I was sitting in the bar of the Mattakeese Wharf in my cutoff dungaree shorts and denim shirt with one button. Bob lets me come in looking like that because I'm the only writer around Barnstable now that Vonnegut's gone. It's a classy bar and restaurant and I used to feel a little strange there in the afternoon nursing a Michelob as all those ladies with frozen hair sipped their Bloody Marys. But Bob has the only draught beer in town, and I go there for that.
Anyway, I was sitting there not talking to anyone because there's never anybody to talk to in there when this young guy comes around the corner from the dining room. He looked right at me as if he knew me, but I'd never seen him before in my life.
"You're George Packard," he said.
"That's me," I said.
"I'm Paul Cunningham. I've read your stuff."
"Did you like it?"
"Yeah, I like it fine," he said.
"You don't sound like you like it much," I said.
"Well, you don't know about fishing," he said and sat down on the barstool next to mine.
I thought I did. I've had a rod or line in my hand since I was five years old in Maine, bottom fishing in Casco Bay with my grandfather and trout fishing all over the state with my uncles. I'd caught cunner, pollock, codfish, mackerel, sculpin, pickerel, bass and perch. When I was nine years old I caught a five-pound bass in a trout stream on a flyrod and had to go in after him. But now I was a striped-bass fisherman, and that is something all by itself.