Everyone Caught a Fish That Day

Nah, we ain't that close.
At least we din't use to be.
You see, my family and me,
well, ma she use to chase us with a hose,

threatenin' us to an inch of our lives,
sayin' she would someday make us rue
the day we crossed her. Becca Sue,
my sis, once broke out in hives

she was so scared. And, pa... well pa's pa.
But, there's one day of the year, one day,
where we all forget about the way
Jackie Ray's always breakin the law

and how Curly Sam set fire to the barn.
That day is the day just after Easter.
Weather's usually nice, ain't the usual heater,
and we all head north to Billy's dad's farm.

You see, there's this real nice lil lake,
real nice. You can see straight through
to the bottom. Ain't much to do
but stare at first. Then, Mildred, Billy's wife, brings out fresh-bake

chicken. We stare at the lake, eatin'
our fat faces off. Usually, Jackie happs
to start some shit, but pa slaps
him hard and he stops. He don't wanna beatin

today. Then, they wrestle. I get in there
sometimes, but I'm more of a reader.
I step aside and set up hook, line, and feeder.
Becky Sue sits down with ma, where

they talk about girly stuff. Curly often
come to help me. He's the youngest.
He don't say much, we think he's blessed
not hearin good. Makes this hard world soften.

That day we all got out to the lake same time.
Curly and me throws our line off the steep .
bank. Pa makes down into the water, waist deep.
Jackie gone off somewhere, prolly climbed

up to the other side. We's castin for a four hour
or so, drinkin in silence, like we prone to do,
and Jackie come up, white as a sheet, blue
lips, splashing through the water, scaring our

catch off. Pa yells, like he always do, and that's
when Jackie falls face down into the water.
He just floats there. Old Man Crowder,
Billy's dad comes tearin' down the hill like his hat's

on fire. He's shoutin somethin. He got his rifle
in his left hand and his pistol in his right.
Pa rolls to the shore, pick up his pistol and takes sight,
Ma and Becky Sue both hug each other and stifle

a shout. Old Man Crowder's yellin, Pa's yellin,
Billy's sister, Margaret, come runnin over the hill,
Curly's crying, crouched in a little ball...
and I feel this tug at the end of my line tellin

me that I got a catch. It's peaceful here, with the sun
shinin off the water, gettin in your eyes, making them tear
up a little. Ain't no reason a sensible man got nothing to fear.
I jerk it fast to set the hook, then reel it in slow and the gun

fires and pa falls to the ground, clutching his knee.
Looks like I got myself a flounder, or something like
that. It may have been trout, perhaps a pike.
No matter, I'll fire up the grill and then we

can all have a good supper. Jackie Ray floated
by me. Just like him, scarin away everyone's catch.

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