Bastard fish got me in the knuckle before I'd even taken a knife to its fat neck. I cursed and laughed at the thing, a big grouper, the spines on its back thick, and sharp, and apparently a fascinating oasis of poisons and bacteria. The knuckle swelled and ached, but we catch ourselves like this often, and that's normal. As my boss mentioned just before I was stung (he predicts the funniest things) most days we have hands like fighters. But an ache like a bad bruise climbed like a serpent from my wrist, twisting around the elbow, and up and under my arm and into the shoulder. I've had poison in the blood before; I recognised the way that it hurt. So I walked to the hospital, and Bernie, who consistently proves himself to be one of the most patient and generous people I have ever had the pleasure to know, joined me there around eight. The red lines of my swollen veins followed that invisible bruise, crawling up to just below my underarm after the first five or so hours in the waiting room. An hour later they put me in a bed and left us there until eventually giving me an antibiotic IV drip. We watched endless hours of slaughter and sex splayed out on the streets of New York, soft-core late night pornography given to us by the BBC and Victorian novelists. And the advertisements all insisted that the body is made to fail, that we are flawed and weak and lacking something. We are neither thin nor strong enough, our hair thins, our cocks are too small and our wives despise us, we lack the shaman's bones of iron and the quartz heart. We stumbled out onto Spruce Street again a touch after six, thankful that it was still dark and still felt something like night. There are fish secrets swimming in my blood. I'm drinking a dangerous gift. I'll know the fish I cut, and if any is left when I return to work tomorrow I'm eating the last of it with salt, a hateful yet flirtatious sacrament. This poison and these spines are mine now.