We also lost Walt; he just decided he didn't feel like fishing anymore, so one day he packed up his stuff and walked off the boat.

And the foreman left, which lead to a brief controversy regarding who would replace him. They ended up giving the job to weaselly-looking Bob, and a lot of people started telling me that I would replace Bob as the shift leadworker. Well, a lot of people were wrong; they never replaced Bob. Crystal Products had been careful to replace the Maine Captain with someone a little more pliant, and all of a sudden the Amfish was awash in various 'cost-saving' measures - all of which seemed some variation on penny wisdom and its handmaiden, pound foolishness.

But perhaps most spectacular of all was the public meltdown and subsequent self-banishment of Bill the Cook.

Now, apart from his over-reliance on the open-faced turkey sandwich as a dietary staple, I never really had anything against Bill. But one morning while we were still in Dutch I came up to the mess and Al C. was sitting at a table holding a little hand-held tape recorder; he kept playing the same recording over and over again and laughing to himself.

"What you got there, Al?" I asked, mildly curious.

Al gave me a conspiratorial wink. "I was in here last night, just clowning around with my recorder here. And I did a little interview with Bill."

Al pressed play; on the tape one could here an audibly impaired Bill reacting, with increasing impatience, to Al C.'s badgering; finally Bill came clean:

"Whenever I see you coming, I say to myself - negro, you're going to rip me off."

That's the passage Al C. kept playing, over and over again:

"Negro...you're going to rip me off."

Pretty soon we were all saying it - "Negro, you're going to rip me off" became the unofficial motto of the Amfish. Ask someone to pass the salt, and you could expect them to give you a funny look and reply, "Negro, you're going to rip me off." Of if you tried to bum a smoke off of someone - "Negro, you're going to rip me off." I was probably called a 'negro' at least a hundred times in the first week or so after Bill's little faux pas.

Bill, alas, was not around to share in the hilarity he had generated; humiliated, he seemed to slink off into the darkness without leaving a trace behind.

In his place stepped the little bearded honky who joined us after the first offload - I contemptuously christened him "The Galley Dwarf," which, to his great displeasure, quickly became his de facto name. I felt a little bad about it at first, until Al C. told me his story about The Galley Dwarf's shore leave party.

It seems Al C. and The G.D. had worked together on one of the big commercial crab processors over the winter, and when they finally got off the boat The G.D. had approached Al C. about scoring some coke and some hos.

Now, it is inherently offensive to African-Americans when Caucasian-Americans assume that, because you are black, you intrinsically know where to find coke and hos. So, despite the fact that Al C. did, indeed, know the hookup for coke and hos, he decided he was going to run a little game at The G.D.'s expense.

So Al C. called a 'good-time girl' of his acquaintance, and had her meet him and The G.D. at a room at the Unisea. Now, Al C. had already scored the coke, but The G.D. didn't know that - so Al C. kept saying, 'Oh, I've got this guy coming over - make yourself scarce for ten minutes.' And while The G.D. was out of the room Al C. and the ho would do more of the coke.

Finally Al C. figured he'd strung The G.D. along long enough, so he gave him what was left of the coke. The G.D. ended up getting so strung out on the white stuff that The G.D. had extreme E.D., if you know what I'm saying and I think you do. So Al C. ended up enjoying the professional services that The G.D. had paid for, in addition to most of the drugs he had asked him to buy.

I had to admit that it was nicely played by Al C., and since it was hard to really think of The G.D. as being a victim in the anecdote it mostly served just to cement my contempt for his Dwarfness.

With Bob as the new foreman, and with the new skipper, I found my contempt being spread pretty thin.

Our new Captain was an ass; it took me about a minute to come to that conclusion. We were all sitting in the mess watching Raw, when in came the new Captain. The new Captain was in his early to mid-fifties, and looked more than a little like Ted Turner; he watched us watching Raw for a couple minutes, then sniffed and loudly announced that Eddie Murphy was overrated.

Al C. took exception to this. "Naw, man - he's a comic genius."

The skipper scoffed. "Not a chance. Now Richard Pryor - he's a comic genius."

So the two of them went back and forth about this for about a half an hour, until everyone else had long since abandoned the mess hall out of annoyance and boredom.

