The story so far:
His father said the lake had a life of its own. Down deep under the surface was a world no man really knew, could only imagine. Down there were creatures who’d never seen the light of day, never touched land, never known sky.
“Wouldn’t want to be a fish, would you boy?” his father would say with a snide laugh as he placed the bait on the curve of a hook.
“No, sir!” he said. “Not me!”
Once he caught a big one. A smooth silver bass, ten inches long. His father caught nothing that day. His father took hold of the shiny bass as it wriggled on the boy’s hook and squeezed it between his strong hands till it altogether stopped moving.
“Is it dead now, Pop?” he asked sadly.
“Dead as a doorknob, deader than dead,” said his father throwing it back in the lake.
“Why’d you do that, Poppa?” he said, a hard ball forming in his throat.
“It’s dead, son. It’s dead, I said.” The lake echoed back from all sides:
Dead, I said, dead, I said.
His poppa leaned over the side of the rowboat and heaved. An amazing orange and yellow lava flow spewed from his father’s very mouth. It stunk like beer, sour and caustic. His father always smelled like he was fermenting, like a rotting had taken hold of him. His mother must have noticed it, too, because she had begun to back away when he came too close. His mother smelled sweet, like orange rinds and ladies perfume, and the shaggy pink puff in her box of talcum powder. To this day he’d never met a woman smelled as good as his mother.
Fishing was good, the boy thought, but when they were done he knew he wouldn’t see his pop again for a long time. Only time he ever talked to his son was on the lake. He suddenly remembered the time his father stood up, nearly overturning the boat, unzipped his pants, and sent a stream of hot urine into the still blue waters. His father turned to him grinning. “Bet you can’t do that, boy. Ten damn feet and not a penny less.”