He is the son of the son of a fisherman. A small man, his beard grows down to his chest, flecked with grey. I don't think I've ever seen the hair on top of his head: a beannie covers him up, or a cap, or maybe even a cowboy hat on the weekends when he isn't fishing. He wears polarized sunnies that give off a blue/green hue. I see myself in peacock colours at the truck depot unloading fish into the refrigerator trucks for the city market. He's a few years older than me. His nose looks like it has been boiled in rum. His voice is gravelly with the smokes. He wears skinny black jeans, blue flannellette shirt wide open to expose his tattooed forearms and singlet. Elastic sided boots.
I saw him stalking around his boat trailer on an early morning. He was wearing olive green waders and he was muttering. I could see he felt like shouting but no fisherman shouts when the Fisheries start going through their nets and their catch with measuring sticks.
In another life, he might have been a jockey, a racing car driver, one of those guys who change your tyres or fix the problem plumbing. But he's not. His Dad was a fisherman and so is he. He probably did his apprenticeship during primary school. He never gave a shit about getting an education or observing the social contract. These bindings of society would never have served him anyway. He was borne of familial violence and the cycles of nature. He has a code that he honours and it works for him.
We have a mutual friend. As a teenager, I used to climb the slipway ladder to visit an old shark fisherman. The sharker was in from Esperance to get the barnacles cleaned off the hull. He kept an eye out for me with his binoculars when I was training for the Avon Descent, canoeing from one side of the harbour to another after school.
"You heard ..." he said to me the other day at the truck depot.
"Yeah, I did."
"He was a great man," the fisherman said to me. "A good bloke."
When Old Salt and I are fishing in the channel, we've come across him. He will brandish a knife that looks suspiciously like the Asian machetes seized by Fisheries; the ones shaped and sharpened from car springs, the handles wrapped in string and fish leather. Old Salt grudgingly respects him, because he knew his Dad, and his Dad's Dad. He could exist in any era, I think. He could be one of the men I write about from the 1820s. Bearded, lean, tattooed, full of a stringy, muscular hunger; an anarchic, five foot tall package of a fisherman.