And to this day the easiest way to annoy me is refer to anyone other than Buster Keaton or Jacques Tati as a comic genius.

I mean, I'm as hyperbolic as the next guy. But some shit is just wrong...
Last edited by Marvell on Mon Mar 17, 2008 10:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Part Eleven: Once Again Into the Breach

Postby Marvell » Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:59 pm

When we left Dutch Harbor for the third time I was painfully short - I had not even three weeks left on my contract.

That turned out to be mercy, because those last seventeen days were the toughest of the whole trip. Little did we know it, but we were about to descend into mackerel hell.

Up until this point we had fished mostly for flatfish - greenland turbot; arrowtooth, with the occasional idiot rockfish thrown in. And for a while we were catching pacific cod to sell for Burger King Whalers; cod was a hassle because they were too big to go through the header, so we had to collar cut them by hand. If you've ever seen any of the mid to late period Friday the 13th films you should have a basic sense of the collar cut; basically, slash the throat, then slit from asshole to chin - if executed properly, the collar cut will neatly eviscerate the fish in two quick movements, letting the guts and viscera slurp harmlessly away in the sluice chute.

Our new captain - the somewhat diminutive Ted Turner look-alike - had a new game plan; we were going to catch mackerel. And since mackerel was not a particularly lucrative fish, we would offset the low rate of return by processing a shit-load of mackerel.

All of a sudden we were working twenty hour shifts, followed by eight hours off and then back for another twenty. And we still couldn't process the fucking mackerel fast enough; the fish were rotting on the packing table, and the Japanese fishing crew were taking baskets of the yellow and black striped fish - like honey bees with fins - and dumping them overboard.

It was total fucking madness. All the ship's officers were made to don raingear and come help out at the packing table; at one point the Captain himself showed up, and made a big show about what a fish-packing badass he was.

I looked around - all the ship's officer's were accounted for. Which led to the inevitable question:

Who the fuck was piloting the boat?

I was once again filled with the unshakable conviction that I was about to die.

That night one of the new guys, a blond California surfer dude who told me a story about doing his girlfriend from behind in the middle of the crowd at the US Festival ('It was awesome!'), got me high - but all it did was make my mood fouler. To have come so close, to have survived so many trials and tribulations, and now to be at the mercy of this cut-rate Queeg was more than I could bear. That night I cried myself into a stuporous sleep of utter exhaustion and despair.

And in the night there was an Amfish miracle.

I forgot to set my alarm.

I never forgot to set my alarm - in 70+ days and counting I had never once failed to show up for my shift on time. But somehow, that morning, I missed it. And the guys let me sleep.

Now remember - everyone's tired; everyone's working their asses off. One less person on the shift makes a big difference, in how much you yourself have to shoulder.

And they let me sleep anyway.

Finally this one shifty, too-cool-for-school kid comes into my cabin - "Hey, get up you lazy shit! <ha ha ha>"

I was mortified, and quickly dressed. "Jesus - sorry about that," I muttered to Daryl as I assumed my position behind the header. "Why didn't you guys wake me up?"

Daryl didn't look up from his decapitating. "We just figured that if you didn't get up, then you still needed to sleep."

It would not be making too much of it to say that I have rarely received a gift that felt more precious, or more sincerely given, than those two extra hours of sleep during Mackerel Hell.

Our Pequod-esque pursuit of the cursed mackerel had led us, by this point, out to the very end of the Aleutian chain, and on or shortly before July 4th we crossed the International Date Line - and for the first time in my life I left the North American continent, being technically in Asia. And the Captain, showing up-till-now unsuspected glimmerings of coolness, gave us Independence Day off.

The last shift had brought up a good size halibut - nothing like the monster that menaced me, but still a hefty specimen. So they immediately dropped it into the freezer hold; an insanely illegal move - if the Coast Guard had come along at that point we would have been living in a world of shit.

But that's the beauty of being at the Edge of the World - no one just 'comes along.'

We did get a lone sea lion who came swimming up to the boat barking loudly, so while we got the grill set up on the deck we amused ourselves by tossing garbage fish from the factory deck overboard to our new pal the sea lion. He hung around for a couple hours - and then I guess he had some other hot, hot sea lion action to get to, because off he swam into the warm, sun-bathed horizon.

