No Halibut, One Arrowhead

The artifact as found sitting center frame. What? Where? 

I found this copy of Chuck Palahniuk’s novel, Diary, tucked into the children’s section for sale at the Goleta branch of the public library.

I mistook it for an oversight in sorting before realizing it must have been carefully placed by a fan of the author’s twisted humor. No doubt somebody delighted in placing a dark humor horror novel in the kiddie section.

Palahniuk wrote Fight Club, later turned into a film starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton.

Diary is written as if by the wife of a guy that attempted suicide and is now in a coma. Her husband is a building contractor who has raised the ire of clients nationwide for remodels he did on their second and third homes wherein he went above and beyond what was asked.

The trouble is, the contractor, with expert craftsmanship, likes to wall off and hide rooms in homes. Owners return to houses with missing rooms. Sometimes it takes awhile to figure out what’s wrong because they rarely visit these vacation properties.

“Today, a man called from Long Beach. He left a long message on the answering machine, mumbling and shouting, talking fast and slow, swearing and threatening to call the police, to have you arrested. …

A woman calls from Seaview to say her linen closet is gone. …

A man calls from the mainland, from Ocean Park, to complain that his kitchen is gone. …

The woman with the missing closet. The man with his bathroom gone. These people, they’re all messages on the answering machine, people who had some remodeling done on their vacation places.”

The artifact, a root beer-colored stone blade seen here center frame, had tiny bits of tar stuck to it.

I sat hunched on a sandstone cobble the color and texture of stone ground mustard, along the high tide line amid the wrack and rubble of the seashore.

A dead anchovy with two hooks through it lay on the sand seafloor between submerged boulders just offshore, the fishing rod upright on the beach six feet off the sand in a makeshift holder built of a steel fence stake, PVC pipe and metal hose clamps.

There I sat, line out, in the game, reading a novel.

The day before I went out spearfishing in poor conditions with little visibility and when I walked up this next day the clarity looked no better.

Spearfishing was not an option so I threw out a line with dead bait.

Later I’d throw lures at the fish and actively work the shoreline up and down the beach.

But first I’d try bait and wait. And lose myself in story.

The busted point facing down.

I set down my backpack and gear in the rocks and placed my rod holder in the sand some yards away.

Within a certain predetermined area so chosen through decades of personal experience the placement of my rod was happenstance. I could have placed it up or down the beach within some 40 yards of shoreline. But I chose where I chose, for whatever particular reasons on this day. And something happened for it.

I baited the hook twice and I rose from my stone seat several times and held the line feeling for the telltale quiver of a hooked fish. They don’t always run after biting, don’t always bend the rod.

I’ve hooked halibut with my rod in hand and never knew they bit until I reeled in for fresh bait and finally felt the tug.

Between all these actions tending my line I returned to sit on the same stone.

There I’d sit reading Palahniuk, waiting for a halibut.

I fished for about 45 minutes when I once more placed the book down to get up and walk over to check my line.

I reached to place the book down, glanced over, and there lay the Chumash artifact peeking out at me from under another rock.

About three quarters of the artifact shown and it was no different to the unsuspecting eye than any of the thousands of other stones around, but my mind locked onto the thin flat bit of stone nonetheless, several feet away, amid a beach of gravel and cobblestone.

Nice and thin.

The piece is close to complete, but missing the tip of what appears to be a small projectile point of some sort.

The artifact on one side has a flat and rounded end like that of a butter knife and on the other side what appears would have been, if complete, a fine point like a drawn out pin tail on a surfboard.

I caught no halibut, not even a bite. But I saw an arrowhead.

While after food for myself I found instead somebody else’s tool once used in their own pursuit to fill their belly. I wonder what he was after.

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1 Response to No Halibut, One Arrowhead

  1. Gerry Hall says:

    Thanks for the sharing the moment. I can relate to the book’s twisted story and the little sensory memories of surf fishing. It’s been years since I fished along the So. Cal coast, but your images of planting the stake in the sand and the surprise of an unexpected catch on the line brought it all back. Surf fishing is a great way to do something else, discover tiny objects nearby and maybe some inner clarity.

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