The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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This is an oft repeated story of my father and his brother being rascals.

They had never caught anything before. Those early mornings spent on the beach, idly checking the slackness of the line, were an alibi for staving off hangovers with pony bottles and soothing throats -  chafed raw by exaggerated bar voices and menthol 100s - with dawn fog and seaspray. The morning that the line went suddenly taut, they had never gone to bed.

“You keep reeling, I’ll scoop it up when it gets in close enough.” Steve pried the backs of his feet free of his tied tennis shoes with the toes of the opposite foot and began wading into the surf with a net in one hand.

Rob dumped the last couple of bottles into the sand and let the surf fill the emptied cooler. When Steve plopped the catch in, it almost looked like a small eel curving to fit in the confines of the cooler. Jaws wouldn’t hit theaters for another year, but the fins and bilateral eyes, even juvenilely rounded and exaggerated as they were, held familiar menace. Steve the lid on and hoisted the sloshing cooler away from the shore.

“What the hell are you going to do with it?” Rob projected into the wind towards the back of his brother’s head.

“Let’s put it in the pool, man!”

It’s unclear how long a sandshark can survive in chlorinated water, or what additional effect trace amounts of urine may have but, that shark was certainly dead before the pool was drained. It was gone entirely by the time that Rob and Steve, casually as they could, peered through the closed gates at the deserted deck and the drying puddles on the pool’s concrete bottom. The heels of Rob’s feet popped out of the backs of his well worn leather docksiders as he pushed up on the balls of his feet to match his brother’s height. Neither could quite see every inch of the pool floor from their vantage, but they would catch enough snippets of conversation in elevators and the building’s echoey outdoor hallways to confirm that the shark had been fished out once it had stopped moving.

The draining of the pool was to exorcise any lingering germs from the unwilling aquatic interloper. A final insult after death; the poison water cut with kid’s piss was deemed unsuitable for human recreation only after it had passed through shark gills enough times to preclude the possibility of further respiration. No one that witnessed the lifeless sandpaper skinned coil bowing the aluminum handle of the pool skimmer gave a thought as to what happened to the body after it was scooped out until the dumpster by the soda machines started to stink in a very specific way. 

Chlorine Sandshark

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