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The Fishers

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The Fishers
The Fishers

  By Erik Gustafson

  Copyright 2011

  The bright morning sun blazes through the wild, amber grass where the dew sparkles like diamonds. A twelve-year-old boy has been trailing behind his father down a narrow, trampled path that leads to a wooded area. The trees grow densely together like prison bars. The man, tall with eyes as blue as a robin’s egg, is clutching two long fishing poles in one hand and a large tackle box, coated with dried fish scales, in the other.

  The boy has played with whatever he has happened across, from long blades of seedy grass to random rocks and sticks. Both are wearing similar jeans and flannel shirts.

  The youngster stoops to lift a large rock causing the weight of his backpack to shift. He yanks at the strap, and the pack stays in place. With a mischievous grin, he hurls the rock into the grass as far as his skinny arm will allow.

  “What was that?” the kid shouts, trying to sound alarmed. When he doesn’t get the reaction he wants, he adds, “I think someone is following us, Dad!”

  “We better…,” the dad says. He turns to smile at his son, bursting into a sprint. “Run!”

  He takes off after his father and tries to keep up. They run until they reach the trees, where they stop and laugh together while catching their breath.

  They continue their journey.

  Before the sun can finish rising above the forest, the two come upon a small clearing, the space of which is nearly consumed by an oval, grayish-blue pond. The boy is sure the small body of sleepy water is just a little wider than even his father could cast a line. Bony, leafless limbs lean out over the water from thick trees that cuddle in close around the banks.

  “Here we are, Son!” the father announces, pulling his blue Iowa Cubs baseball cap off and running his hand through his wavy brown hair.

  The boy pulls the strap down off one shoulder and lets the backpack plop onto the damp sand. His dad had promised him the fishing would be great, but the boy wants to explore. He notices that there isn’t much room to walk the edges because the trees are so close to the water. He decides the most interesting terrain is at the far side of the pond. There is only a small cliff on that side. He can see clumps of weeds hanging over the shadowy edges that he will check out later. He knows he has to first fish with his father for a while.

  Feeling thirsty, he asks, “Can I have a pop, Dad?”

  “Let’s find a spot first and get settled,” his dad says. “You know, Dave, this is the same pond your great-grandfather used to fish when he was your age.”

  “Cool.” Dave thinks that is a neat piece of information, even though his great-grandfather had died long before he had been born.

  His dad smiles and tells him to grab the backpack. They continue walking along the sand, weaving through tall cattails, until they arrive at the first bend. They find a little more room to spread out. An old log on the bank provides a perfect place on which to sit.

  “This is the hot spot,” the man announces.

  Dave shrugs and leans his backpack on the thick green moss covering the log.

  A few minutes later, they’re both sitting on the dead tree with their lines out in the water, a bobber on Dave’s line.

  “Ready for that pop?”

  “Oh yeah!” Dave answers while he watches the little red bobber gracefully dance with the current. With the sunlight glaring off the water, it’s difficult to keep track of his bobber. Each time he loses sight of the small red ball, his heart skips at the prospect of getting a bite. He has always liked fishing—so long as there’s action.

  As Dave sips at his cold pop, kicking sand into the water, his dad stands still then walks a few paces away, holding his rod out over the water. “Won’t be long now,” he tells his son.
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