Men Without Salmon

Second Place

Posted: Sunday, May 07, 2006

There he was, this man, this simple man, on the sands of the beach, his beach, which, that he thought, was not unlike the cruel and yet glorious beach at Normandy a lifetime ago for both had seen death, blood and viscera sacrificed by those creatures who face a greater calling than mere mortality. This man's beach, his proving grounds, lies not in France but near the stoic and sheltering protection of a mountain named Jumbo a mere stone's throw from the long shadow of the edifice that houses that fishwrap, that yellow sheet, the Juneau Empire. The Viking Bar slimeliners call his beach DIPAC. It is here, the man, this simple man, was preparing for his epic day. It was to be his Haj, his trek to Mecca, seeking communion with the anadromous gods. Today, the god he must know is the KING.

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It was o-dark-thirty and the tide was powerfully rising and flooding, as it will, in the eternal struggle between the lunar and the light. The king hunter was armed only with his man strength and a leaden treble hook of death and life. It would have to be enough for today he would either conquer the KING or die.

Editor's note: The Juneau Empire dared Southeast Alaska to get tight and take a stab at some bull, in a mock-Hemingway contest to glorify spring and the return of salmon season. The bell tolled for 28 guerillas, and the Empire's cracked team of judges deemed three bad to the groan.

The feather boys would call him a barbarian snagger. To the simple man, such words are praise sung by those castrato voiced, near-beer sipping, Norman Mclean-quoting eunuchs, who chase the king, his KING, with garish feathers and baubles, tied, prettied and dressed to entice, to fool, to cheapen, those magnificent Chinook beasts whom the effetes fraudulently beckon with their fly - their nymph - like some long-in-the-tooth spawned-out Parisian whore who stands in the shadows smiling demurely at a cow-eyed doughboy from Kansas. It makes him sick. Damn them and Lefty Kreh.

The KING cares not what troubles the soul of his executioner. No, the KING, this broad-shouldered, black-lipped, shimmering mortar round of a primordial fish god, fights to live, fights to spread his seed and die. It will not be so today. The simple man casts his simple leaden harpoon of death and it rips into muscled silver fecund flank of the virile KING, his KING, and the futile fight begins. It has always been so. Since there have been men and fish. Like a matador, the man twirls and dances and manhandles his prey to the beach at the place called DIPAC. And it is there, that it ends with the brutal certain crush of a barnacle encrusted rock to the head of the KING. Tonight, the simple man will know satisfaction, he will know it in his belly, the way a man knows a woman, as a mother knows her child, he will know the satisfying sound of a vacuum packer sucking the final air out of his prey. But that is not for now. For now, for a rain-drenched glimmer of a moment, it is enough just to be the simple man, to know who he is. He casts again.

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