We left then with
Don still sitting there holding the Da Vinci Multiple Fish-Finding
Configuration in one hand and a martini in the other. And I was thinking that
with that rig in the water I'd have only Bert and Mel to beat.
We got back to my
house and I was just going in to go to bed early so my reflexes would be good
and Bert said, "I've got to go over to town and get Ralph."
Ralph?" I said.
brother-in-law. He's coming down for the weekend."
"He's not in
the contest, is he?"
"I don't know
if he'd want to," Bert said. "He's from Duluth. Are there any fish in
I didn't know if
there were any fish in Duluth but I did know that one more guy raised the odds.
I went in and went to bed but I couldn't get to sleep. I kept wondering about
this guy Ralph and whether or not he was any good. Maybe he was the best bottom
fisherman in Duluth and I tried to remember where Duluth was and I couldn't so
I woke up my wife and asked her. She said it was Minnesota and that made me
feel better for a minute, and then I thought that I didn't know any more about
Minnesota than I did about Duluth so I woke my wife up again and asked her what
kind offish lived in Minnesota and she said, well, never mind.
I just lay there
for a while thinking about Ralph and I heard Bert's boat coming back from the
mainland so I got up and lit a cigarette and went outside and leaned against
the railing of the dock. Bert moored his boat and then he and the guy Ralph
came down the dock. Bert introduced me and I looked Ralph over. He was thin and
white and he looked like a failed undertaker. But you never know for sure, and
then Bert said that Ralph wanted to go with us because he had never been
fishing in his life. I started to feel better—five more dollars in the kitty
and no competition. I went to bed and dreamed about catching a flounder as big
as a dinghy off the George Washington Bridge.
And then it was
the next day and we were ready to go. Everyone gathered at the head of the
dock, the five of us and the wives and kids, and we walked down the dock to the
boat in a line. First there was Bert with a pot of cut-up clams for bait. Ralph
was right behind him holding onto the railing. Then came Mel and me carrying a
big zinc washtub full of ice and beer, and finally Don, with a suitcase. We
asked him if he was going to spend the weekend out there and he said scoff on,
ye of little faith, he was prepared.
We got everything
loaded into the boat and we all got in except Don. I was sitting up in the bow
on the right with Mel next to me and the other two were in the back. Then we
watched Don climb into the boat. Watching Don climb into a boat is something to
see because he goes about 320 and when he does something it makes an effect. He
went about it very carefully and I felt the boat settle as though we had just
loaded a locomotive. He was going to do the driving and he spread himself
around in the stern to get comfortable and then he started the motor.