Zodiac by Vilaska Nguyen

ImagePaul Nguyen, Anchorage, Alaska, circa 1979.

     The buoys are gone. As the sun sets, the tide becomes violent making it hard to stand.

     Lynden sits on a plank elevated in the middle of the Zodiac, a small rubber boat. This is its maiden voyage. Jacque Cousteau was Lynden’s childhood idol. He would stand outside his neighbor’s window, much like the rest of the local children, and watch the only television in the small countryside town of Cam Ranh, Vietnam. When Lynden was lucky, he’d hear his friends call him over to watch another oceanic adventure of the charismatic Frenchman. Decades later, Lynden is living his dream. The dream is literally floating on the Pacific Ocean just off the shores of Washington State.

     The young man has a natural sense of direction on the water. He knows the crab traps are directly beneath him, however, the buoys marking their location, along with the lines attached to the cages, are nowhere in sight. Lynden sees a group of men standing on the jagged rocks a few hundred yards away. They’re shouting something indecipherable. One man is waving a bright orange object over his head. Anger rushes to Lynden’s fingertips. That’s his precious buoy with the name Tran written around its belly.

     The humming of the motor’s idle almost questions Lynden. What now? He unsheathes his hunting knife and twists the throttle. The waves become bigger, louder, pushing the boat towards the shore with more immediacy. Lynden opens a Styrofoam container at his feet and sees a salmon gasping on melted ice. He covers the box and imagines gutting the fish.


Vilaska Nguyen is a Deputy Public Defender in San Francisco and enjoys reading and writing flash fiction. He contributes to As It Ought To Be and his writing has previously appeared in NanoFiction. The story Zodiac was inspired by fishing trips with his father, Paul Nguyen, pictured above.

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1 Response to Zodiac by Vilaska Nguyen

  1. nyamahiro says:

    reminds me of my days fishing in and around Kodiak Alaska

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