That night we grilled the halibut. As I've said, I'm not a fish man - but I had a halibut steak that was as big as my fist; no bones. One of the truly unfuckingbelievable food experiences of my life. That morning it had been swimming in the Bering Sea - it doesn't really get any fresher than that.

With about eight days left the Captain turned the boat around, and we started heading back up the Aleutian chain towards Dutch. Sometime around then one of us started doing a little calendar math and realized that our 90 day contracts would expire before we got back to the island of Unalaska.

So there was some drama about that. The Captain kept trying to convince us to stay on board all the way back to Dutch and help with the offload, but wasn't willing to pony up any more money - I guess we were supposed to do it out of the goodness of our hearts. But finally reason prevailed, and it was agreed that we would get dropped off on Atka, and would catch a flight to Anchorage from there.

I can't even begin to tell you how short I was the last couple of days. Jesus fucking god.

I did have time for one last Amfish miracle, though. On one of my last shifts on the boat I was down in the freezer hold and my Swiss Army knife fell out of my parka pocket and plummeted down under an enormous stack of frozen cod.

I was extremely pissed; I had gotten that knife in high school, had taken it backpacking in the Cascades, the Wind Rivers and the Sierras - I waxed rhapsodic in my wrath.

"Easy, sport," said this one laid-back local guy who had just come on board for this last trip, "Give me your home address and I'll ship it to you."

Yeah, right, I thought, but went ahead and gave him my parents' address.

Two months later a parcel showed up at my folks' place on Nicolet Drive; it had a Dutch Harbor return address. Inside was my knife.

My hat's off to that dude - he was as good as his word. I'm looking at the knife as I type this.

And then finally the day arrived. And those of us - we happy few - who had stuck out all 90 days of guts and horror and futility, we stuffed our stuff-sacks and rolled our bedrolls, and wandered out onto the deck.

My pal the Engineer's Assistant came out to see us off. The Chief was getting off with us, so until the Amfish got back to Dutch Harbor he would be The Chief; he didn't seem overly thrilled about the arrangement.

Al C. was sulking about something, and barely acknowledged our leaving; my last image is of him moping around in the mess, his hooded sweatshirt pulled up over his head.

Getting off the boat involved shimmying down a rope ladder into a wave-bobbed rubber skiff while carrying your luggage - which is not as easy as it sounds. I had helped myself to one of the wooden softball bats, as a souvenir, and it jutted clumsily out of my ruck sack, nearly tripping me with potentially disastrous results. But through slow and torturous effort we all found ourselves in the skiff, flying across Atka Bay towards the beach. And rather than pull up to a dock, the deckhand just ran us up aground on the sand; we clambered out, our feet wet in the surf, and humped our bags up the beach towards the landing strip. I dragged my bag past a sea otter skeleton, its bones bleached and polished smooth by the elements. And as we neared the landing strip a bald eagle zoomed low overhead.

If anyone wants an actual picture of what I'm talking about, here's a shot I found on the interwebs of Atka Bay.

After a while one of the villagers drove over on an ATV. We watched as he wordlessly turned on the lights for the landing strip, then drove off. Near the landing strip was a small wooden warming hut with a dirt floor; that was the terminal. It was a grey day, with a threat of drizzle, and we found ourselves offering prayers of encouragement to every weak shaft of sun that pierced the Aleutian gloom; our greatest fear was that our flight would cancel because of weather. But after what seemed like an eternity of agonized waiting the hum of twin plane engines distinguished itself from the roar of surf and howl of wind, and then we saw our flight emerge from the clouds and swoop down to collect us.

The pilot was all business, and went right to loading our baggage strategically in various compartments located around the body of the plane. "If there's too much stuff here, it gets left," he explained. He eyed my softball bat skeptically; "I don't think we're going to have room for that."

"Oh yes we are," I said, in a tone that made it clear that the subject was not open for debate.

He arched his eyebrows, but said mildly, "Whatever you say, champ" and tossed the bat into a space in the nose of the plane.

And then we were all aboard, all eight of us crammed into this tiny plane. And, skidding and shuddering, we sped down the runway and shot off into the darkening sky. We made a slow, looping turn around the Korovin Volcano, and then were swallowed by clouds.

