RIVER SONG (aka another 500 words for you)

“I’m just gonna keep fishing and see what happens.”

 The water whirled and then sat still after a casting line hit the calm of the pool.

“I mean, are you sure? That’s all you need to say right now? I mean I ain’t the most emotional cat in the alley, more of a bastard really than anything else, but we haven’t talked at all about it, and honestly if you need anything…”

“Ted, I’m just gonna keep fishing,” Jack cracked open a frothing beer and flipped his hand at the mosquitoes dancing above the rim of the can. They barely seemed to move, suspended mermaids slow-motion-dancing in thick seaweed gardens… the humidity weighed on each layer of life along the river. He sat up with a swig and looked around the pool. Ethereal, all the creatures of the bog sweating and singing themselves awake with dusk’s rusty entrance just creaking through the door of the horizon, and soothing. Clouds in between.

“Hell then,” Ted cracked one of his own cans and set the throttle against the shredded seat back of the boat, “let’s get some goddamn fish!” If it wasn’t a moment to be somber, then it was time to fish the only way he knew how.

Jack smiled. He was glad to see Ted was happy. Things were off putting enough for Jack, and whenever Ted’s constitution was sour the whole scenery seemed to dim even darker. Ted was a simple man, and Jack loved him for his keen ability to discern between good and evil, even envying him sometimes for the contrast that seemed to cut through Ted’s life and not his own.

Ted raised his aluminum cylinder, perspiring with the rest of creation but still a few degrees below lukewarm, and looked at his friend in the eyes. “To Mrs. Almandine, an incredible woman on earth, surely an even more incredible angel in the heavens.” Jack could tell Ted had built himself up into the statement, undoing tangled lines and cutting worm gut’d hooks for a couple minutes until they got out of the wetlands and onto the river. A river is a good place for a man to empty his heart, the boat rocks and the crests fall and the motor purrs the clouds through the wind… constant kinetic motion, nothing really wading around for that long to be examined and scrutinized and recorded, out like an emergency flare’s tail, streaking and streaking and then done with.

Jack shared his eyes and let out a hearty “Amen” and the two glugged and glugged, one crackle after another, two juiced grapefruits, and they tossed the scrap metal back into the cooler with another set of half-cold beers replacing them almost automatically. The nature of the river.

“You believe in angels Ted? Not that I don’t think you do, but sometimes in these kind of situations, people are going to lie in order to make you feel better. You know what I mean? Like the preacher… the damn preacher, I can’t get away from him fast enough when he goes into that God’s plan nonsense. I don’t mean to blaspheme or anything, but you know what I’m saying?” Another pair of glugs fell into the sonosphere of the curving river and Ted killed the engine. “They just lie to you.”

“Jack, I can’t even imagine what’s in your head right now, like I said before with the fishing and letting me know if you need anything and all of that… but you gotta know that I ain’t ever gonna bullshit you because I feel sorry for you. I love you like a brother, and all I can do is be your friend and be myself. You bet your ass I believe in angels, and you bet your ass that your momma is one of them.”

Jack smiled.


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