But Bemba just smiled up at me with his best capped tooth gleaming as he knelt down on the mahogany deck. He quickly chunked up the mackerel and, saving back one large piece, swept the whole pile off the deck with a twist of the knife blade. With the exception of a few loose thoughts of sharks and a rinsing swim in Bembaís chum slick I lost interest and went back to my toilet.
I had lathered my face and was starting with the razor on my cheek and underchin when I heard a grunt beside me. Looking up I saw Bemba being dragged forward, knees locked, tip of the rod pegged to the surface, sweeping up viciously in gigantic hook sets. Then the rapidfire, high pitched, Cuban accented spanish with ďsabaloĒ mixed in there. I calmly looked for the fish, knowing it would jump, and caught the last of the re-entery off the back of the flats skiffs moored from the swimming deck. Big fish, six, seven feet, the number 150 popped into my mind.
Dammit, Bemba, I thought with irritation, Iím trying to shave here. Iím trying to relax, gear down. I am NOT going to get involved in this. Then I noticed that Bemba had a problem. He had dropped his line straight down into the six foot space between the deck and the four flats boats tethered gunnel to gunnel down current. The line was starting to saw upward between the gunnels. Bemba screamed and leaped for the nearest boat, landed, skidded, pirouette, balance, kicked the two boats apart with his feet and cleared the line. The fish jumped again, further out.
Nice move Bemba, but I donít care what happens here. Iím shaving.
Bemba was still screaming out in spanish, the details of which I could only, but probably accurately, imagine. Ramon, another guide, appeared above us laughing, jumped down the steps, untied the skiff in which Bemba was now wedged and shoved off, scrambling to the motor. The fish jumped again.
I was taking care with the razor on my upper lip, where I usually cut myself. Bemba is a little crazy. I could see it that first day. He gets this funny little smile on his face. And he has all these secret places no one else knows about. He drives his boat like heís a maniac, a man on a mission. He was a commercial fisherman in one of those rusting hulks that are Cuban commercial boats before he became a guide. But I am NOT going to get involved in this.
The fish jumped again. In the evening sun. With Bemba and Ramon in the skiff, down sun, spray caught in the slanting light. Blue water, silver fish, white skiff, golden evening hue. I could use the wide angle and from the bow of the Halcon get the sweep of the big boat on the right side of the picture, the fish and the skiff in the middle and the mangrove cays behind. Oh God..... Dammit! How many times in life do you get a chance like this.
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