Fishing Beneath a Marble Sky
by Randy Kadish
Page 1 of 2
he nurse said, “You failed the vision test.”
“Failed? I thought wearing contact lenses were okay?”
“To be a court officer you have to meet certain requirements, without glasses or contacts.”
“But I did so well on the written test.”
“Our rules are firm.”
Sarcastically, I said, “Written in stone, I guess.”
The white ceiling, the yellow walls, and my hopes seemed to be closing in on me. I jumped up and left the office.
Outside, I thought, I was so sure I had the job, the way, years ago, I was so sure I’d be a famous writer by the time I was twenty-five. Sometimes I feel like I’m cursed, as if my failing the eye test a reflection of me.
During the rest of the long, long day and the next morning, I felt as if I was being pulled into a rip tide of grief. I was afraid of drowning. Don’t panic. Swim out of it. How? Believe in a loving Higher Power? If it were only so easy. But I suppose everything I learned in recovery is sort of a Higher Power. Yes, I can stay in the moment. I can remind myself I didn’t cause the state’s requirements. And I can go fishing. That’s how I swam out of my grief over my mother’s death.
I took my fly-fishing equipment, rode the Path train to Hoboken, and walked to the long, wide, concrete pier. Covering most of the pier was a big lawn. The pier, therefore, was clearly designed to look like a small park. Parallel to the park or pier, about two hundred feet down river, was the old, Lackawana, ferry terminal. The side of the terminal was getting a facelift, but not for the better, in my opinion. The new face was flat and white, emptied of the flowing, baroque-like ornamentation of the old green facade.
I looked up. The thick, gray clouds seemed to form a high ceiling, reminding me of the inside of a huge, marble building. Though the blue sky was closed off, the forecast didn’t predict rain; so the clouds weren’t ominous, especially because they were somewhere between gray and white.
The Hudson River was murky, and didn’t reflect sunlight, failure, disappointment or anything else. The Hudson River was calm, as if most of it, except its thin, flowing surface, was an immovable highway. The river was murky and I wondered if the river not reflecting sunlight or anything else was some sort of metaphor of my life I tried to come up with one. I took out my small pad, but the page remained blank. Maybe I’m really at a dead end as a writer. I reminded myself I was losing precious fishing time. I put the pad away.
Because of the cloud ceiling, I guessed the stripers, if they were around, would be close to the surface. I decided to fish a popper on a floating, shooting-head line. I put my fly rod together and screwed on the reel. Suddenly, cracks appeared in the clouds. Streaks of sunlight poured through, decorating the water like rhinestones on a shirt.
I hope the cracks in the clouds don’t get bigger, let in more sun and send the stripers deeper. Maybe the clouds will expand and plaster up the cracks.
I wished the answers to catching fish were as rigid as the state’s vision requirements, and then placed my bet on the sun coming out: I put on my fast-sinking line, and tied on a white deceiver. I walked onto the lawn, pulled more than a hundred feet of line off the reel, and stretched the coils, about three feet at a time, out of my line.
How strange, that after so many years of practicing and trying to discover long-distance, fly-casting techniques, I only recently saw that even loose coils in the line caused friction and weakened my casts. To compensate, I usually cast too hard, and caused my casting loops to tail. Yes, when it comes to fly casting, I’m always learning.
I put on my stripping basket, retrieved the line and walked to the end of the pier. The skyline of lower Manhattan came into view. Sunlight tinted the sides of some of the buildings. I thought of a Vermeer painting, of sunlight shinning through a small window and falling on a woman’s face. I wondered, though I knew it wasn’t true, if nature had learned from Vermeer.
The Manhattan skyline looked more awesome than I remembered. Is it because for the first time in over a year I’m seeing it from New Jersey, from a western perspective? Though many of the buildings were from different eras, and though each building was from a different design, they all seemed to match, like mountains in a range. Maybe the buildings match because of luck. And the Catskill Mountains? They match because of nature. And how long does nature take to form a mountain range? Are ranges, like the Manhattan skyline, works in progress? Are ranges formed because nature, like humanity, spent thousands of years discovering, one by one, the techniques of engineering and construction? Maybe even nature is learning.
In my mind I tried to fast forward a hundred years and see how the skyline looked. I couldn’t, even though I was wearing contacts lenses
I reached into my pocket and took out my long-distance, fly-casting notes. I studied the techniques and visualized them. I false cast, shooting more and more line. Finally the whole shooting head and twelve feet of running line were outside of the rod tip. I cast back, reminding myself to keep my elbow in. I hauled downward, then waited for a second. Keeping my shoulders still, I looked back. My loop was tight. I shot line and slowly pointed the rod lower, to about two o’clock. I hauled upward. When my line hand reached my rod hand, I cast forward, then hauled straight downward. I moved both hands faster and faster. I shifted my weight all the way forward and extended my casting arm. Abruptly I stopped the rod. I let go of the line and raised the rod butt.
CONTINUED 1 | 2
Copyright © 2007 - 2013 Randall Kadish, All Rights Reserved
Fishing Beneath a Marble Sky
Going Back Again
The Fly Caster Who Tried to Make Peace with the World
Fight Wind: Learn The Double Haul
Reach That Faraway Target
About the author
Randy Kadish is an outdoor writer and avid angler who has spent countless hours experimenting with long-distance fly casting techniques. For this novel he extensively researched the history of flyfishing, particularly on the famed Beaverkill River during the golden era of the early 1900s. "Flycaster" is his first novel, but his short stories and articles have been appeared in many publications, including Flyfisher, Flyfishing & Tying Journal, Fishing And Hunting News, StriperSurf.com and Sweden's Rackelhanen fly fishing magazine. Much of Randy’s writing is about the techniques of spin and fly casting, and about the spirituality/recovery of fly fishing.
Randy’s novel, The Fly Caster Who Tried to Make Peace with the World, is available on Amazon.