• Vol. 04
  • Chapter 03
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The Fisherman

It was 9.15am and, just as he did every Friday morning, Ernesto Brown stood in his shed at the bottom of the garden at number 16 Braxton Way.

He was admiring his collection of gumboots. To say that Ernesto had a “thing” for gumboots was a slight understatement. He had exactly 55 pairs of gumboots all lined up on shelves. Some pairs, shiny and new, had never been worn, while others were old and faded from use.

Most of the gumboots were sizes that would fit Ernesto’s size 10 feet—all except for two pair. A little bright pink, baby-size pair and another giant-size 14 pair.

Ernesto could barely believe his luck when he came across them in the second-hand store. Sometimes he would sit the baby pair beside the giant pair, just for fun, and be so amused that he’d take photos on his phone.

He flicked his cloth across the gumboots swiping away imaginary dust. Ernesto loved to see his reflection in the smooth, glossy black rubber and try as he might he just couldn’t get the old pairs to shine the same. He would tell himself that it didn’t matter much because he really did like the contrast of the muted, worn rubber alongside the new.

Ernesto cast his gaze across his collection considering which pair to choose. He was the self-appointed stream rubbish collector in his village. A fisherman of sorts.

Over time he’d fished out a wide range of trash from the little stream that ran behind the rows of 300-year-old attached cottages before winding its way under the bookshop until it popped out again near the village cemetery.


The Fisherman

The things people threw away fascinated him. Besides the usual wrappers, cans and paper, Ernesto had found some unusual things—like a left shoe, a 45 record, a bunch of keys, an old tyre, a bathroom sink, and even a condom once.

He didn’t know if it had been used or not and had been tempted to leave it there but eventually had fished it out with his net and quickly emptied it into his big white bucket without looking at it.

Ever since the new supermarket opened up nearby, Ernesto had fished out many plastic bags. He really couldn’t understand why people didn’t re-use them.

They often snagged by the bookshop where the water pooled before escaping into the underground darkness. Sometimes Ernesto found himself mesmerised by the shuddering movement of the plastic bags as the current tugged and pulled at them in a playful tussle. Other times they floated like strange bloated jellyfish.

Ernesto finally chose a pair of green, well-worn boots. He gave them a quick polish before lifting them off the shelf. His heart quickened as he first pulled on one boot carefully and then the other.

Humming loudly, Ernesto smiled with excitement as his feet settled inside his gumboots. He picked up the bucket and net, and glanced at his watch. It was exactly 10.30am, time to go fishing.