Night Fishing, Devil’s Kitchen Lake

By JAMES A. GILL

for Rodney Jones

After the accident, when I no longer walked with a cane, we met there at dusk. I hesitated stepping off the dock into the gently swaying boat, still unsure of the steel screwed into my bones, scared in that instant, like every other, of the infinite number of ways a person can die. I took my place in the hard plastic fishing seat, and by the time we reached the far side of the lake and tied onto the line of buoys near the spillway, full dark had come. We set our lines and did no more.

He told a story of how he’d shot a buzzard as a kid, bringing it proudly back to his house. “I believe it’s against the law,” his father had said. But still, he remembered his dad propping the dead scavenger against a tree in the front yard, wings outstretched like some martyr, head shaven, crucified, giving absolution to all those who drove by.

We fished suspended between the blackness of sky and water pinpricked by stars, the small boat rocking with the sound of the warm lake water sucking against its sides. Only the thin surface of dark mirrored reservoir held us from sinking ninety feet to the bottom.

Later, nearing the boat ramp, I watched the trail of white foam pour behind the outboard like a swath of alyssum. The world passed on the highway beyond the sleeping trees, and my morphine pills had worn off two hours before, reminding me of what waited at home: sleeping on the couch during the day, sleeping without my wife in the bed at night, nightmares during both, the pain having become so normal, I could never imagine not feeling it. I wished I could have stayed on that lake forever, night fishing and telling stories as if nothing had happened, but even then, my mind still fired images of the tractor rising up and turning over before driving me into the soft mud, and I fought the urge to slide over the gunwale and let the summer water take me like anesthetic.

 

 

James Alan Gill has published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry in several journals including Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, Midwestern Gothic, Prime Number Magazine, and Atticus Review, and has work forthcoming in the anthology Being: What Makes A Man. He currently lives in Oregon.

Night Fishing, Devil’s Kitchen Lake

Related Posts

opulent room 1

Modest for a Dictator

IRINA HRINOSCHI
They were executed in winter: Nicolae Ceaușescu, and his wife Elena, who was also shot, but in people’s minds this was secondary to her being an insufferable pseudo-intellectual who loved fur coats. And their children, Nicu, Zoe and Valentin, spared during the 1989 Revolution.

white mailbox on the side of a road

A Road, the Sun

CAROLYN KUEBLER
The warmth of the sun, her skin warming up too. Yes, this is it, she says. I have always been and will always be this way. But what way is this? Is it happiness?

A tree growing in a bucket. Twisted branches spiral upward from the large green basin the tree sits in. It's a sunny day in the woods.

Ugly Trees

HEATHER E. GOODMAN
We have a really ugly sugar maple in our front yard. Yard is a euphemism for dirt and weeds. Dirt is a euphemism for clay and rocks. Weeds is a euphemism for invasive species and exhaustion. But we love this ugly tree.