The third novel in Basil Rosa’s Lotion State Trilogy, No Tourists At The Cup Defenders is a tragedy narrated by commercial fisherman Pee Wee Coyle who details the life of Victor Silva, having promised Vic’s wife, Loren, that when their son James was old enough, he’d share what happened to his father.
Vic was raised in Fall River. His mother speaks very little English. His father, who’s had multiple strokes, can’t speak and lives in an elderly care center. Aged 23, Vic believes he disgraced his family after being discharged from the Navy for selling narcotics. Newport is where he can make amends. He works 7 days a week, earning $50 in cash per day. He rises at 3:30 in his Bristol apartment, which is next door to a drinking club for immigrants and their sons living in Bristol. Here, he unwinds with local men who make him feel welcome. It seems the purpose of his life is to create a sense of home.
Arriving to Bowen’s Wharf on time each day, Vic rides out at 5:30 with a rag-tag crew employed by Aquidneck Fish under Skipper Sonny Lombardi. They’ll empty nets kept in the Atlantic from early spring to late fall. They pull these nets up by hand, store the catch in a heap on Iron Jane’s deck, and return to Bowen’s Wharf to sort and store it. Quitting time often comes at twilight. A young man, “a greenhorn” earns respect from seasoned vets such as Mitch McSherry, part owner of Aquidneck Fish and foreman to Sonny. Mitch sees potential in Vic, who’s learned he’s gotten girlfriend Loren pregnant. Vic turns to younger co-worker Pat Degnan, also a greenhorn, for advice.
Pat provides a sympathetic ear. They’ve both made an enemy in Cliff Larch, who dislikes Vic because, as Mitch’s nephew, he’s jealous of his success. Cliff dislikes Pat because Pat’s been sleeping with Marla, Cliff’s ex-girlfriend. Cliff is also a drug-dealer. Vic warns Pat to stay away from Cliff and Marla. Pat doesn’t listen. Still, their friendship endures. When Pee Wee is in port, the three of them get together. Pee Wee dates Pat’s sister.
Vic struggles to pay rent and bills. He takes no time off and is forever on the brink of exhaustion. Loren remains a soothing presence, her family likes him, but Vic’s worried about how they’ll make ends meet. Then his father dies. Everything about their relationship feels unfinished and this weighs on Vic’s conscience. He brings Loren to his father’s funeral and they stay with his family in Fall River. He must tell his mother he’s going to marry Loren, that they already have designs on a small house Loren’s father has agreed to help them purchase. They love each other and, best of all, Loren is pregnant.
There’s one hitch. Vic fears his mother won’t approve. Loren is a pious Catholic, but she’s not Portuguese. Vic tries to convince his mother this doesn’t matter, that he’s found true love. Though disappointed, his mother agrees to the union, but only if they’ll have marry at her church in Fall River.
The long summer wears Vic down until one August evening, near the point of collapse, he sees Pat and Cliff fighting on the wharf. Most crewmen have gone home. Cliff stands for everything Vic’s trying to rebuke. Pat takes a beating. Vic chooses to defend him. He gets in some punches until Cliff stabs him in the neck, piercing his carotid artery.
Vic dies in the ambulance on the way to the emergency ward. Loren never marries. Pat leaves Newport altogether, though not before he and Loren create a fund to help Loren raise her child alone. For 20 years, Pee Wee stays in touch with them both and contributes to this fund. His final contribution is this telling of Vic’s story.