On my way home I was still pumped up about the idea of playing pirates and looking for the treasure chest full of silver rocks. I think this new game could work but I don’t know if Roger the Professor could tear himself away from making Zip guns and work with us to draw and make a Skull Island treasure map. The guys in the neighborhood know that I like to spend a lot of time with Roger. He always comes up with a solution to solve a problem and I think that he is a great inventor too. But right now he is so mad about these gangs moving into the Red Hook Projects and he just wants to think on how we can stop them from taking over our neighborhood. This pirate game is going to be a real challenge for me to get Roger interested in making the pirate map we need and to set up the rules for this new game. I got home just in time for dinner, I walk into our apartment and to my surprise I see Roger sitting at our kitchen table talking to my mother. This is really a shocker, Roger hardly ever comes down to visit me or talk to my mother.
I look at Roger and say, “Hey Roger what’s up? Is there something wrong?” He knew what I meant and he turned to look at me and said, “I’m sorry that I yelled at you about all this gang stuff. So I came down here to ask your mother if it would be okay for you to go fishing with me tomorrow morning.” Wow, it was like a bolt of lightning hit me right between the eyes. This is such a surprise, I never went fishing before except for catching tiny fish in a stream in back of Uncle Frank’s house in New Jersey. Roger continued to say “I want to reassure your mom that I will take care of you. If she says its okay we have to pack some food and leave for Sheepshead Bay at three o’clock in the morning. Don’t worry about the gear; I can borrow the fishing poles, hooks, sinkers and whatever else we need from my older brother. I will pay for the subway ride and the fee for the party fishing boat.” I standing in the kitchen looking at them with my mouth open for at least two minutes. I’m wondering if my mother, who hardly speaks any English, knows what Roger is talking about. But it dawned on me that my sister who is playing her records in the other room must have translated Roger’s request to my mom.
All the time that I’m standing there thinking, I could see my mom out of the corner of my eyes smiling and bobbing her head up and down. I say to myself “Wow! I think that Roger sold my mom on this idea of me going fishing tomorrow.” Just at that moment my sister comes into to the kitchen smiling and laughing looking all happy. I know my sister; I don’t think that she is all excited about me going fishing with Roger. I don’t know what but something else is going on. I scratch my head and say, “Roger, thanks, for thinking about me but I don’t know if I can do this fishing thing.” Roger laughs and says, Pepino, it’s not such a big deal; we take the D train to Sheepshead Bay we get on a party boat, they set us up on the rail of the boat, they will even put the bait on the hooks for us, we drop the lines into the water and then we wait for the fish to bite. I say, “Okay, by looking at my mother I think that she’s okay with it too.” We agree that he will knock on my door a three in the morning for our walk to the Smith and 9th Street subway station for our trip to Sheepsheads Bay. As Roger leaves our apartment my sister is dancing all around me saying “I’ve got a surprise. You’ll never guess what it is.”
I say “okay, okay, stop dancing you’re getting me dizzy. What in the hell are you talking about?”She finally stands still with a big smile on her face and says, “We have a telephone, yeah we have a telephone in our apartment. Now we can call or get calls anytime day or night. We don’t have to wait for Defonte’s Sandwich Shop to be open for us to use their public telephone. What do you think about that?” Holy shit, I’m going on fishing trip, my sister is out of her mind about our new telephone, what’s next? I just came home to have dinner, listen to some radio stories and go to bed. But I got to thinking that this fishing trip with Roger couldn’t come at a better time. We will be alone and we can talk one on one about his new invention ideas and I can feel him out on the treasure map and pirate game. My sister grabs my arm and pulls me into our living room, dining room and my part time bedroom combination to show me our new telephone that I will hardly use since most of my friends don’t have one. Anyway, my sister picks up the phone and pretends that she talking to her girlfriend Frances, who doesn’t have a telephone either. She puts the phone to my ear so I could hear the dial tone, whoopee do.
That was exciting, I guess it’s will turn out to be a good thing because mostly everyone will have a telephone, television, portable radio and who knows what else in the future. I went to bed early but I didn’t get much sleep. I kept thinking about the fishing trip, the party boat, the sharp hooks, and the stinky fish, that’s if we catch any. I felt like I closed my eyes one minute and before I knew it I hear Roger banging on our front door. I had everything ready, so I jumped into my clothes, pick up my lunch bag from the kitchen table and opened the door for Roger. When we left the building the street was so quiet. No one was outside sitting on the stoops. We got to Smith and 9th Street and took the escalator way up to the top where we got on the D train to Coney Island. Roger warned me to be careful with my fishing pole because of the overhead fans in the subway car. He told me that some of his friends weren’t so lucky, their pole got caught up in the fan and it was completely destroyed. I was so tired that I fell asleep on the train ride to Sheepshead Bay. I was sound asleep when I felt Roger shaking me to wake up. We got our stuff together, got off the train and walked to a little diner near the station to get two egg sandwiches for breakfast. Boy did that egg sandwich taste good.
