"They might," said Dr. Hollis.
The investigator thanked him, shook hands, picked up his attach� case and started away.
"They might," Dr. Hollis called softly after him. "And again they might not."
The next day, in a booth at Pete Vincent's Coffee Shop in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard, three of the best surf casters on the island sat drinking coffee and discussing the striper. They were Tony Gaspar, the house painter, Percy West, the charter boatman, and Ralph Grant, the trucking contractor.
Gaspar had taken a 33-pound striper from the surf at Squibnocket Beach only two nights before. In his wallet Percy West carried a membership card in the Fifty-Pound Club, an honorary society of those who have taken the big ones. Ralph Grant had taken more 40-pound-plus stripers than he could remember.
As Ralph Grant scribbled on a paper place mat, the three of them discussed the characteristics of the fish. They agreed that he was a night fish, more apt to be taken then than in the daylight hours. They said he was a courageous fish who would go in among the sharks to compete for food. They said he was a fish that sometimes exhibited a great sense of curiosity. He would, they said, follow a plug or a jig through the water just to see what it was, and sometimes he would take a playful whack at it with his tail. Ralph Grant recalled the time a 30-pounder did just that to his lure and hooked himself. Grant landed him anyway—by the tail.
They agreed that they had scant respect for boat fishermen, none at all for bottom fishermen who used live bait and stuck their rods in the sand to await a strike. "I saw," said Percy West, "a guy like that sitting on a camp stool reading a magazine. What kind of fishing is that?"
They laughed as they recalled the lies that striper fishermen tell each other when they find a hot spot. One night, said Percy West, he had a strike just as a jeep drove up to him on the beach. He let the fish run with his line as the intruder called to him, "Any luck?" The fish still running out to sea, Percy yelled back, "Nothing doing here." The jeep drove on and then Percy reeled in his fish.
They said, their eyes glowing, that the big thrill was the strike, when a striper hits hard and the line sings out on the reel. They told of men they knew who were stricken dumb by the excitement, of women who fainted dead away.
Suddenly Tony Gaspar slapped the table and said to the investigator: