The Twilight of Men
Hayward Fault Line Winner
The men are grunting in the twilight, all in a huddle, dragging some great burden across the gray rocks from the sea which has just begun to turn from turquoise to lavender. The car is rusted and an ugly yellow-green, nothing like apples. It has a hatch door in the back which they open to lift and stuff this body inside.
It is not a man, for sure. I see this now. It is a fish, and it is a big one. As big as a man, if he lay flat on his back, his arms stretched out the width of these fins, which touch the door handles. It shines and gleams. The men's faces shine with sweat and gleam, too.
They are grinning in respect. They grunt in pleasure and slap the fisherman on the back in hearty laughter. He stands high, his back arched like a chieftain conversing with a god in the heavens. He wipes back a thick dread of hair. It is sprinkled with white, like the salt that crusts the meat of his hands.
I can imagine him out there all day. Gazing up at the blaring sun, the crystalline waves gently slapping the bright blue and red of his boat. Did he pray this morning in a chapel in Port-au-Prince where the fisherman have prayed for centuries? Or at the shrine made of shells by the window that gets a morning shaft of light in his home? Did he kick through the baby powder beach sand at dawn, gazing out at the islands of the world, wondering what their fishers would catch, too? Did he imagine his dreams would come so true?
The men are resting now, sitting in the earth, leaning on the tires of the car, huffing deep breaths. The fisherman pulls out a jug of rum from behind the driver's seat. He unscrews the top and passes it around. The men swig deep and toast to him.
He will not get home early, but before the fish spoils, that is for sure. His wife will curse at him that he has soiled the car seats. He will want to take her in his smelly arms, the big fisherman home with his spoils. In the old days, if he were to go back in existence, she would have succumbed to him. But she is a modern woman now, and she will pass him the yellow plastic bucket, chiding him that he and the car must be perfect before she will let him touch her. He will want to choke her, but instead he will stroke her hair, hoping some day she will remember some of who he is.