“Santiago,” the boy beckoned, “why do we come to this spot, day after day, dropping a line with out a hook.” The old man does not answer. Instead he continues to ply out the line, tying small loops every arm’s length. The boy turns and stares off into the distance, at the other skiffs far on the horizon. He feels the old man’s gaze upon his face and turns his attention back to the tiller.
Near the end of the line is large, leaden weight. The old man holds the line firmly, but gently so he can feel the weight scrape the sea bottom. His hands are a fine leather, well worn from age and work, sun and spray. Suddenly and sharply the line peels away from his hands, accelerating fast into the deep dark.
The old man jumps to his feet, “Ver, Manolin?!”
“No, querido niño. Eighty-five days and still you do not understand.”
Later that night at the old man’s shack, after the lines had been coiled and sail fastened, the two sat shoveling cold rice and beans into their mouths.
“Manolin, do you know how DiMaggio strikes with such fierceness? Do you know why his homeruns appear so effortless?”
“The ball has left the park before it even leaves the pitcher’s hand. The game has been won before the sun has risen.”
“Niño…it starts with the preparedness. One must probe the deep, over and over, until he knows exactly where the darkness lies. That is the place where the beast lives; that is when the consequential catch occurs.”
The boy stares at his plate. Several hours go by in silence. Finally, the boy leaves stands to leave the room
“Manolin, where are you going?”
“To sharpen the hook, Santiago…for mañana.”