Lucas squinted and looked out over the bay. The steady wind parted his long gray strands of hair and rustled the tall grass before him. He tilted his head as if trying to see beyond the horizon. “The breeze coming off the bay from the north is cool tonight.”
“Does that mean anything?” Peter said trying to draw and imaginary line from Lucas’s eyes in the direction of the bay in order to figure out what he was observing.
“It means tomorrow will be cold and the fishing will be best near the islands.” The words rolled from his lips as if a memorized line from a play.
“Will you be going out there tomorrow?” Peter said looking toward two distant clumps green amid the soft blue waters of the Bay of Plenty.
Lucas’ lips curled down and his head moved slowly back and forth. “Not if the water is calm. The fishing’s not good when waters are calm.”
“You are sure about that?” Peter said.
“Go try it for yourself, Lucas motioned with his head toward the islands.
“No, I trust you,” Peter said as if he thought he had caused offense.
“No, I mean you should try,” Lucas said as if no offense were taken. “Sometimes they bite when the water is choppy. They did in ninety-nine; one of the best years we had.”
“You love to fish, don‘t you?” Peter said smiling.
“Sure do,” Lucas said and broke into a smile. “I love to show people how to fish too. When I take people out I not only want them to have a good time, but to learn something they can remember the rest of their lives.”
“For an American you sure know a lot about fishing these waters,” Peter complimented.
“Americans are stupid?” Lucas smiled.
“No, I meant you know more than the Maoris and nobody knows these water like they do,” Peter said.
Lucas smiled broadly. “Than they are the stupid ones?”
“No, no, it’s just that it seems like you were born here,” Peter tried to explain.
Lucas chuckled. “I know what you mean and it feels like I was born here. It’s as if nothing existed before I came here. Don‘t get all serious on me. You are the most serious Kiwi I know.”
“You are saying New Zealanders aren’t serious?” Peter frowned.
“Only if Americans are stupid,” Lucas said.
“Why did you come?” Peter said. “We’ve never talked about that; one time, maybe, when you had too much to drink.”
Lucas paused and scanned the waters before him. He squinted again. He turned suddenly somber and nearly forlorn. It nearly seemed as if he did not want to answer. “I came to get away from the draft and the war in Vietnam and I stayed.”
“Why didn’t you just go to Canada?” Peter said. “That’s much closer.”
“It was too close,” Lucas said. “I wanted to get as far away as possible.”
“Why didn’t you move the southern tip,” Peter said thrusting his head over his shoulder.
“I still wanted to keep my eyes on things,” Lucas said quietly.
Both men continued to watch the waters. Nothing was said for a couple of minutes.
“That’s it.” Peter said.
Lucas pursed his lips. “It’s time we had a drink or two.”
They walked back toward their motorcycles.
Peter gripped the handlebar and turned to Lucas. “Besides America, America is a big place, exactly where is home?”
Lucas slung his leg over his motorcycle and gestured with his head toward the bay and open ocean beyond the islands. “When I was a kid it was the next road over and now it’s somewhere out their. For me home has always been beyond the horizon.”