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  • I sat on the edge of the lobster car Morris had hauled out to kill off the seaweed and marine borers and barnacles. Dickie wanted to put bait aboard on the high water in case there was a break in the weather and we got chance to haul. The wind didn’t look like it had any intention of backing off but after a few days he’d take anything as a sign.

    I waited and watched the old squaws and eider ducks paddling in the lee of the wharf, diving down to pick snails and baby mussels off the pilings.

    “Christ Benjoy, you waiting for Dickie again,” Morris poked his head out the little door he cut in the garage doors where the trucks backed in to take on loads of crated lobsters. “Makes me cold just looking at you. “ He didn’t hold the door open but he didn’t close it either.

    Even if Dickie came down the hill now it would be another twenty minutes before he got aboard and warmed her up enough to putt in. I followed Morris in.

    “You outa get a radio Benjoy,” Morris went on taking up the thread of conversation as easy as his needle and mesh board found their row in the trap head he was knitting. “That way Dickie could give you a shout instead of you pacing back and forth like that.” He picked up the cigarette lying in the jar lid on the window sill and took the last drag before stubbing it out. “Cup of coffee? I ‘magin there’s a cup around here somewhere.”

    I eyed the stained pot.

    “It was fresh sometime,” he said.

    “All’s I have to do is look put the window,” I said, deciding to give the coffee a wide berth. “Today I just wanted to get out of the house.”

    Morris looked out the one grimy window at the jumble that used to be the jetty where the cannery fleet off loaded silver torrents of fish. I followed his eyes past the abandoned cannery to the where the wind striped the open bay with streaks of white.

    “I dunno why I bother to look out,” said Morris. “Not like there’s anyone to look for. It’s more dead than quiet this time of year. I know what you mean though. Vera asked why I bother to come over. I asked her what else would I do.”

    I thought about Vera standing in the doorway of their house watching him pull away in his blue Cadillac. Ten years old and not a scratch, only the miles between the house and the wharf on the odometer. Somehow the ducks came to mind and I thought of how they come back each year at the same time to the same place. I smiled.

    Morris raised an eyebrow.

    “I’m just thinking how things change even when we go there every day,” I said.

    The harbor had never been much more than a scatter of houses sprawling down the hill to the sardine factory. Once upon a time the herring trawlers and fish draggers had made it a hopping place and the sardine factory ran a double shift. But, by 1980, only Harv bothered to go out fish dragging and Morris could fillet and set out in his one fish counter just about all Harv brought in. The sardine factory was a deserted hulk and the store was in the transition from general store to convenience store. The furniture up on the store’s second floor was more than three decades out of style and there hadn’t been a Saturday movie up in the big loft on the third floor in at least as long. Along the road the old barns sagged, stone walls disappeared into thickets and the spindles of spruce trees grew up through derelict mowing machines in the fields.

    “I guess you’re right,” said Morris. He felt for his cigarettes in the pocket of his red and black check wool jacket.

    I glanced at him wondering what I’d been right about.

    “You get a radio, no telling what all else will come with it.”
    ***
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