Chokeville

 

The Mayor · 05
The Hook

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The fisherman headed out to the pointed tip of the peninsula, leaned into the salty wind, and threw his net. The sea gave up its bounty of sablefish, rockfish, dungeness crab, spiny lobster, bluefin tuna, pink shrimp. Anything he wanted.

Word spread quickly, and soon the shoreline was crowded with dead-eyed anglers, baskets overflowing. They asked the fisherman how long the season lasted here, and he said there are no seasons if you know what you’re doing.

Then he asked the men to look at the sky and to look at the sea and they nodded in appreciation and then he waded out into the waves, bent down, waited a moment, then thrust his hand into the water and plucked out an enormous silver salmon, not even native to those waters, his fingernails deep within its flesh. The men were astonished and stayed put, building lean-tos that became tents and huts and shacks. Idle ships and journeymen couldn’t argue with the fisherman’s success, and quick access to Port Rohner up the coast made for easy trade. They settled, took wives, built docks, and pulled one fish after another out of the ocean.

The fetid shantytown grew into a village, big enough to need a name. The fisherman called it the Hook, based on the shape of the peninsula and the tool that snagged their livelihood. And he dubbed himself the Mayor, this skeletal, scarred kid of eighteen, and even though many tried to take the name from him over the years, using all manner of weaponry, none were successful in making the boy stay dead, and he is still the Mayor today, still impossibly young, overseeing two centuries of brother killing brother, stabbings, gougings, chokings, gunplay, boating accidents, infidelities, fires, one fire after another, well poisonings, trees crushing horses, detonations of every stripe, welts, hangings like you wouldn’t believe, kicking feet, fixed contests, rigged elections, car wrecks, overturned trucks, slaughtered cattle, men cleaned like fish, drownings, endless drownings, too many to count, suffocations, draggings, beatings, dislocated shoulders, a history of mayhem that we all feel ticking inside us as we walk this city’s streets, even as we hoist a child to our shoulders or kiss a girl on her neck, even as we think ourselves good and honest men.

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©MMX · Joshua Allen


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