2012-2013 Online Edition - PROSE

Muddy Water

By Christopher Perryman


“I ain’t gone fishing since I was twelve,” Walt said. “Me and my dad had a spot on my grandaddy’s land. Called it a pond, but it was more mud than water.”

            Frank pulled a beer out of the cooler in the bottom of the boat and tossed him one. The can was cool in Walt’s hand, his fourth since they set out in the tiny little boat. They had been floating around in the lake for about forty five minutes, but neither one of them had gotten so much as a nibble.

            “It’s a pretty night, ain’t it?” said Frank, his eyes up towards the giant, yellow moon. Walt could see Frank’s breath escape his mouth in billows of smoke. “This is what it’s about. Not about the fish. It’s about this.”

            “It’s about the only time your wife’ll let you out of the house,” said Walt, sucking back his beer. “Have another.”

            Frank grabbed another, saying, “True. But you should know how that is. How’s Alicia doing? Heard she’s gotten big.”

            “Five months,” said Walt, sighing. “Looks every bit of it.”

            “Well, congratulations,” said Frank. “Me and Beth’s been trying for three years now. You don’t know how lucky you are.”

            “I suppose,” he said, lazily cradling the fishing rod in his hands. He looked out into the water, seeing nothing but the reflection of stars on slowly rolling waves. He thought maybe he could see the trees in the distance, but maybe that was just his eyes playing tricks.

            “Cheer up, man,” said Frank, laughing. “You’re gonna have a kid. That’s good news.”

            Walt put the rod between his legs and let it rest there, the line dangling into the water. He reached into his rain jacket and pulled out his smokes, lighting one. He could feel the chill in the air, his hand starting to freeze around the can, but his body refused to shiver.

            He smoked most of his cigarette before he spoke again.

            “Remember that time me and Alicia had a spat?” he said.

            “You know I do,” said Frank.

            He had been on Frank’s couch for over a week, driving Beth crazy.

            “How long ago you think that’s been?”

            Walt didn’t look over, but he knew Frank was thinking.

            “I don’t know,” Frank said. “About six months ago, give or take.”

            “Five months,” said Walt. “Five months ago.”

            Finally, he looked over at Frank. He wished he hadn’t. Frank wouldn’t look him in the eyes anymore. Frank looking over at his rod, like maybe he got a nibble. But nobody’s rod had jumped, not even once.

            “You want to talk about it?” Frank said, his eyes still on the water.

            “No.”

            “What are you gonna do?”

            Walt took another sip of beer and said, “Hope it looks like her.”