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Chapter 10 "Searching For Ocho"

Off they went out deeper to the limestone areas that were filled with pitted holes and crevices. A real place to hang out if you’re a stone crab and, soon, Stoney was asking around for the last known whereabouts of Ocho. Many feared him as he regularly dines on Stone crabs but not Stoney. Seems a few years back while he was cruising the trap line, busting the sides out and snacking on shark skins, he saw Ocho inside one of the traps and he was collecting bones and scraps of coral and making a regular toy box out of this trap, as if it was his new home.

“Better get outta there,” Stoney said as he peered into the dark box between the plastic slats, “Soon the commercial fishermen who own this new home you are in will pull this trap into their noisy boat topside and you will not be released. Instead, you will be imprisoned and sold for cobia bait. All my friends tell me this is what happens to Octopus who are taken by the Stone Crab fishermen.”

No sooner had he said this and the rope that was attached to Ochos new home stiffened then began to pull the trap topside in a tornado of stirred up marl and grass. Ocho easily slid out through the entrance and spread out on the grass in front of Stoney eyeing him.

“Hmmmm,” Ocho said, “in exchange for this valuable information I choose to not eat you. In fact, I will instead offer my services to you for our lifetime collectively of course.

Stoney said, “What does that mean anyway?”

“What it means is that we were both very lucky today. You see, I am one of the smartest creatures in the sea and have an unusual ability to reason much unlike many other creatures that cannot. I will be there for you should you ever need my services in the field of intelligence,” Ocho explained.

There was a rush of current and a mass of dark inky substance that blurred Stoney’s vision for a second and Ocho was gone.

“That is how I met Ocho,” Stoney said. “I never did figure he was that smart as he was in a crab trap and thought it was his new home, but who am I to judge?”

Super Snook asked, “How are we going to find Ocho?”

He reminded Stoney that Ocho could be anywhere. Stoney quipped, ”Not true ole Super friend, he will be where the grub is. Not many creatures are too far away from their food source and we both know this as true?”

He was already close to what Octopus’ like, so they continued along with their secret document inside the crusher claw of Stoney, while the other claw was securely latched on the SS dorsal fin. Off they went with Stoney sending out small clicks by grinding his jaw plates together in some sort of Morse code cadence. Soon there were clicks coming back from beneath and Stoney processed them into a general revelation that Ocho was near.

“STOP!” Stoney exclaimed.

Super Snook turned on a dime and came to a stop while Stoney pondered a bit then slowly waved his crusher claw and softly said, ”Over there..”

Sure enough, there was Ocho crab walking across a small reef like a colorful Indian throw rug. Glistening as waves of iridescent colors shot through his body while his 8 sucker-encrusted legs probed the nooks and crannies of the reef below him. He was hunting as usual and was distracted by his efforts and did not see Stoney and Super Snook approaching.

“Hey,YO! YO, OCHO! It’s me, Stoney!” Stoney yelled. “I have a favor to ask of you.. Can you help?”

Ocho seemingly a bit annoyed at his this disturbance said, “Yes, of course, come closer.”

Cautiously the pair approached the octopus and Stoney jumped off Super Snooks back and shuffled over the Octopus with the piece of paper they found where Super Snook had been ensnared by the gill net along the beach the night before.

Ocho took one look at the paper and touted, “This is a boat registration paper and also a series of GPS numbers for something known as a set. I believe a set is a term used by commercial fishermen who use gill nets. It shows the location of each set and also shows how long each set is. Where did you find this?”

Super Snook knew immediately what had to be done, now that Ocho had declassified this paper .

”Come on, Stoney, we got some work to do. Thank you Ocho!”

Super Snook swept in and with a rush took Stoney by the crusher claw and sped off into the blue green waters, headed north to where his life had been threatened by the gill net.

“I know someone who will want that piece of paper, Stoney,” Super Snook said as he was hauling tail into the tide, and was headed back to the area where the invisible nets had almost ended his life.

“A guy by the name of Warden Jordan will want to know about these ‘sets’ and will need this information. I know where he lives,” Super Snook exclaimed.

As they pair approached the area where they knew the nets were located, SS slowed to idle speed and was searching for something along the beach. Occasionally he lifted his head out of the water and then resurfaced a time or two and was looking for a really large oak tree that was onshore. Warden Jordan used this particular tree as a look out to watch a long stretch of beach for violators. He saw Warden Jordan in it several times with his binoculars in the daytime and even saw him there a few nights using a device that allowed him to see into the dark called a “night scope.” He was not there but Super Snook had an additional plan as well and headed north a bit more. He came to a small opening in the beach and checked the tide and ran full speed up onto the bank and flip splashed into the smallish creek and headed up creek.

