It must have been an overtired state of silliness - umeshing bream late into the night and laying them neat in bins, icing them down and then stacking the bins onto the back of the ute. Maybe it was the wine later. Maybe it was all the black bream's spines broken off in the flesh of my palms like shards of glass.
We were tired and crusty in the dawn gloaming, hauling nets out of the inlet with mullet still meshing and others leaping over the corkline or their tails waving against the ropes in the olivey waters. Like the ones Unruly caught after his net was down twenty minutes, these fish were huge, gleaming and beautiful. I lost my balance, nearly fell over the side and I blamed the last mullet thrashing in the mesh. "That bloody mullet nearly pulled me in!" I yelled at Old Salt. "This job's got nobs. I want compensation; for trauma, bad jokes and carpal tunnel."
"Woman overboard ..." mused Old Salt, looking as though the idea appealed to him but not while I was doing all the hauling, maybe later. "Got a notice in the mail from the marine safety mob telling me what to do in the event of a man overboard. Just as well I got that notice. I'd have no bloody idea what to do. (He's been a fisherman for sixty five years now.) Apparently, I should chuck a buoy over and then go back and pick 'im up."
He shrugged. "They're prob'ly right. Guess it depends on who it is in the water."