• “In front of him, the bay stretched dark and silent, one of the countless lagoons that border the coast where Florida thrusts its great green thumb into the tropics” (1)

(Rising Action)

  • “The man turned abruptly and went into the garage, where his cast net hung…He liked the harsh tug of the retrieving rope around his wrist, and the way the net came alive when the cast was true, and the thud of a captured fish on the floorboards of the skiff” (1)

(Rising Action)

  • “Somewhere out in the channel a porpoise blew with a sound like steam escaping…he had seen the charter-boat captain reach over side and gaff a baby porpoise through the sinewy part of the tail” (1)

(Rising Action)

  • “A school of sardines surfaced suddenly, skittering along like drops of mercury. Something, perhaps the shadow of the skiff, had frightened them” (3)
  • “His conscious mind had no time to function, but instinct told him that the net was wide enough to cover both swirls” (3)
  • “Then the sea exploded in his face…in the split second in which thought was still possible, that those twin swirls had been not by two mullet, but by the wing tips of the giant ray of the Gulf Coast” (3)


  • “He felt himself sliding slowly, and then faster and suddenly the ray made a great leap forward, and the rope burned around the base of the stake, and the man’s foot hit it hard. He kicked himself backward with his remaining strength, and the rope parted, and he was free” (6)

(Falling Action)

  • “High above, there was a droning sound, and looking up he saw the nightly plane from New Orleans inbound for Tampa” (6)

(Falling Action)

  • “Slowly, painfully, the man began to move through the placid water. He came to the skiff at last and climbed into it” (6)


  • “The mullet, still alive, slapped convulsively with its tail. The man reached down with his torn hand, picked up the mullet, let it go…He began to work on the slipknot doggedly with his teeth. His mind was almost a blank, but not quite. He knew one thing. He knew he would no no more casting alone at night” (6)

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