“Hey Super Snook! Slow down clown! I cannot take brackish water like you can, so I got to drop off here! I will wait at the creek mouth for you to return. Here is the paper..” Stoney said.

Stoney took off in one direction and SS in the other. Super Snook reached a sharp turn in the creek and picked off a few clueless pinfish as they rushed about panicked by the approach of this monster snook. He needed a snack and pinfish were always around and were usually clueless and easy game.

He, now, saw where Warden Jordan lived and approached the makeshift dock looking for him. He was sitting there under a small oak tree, feet up in a hammock and asleep. He had a series of maps and charts scattered about and his glasses were in the middle of them. He had spilled a small area of iced tea on the map, and had, obviously, fallen asleep in this awkward looking position. His work boots were lying close to the waters edge and this gave Super Snook an idea. He took the paper and slid up out of the water and placed the folded up paper inside one of the boots and quietly slid back into the water. He turned around and with one cupped flick of that 14 inch wide tail sent a column of cool brackish water straight for Warden Jordan’s resting head and he was gone like a freight train.

“What the...?” exclaimed Warden Jordan, who had been up all night looking for netters was soaked to the bone by this and was mad as a wet hornet! In his jump to save himself from the drowning he spilled over the small hand made table that had his iced tea and maps and charts and eyeglasses on them. He looked around with his service revolver drawn squinting and ready to shoot at anyone coming towards him. After a bit of detective, he work saw this water had come from the direction of his dock and this left him puzzled. The water was only a few feet deep there so how did this happen and where did it come from. He noticed the water was muddy near the dock but little else. As he grabbed his stuff up he also got his boots and put them on and halfway through the right one he stopped reached into it and then slowly unfolded the paper and his eyes and his smile both grew wide simultaneously. PAYDIRT and he did not care how either. He knew what he had in his hands and could not reach his radio fast enough.

“Dispatch, this is Jordan, can you run a VN for me please? I will gladly hold”

After writing down an address and a name, he quickly walked into the house and got his hand held GPS and entered the data he had on the paper in front of him and after he entered and located the GPS points he got dried off, put on another set of clothes and drove towards the beach. He was thankful for the information but still a bit ticked over whoever baptized him in mid dream. It was a trade off he would gladly do again as he has been after these particular guys for years and never did catch them read handed. Little did he know that the waitress named Phoebe at the FISH CHOWDER RESTAURANT was best friends with one of the nieces of the stab netters nephew, and when the warden sat at the counter to eat lunch she simply would work around him in an effort to get any information she could as he spoke on the radio or his cell phone. She was the stab netters agent and they cut her in on the take for a small percentage of each catch for any information she was able to get. This explained her big tips when a certain group ate there every week. Oh, it was a small tight circle of trust they were in on all right. No matter how small her information was it could still be useful also, the FISH CHOWDER RESTAURANT was famous for its chowder and fresh fish sandwiches and had many plaques to testify to this were hanging on the walls inside it. In fact, the walls were literally covered with them. The owner was from a third generation family called the Fullers and they owned just about everything in town and then some. Old Blake Fuller was the head honcho and at 80 years old he was as fit as they come. He walked through town looking like he just stepped out of the dry cleaners and always had a tip of the hat for the ladies or a quarter for any kid who simply said hello. He was well respected and one of the towns anchors financially. He owned most of the bank and several other businesses in town and supported many charities and funded any efforts to raise money locally for youth sports. In short, he was as good as they get. Everyday, at 12:30 we would walk in order a half a sandwich, no mayo and an unsweetened ice tea. It was a rule and never changed. Even before he hit the door, Phoebe had the order into the cook. In an instant, Randy the cook had the fish on the grill in the back. Randy was a shifty drifter who had a knack for deals and ran the produce, as well. He bought the produce and took care of the supplies, and had this gig for the 17 months years, now. He was a good cook and a good supply guy, but little else. Most times he was out at the WETSPOT Bar and Grill closing the place every night of the week and had a few DUI’s, so he now rode a bike back and forth to work. Some say he had a nice job as a mail carrier but got into a scrap over some mailroom improprieties and was “let go.” Other than that nobody really knew anything more about him. Nobody cared either as long as their stuff was fresh he was able to exist without issue at the FISH CHOWDER BAR AND GRILL in the town of Victorville.

Super Snook powered through the shallow water entrance to the creek mouth and looked around for Stoney. Stoney had waited there as Super Snook went into the brackish water that Stoney could not tolerate. Super Snook told Stoney that he delivered the note to the warden in such a way that his identity was safe and he was sure the warden got his paper.

Stoney said, ”Hey you want to watch it all go down tonight?”

Super Snook knew better but he also felt that payback was in order and they just might need his help somehow. They stayed...