<DIV>BIG FISH </DIV><DIV>We’re .ishing at the edge of the Gulf Stream two miles north of Havana. From this far out, the city looks like it’s about to be swallowed by the waves. <BR>“Havana is sinking,” I say to Bebo, standing behind the wheel. <BR>“I guess Columbus was right. The earth is round,” Bebo says without a hint of a smile on his face. He hands me a nautical chart of the north coast of Cuba. <BR>“Check the compass, and the chart—tell me exactly where we are. ” <BR>I run my .inger across a dark gray band marking the Gulf Stream then up to the last little island in a chain of islands hooking south from the tip of Florida. <BR>“Key West is eighty-.ive miles north-northeast of us,” I say, checking the big brass compass. “Havana is .ive miles due south. ” <BR>“You’re getting the hang of it,” Bebo says. When my father yawns, Bebo nods toward the stern of the boat. “I think he’s had enough for the day.” <BR>Papi’s been sitting in the .ighting chair almost the whole day waiting for a bite, but he hasn’t gotten as much as a nibble. He’s not too happy about the possibility that we might be going home empty-handed. My father thinks that if we catch a big .ish on December 31st we’ll have good luck every day of the coming year. <BR>My two brothers and I always go .ishing with him on that day. We usually have a few big ones to show my mother and the Garcias, our next-door neighbors when they meet us at the dock. After the .ish are cleaned and put away, we eat dinner and celebrate New Year’s eve on the boat, with the carnival music and revelers playing and dancing on the streets above us. <BR>Papi stretches, then yawns even louder. Bebo whis­pers, “Hurry, he’s going to get up.” <BR>I’m standing next to Papi smiling, when he starts to unclip the rod from the chair. The .ighting chair is made out of steel and wood, swivels and tilts just like the ones at the barbershop, but it has no cushions. It does have straps and the hardware to clip the rod to the chair so you don’t get pulled into the water when you’re fiighting a big fiish. <BR>“Of all the years to go home empty-handed,” he says, looking over my head at the horizon behind me. <BR>“Papi, can I take a turn on the chair?” I ask and look around for my brothers. I can hear Gordo and Alquilino, the oldest, buzzing around our next-door neighbor Angelita, too busy to notice that Papi has gotten up. <BR>“I’m a lot bigger than I was last year,” I add, squaring my shoulders and standing up as straight as I can. <BR>“I don’t know, Julian. The .ish out here are huge,” he says. “A .lick of their tail and they’ll pull you in!” <BR>“Yeah, but I’m stronger now,” I say. “I know what to do, Bebo explained the  whole thing to me.” <BR>“Bebo explained the whole thing to you?” he asks as the ends of his mustache start to rise. <BR>“From beginning to end,” I say. “And you know how good Bebo is at explaining things.” <BR>Papi looks at me, sizing me up as if he’s never seen me before. “So, does Bebo think you can handle a big .ish?” <BR>“I know exactly what to do!” I say with as much con.i­dence as I can muster. <BR>“OK, Julian, I guess I owe you one for this morning,” he says and squints at the setting sun. “It’s getting late but I guess we have time for one more pass.” <BR>I jump into the chair as fast as I can, before my brothers can claim it, or Papi can change his mind again. <BR>He changed his mind this morning and let Gordo steer the boat out of the harbor instead of me. I was already waiting at the wheel when I saw Gordo coming. <BR>“Papi, you said last night that I could take her out,” I yelled at him, then gripped the wheel real tight. <BR>“It’s late, Julian. Next time,” he said as Gordo started to wedge himself in between the wheel and me. <BR>“What if there is no next time?” I grunted, then pushed back. Papi stopped and stared at me. He looked angry. <BR>“I heard you talking to Mr. Garcia on the phone this morning,” I blurted out. “You said everything is changing and this could be our last fishing trip.” <BR>Papi kept looking at me. “Not yet, Julian,” he said, sounding more sad than angry, then Gordo started push­ing really hard. <BR>I could have hung on longer, but I could tell by the sad-mad tone of my father’s voice, that it was hopeless. Besides, Gordo is bigger and stronger than I am, and he always has to win. </DIV><DIV>“This is your big chance,” my father says as he helps me .it the end of the rod into the metal cup in between my knees. He clips the rod to the brass .ittings on the arm of the chair. “There. Now if a big fish wants to pull you in, it’ll have to take the chair, too,” he says as he double-checks the clips. <BR>I grip the rod tight and set my feet. “I’m ready,” I say confiidently. <BR>My father smiles at me. “Good. You know the rule, right?” </DIV><DIV> </DIV><DIV>Excerpted from 90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores- Galbis.<BR>Copyright © 2010 by Enrique Flores- Galbis.<BR>Published in August 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.<BR>All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.</DIV> <BR><BR><i>Continues...</i> <!-- copyright notice --> <br></pre> <blockquote><hr noshade size='1'><font size='-2'> Excerpted from <b>90 Miles to Havana</b> by <b>Flores-Galbis, Enrique</b> Copyright © 2010 by Flores-Galbis, Enrique. 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