“Let that lonesome whistle blow my blues awaay. Marty, grab me another beer, hot today.”
“You’ve got it, John.”
“Not a single bite today,” John sighed, drained the last stale drops from the can he’d been nursing, and wiped the sweat from his brow.
Marty tripped up the bank, catching himself on the cooler. “It’s just the heat,” he muttered to himself, tossing his empty can onto the collection they’d been forming that morning. He reached into the cooler for a fresh round and wiped a cold can across his forehead. The cool water running down his face felt divine. A branch snapping in the woods brought him crashing back to reality where he realized that his bladder was suddenly on the brink of exploding. He stumbled off the path to relieve himself, “It’s just the heat. Haven’t had that much to drink yet…”
John reeled his line in. The minnow was still intact. Where the hell are the fish? Where the hell is Marty? “Marty, I can feel myself getting sober down here!” He cast his line back into the creek, pushed the butt of the rod into the clay, and made his way to the cooler. At least he set a beer out for me, John thought. On his way back down the bank, he tripped on a root and rolled his way back to the creek, cursing the scrape on his elbow. He wiped the scrape clean with his handkerchief just as his reel began to click. Finally, some action, he thought as he looked up to his rod.
He looked up and saw, standing in the middle of the creek, holding the minnow on his hook, a haggard man. “The hell do you think you’re doing?” he shouted to the vagrant who looked up from the lazily flopping minnow, tilted his head, and let out a groan. “You can’t just go ‘round grabbing up people’s fishing lines. It’s just… it’s just fugging rude!” The man dropped the minnow and lunged at John.
Marty laid on the ground, convulsing as the blood drained from his neck, mixing with the beer draining from the can. The air smelled like iron, cream ale, and piss. I thought there’d be a light. I thought there’d be a song. I thought…
John ran through the woods, digging for his keys. Just get to the truck. Marty’s a tough son-of-a. He can handle himself. It had been years since John had run, about 30 since he’d done so in earnest but he was still the same guy who had felt more akin to a whitetail than his classmates. He crashed through the underbrush as if he had been born for it. He came out on the dirt road, still a couple hundred yards from his truck. He didn’t hear his pursuer anymore but wasn’t willing to risk slowing down now. He broke into a full-sprint, kicking a cloud of dust up behind him. As he started his truck, he prayed that he’d have a chance to apologize to Marty.