There’s a place where the South Carolina and Georgia coast collide. The landscape is littered with sandy beaches, wet marshlands, and leaning palm trees. Residents drink in the salty air like cold water on a hot summer day. This is the Lowcountry where the Sharkman lives.
He’s been here for many years, learning the ways of the sea and the thriving marine live it hosts. He knows the weather patterns and the water temperature. He awaits the season with growing anticipation, it’s his reward for working hard all year.
While he may be occupied with other things, the ocean is never far from his mind. He eats hearty to ready his strength for battle. His wide brimmed hat and thick pole are unmistakable. They are his tools, sandy and strong.
When he steps onto the beach, he fixes his gaze on the watery horizon. His glare is keen and sharp. It’s early morn and the tide is low. It will be a long walk to the water’s edge. The waves beckon to him as he strolls down the coast.
Like a page out of The Adventures of SharkBoy and LavaGirl, the Sharkman arranges his tools in the chosen spot. The hook is carefully threaded through his live bait, leaving it able to swim even if only in circles.
The fishing pole is long and thick. It must be to stand up to the salt water and support the strong line it will cast. He throws it over his shoulder and steps into the water, waves crashing around his feet. The tide is still going out, urging him to come with it.
He does with giddy anticipation. Little by little he walks out into deeper water battling the waves and the current they bring with them. The breeze is nice, and the water is still cool in the morning light. Eventually he wades out to his chest.
With arm outstretched he casts his pole in the flick of his wrist. The line travels weightlessly through the air before splashing into its watery destination, announcing the presence of bait to the surrounding sea life. He lets out his line and turns to head back.
It’s a watery stroll but a pleasant one. At last, he is alone with his thoughts as he reaches the sandy shore. There’s no need for a chair, this won’t take long. The Sharkman scans the beach, noticing a jogger and a couple digging for clams.
They won’t bother him. It’s shaping up to be a good day when his line starts to run. A quick jerk sets the hook signaling the time to reel. He doesn’t know what he’s caught, and it doesn’t matter. It will soon be prey for the saltwater predator he is going to battle.
He doesn’t let the little fish flail long before pulling out his pocket-knife. Warm blood spills onto the sand as he cuts the fish into pieces. The sections are tossed into a bucket to soak in their own fluids. Sharks are avid hunters with a keen sense of smell. They will find this irresistible.
The Sharkman puts away his smaller pole and pulls out his big white beast. It is blistered and bleached from hours in the hot sun. This one is heavy with a monstrous reel and twice as big as the last. Its battle scars are evident, but it is ready for action.
He threads a piece of bloodied fish onto the gigantic hook, bone and all. It is fresh and the fervent scent of blood will travel fast through the water. This time, he may not be alone in the shallows. Wild hunters are not shy, and they do not follow rules.
Again, he wades into the cool murky water with the big white beast on his shoulder. It must be steadied with both hands making it harder to battle the waves. The sun is high now, beating down on the open ocean below. The Sharkman knows his time has come.
He can feel the adrenaline pumping through his veins. Swirls well up in the crashing waves around him as he trudges still further into the sea. He must go far to cast deep. No pain, no gain. The salty water cools him off, but he must not let his guard down.
He is in familiar territory, but he is not at the top of the food chain here. While he knows he is home, the creatures of the sea set his limits. He must listen on their turf. The Sharkman will not be in charge again until he makes it back to shore.
When the water reaches his chest, he throws his pole hard. The line is heavy with the lead and the bloody bait which has dripped in the water around him. There isn’t much time now. The sharks will be coming.
He squints to scrutinize his cast in the distance. It has reached the blue abyss and the Sharkman is pleased. He lets out his line and heads for the sand in the distance, hoping to make the trip alone. He is confident but alert, surveilling every movement in the water.
The coastline welcomes him with an empty chair and the promise of impending battle. Once again, he is by himself to contemplate life choices and enjoy the gentle ocean breeze. Now he must wait. His arms are heavy, and the break is an inviting reprieve.
Battle Between Sharkman and Beast
Time creeps by as he thinks of his wife and the coming work week. What unscrupulous surprises will the days hold? He doesn’t need to plan his week, that has been long done. Now he thinks of options. He thinks of his downtime and the backup plan he will use when things go awry.
He doesn’t like being caught off-guard. He’s a planner. The same way he knew today was coming and he prepared. He prepared his body with rest and nutrition. He chose his best tools. He’s even ready to photograph his victory.
In an instant, his pole bends. The line runs hard and fast. The Sharkman sets his hook and plants his feet in the sand. With bent knees he tucks the butt of the great white beast under his breast to increase his leverage. This will surely be a battle of epic proportions.
The beast on the end of his line heads for deeper water but the Sharkman is calling him. First, he pulls his pole, then he reels slowly, just a little at a time. The monster demands line, taking it still deeper out to sea. The mere mortal on the shore must comply lest his pole snap and his prize get away.
He walks up and down the waters edge, mustering every bit of physical strength. He pulls his pole back towards him, bent tip in the air and reels on the way down. The pole bends and jerks but he doesn’t let go. More line is demanded as he lets out the drag again.
The battle rages on with seemingly little progress. Its all he can do to keep from being dragged into the water. This is a big one. He offers line and then takes back more than he gave. Back and forth, back and forth, the fight continues in the heat of the day.
The raging animal finally comes out of the water in the distance, a last-ditch effort to rid himself of the monstrous hook he’s caught on. It doesn’t work and he comes down with a wild splash. The Sharkman is patient as he knows the animal is tiring.
He continues his pattern of pulling and reeling, giving line only when necessary. He makes it a point to stay out of the water now. A small crowd gathers behind him to see what he’s battling so ferociously. The Sharkman doesn’t mind, he knows there is safety in numbers.
The Meeting on the Beach
It takes a long time for the dorsal fin to appear in the shallows and the Sharkman is almost completely drained. Adrenaline and excitement are keeping him on his feet. The battle is nearly over after ninety long minutes under the hot sun.
The shark’s belly brushes against the sand and the air on his back signals his defeat. The animal lays in the surf with the waves breaking around him, waiting. He has no more energy to fight. He lets the Sharkman pull him in. Finally, he will be rid of that hook.
The Sharkman musters his last bit of strength to lift the beast for the picture, careful to keep it away from his face. It is as big and heavy as he is and just as ornery. The giant plays dead as they snap the photograph, hoping to go back to his home in the sea.
The ocean is where he is king of the wild beasts. There he isn’t afraid of anything but here on land he struggles to breathe. The Sharkman moves quickly to get the animal back into the water. He takes it just far enough to get the beasts belly off the ocean floor.
He must be alert because the animal will seize the opportunity to make a meal out of him. Gently he lets go and sprints back to shore as it swims away. Today the Sharkman won. His memory and a photograph will serve as his prize. They will feed his soul until the ocean calls again.