(A Chick Evens Story)
It was a fairly large looking basket, jammed with perfectly slimy looking eels and the old eel-fisherman felt they were simply priceless. Too heavy to lift by himself he had to pull it, so Mr. Chick Evens got out of his vehicle to help the old man carry the basket up a step onto the wooden sidewalk, taking glimpses into it-it had been his second day in Iceland, staying at a hotel in Reykjavik, he had just come back from The cliffs overlooking the coast (and a nearby lighthouse), forty-some miles outside of the city limits; He was no more than a mile or so from the city itself-now, and its coast.
The Old man was bringing the basket into a Sea Market Store with an abundance of seafood to be sorted, sold and shipped. A few workers rushed to help the old man and his assistant with the basket on the wooden walkway leading into the store.
"They look very fine," said the owner looking into the basket. Evens, frightfully putout when he heard that, they looked ugly, narrow and with a dark damp and sliminess to them, and he pelled back from the basket, and the old man, and the owner saw that.
The rain started as Chick Evens turned about and stepped into the road, his guide was waiting for him in the car. The September winds blew through his clothes, his cloths wavy like leaves on a tree. The road in front of the fish market, lead back to Reykjavik, he was kind of on top of a slight hill. The Sea Food Store (or market) had a porch, smoke coming from its chimney in the back of the one story building, where there was the smokehouse, a garage, water tanks. Big trees against the gray wooded structure, it looked as if it was the first of the autumn storms creeping in. As Evens was about to reach the vehicle (for he had originally been looking for a café or restaurant, he was getting hungry), the owner stood on the porch looking towards him, strangely.
"Well," the owner said to Evens, "have you ever ate eel before, or whale?"
"Hey, Mr. Evens!" Said the old man stepping down off the sidewalk step onto the road, "I'll pull one of those eels out for you to eat, we can cook it up in the back, right here (and he looked at Edgar when he said That), "remarked the old man.
The old man, and Mr. Chick Evens stand together looking up at Mr. Edgar Gordon now, then down at the basket of eels. The wind was blowing straight up the hill from the oceanfront. They could hear the surf along the Reykjavik coast.
"She's blowing down there hard," Edgar said.
"She'll blow like that until twilight," said the old man, "is your cook in?" Looking at Edgar.
"Let's all go to the back, have a drink, and I'll provide the whale meat, if you provide the eel," Edgar told the old man, and the old eel-fisherman, nodded his head-yes.
Edgar went out to the kitchen and came back with three slices of whale meat, and a large eel cut up, and on the tray was a pitcher of beer and a bottle of water. Evens reached for the water. The old man reached for the beer-as they all sat by a fireplace behind the kitchen.
"All right?" He said.
"Good," said the old man.
They sat in front of the fireplace and drank the beer, and water, as the cook took the sea food off the tray and cook it, with its thin gravy.
"It's got a different, soggy and wormy like taste to it," he said. Evens, looking at it as if it was a live alligator. The whale meat was more to his liking.
"That's eel for yaw," said Edgar, stretching out his feet under the table. "Better take your shoes off if you're going to finish that eel," he remarked, and laughed.
"Got any coffee?" Evens asked.
"Eat the rest of the eel, thatought to clench it for you!" Said Edgar. "It's a gift to try all you can in life, you can not buy everything, but you can try most things out for size. Now that basket of eels is not as ugly as it was at first, when it first appeared to You-correct? "
"I can not get into it, but it's all right now, it is not a bad dinner, it's just something I had not tried before, dissimilar to my familiar tastes that is."
Said the old man to Evens, "From old shadows what remains of them, it takes a shade of light, like dawn or anything in life, it has to slowly drift into you, enjoy now what time is away, so much is swift to Change, then comes old age. If a man has no variety, he can not spread himself about. "
Said Edgar with his grizzled voice, "So many have died, millions and millions and millions, dead in their folds, in their wrinkles and collapsed before their time, who have lived in a stage set, you are to break branches, to clear paths , To new insights, I see that in you! "
Mr. Evens thought about that for a moment, thought about how he wanted to be a writer, and then ate the whole thing (even though his judgment thoughts on the issue were flat to hackled-he felt the eel was no more than a long silk worm , That sagged as he labored to eat it, a tongue that flowed down into his belly; a creature with no neck or shoulders. "He thought it was no more than an earthly mortal sea bucketer that had no purpose in life, no design and to No good to any man whatever, a lizard without legs, eyes like a black ominous owl). It all was a symbol he told himself. "Sure," he said, and then asked both his new comrades, "Did you ever read" The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket? "
"No," said the old man, and Edgar.
"That's a real sea faring book," he commented, and they both said simultaniously, "We'll have to try that!" And all three laughed wholeheartedly, holding their stomachs.
No: 515o ((11-11-2009) (EP))
Note: In September, of 1999, the author went on a trip to Iceland, for an extended weekend, and did some whale searching in the ocean, off Iceland's coast. He went into the interior of Iceland, and then out to the cliffs overlooking the ocean and to where there remained an old lighthouse nearby, and to an area where astronauts train, a rough and hot terrain indeed. Also to the Blue Lagoon, for swimming, and the fishing market he describes in the story "The Eel-fishers Basket," where he stopped for a short period of time.