The Fisherman

When I was young and foolish, but so certain I was wise,I took any work offered.

Sometimes I toiled days at a stretch without ever sleeping – cleaning fish, bailing water from flimsy craft, scrubbing filth from the decks. And at other times I would lose myself in strange lands, listen to the tales that sailors so like to tell, and would think of the love I had left a world away at home.

The years passed.

Look at my hands and you will see I tell you the truth. My palms are coarse and callused, tattooed with adventure and with the trials of fate.

Frequently, I promised myself to quit the life of roaming, to settle down in Haifa, where my family was from. But each time I reached my own port, I was talked into embarking on yet one more journey. And another.

Then, one night in the month of August, my fishing vessel was wrecked during a violent summer gale off the coast of North Africa. The only survivor, I was captured and taken prisoner by a band of Barbary pirates.

Nothing pleased them more than gaining another seaman for nothing, a lost soul to barter in the slave market at Oran.

They had in their party thirty others already. Each one a rough sea dog scraped up from Barbary shores; each of them just enough alive to coax a ransom.