Fiction: The Red Dory

Ed walked with heavy feet down the dead center of Commercial street. A giant wooden oar easily rested on his weak looking shoulder that Julie believed belonged to his red dory. It is possible that he had recently stepped off the ocean and was looking for Julie, however, he may have easily just been grabbing lunch. In addition to the oar Ed was accessorized with one size too big rubber fishing boots, jean shorts and a deadpan expression splayed on his face. So, nothing seemed off. NOthing except the widening of his pale blue eyes and small smile when he saw Julie staring at him through her art gallery window. 

Julie couldn’t even see his face behind the oar until they locked eyes and she quickly turned away. Ed’s red dory was parked in the middle of the Provincetown Harbor, and he used a small motorboat to get out to it for fishing trips. Last week he noticed Julie looking lost on the beach for a moment until her camera pointed towards the dory he was en route to. Once he climbed into the boat Julie realized it was his, she turned away. The photograph she had captured managed to get only the red dory and no other boats around. It now hung small on the gallery wall in a thick dark grey wood frame but was big enough that Ed could see it through the giant floor to ceiling windows. Another smile creeped onto Ed’s lips but only to himself this time as he continued walking between those two yellow lines. 

It was difficult not to admire him, especially for Julie. His seemingly intense sense of adventure with mystery drew her to him. Where did he go on his dory? Did he have friends and family that ever joined him? Where was he before he settled into his routine in Provincetown five years ago? With the initial interaction of being caught snapping shots of his dory Julie was now determined to find out about at least a sliver of his storybook life. 

With a sudden gust of confidence she busted out of her door. Leaving the gallery unattended she sped walked to the oar that sat right above the line of the sea of summer tourist heads. Trying not to run but eventually developing a little skip she finally caught up to Ed. Her heart was beating due to her abnormal pace so she had accumulated a slight layer of sweat. 

“Hi there I think I may have taken a picture of your red boat, and it’s in my gallery now. I’m Julie,” she shot her hand forward in a way that couldn’t result in rejection.

“Ed, it’s a pleasure to actually meet you,” he said, accepting her handshake with a firm grip. They were still right in the middle of the street with tourists circulating and the possibility of a car or bike to come barreling towards them at any time. “It’s a dory.”


“The red boat, it is in fact mine, you call it a dory. I fish on it almost every day.”

Julie tried to let her mind absorb the idea of the conversion and then finally processed the actual words he was saying then gave a slight nod in response. The conversation lasted all of thirty more seconds as Julie invited Ed if he’d attend her gallery viewing later that night. Ed replied with a yes and a bye then strutted off. Slowly Julie dragged her feet back to her gallery and watched the clock until it was time. Only one slight change needed to be made before the viewing. Once she closed for the day she went to the back of her art gallery and printed a larger size of the photograph of Ed’s boat. Julie carefully framed, it then took her time to give it a title in perfect cursive. The Red Dory would sit slightly larger than all the rest of the photographs tonight at the viewing. 

By 8pm the middle of the gallery which usually held small prints for sale was replaced with a longer table that held ten different types of cheeses and jams with a number of bottles of wine. Julie stood stiff at the door with her wife and children anxiously waiting for a certain guest and his approval. Many people had piled in so far yet there was still no sign of Ed. With slight disappointment Julie started the night by addressing her guests. 

“Thank you all for coming tonight. I’m happy for you to be able to see some of my new photography.” Softly smiling she started to introduce a new photograph of two breaching whales. “It was the right place at the right time as I was reading one late afternoon on the beach.”

As she continued, Ed slipped in the door wearing long jeans and sneakers. He was slightly dressed up with a button down, suit coat and even a tie that hung loose around his neck. 

“This photograph I actually took right here in the harbor, it’s of a red dory hence the title. The man who owns it is named…” her gaze landed on his face right as she said his name. 

Without thinking about it she gestured for him to join her next to his boat. With the unspoken gesture, she asked him to say a few words before they moved on. 

“I remember the day you took that picture there” he said, and pointed to his prized possession while almost unknowingly smudging the pristine glass. “I didn’t catch a single thing all ten hours.” Still looking at the dory his head kind of fell and Julie took it as a sign to go on to the next one. 

Ed remained behind the crowd as they went from photograph to photograph with Julia giving a brief introduction to each. She continuously looked back at him but couldn’t catch his eye the rest of the night. Once everyone was crowded around the cheese table, tipsy off pinot grigio and discussing which pieces they were going to purchase for how much, Julie realized that Ed had left. Unsure exactly how long he had stayed or if he felt Julie had been rude she found herself familiarly unable to stop thinking about him. 

Tossing and turning in what should’ve been a comfortable sleep Julie still had Ed on her mind as she thought she had offended him or put a damper on his feelings. As her wife snored away next to her Julie lay flat on her back and stared at the shadows on her ceiling made by the lace curtains. She made a plan for the following day. 

Within the gallery closed for the day Julie began to wander in the same steps that Ed typically took on the daily, hoping she’d run into him. The red dory was on the water amidst the fog but no Ed. Slowly making her way down Commercial street she ducked into The Canteen a small shack of a restaurant full of locals. Julie tried to search for his pale blue eyes but was lost, so she caught a bus boy as he was walking around the side of the restaurant. 

“Do you know an Ed? Older guy? He’s a fisherman.” The teenager just nodded towards the open kitchen door at a man shelling oysters, probably prepping for the rush of the Sunday afternoon. Not knowing if the young boy meant for her to actually go in and talk to this man, she slowly slinked in and stood in the doorway. 

“Can I help you with something ma’am?” With typical nerves creeping up Julie just nodded and stepped closer. 

“I’m looking for someone. His name is Ed, he’s a fisherman around here,” she paused. “At least I think he is.” The chef nodded, grabbed a stool from underneath the metal counter and took a seat. He reminded her a lot of Ed, an older man who seemed like a true local. 

“Ed’s my fisherman, he supplies fish to me. Why are you looking to find him?”

Julie slowly began to describe the events of the night before without trying to make herself seem insensitive in any way to Ed and his feelings as this man seemed to be a friend. 

“So you’re Julie. He told me a bit about your photograph early this morning.” Ed must’ve done his rounds early to avoid her, she thought. “Ed doesn’t get excited by much but he’s very proud you took special interest in his red boat.” Before he got back to work the chef told Julie a little about Ed and she slowly became more comfortable and increasingly more interested. 

She learned that in reality Ed’s life was traditionally simplistic with a few line fishing trips on his red dory every week to supply to the local restaurants of Provincetown. He lived in a one bedroom with a small elderly cat that now belonged to him after wandering onto his property and refusing to leave. The oar consistently sat by the door frame ready to go at the drop of a hat. 

With no plans to open the gallery for the rest of the day, since she thought her trek to find out about Ed would take longer, Julie took her old Jeep back to her three-bedroom cottage. When Julie walked into the kitchen to see her wife making blueberry and lemon pancakes for their two daughters, she could only smile with content.

Mary Pociask ’21 is Editor-in-Chief for The Hub. She can be contacted at