Her last words rang in my mind over and over. Like a mystic chant. Like the answer to a prayer as their car sped away.
Here you don’t think about the fact that you haven’t showered this week when you are walking to the bar in the dark with a drink in your hand. You don’t think about time. Only light and dark. Only rain and shine. Only high and low. Is the water in the woods? It looks like it is coming down, yeah? Not really.
Dirty water travels at the speed of inevitability.
The wind was cold all day. The sun seemed to struggle and apologize through the clouds. Twenty-eight when the sun came up. Twenty-eight when the hot dogs huddled for warmth on the small bank-side propane grill. Twenty-eight when the ice cubes chilled the last sip of whiskey in your mouth. Twenty-eight when you set the hook on nothing in particular and wanted to look around and ask someone “why?” but nobody respects a petulant angler so you try hard and keep your mouth shut.
Out in the street the middle-aged women in the silver SUV had asked questions about fishing but we knew what they were really after; It takes a special brand of gal to brake for sweet hot stinky rubber-legged man-meat on the side of the road.
“We will have cake,” they had said as the car sped away. And something about a birthday party at Bud’s bar… and cake. I remember clearly the part about cake.
It was like a weight lifted. We will have cake. A burden alleviated. We will have cake. Feeling down? We will have cake. Work hard for little to show for it? We will have cake. Empty inside? Fill it with cake.
Steelhead are like the promise of cake by strangers on the side of the road.
We fished and were men in Michigan: Men with bad habits and fly rods and low-fill beers and bacon and Frosted Mini Spooners; Men with strong coffee and stronger wills and a need for water like a shot of whiskey when wet boots are shed on kitchen linoleum; Men who are still and will always be confused about the proper use of the colon and semicolon. Men as real as it gets.
Life in Michigan has a strong nose, with powerful mouth feel and notes of blood and dirt and salt, a sweetness that can sometimes finish bitterly as it slides down your throat and becomes a little more of who you will be when you die. To the refined pallet it is the most delicious nourishment of all.
We walked to the bar that night. We hunted the flavor combinations of our existence under sodium-vapor lamps and past rusty cars to the place called Bud’s. There was no cake. No cake. But it didn't matter for our hearts were full and we dined on friendship and PBR and were lifted by the beauty of things and cohesion and stuff and other happy horseshit and whatever. But seriously, you shouldn’t lie about cake.
-Alex who forgives but never forgets - ladies without cake - but did find some steel:
Read more, actual reportage from The Smythster.
If you are viewing this post in a feed reader you are probably missing the slideshow.