I picked a flower from one of the pots that guarded the entrance to the wharf. It was a droopy, yellow thing with pulpy orange stamens, and it amused me for the amount of time it took to walk to the pier.
“Amazes me what people will use for bait,” I said, as I approached a place I knew the fisherman could hear me. His large flat yellow hat twitched.
“A fat old march fly is all you ever need,” said a voice from under the hat. It was a woman’s voice. I must admit I stepped back in surprise. And not much surprises me.
I crushed the yellow flower in my fist and, for a reason I’ll never know, bent down and stuffed it into the side of my shoe.
“They say whitebait’s on the way back,” continued the woman, “but that’s wishful thinking, and don’t you know it.”
I finger-combed my hair, and it felt as brittle as a bunch of wheat-stalks. “How do you catch a fat old march fly?” I asked her.
“Simple,” she said. “Just leave a dead fish out for him.”
I chuckled, but the effort caught in my throat. Laughter, I suppose, was about as common for me as biting my tongue. “Seems to me it’s one of those vicious cycles,” I said, squinting my eyes up, redundantly, to stare out over the blackened bay.
“Nothing vicious about it,” said the fisherwoman. “Just the same old way life perpetuates.”
“I suppose it is,” I said, then I added, “Mind if I join you?”
She tapped the spot next to her on the dock, and I sat down beside her, with my feet dangling off one edge of the world.