But it was not the end - oh no. I had miles to go yet before I lay in an honest bed, to sleep the sleep of the just.

[End of part eleven]

Edited once to correct a slight misrepresentation of fish anatomy.
Last edited by Marvell on Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Part Twelve: The Long Slog Home

Postby Marvell » Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:10 pm

I was in agony during the descent into Anchorage. The sudden change in pressure made my head feel like it was going to explode, and I stumbled into the terminal at Anchorage airport in a pained daze.

We got to the Alaska Airlines desk, where we had been lead to believe there would be tickets waiting for us. The good people at Alaska Airlines didn't know anything about it.

That's when Army Lifer Tom's whiny persistence finally paid off; he got on the payphone with his calling card and went Tom Fu on pretty much the entire airline and fishing industries; he finally tracked down the secretary for Crystal Products at her home, where she was asleep in bed, and harassed her into getting up and calling the airlines.

In life I've learned you often have to take the good with the bad. In this instance, the good was that we had tickets on the 7:15 am flight to SeaTac. The bad was I had to spend the night in Anchorage Airport with eight dollars to my name.

Not a lot of sleep. About dawn I went for a walk along the pedestrian strip outside the terminal; on the northern horizon a fantastically-high wall of mountains soared - Denali. It's funny - essentially all the time I spent in Alaska the furthest east I got was Dutch Harbor; that night at the airport was really the only time I spent in what most people think of as 'Alaska.'

And at about 6:45 am we dragged ourselves blearily into line and staggered up to our gate. A sign behind the counter boldly stated: "WARNING! Do not carry your Sacred Ulu Knife on board the plane! If you have a Sacred Ulu Knife in your carry-on baggage, please give it to the counter attendant IMMEDIATELY!"

Apparently this was a big problem.

Finally it was my turn. I plopped my rucksack and backpack on the baggage scale, and proffered my ticket to the standard issue counterlady.

She looked at me askance. "Umm..sir? You do realize that there is no carry-on fish allowed on the plane?" she asked severely.

I smiled - my best, most charming smile. "I don't have any fish, ma'am," I said.

"Oh," she replied; then repeated, "Oh" as the full implications of what I had said filtered through into her consciousness. With palpable distaste she picked up my ticket, and gingerly extended it to me.

"Thanks," I said cheerily, and wafted my way down the gangway.

The plane was full of squares - tourists and commuters; we stuck out like eight sore, gamy thumbs. The best moment came when they finally offered beverage service, and The Chief ordered a Budweiser; as soon as it came he stood up in the aisle and, pivoting slowly, toasted us each in turn. We lustily hailed him back, to the clear discomfort of the other passengers; the nice business couple seated next to me shrank away, as if to avoid my contagion.

For a moment I felt how Sonny Barger must feel. It was awesome.

I forget what time it was when we landed in SeaTac, but it was a beautiful summer day in Western Washington. I couldn't get a hold of my brother (who was presumably off manning his coffee cart in front of the Tower Records at the base of Queen Anne Hill), and it quickly became apparent that no one from Crystal Products was going to show up to give us a ride, so Daryl and I decided to just say fuck it and walk to his brothers place in Tuckwilla.

So we grabbed our bags and set off; what was another five to seven miles of walking in the overall scheme of things? Just one last trial, and a downhill one at that.

As we walked along, we couldn't help jabbering on to each other about all the things that we had always taken for granted that seemed fantastical to us now. Along our route the great hedges of Himalaya berries were bearing fruit, and as we walked we would intermittently stop, brush away wasps, and gorge.

"It's just a little more - up this hill and then to the left," said Daryl, pulling me away from a cluster of particularly big and sweet berries.

I sighed, cinched up the waist belt on my pack and adjusted the weight of my rucksack across my shoulder. I was probably carrying over a hundred pounds.

"Lead on, man" I said. "I'll follow you anywhere."

Daryl stopped, and turned; he looked me in the eye. "I don't ask no man to follow me," he said. "Just walk beside me a pace."

It was pretty corny, but that's one of the most important things I learned on the Amfish - any dumb fuck can be cool; sincerity is hard.

We finally got to his brother's place - his brother wasn't home, but Daryl had a key already and let us in. Since it was his joint I let Daryl take the first shower; while I waited my turn I picked up his brother's copy of the latest Playboy lying on the coffee table and reminded myself why I was a heterosexual.

