My name is Jack Legare. I live in a small, weather-beaten cape near the end of Dock Street in Hale Harbor, Rhode Island. The roof is new. But the weather shingles date back to the 1950s, and I bet half of them blow away the next time a hurricane comes storming up the New England coast. The trim is peeling something fierce, which means there are several buckets of white paint in my future, probably this March before our season kicks in and things get busy around here. But maintenance is a small price to pay for salty breezes from the Atlantic.
New York City—I don’t miss it. Not one bit. The streets reek of food carts and gas fumes, and the smell of garbage is ferocious during the summer when the city turns into a concrete sauna. Outside my former office at Gulag Sachs, if you tilted your head at just the right angle and paid careful attention, you’d get a strong whiff of anxiety from desperate people who couldn’t wait to get the hell off the hamster wheel.
My cottage is part of Dewey’s Marina, which has been a family-owned business over seventy-five years. First it belonged to John Dewey. Then the Moretti brothers. Now me. Sort of. The Morettis have a three-year earn-out, while I learn the ropes.
We have gas pumps, twelve slips for boats and six buildings. There’s my house, a garage for engine repairs, the two-story tackle shop with an office and thirty-seven percent of the showroom upstairs, a convenience store, and a lobster pound where you can buy culls, bullets, chicks, and selects fresh out of the ocean. There’s also a small shack at the end of the pier, far enough away to isolate the stink, where we sell live bait, mostly eels and green crabs. Depending on the time of year, we carry mummies and clam bellies. And we always keep plenty of frozen squid on hand.
There’s none of the la-di-da pretentiousness that drove me crazy in Manhattan. Christian Louboutin pumps don’t work on our docks. The heels get caught between the planks. And I doubt most people around here care whether somebody is wearing a Brioni suit or carrying a $25,000 handbag. Try leaving a Birkin around—somebody might stow a few sand eels in it. I intend to keep things simple and honor the traditions that make Dewey’s the neighborhood hangout.
Like our shark tournament: It starts every year on the first Friday following the fourth of July and ends on Sunday with a cookout, awards ceremony, and contest for chugging bunker oil—which is what we call a cocktail of fish slime. Last year one of the captains won $16,000 for catching a 260-pound mako.
I won’t make any changes to the grill inside the convenience store. April through December, the regulars start filing in at 5:00 in the morning. Many of them leave their favorite coffee mugs on a shelf to the right of our fry top. They swear our garbage omelet—cheese, peppers, onions, any meat you want—holds them all the way to dinner.
It’s taking time. But I’m in a good place. Relaxed. Learning all kinds of things from the Moretti brothers. Debating the useless shit I love: the best rod, the best reel, the best lure to hook a monster with as much chance of pulling me in as I have of pulling it out. There are no bossholes around here telling me what to do or how to sell the crap that some monkey whipped up in investment banking. Dewey’s is a place where people pull together.
As opposed to Wall Street, where tribes hose their weak sisters at the first hint of trouble. Except for missing the kids, I’m happy with my new life. And the best part is nobody’s telling me what to do. Not even Asshole Al. He’s the jerk who taught me everything I know about fishing.
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