(Author’s note: This story features my fictional deckhand, Jack “Six-Pack” Pierce, a frequent character in my fantasies.)
Six-Pack was as excited as I’ve seen him since the day we got 2 tarpon releases and the charter party tipped him 100 bucks and all their leftover beer!
“Skipper! It’s here! It’s my favorite holiday of all time, except maybe for some of those celebrated by obscure sects that believe in orgies and stuff.”
“And what holiday might that be?’ I inquired (knowing the answer in advance).
“Why, Hollerween! Time for tricks and treats and all the little Hollorweenies dressed in scary costumes and parties and all kinds of fun stuff!”
“And what’s on the agenda for this year?”
“Well, we got to finish makin’ these here jackofish (pumpkins carved with the jagged mouth on one end and dorsal, tail and pectoral fins of carved wood inserted in the other to make them resemble a sort of post-nuclear fish), and then stroll the docks seein’ the sights. I ‘spec the kiddos to be all decked out as commercial fishermen, shrimpers, environmentalists, fisheries scientists, various congresspersons, and other frightenin’ creatures.”
“What about vampires?”
“Sure, they’ll be a few lawyers in the pack. I think the big sellers this year, – even bigger than Bill & Hillary masks last year – will be Bill Hogarth – and Penny Dalton outfits.” (For those who aren’t up on legislative matters, these two were in charge at NOAA & NMFS at the time – the folks who took our red snapper away last Halloween.)
“The big attraction on one of the dock’s is gonna be ol’ “Bill’s” Haunted Hatteras, and we both know some evil things have taken place aboard that vessel!”
“The maintenance schedule alone scares me half to death.” It is nearly always best to humor Six-Pack at such times as this.
“Next we visit the sailbote version – the Frightenin’ Frigate!”
“Not me, Bud. Sailboat people are weird enough all year ‘round!”
“Then we go trick or treatin’. The first stop needs to be in Austin at Texas Parks & Wildlife headquarters. I hear they’re giving away 15 inch snapper again this year, but they may not last long – with everybody goin’ after them. Inside word is that NMFS is gonna stiff everybody this Halloween – give us a sack full of unfair snapper, shark, billfish, and tuna regs, season closures, limited entry for charter boats, and no captain and crew limits on snapper and kings. With mother nature handin’ out bad weather every time some kids knocks on her door, it’s enough to put fun-lovin’ folks in a bad mood.”
“What would you suggest we do about the situation?”
“Well, skipper, my feelin’ is that we dish out a trick to match those lousy treats! We’ll soap the windows of the IRS and leave a burnin’ bag of doggie doody on their front porch in the form of all of us connected with the charter fishin’ industry – captains, mates, and folks in support businesses – filing losses on their income taxes, thus cuttin’ into the money available to the very Federal agencies who are tryin’ to oppress our bidness!”
“Do we get refreshment on this night of the living dead?”
“Please don’t mention that movie, Capt’n, reminds me of my honeymoon with my first wife. To answer your question, though, I just made a nice batch of punkin daquiries.”
“Is that what you’re drinking?” I really doubted it.
“Hell yes! ‘Cept I don’t care for punkins or rum too much, so I substituted bourbon and faucet water instead.”
“That sounds like a workable mixture. What other plans do we have?”
“A dinner fit for the season – grilled Boo-fin tuna with ghost crab stuffin’! Then tomorrow we have an all-inclusive fishin’ trip – inshore for jack (-o-lantern) fish and a few rounds with big boo-fish, then offshore for a try at a big boo-marlin! Can’t keep any marlin of that flavor under ‘bout 350 pounds, now, remember, and we cain’t even hold ‘em up for a picture so you can write a decent article. On the plus side, however, we can go bobbin’ for red snapper – they’ll be dead ones floatin’ around behind every boat tryin’ to practice catch an’ release!”
“A Six-Pack for all seasons! I can’t wait for Thanksgiving.”
“Actually, I don’t know what we’re gonna do for the other holidays this year, skipper. Cain’t have a fresh Thanksgiving snapper this year – or one for Christmas, either. What will the seasons be without a big ol’ sow, all stuffed with dressin’, layin’ on the table in all it’s basted glory, with the kids fightin’ over the drumsticks?”
“Drumsticks? On a fish?”
“Sorry. Havin’ a flashback to my unhappy childhood, I reckon. Anyhow, I guess we’ll have to try to get some tuna and eat a bunch of boiled shrimp – like the Hawaiians do. Then maybe we can get a nice, legal snapper for the New Kears’ Day feast.”
“Well, yeah. You know, – after Y to K.”
This piece was first published in Saltwater Texas, in late 1999, as a humorous jab towards the fisheries services, among others.