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  • “Reel up, there’s nothing here,” the Miami captain called out from the upper level, but my line would not pull in.
    And then, suddenly, it was screaming out instead.

    The handle of my rig spun crazily, and snapped at my thumb when I tried to grab it. Filament flew away like birds flushed from a field. The pole bent. I hung on.

    My small feet lifted from the deck.

    The slam of his landing was a distant explosion, and the captain – having jumped from his post – was behind me, his enormous hands on my shoulders. “That’s your fish,” he said. “Bring it aboard.”

    My mother, divorced a couple of years before, had taken a secretarial job and scrimped for the 10-day car trip south from Illinois. Dad had all but vanished. It was left for her to take me deep-sea fishing.

    On the way down, she detoured through the Appalachians. “PREPARE TO MEET GOO,” I read aloud from a hand-painted roadside sign. She laughed. “It’s God,” she said. “Prepare to meet God.”

    I had quit asking questions; the answers were always either bad news, or mystifying. Was the almighty ruler of our universe … gooey? I could only imagine “The Blob,” starring Steve McQueen, in which a monstrous, seething mass from outer space rolls over and consumes everything – and everyone – in its path. Each bend in the mountain road unnerved me. What would meet us around the next one?

    But we made Florida. Miami Beach, and all-day swims, and deep-sea fishing.

    At last, it lay at my feet, thudding and wet, silver, staring out the perfect coin of an eye. I was dizzy from the fight. The tuna was going to meet Goo, unprepared.
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