The following conversations took place while Toole was employed at Gossman’s Dock, Montauk, New York in 1972. 

The cast was as follows: Jackie: Jacqueline Onassis;

Mick: Mick Jagger; Billy: Billy Joel; Carly: Carly Simon; Melvin: Melvin Toole

The scene opens early in the morning on a sunny day in July with a large crowd gathered at the entrance to the fish house. Some are there to spot a celebrity. Others are there simply to buy some fish.

Mick: How’s the flounder today?

Melvin: Quite good. We just hauled it in this morning. Probably the best catch we’ve had all week. I can let you have it for $8.99 a pound since we’re loaded with it.

Mick: Ducky. I’ll take three pounds. Got any steamers?

Melvin: Can’t you read the sign? No steamers.

Mick: Oh, yeah. Well give me some little necks then and a cup of Manhattan chowder.

Melvin: For here or to go?

Mick: Whatever…

Mick leaves with his fish meeting Carly on the way out the door.

Carly: Nice looking flounder.

Mick: Yeah and its on sale for $8.99 a pound

Carly: All right! (To Toole) I hear you’ve got some nice flounder.

Melvin: Who told you?

Carly: Why Mick Jagger. I ran into him on the way in.

Melvin: Oh. Yeah, and it’s as fresh as fresh can be. Caught it off Greenport. We just got it on the ice an hour ago.

Carly: I’ll take four pounds and maybe some steamers.

Melvin: No steamers (he motions toward the sign which reads: “No Steamers Today”.)

Carly: Oh, sorry. How’s the bluefish?

Melvin: It’s delicious. I had a few for breakfast on the way in from the Shagwong at dawn. Sushi quality, guaranteed.

Carly: I prefer it cooked. I’ll take a pound and a half.

Melvin: That will be $21 with the tax.

Carly: Thanks. See ya.

Now it’s Billy’s turn

Billy: Nice looking lobster. What’s the tariff?

Melvin: They’re $2.50 a pound. The nicest ones are about 2 to 3 pounds.

Billy: OK. Gimme three. Got any snapper?

Melvin: Tomorrow. The boys are out chasing it as we speak. How about some flounder?

Billy: Sure, why not. It looks good. Do you have any steamers?

Melvin: No (forgetting the sign this time) but I’ve got some nice cherrystones and some soft-shelled crab in from the Chesapeake.

Billy: What’s the best way to cook them?

Melvin: Steam them until they open up a little…About seven to eight minutes. Want some mussels to go with that?

Billy: Sure, why not, I’m rich.

Melvin: That comes to $42.59.

Billy: Here’s a fifty. Keep the change.

Melvin: Thanks. Now I can pay my rent.

Toole is ready for a break. He walks out onto the dock to catch a little sun. While doing so he sees one of his better customers stuck behind a gang of one-horse tourists and motions for her to come around through the employee entrance.

Jackie: Gee, I’ve never used an employee entrance before.

Melvin: Good morning, Mrs, Onassis. Are you here to buy fish or look at celebrities?

Jackie: What’s the difference?

Melvin: You’re asking me. What can I help you with?

Jackie: Aristotle is bring home a few business associates for dinner and I just don’t know what to cook.

Melvin: The last time I was on Crete everyone was chowing down on Red Mullet, Grouper and Squid.

Jackie: Got any Mackerel or Cod?

Melvin: (To himself: “Not very imaginative.”) Sure. We have both as well as some fresh-frozen striped bass.

Jackie: What does fresh-frozen mean?

Melvin: Too early to tell. Here’s the cod. It’s from out near Gardiner’s Island and is on sale today for $4.99 a pound. The Mackerel is only $3.99.

Jackie: Hmmmm. I guess I’ll take a pound of each and three lobsters.

Melvin: OK. Will there be anything else?

Jackie: You got any steamers?

– Kevin Haley

“It’s nothing more than a flesh wound…now back to your posts!”

– Confederate General Kashmir Horseshoe to his troops, after a Union cannon ball bounced off the side of his the head during the Battle of Meandering Thistle, May 1863.

Filed Under: Soft News


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