Friday, June 5, 2015

Slipping On Clay

“Gosh, I don’t know if it’s a migraine or aneurism Clay but cripes it hurts. Messin’ with my memory also.” 

Ghosts of coffee beans, boiled to death, rose from my hot cup and I blew them away with my breath. “How did I get in the tent brother?”

Clay, a white ring of powdered sugar around his mouth, forms words with his voice and doughnut. Spit-soggy crumbs flew toward me as he answered.

“You staggered in there with my help.” He slurped his brew. “You kinda passed out when I was talkin’ to ya by the fire. Figured you were tired.”

“I don’t recall any of it,” I said, “last thing I remember was getting into it with Sheriff.”

Finally cool enough, I drank my rich, black, migraine potion until gone. Clay pushed the package of donuts to me with his foot. I pawed a couple from it and ate them in short order. My buddy refilled my cup so I could wash them down.

“Maybe movin’ and getting your blood stirrin’ around will fix ya. Yah, get your legs into that spring fed water and let it cool your pain. Besides, Ain’t It, it’s healing ya know, fishin’ and water flowing over rocks, a big ole magnet that sucks darkness right out and carries it far away.”

My brother made sense, the cold water part at least. And true, catching my first brook trout would focus me intently in the present and divert me away from worry. Or so I thought.

“Okay Clay, let’s do it. You already…”

“Yup, already got our gear and day packs ready. Change into your wading clothes while I snuff the fire.”

As I changed, my thoughts turned to my wife and I considered checking my phone before getting in the water. Remembering it was Memorial Day and how busy she’d be, I decided against it and met up with Clay.

I wore my dirty jeans, v-neck tee shirt, and sneakers. We avoided use of waders because we’d go through so much brush in search of fish they’d likely get punctured. Walking the foot path to the river, dew drenched ferns primed my shoes and pants for the soon-to-come soaking.

We fished, went our separate ways for a while, and would rendezvous in about an hour to compare fish. I limited out in half that time. Fish in my creel, headache and concerns gone, my spirit recharged quickly. I even whistled quietly as I slowly made my way back toward Clay. My wife always said she gauged my moods according to my whistling.

The forest got loud when a hawk got close to some nesting crows. They broadcasted the offense loudly as they pecked at in flight. I chuckled about it and felt sorry for the hawk that was merely being himself and meaning no harm.

Spotting Clay, I was surprised to find him sitting on the bank eating. His pole was propped on stick and line stretched taut as it anchored itself in the bottom of a deep pool.

“What the hell brother, eating already?” I asked. “Did you even get in the water?”

He didn’t look at me or answer. He chewed on jerky and stared at the water. A yellow caution light flashed in my mind as I came alongside him. A bee was perched on the lip of his pop bottle, JuJu I presumed. Eyes squinting with seriousness, my pal looked at me and spoke.

“We need to talk,” said Thorny. 

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