THE ANGEL AND THE FISHERMAN
Angels on Earth|May/June 2020
THE ANGEL AND THE FISHERMAN
Both were on the beach that night
STUART REININGER

NOBODY WAS ON the beach before dawn in Brigantine, New Jersey. The shore was completely desolate. Maybe that’s what had drawn me. My life was just as desolate.

Six months earlier, in June, I’d been on my boat, the Furthermore, trying to make good time from Florida to New York when a sudden storm had blown up off the coast. Try as I might I couldn’t keep the boat away from the notorious shoals that jutted out from the Jersey Shore. I barely got myself to the life raft before everything else I owned—my clothes, my money, my livelihood as a sailor— was wrecked. All I had was a blanket some rescue workers gave me when I washed up shivering on the beach.

The Furthermore—or what was left of it—washed up a day or so later, but it was an empty shell. That shell was now sitting in a boatyard. The guys there had offered to rebuild it, but I had no idea how or when I could pay them for their trouble. The part-time jobs I’d found while crashing on a friend’s couch or at the boatyard were not enough to keep me from falling deeper and deeper into debt.

What’s the point of trying to start over anyway? I thought, gazing out at the ocean. I was in a hole far too deep to climb out of. Since the wreck the only thing that had brought me any relief was drinking. I’d done plenty of that earlier in the evening. Then I got the idea to come to the site of the wreck. I’d had this strange feeling I would find something here, something I’d lost that had somehow gone unnoticed all this time, but of course there was nothing left behind. Everything was gone.

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May/June 2020