We walked to the seaport to find a party fishing boat. As we walked along the pier a bunch of captains are calling out for us to join them on their boat. Roger picked captain Bill’s boat, we got on the boat and within ten minutes we were going out to sea. It wasn’t too crowded it looked to me like there are ten people on board. The first mate, Sandy, settled us in our spot and gave us a run down on how to handle your fishing pole without hooking one of the fishermen next to you. The water was calm and it turned out to be a beautiful day. We both caught about twelve Porgies, a couple of Flounders and I caught the biggest fish of all, a monster Black fish that must have weighed fourteen pounds. The thing is that that the Black fish never took my bait hook into his mouth, somehow I felt something pulling on my line so I just pulled up on my fishing pole as hard as I could. Wow, I hooked it, holy shit; the pull from the fish trying to get away was killing me. I could hardly hold on to my fishing pole. I needed all ninety pounds of me to hold on as tight as I could to keep the fishing pole from going into the water. Everyone on the boat started cheering me on, “Hold on kid, hold on, hold on.” I thought the fishing pole was bending too far that it was going to break in two. I was fighting this battle for about fifteen minutes when the first mate, Sandy, stood next to me with his gaff, that’s a long pole with a big hook in the end, the long pole with the hook, that Sandy was holding, could reach into the water from the deck of the boat. All of a sudden I hear everybody on the boat cheering like crazy because the big Black fish was close to the surface. At this point Sandy was able to reach down and hook the fish with his big gaff and lift him on board. Then Sandy held up the monster fish to show me and the other fishermen on board the size of this sucker. When I saw this thing I thought I was going to pass out, it’s huge. The funny part is that I hooked this monster Black fish on its tale. The captain and the first mate congratulated me on my big catch. They did see bigger fish caught over the years, but they never did see a monster Black fish pulled up by its tale by a little kid. I guess they’ll be telling this fish story to the other Captains and Mates at the Marinas all over Sheepshead Bay because it’s unbelievable.
Everyone was so happy for me because the Monster Black fish was the biggest fish caught that day and to boot, I won the fish pool. We gave the big Black fish to the first Mate as a thank you and I gave the money from the fish pool to Roger. He was able to pay for everything that day and we had twenty dollars left over. That’s ten bucks each, not a bad day for a ninety pound kid’s first Sheepshead Bay outing. Sandy cleaned our fish for us and we took off again to find the subway for our ride home. When we were on the train I could not help but think about my first day trip to Coney Island last summer with my sister. That day the train was packed with beach goers. The only way we got a seat on our way home was because we sat next to fishermen coming from home from Sheepshead Bay with their catch. They smelled pretty bad because of the fish they were carrying and no one wanted to sit next to them, but we were so tired we didn’t care that they smelled so bad. Now I’m thinking that me and Roger are the smelly fishermen, I wonder if anyone will sit next to us on our trip home. Who cares, I didn’t notice, because I fell asleep again on our trip back home. When I walked into our apartment that afternoon with my smelly fish my mother ran to me and hugged my smelly body. I think that she was relieved that I made it home alive.
After my big hug she took my bounty and started to cook our family a fresh fish dinner. I smelled so bad that I took off my clothes and then I sat in the laundry tub to get washed up. After I was cleaned up I put on shorts and a tee shirt and I sat out on our fire escape to rest a while. As I was looking down at the street I see Prospector Frank wave at me to come down. I was so tired but I waved back and left my apartment to meet him on the street. When I got there Frank said, “Where were you all day? I came over this morning to find you but your mom said that you weren’t home. Do you have any news about Roger working with us on the new Pirate Game? I wanted to tell you that I checked the vacant lot near my house and found a bunch of shinney silver rocks we can use for our Treasure Chest. Then I built a lean to just in case we want to camp out tonight. Come with me so I can show you what I put together.” Frank kept on talking so fast that I had to stop him and say. “Whoa, I wasn’t around this morning because I went fishing with Roger three o’clock this morning. I didn’t get a chance to tell Roger our plans for the Pirate Game.
I’ll come with you to see what you put together in your vacant lot but I can’t stay because I just want to have dinner and go to bed, I’m wiped out.” We walked to Huntington Street; Prospector Frank did a good job. He put together a shit load of silver rocks and he made a weird looking lean to for us to sleep in. I said to myself “fat chance that I’ll sleep in this piece of shit” but I didn’t say anything to Frank. Then I went home, I had a great fish dinner and went to bed early.