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Fiction #16
(published Late in the Year, 2000)
Of Pocket Knives, Tackle Boxes and Women in Bathing Suits
by Jason Gurley

The two boys sat quietly on the edge of the dock. Their legs dangled over the edge, not quite skimming the surface of the lake. Flies darted about the tackle box lying open behind them.

They fished in silence, their cane poles jutting over the water like oars on the upswing. They'd not had a bite all day.

Across the lake they watched houseboats drift by, and rafts, and rowboats. They imagined all sorts of beautiful women in bathing suits dancing on the decks, but each of them knew that no woman under forty ever got on a boat. Not out here. Not in this heat.

Fifty yards out the fish were jumping excitedly, as though thumbing their noses at the boys, who just shrugged and kept lightly trailing their lures across the surface.

"Know what I'm going to do to him next time?" the older boy said, his voice soft.

The younger boy did not answer, but that didn't bother the older in the least.

"I'm going to sit there and let him whale on me, and then, while he's occupied, I'm going to snag that old Bowie out of his belt and ram it deep into that big ol' fat belly of his."

The younger boy nodded, dipping his line slightly.

"That's what I'm going to do to him," the older boy said, his eyes wet. The sun burned a few more freckles across his nose. "Serves him right for touchin' my momma like that. For hittin' on me. He can't do that. It just ain't right."

Across the lake came a splash, and both boys jerked their heads up. On a blue houseboat, sitting alone in the center of the water, were several small figures that looked like women - in bathing suits! They were jumping into the water like lemmings. Their laughter drifted to the boys' ears as though listening through a wall of cotton.

The two boys looked at each other, and the younger one smiled first. The older boy, tears and frustration forgotten, grinned back.

"Gonna get me some of that some day," the younger boy said, and they both guffawed so hard the fish stopped jumping.

But it didn't matter. Nothing mattered. They were fishing.

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