Story by Jose L. Fernandez
What follows is FICTION it came to me in a dream, any similarity with creatures living or represented by counsel is shear luck.
THE SMALLEST GUN
It started as all good experiences do, with lots of Guiness. We were sharing the end of another Rhode Island dive when someone, mentioned that when they were kids they used to kill all kinds of fish with much smaller guns than we use today. No sooner had the words been spoken than I jumped up to exclaim how I had caught all manner of giants in Cuba using a Baby Champion Arbalett no bigger than my forearm. Getting back up into the chair, I proceeded to impart all the knowledge I had gained as a young spearo. After the yawns stopped, I mindlessly said "You know, it takes real talent to take fish with a small gun instead of those underwater photon guns" gesturing towards Dave's latest creation.
My comment was followed by a plethora of self aggrandizing statements by all present on the subject of how each had used a smaller gun, requiring more skill than anyone else present. Giving the beer tab to Tom, Ata explained that in his native land they never even used a gun. they simply held the shaft with their teeth and swam like hell until they impaled a fish or bather. Rene said that underwater hockey had given him the speed to equal such a feat with a weight bell on through the Canadian ice, while Roger pointed out that he knew a manufacturer that made some of the best shafts for such a endeavor and would let them go at a special price. He even thought he might have some out in the Canadian van. We all touted on detailing the amount of skill that is necessary to kill with a free shaft Hawaiian Sling, and agreed that we had all been experts at the sport while Tom tried to give the tab to Mike.
To up the ante, I mention remembering reading years ago of the simplest and smallest gun. The weapon consists of a 12 inch band of large diameter hollow latex band, with a loop of line at one end, and a loop in the band on the other. To hunt, you placed your left pinky into the band loop, brought the band over the outside of your hand, and unto your palm. The shaft, was free and had a slot, like an arrow at the back. Simply place the shaft's slot on the line loop and, forming a tube with your left hand, pull back on the shaft with your right and let it rip. (which it tends to do to your hand if there are any sharp edges to the shaft) I merely stated, that it would take a "man with real cojones" to take fish with such a simple gadget. The challenge was issued simultaneously from all present, except Tom who was chugging his beer. There would be a New England "Macho meet" at Beavertail. The only weapon allowed - the hand sling.
On the Day of the meet the sun shone brightly through the Rhode Island rain. We were all there. I, of course had a prototype spear made out of bicycle tire inner tubes. Dave had tried a different approach. He had stayed within the limits of the rules, but used a 20mm band from an Esclapez and , of course a titanium shaft. Of course, even his arms could not stand the pressure generated, so he implanted welding steel rods in his forearm. He complained that since the surgery had not healed, he should be spotted a scup. We all agreed that he was handicapped enough and gave him none. Ata had the most colorful gun, made from a discarded purple Tung of questionable origin. Roger had a beautiful weapon, made from some Paramoto 45 material which he claimed had been tested and was better than anything else in the market. Mark disagreed, showing his gun with Lackamoto 38, which he explained was Italian and thus best. At least one Canadian claimed that because of the currency differential they should be provided with shampoo rather than having to buy their own. The dispute was settled by me as legal counsel by giving them some KY jelly that was leftover from the NATS.
Everyone was reminded that the rule was free shaft and the game was up. Rene, said that he would never let a fish he had speared get away, and took the reminder as a personal insult. We all laughed and dove in.
Rather early, I managed to break my band and was out of the competition drinking bourbon with Roger who was explaining to me how we could make a killing in the market if not in the water. Dave was next to give up because the metal in his arm kept pulling him down, and he happened to see us drinking.
After a while we were all out on the rocks enjoying the setting sun. Suddenly, one of those rare moments that make our sport so wonderful happened. A pilot whale breached no farther than 30 yards from shore. What a sight. What a sight! From the left we saw a flash of weird Picasso suit as Rene water-planed towards the whale. We could see the puny shaft stick to the whale's tail as it swan towards Bermuda. With a burst of incredible speed, Rene caught up to the leviathan and grabbed the shaft on both sides of the whale tail while attempting to drag the beast backward. Alas, his efforts were for naught. No matter how hard he swam, the mighty tail would sway and the mini Moby Dick swam further south. Soon they were gone from sight. Tom suggested calling the Coast Guard to rescue our comrade, and we would have, but Frank explained that we were out of beer and the liquor store could close before we got there. Sadly, we piled into one van and headed out in search of the soothing brew so we could commiserate his loss.
Jose L. Fernandez