by Debra A. Daniel
My father’s friend Red Eye always invites him to go fishing on his boat, but my father said it isn’t the same. He wants his own. My family can’t afford to buy one.
So every Saturday my father and I searched junkyards till we found two exactly alike 1951 Chevrolets. We bought the hoods and took them home where he soldered them together to build a boat.
I was born in 1951 so the boat and I are both eleven years old even though the boat is new-made. My father says he’ll name it after me and, on its side, he’ll paint my name.
Once in a fishing contest on the pier at Windy Hill Beach, my father won third place for catching a huge sheepshead. My mother said it was ugly and dangerous with its big yellow teeth, but my father said he didn’t care how it looked and that it wouldn’t bite us. Instead we’d bite it, and it would taste delicious.
My mother says she’ll never let my father take me fishing in that death trap. She believes his car hood boat will sink and we’ll drown, but he doesn’t lose his grin, and he keeps bringing home things for our adventure. Life jackets. Paddles. Shiny, bright colored lures with feathers that will glisten and flick in the water to attract even the most suspicious fish. A new rod and reel. Pink. For me.
My mother won’t go fishing. She holds her nose at the smell of fish even when they’re fresh caught. When my father cleans them in the kitchen sink, she fusses. She especially hates the way fish stare at her with their glassy eyes.
Once when my father was casting his line, he hooked another man in the eye. He was so sorry that we thought he’d stop fishing forever, but he didn’t. The man didn’t go blind after all and didn’t even blame my father since it was an accident.
Once a fish jumped right out of the water and into Red Eye’s boat. My father threw it back. That was an accident, too, he said. He knew the fish didn’t do it on purpose.
My father said if every single person went fishing, then the world would be a better place. Fishermen are optimistic, he says, always expecting something good to happen with every cast.
When we’re ready to go fishing in the car hood boat, we’ll invite my mother to come. We’re hoping she’ll say yes. My father says we’ll keep asking over and over. Even forever, if it takes that long.
In the newspaper I read a story about fish in Texas falling out of the sky. A tornado swooped down on a lake, sucked everything up, and dropped it all on a town like it was raining fish.
I think it would be amazing to run into our yard and pick up dinner, but that wouldn’t be fair, my father says. The fish should have a chance, at least. Sometimes though when thunder banks build billowy and dark, I see him casting his eyes higher and higher into the sky.
Debra A. Daniel, author of flash novellas, A Family of Great Falls, The Roster (AdHoc Fiction), novel, Woman Commits Suicide in Dishwasher, (Muddy Ford Press), poetry, The Downward Turn of August, (Finishing Line Press), and As Is, (Main Street Rag), has won awards from The Los Angeles Review, Bacopa, Guy Owen Poetry Prize, and was twice SC Arts Commission Poetry Fellow. Work has appeared in Reflex Fiction, Smokelong, Kakalak, Emrys, Inkwell, Gargoyle and numerous anthologies.