The Lake…

middle of the night he’d go fishin’…go out to the pier…drop a line or two…sit back in a foldin’ chair and wait…so dark out there you couldn’t even see the bobbers go down…fished by feel…start reelin’ it in the second he felt a tug…somethin’ pullin’…most of the time it’d wind up bein’ a little blue gill…or a crappie…wouldn’t keep ’em…just catch and release…catch and release…

he’d be out there with a twelve pack of beer…drink ’em down one at a time…cans of Schlitz would line up by his tackle box…sweat on the cans would stay awhile…he’d tap the top of one ‘fore he opened it…like thumpin’ a melon…never saw much sense in it…said it’d keep the beer from sprayin’ him…there’d be a slight mist every time he opened ’em…his big hands were always wet…

and he’d hum songs…old country songs…Buck Owens…Hank Williams…words would slip outta his mouth as he nodded his head…hummin’ along to tunes like, Streets Of Bakersfield…, You don’t know me you don’t like me…say you care less how I feel…,the words were sung in hushed tones…,How many of you sit and judge me…walk the streets of Bakersfield…

mornin’ would come and you could find him on the pier passed out…chin down in his chest…hat down over his eyes…momma’d go down there to wake him up…tell him breakfast was ready…help him with his tackle…poles…brought a trash bag along to put the empties in…she wound up carryin’ most of the stuff with him drapped over her shoulders…

summer time we’d sit at that breakfast table together…birds would be chirpin…bull frogs croakin’…coffee pot perculatin’…and the smell of stale beer from his breath…those sounds…those smells…feel like home…

we never talked at the table…Grandpa would still be mumblin’ songs…I’d just and eat my Frosted Flakes and listen…to a man who’d found solace in drunkeness…guess he earned it…

*Streets Of Bakersfield, by Homer Joy.

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