This is not a well-thought-out entry. It’s an entry formed from emotion – and I just needed to spill it out to the Universe while it is bubbling up inside me – before it eats me up and spits me out.
I’ve been told I’m a drama queen. So be it. Maybe I am. Never mind that now. And I will try to be concise.
Just as a background to this short story, I’d like people to know what goes into a day of lobstering for a single-pot lobsterman in the unpredictable seas of New England. A typical day, if you will, in the life of someone like, say, my Paul.
While I am in my bed snoozing away at around 4 a.m. every morning, he is just waking to the realization that it’s time to get up. (I am not a morning person – I am usually just having my first real sleep of the night by this point as I tend to lay awake all night unable to fall asleep until around 4). But Paul gets up then. He washes up and goes down and lets the dogs out and in, feeds the dogs their breakfast, lets them out and in again and cleans up his dishes.
Then he makes his lunch, always peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, a piece of fruit, maybe a cookie if I’ve made any, and a jug of water. He packs that all away in his little lunchbox that looks like a little cooler and out into the world he goes in his truck, around about 4:45 or 5 a.m.
Every few days this routine is interrupted by his need for bait, and on those days he has to head north on the highway, down to Gloucester, some 25 miles away, to get his bait. He also has to stop at the gas station and fill up his gas cans for the boat unless he plans on getting his petrol at the harbor.
So 25 miles down, 25 miles back. Down to the harbor and he loads it all up in his dinghy and rows out, in the silent still of a Marblehead morning, to his waiting lobster boat. MUSICA (Marblehead Morning)
Now some days his boat will start right up. But there are other days, and they are not few-and-far-between either, when some damn thing will be wrong and he’ll have to spend precious time fixing it, if he can. If he can’t, then he has to find a helper at the boatyard to come down and have a look. All this means time wasted and usually a sweaty, greasy job.
Off he goes. Out around the point of The Neck over to where he has his traps, on the ocean side of the town.
His day goes along, all the time the boat is idling while he’s working – and he’ll usually eat his little lunch while he’s motoring over to a new set of traps… and won’t stop and eat leisurely. That is not in his nature. He is a worker-bee.
Since spring, the lobster catch has been horrible. He’ll spend all that time and money fishing for an entire day and will come home with 12 lobsters… or 15 or 20… Hey, some days he gets 30 or 40 and he is elated. I remember when we first started dating, he was coming home with 80, 90, or 100 lobsters a day! Not any more.
So at between 15 and say 35 or 40 lobsters per day, average, over the last few months, do you see how long it would take for him to fill up a “crate” of lobsters? A crate holds, oh I don’t know, maybe 80 lobsters… maybe more or maybe less, I just never counted. But it’s a big empty wire mesh box that he stores his “bugs” in.
To make this long story shorter, you can see what a huge effort it is for him to make a living. I am retired and only have my social security, and Paul has the majority of the bills to pay here. We are not starving or anything, I’m just saying it is a hard way to earn a living wage.
Today, our 4th of July holiday, Paul scheduled himself to sell lobsters to the public twice, once from 10 to noon, and again from 2 to 5 pm. I’m glad of this because the weather isn’t great and I’d rather have him selling down there on land than being out on the water in a potential storm.
So the day has passed quietly here for me and the dogs. I watched Wimbledon tennis and have been disappointed in both matches (men) but doing other stuff at the same time. I had told Paul to take his phone with him before he left earlier, and he came back and got it, just in case he wanted to call me for some reason.
I did get a call from him at around noontime. He told me he would not be home for lunch, that he was eating it there and he was kind of busy selling bugs. I was disappointed, not to see him for lunch, but that’s fine. Then he lowered the news on me…
He said that when he went down to get two of his crates of lobsters from up out of the harbor water, they were gone. Now I’m not sure if he said the actual crates were “gone” or if they were “empty” – but it matters not… someone or some people came in the night, while I was sitting down in my basement with the dogs hiding out from the wild thunder/lightning storm that was going on overhead, and stole two whole crates of lobsters that Paul had spent probably two weeks catching.
I am seeing red today. I told him to call the cops, and he said he would report it to them on his way home. He was busy selling bugs. I hope he does. He tends not to sometimes but the last few times he has been missing bugs, he has reported it. Not that it will do any good. They never catch the bastards (‘scuse my French) and he never gets them back.
This has totally ruined an otherwise quiet and peaceful day for me here. Paul has been busy so it probably hasn’t set in yet, although I can just imagine that he is quietly seething, too.
So Mr. and Mrs. Public out there who happen to see some creepy guys selling lobsters that don’t seem to be regular lobstermen over on Marblehead, take note who they are and maybe write down their license plate… they have probably stolen those bugs and are making a nice little profit today by selling them, like ticket scalpers… when they did NOTHING to earn them. Not all the worry and sweat and greasy hands and early mornings and long days that my Paul has put in for them.
You are what I wipe off my shoes when I come in from the front yard where my dogs do their business… that is what YOU are!
Oh great! Now I hear thunder again. It’s dark outside and it’s only 2 pm. We are getting another thunder storm. Paul is just started his afternoon shift of selling… and it’s starting to rain, as well. Isn’t life beautiful?
Seeing Red, and not the Red-White-&-Blue Variety!
Another version of “Marblehead Morning”: