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"Oh, yuck!"

My daughter Laura stepped back and pinched her nose as I broke the neck of a hefty catfish, spilling its entrails into a blood-splattered bucket. Small price to pay for inch-thick, fresh fillets.

Small price, too, for building a relationship with the third fisher on this expedition, Jeremy.

Yesterday, sitting in my office for the first time, he wore a just-try-to-figure-me-out expression on his face. A high school senior, he came, he said, "just to keep peace with my mother." Two days before, Jeremy had been expelled for pulling a hunting knife on a classmate.

"So, why did you do it?" I asked.


"What was going on in your thinker when you made your move?"

More silence.

"Look, I just want to be your friend," I said, but the words felt hollow.

"Prove it," his eyes said, then shifted to the wall on my right.

For more than an hour I tried to get through to him. But I felt like I was rowing around an island, getting a general view of things but not finding a place to land.

"I have a ...

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