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  • Early spring is a hard time for lobstermen. The lobsters haven’t started their long crawl inshore, but the bills for traps, buoys, paint, rope, twine, boat payments, truck payments, and more, pile up. Most fishermen go Yankee frugal during the winter months, a kind of fiscal hibernation. But not Mick.

    Old George, used to watch Mick come up the shingle beach. Christ Benjy, he’d say, Mick looks like he’s walking into a gale of wind. That boy is a regular force of nature.

    After fall fishing when he was flush with cash, Mick got a new truck, a car to cruise in style, a snowmobile, and a girlfriend to go with them. Now it was spring and he needed new traps.

    Old Morris gave credit to plenty of other fellows, he told me.

    I was busy cutting poles for a pig pen and a chicken yard. The island dogs had been hell on my chickens the year before. He watched me from a safe distance. He had his town clothes on and new sunglasses.

    Didn’t you end up selling straight to the restaurants, I asked. Morris gave credit to the fishermen who were loyal to him. This was old school business.

    I got a plan, said Mick.

    Right here is where I should have said no thanks, should have developed flu or cut my hand bad enough to need stiches, anything. But I went on cutting poles to length and heard him out. I hadn’t spoken to anyone in almost three weeks. I was just enjoying the flow of talk.

    Mickey laid out the plan. It was simple. He needed money. He had a snowmobile. Winter was over what the hell did he need a snowmobile for. The snowmobile was insured. The snowmobile was going to disappear .

    About midnight we skipped over to the harbour in his 16 foot, open skiff. Mick had me drop him off by the ferry wharf to go pick up his truck. I ran the skiff over and anchored it off a deserted rocky beach on the far side of the harbour and waited for him.

    We coasted into town, lights off. Glided up to his parents’ house. Totally stealth.

    The snowmobile was parked in the driveway. It was over 8 feet long and was not underpowered. I looked up the weight and back then sleds were tipping the scales at well over 500 pounds.

    We slipped out of the truck, crept to the snowmobile, reached down and muckled on to whatever we could find to grip.

    You lifting Ben? Mick asked after a few seconds.

    We straightened up slowly. Mick shoved his cap back on his head.

    Ain’t Patrick around, Mick asked

    Back to the truck, let out the brake, coast down the hill, pop the clutch, and we’re off.

    Patrick was around all right. He was digging clams that spring. Dug enough each day to buy beer and hotdogs and gas for the next day. He was up in grandmother’s trailer, hanging out in his underwear, drinking beer. Not exactly a model of ambition but digging clams can put some shoulders on a fella in a hurry.

    What are you fellas doin’ off the island? Nothin’ goin’ on around here, he said when we walked in. Mick’s plan counted as something goin on so Patrick pulled on his pants, and off we went.

    This time we took a length of 2X4 and jammed it through the track to make a handle. Patrick and I each took a side and Mick hoisted the back. We staggered out the driveway, trying to huff and puff quietly.

    Slid her up on the bed, scrambled in. Let out the brake, coast down the hill, pop the clutch, and we’re off.

    Down on the beach we lowered the sled easy enough then stood back and surveyed the terrain. The skiff looked small and a long way across the boulders.
    We looked at each other and flexed our hands. Patrick spat.

    Fuck it, said Mick. He cranked the sled , hopped aboard and rode standing up across the rocks. Mick gunned her so she wouldn’t fetch up. Sparks flew.

    Fuckin Mick, said Patrick.

    Patrick had the keys to the truck and his last beer was empty so he took off to park the truck and get back to his Saturday night.

    I joined Mick by the boat. The sled looked even bigger on the rough beach beside the skiff. We only had to pick up one end at a time now, so we grunted her up and dumped her aboard. Collected the anchor, shoved off. Laughing with relief and disbelief.

    Halfway out to the island Mick shut off the engine and we turned to the sled. Getting her in the skiff had been one thing but we were on the beach then and the boat had been half grounded on the rocks. We had to get the sled out of the boat without ending up on the wrong side of the equation ourselves.

    Mick scratched his head. Shrugged. Stood beside the sled. Cranked her one last time. Revved the engine, put her in gear and drove her right over the rail.

    We watched the headlight mark her descent till the water shorted out the circuit. Just a bubble or two and she was gone.

    A couple of years later, Little Johnnie V. did a tow for scallops in the channel. The drag fetched up where no rocks should have been. He hauled back to see what the hell was going on.

    Be goddamned if he didn’t bring up Mick’s snowmobile, Morris told me the next time I was in.

    He looked out across the harbour, smiling at nothing.

    Must have been a helluva ride, he said.
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