The one that got away

At Brighton Beach, a fisherman caught a huge striped bass. I’m a poor judge of fish weight, but it was the length of his thigh and it glinted silver from a hundred yards away. A knot of rubberneckers gathered to gawp at the body. From down the beach, a tall pink man in small black Speedos strolled towards the crowd, blowing a whistle and waving. People got edgy. Were they were allowed to be out on the spit? He started talking to the Hmong fisherman, who spoke no English. The fish was handed over and the fisherman backed away. Something was off. Where, I wondered, did this cop keep his badge in his ridiculous banana hammock? His breath smelled of vodka, and the crowd slowly sussed him out for the drunk Russian bully that he was.

Indignation knows no national boundaries. The bully was routed. He gave the bass back to the little fisherman, and swaggered back to his backpack down the beach. He stood there, drinking from a brown-bagged bottle. With two naked fingers, he fired idly at the dwindling crowd.