And then, finally, it was my turn in the shower.

I don't know how long I was in there, but it was a long, long time. I may have even used conditioner.

And when I finally got out of the shower I wiped the fog off the big bathroom mirror and looked at myself - really looked at myself - for the first time in three months.

I was huge; I looked like a hippie bouncer.

Finally I got through to Gordon, and he drove down and picked me up. Asking for a ride from Gor is never a problem; there is nothing the guy likes to do more in life than drive. And he took me back to his new pad; while I was in AK he had left his old digs in the U District and had moved up to Capitol Hill. Once I was there I got on the phone to Crystal Products and got the dilly-o, which went like this; I could stop down tomorrow and pick up a two hundred dollar advance. In two weeks I would get two-thirds of my take, and they would send the final third to my parents' address.

It was a pretty amazingly shitty deal, when you think about it - expecting someone to be able to make it in Seattle for two weeks on two hundred bucks. Fortunately I had my brother to crash with.

So there I was - still more or less broke, killing time on Capitol Hill. The thing about that was - back then, I had a lot of social anxiety under even the best of experiences. And here I was, fresh back from a situation where I saw nobody but the same forty to fifty people every day for three months, and suddenly living in one of the neighborhoods with the highest population density in the U.S.

I barely left the apartment the first week.

Daryl and I did get together for beers one afternoon up on Broadway. We shot the shit about this and that, and promised we would keep in touch.

I never saw or spoke to him again. I think about him from time to time, and I keep meaning to look him up the next time I'm in Seattle - but I'm always so busy, and there's so many people to see.

Maybe we could get an Amfish reunion going; next summer will be twenty years.

Jesus - that makes me feel old.

Not much else to tell; once I finally got paid I got a flight back to Green Bay and spent a few weeks hanging out and waiting for my last check to arrive. I wish I could say that I used the money wisely and that it was the beginning of all my good fortune, but the truth is I rapidly pissed it away and by October I was back at work in the kitchen, at Pasqual's this time. And, after another Madison winter thawed into spring, I was back in transit across the earth - on the Amtrak this time - headed for Seattle, and another shot at the easy money.

Which I'll tell you all about some other time. Right now I gotta rest - this writin' shit is hard work.


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Re: Part Twelve: The Long Slog Home

Postby fennel » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:21 am

Marvell wrote:[Fin]

Tish! That's French!


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Postby Pogoagogo » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:52 am


This story was so enjoyable to read. Thanks so much for sharing it! It really should be published.

This has proved to be the most interesting Daily Page thread I've ever read.


look about 1/3 down, the Crystal Products F/V Amfish still sails! I wonder if it is the same vessel.

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Postby snoqueen » Wed Mar 19, 2008 1:46 am

It HAS been published. Right here! That counts.

Thanks a whole lot. I enjoyed every word.

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Or 'CNR' for short...

Postby Marvell » Wed Mar 19, 2008 12:32 pm

snoqueen wrote:It HAS been published.


For the last year I've been watching both my parents struggling to find a publisher for their various projects. They're both easily my intellectual equal, and I would argue that Ma is my better as a prose stylist. And yet, they can't seem to impress anyone as being commercially viable.

Me? I just slap this shit up here and it's 'published.' That it is, by definition, a limited release isn't an issue - who would I rather have read this tract than my fellow forons?

Just call me a cultural neo-regionalist.

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Postby Marvell » Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:09 pm

So I finally got around to picking up a copy of this week's Isthmus, and was pleased/horrified to see my name leading off the 'This Week on The Daily Page' box.

As long as my boss doesn't put two and two together it's not a big deal. But I was bemused to see myself described as a 'foron fave.'

Foron fave? Moi?

I thought I was 'King of Assholes...'

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Postby Oprah » Mon Mar 24, 2008 6:47 pm

Marvell wrote:But I was bemused to see myself described as a 'foron fave.'

Foron fave? Moi?

I thought I was 'King of Assholes...'

I do not see the lack of congruency here. Most forons are either assholes, or if not assholes certainly have assholic tendencies, which means that being a "foron fave" is consistent with being a "King of Assholes".

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