So on this final pass, the 50th or 60th time I had gone through the motions, I expected no more than the permit spooking off or, at best, ignoring the bait. But miraculously, as my crab plopped into the water a few feet away from the unattainable creature, it turned and swam purposefully toward it.
A small choir of angels burst into song and cherubim trumpeted all over the lagoon. "He's going to take it!" I choked, and then, praise the Lord, my line was screaming off the reel and Art was on his feet yelling, "Keep the rod high! Keep the rod high!"
"Everything is under control," I told him, an acute trembling seizing my knees. I calmed down sufficiently to glance around. No hazards. No trailing mangroves near enough to bother me. If the hook hold was good, this permit was mine.
The pace of the run slackened, and tentatively I started to feel for the fish, dropping my finger down onto the edge of the spool to brake it a little. I increased the modest pressure slightly. Yes, I could turn him now!
He turned, in fact, somewhat more easily than I would have expected. I put some more pressure on. The fish answered with a short run that died quickly. So this was one of these celebrated permit, eh? The boys at home were quite right. Absurd, the way these American anglers build up a species out of all proportion. Confidently, I gave the fish the full power of the rod.
And as I brought the fish easily to the skiff, taking its full weight for the first time, an awful suspicion began to dawn on me, a suspicion confirmed when I saw the first small flash of silver close to the boat.
"Is bonefish," giggled Rosalito.
I don't know how it happened. I still firmly believe that the permit had every intention of taking my bait. But what ancient, malicious, unpropitiated Mayan god had induced a small bonefish to slide in and grab it from beneath the permit's nose I shall never know.
I brought the ill-omened thing to the side of the skiff, and Art netted it. It was the first time he had smiled since his baptism in the Yu Yum. "You wanted a bonefish, didn't you?" he said. "Let's go to Pez Maya," I said. "Please. Immediately," He didn't argue.
Mr. Jones was waiting there, of course. "Get a permit?" he asked.