Traps

A rubber-clad fisherman stared into the ridges of a corrugated sea. A filament line speared the water below. He glanced into the sky, squinting against rain droplets, the wrinkles at the edge of his eyes groping toward his gramophone ears like fingers. The clouds had darkened to charcoal. Pulling his raincoat tight, he picked up a Styrofoam cup half filled with cocoa-colored soil. He stood, gathered his line, and turned from the ocean. Drizzle wet his cheeks, and he pulled his coat tighter. A few gulls accompanied him, cawing like lunatics and interrupting the waves’ rhythmic weep. One of them lit at his heels but soon rejoined the rabble, having found nothing but footprinted gull droppings. The man’s eyes passed over splinters and paint peels, and the plunk of his footfalls echoed as he stepped, stepped, stepped the forty feet from the edge of the dock to the threshold of his front door. He leaned his bamboo rod against the hovel, set his cup on the planks below, and disrobed, hooking his coat next to the door under a bit of roof. When he entered the one-room home, his daughter sprang with a shout from the three-chaired kitchen table, tackling his waist with a hug. The musk of wild mushroom soup followed her. The man’s wife, her back turned as she tended to their wood-burning stove, quicked a peripheral glance at his empty hands. He sat at the table, near the stove’s warmth, where he found a crust of this morning’s toast, leathery from the humidity, and chewed on it. His gaze ambled to the peg legs of another chair, where he noticed a jiggling black dot. A spider was thatching a tear in its invisible net. Behind it, a June bug hung, like a Summer Flounder, waiting to be filleted. After mending its net, the spider shouldered its meal and stole away, under the seat and out of sight. It returned unburdened and crept to a corner of the web, where it stilled, waiting.

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