Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fish Jerky and Jerking Fish

I kept my wife awake half the night with my bed wrestling. Forty four years of marriage had outlasted her angst and fretting over me at such times. She was up first, thermos of coffee in one hand and an egg sandwich in the other. I dressed, hurried for the door, and grabbed my goodies. Kissing her in passing, I lit out. She stood in the door and waved as I backed out the drive, a scene repeated at least a dozen times and all for Clay.

Choking up, I smiled at the thought of my faithful woman and only wife. She endured so much for love of me. How honoring and precious was her grace and longsuffering, so tolerant was her attitude toward Clay and his relationship to me, one that predated her by six years. Knowing she’d be waiting for me let me get my thoughts on the trip.

Sunny and mild, it was a perfect day for travel. Our short dirt road was wash boarded from winter’s wrath and kept my speed to a crawl. A big white tail doe and her twiggy legged fawn stepped out in front of me so I braked and gave them the go ahead. Pumping the horn to celebrate their safe passage, they didn’t find my gesture noble.

Hours of driving and thermos tipping got the better of my bladder. Clay was featured guest in my mind but the painful feeling beneath my belly button pulled my focus from remembering his phone call and redirected it to a roadside sign. It signaled the location as Brevort. The village had a small combination gas station and party store that included a small woodsy deli. 

“Pee stop,” I said out loud and wheeled the car into an empty spot in its lot.

Minutes later I was in the seat gnawing on a piece of fish jerky. They made the stuff at the deli which specialized in smoked fish and wild game jerky. I washed the spicy aftertaste down with a cola and hit highway 2 east again. Air scented with the aroma of roadside Cedar trees whipped through the open window. It took me to happier times when camping with Clay, memories marinated in lemonade.

I remembered bringing him to the U.P. We camped at the falls on the Whitefish River and snacked on moose jerky while chasing thirst away with lemonade he brought.

“Sweet, damned sweet,” I commented at the time. “Got your check and stocked up on sugar I reckon.”

“Only the best for a YouPee Apple,” he offered back.

We caught brook trout on worm-ka-bobbed hooks and fish line, didn’t need poles. We were Anishnahbeh, “Nobs”, and needed nothing more. 

I swiped at a runaway tear after rounding a bend in the road. It revealed a glimpse of the Mackinaw Bridge. Big Mac was conduit betwixt heaven and hell as well as realm of humans and that of trolls; those who lived below the bridge. I had four bucks stowed against my crotch in the car seat all ready for the toll. 

The phone went off again and I reconsidered the choice of ringtone. I had chosen it to identify Clay as a caller while hoping it would make me laugh about the situation rather than grieve it. It wasn’t doing it for me.
I was surprised to hear Clay rather than His Favorite Gal. 

“Hey man, how you doing?” I asked, cheerful as could be.