Yesterday around ten in the morning. In my right hand I am gripping my fly rod which happens to have a thirteen inch brown trout attached to it out there in the river. With my left hand I am gripping a complex assortment of submerged tree roots beneath the surface of the very cold river. My whole left side is in the water, but I am trying to be casual about it in case any other fisherman have wandered into view. Plus, to be honest, I fall in to the rivers I fish on a fairly regular basis...so this whole scenario is typical for me. Routine. Standard. At least I'm playing a scrappy brown in the midst of all this self-preservation, I tell myself. Ugh.
As the rough spring water rushes into my waders and up my sweatshirt sleeve my thoughts turn to where they always seem to these days. To Violet, my baby. I imagine what it would be like for her to grow up not ever knowing the daddy who loved her so much. Would Monica do a good job at making certain that her daughter knew her Papa was wild about her, that his spirit was everywhere she went...trying to get her little advantages in the world: incorrect change with a couple extra bucks/straight to voice mail for guys trying to call her cell.
My ear touches the river and this is a deep drag of menthol for my skull. The chill is pure wickedness. For a moment I envision a demise that uncomfortable. Fuck that. I lift that watery side of my face a little to make sure this root jumble isn't some goddamn tumbleweed tumbling it's way toward the Pacific. I have never been in the Pacific and this isn't the way that I wanna make that happen. I deserve lotion, a belly full of fresh seafood, an Eastern Euro Speedo to make California quake. Not my pale'd mushy skin'd body all covered in Gore-Tex sliding out into the great Western Sea some spectacular evening months from now, as the sun sinks low on the horizon. Here is a sea lion. Here is a whale. Here is a pickled trout fisherman from deep inland still holding a rod that he has been walking a small fish on for weeks now. Here is a Great White refusing the Sad Soft Giant Sardine that just drifted by him pathetically.
Or will Monica help Violet to grow up loving whatever other man becomes her Dad? If I just slide away here forever, I can't honestly expect my widow not to ever love again. Although I deserve that too. Her body should never be touched again. A Memorial to The Great Love. But, whatever. She'd likely meet some Bradley Cooper fuckface. With money. And a sweet man ass. God, I would throw lightning from on high. Ok, though...to be fair Violet needs a Daddy and if I'm off to the sea it ain't gonna be me.
Now I am sickened by myself. I taste my own bile.
There is NO WAY IN HELL that I am going to succumb to the raging waters. To drift away from the peanut waiting for me in her Jungle Jumper at home. I speak in echos to the Thor who lives in the deep forest in my gut. I wake his sleepy ass. He hollers to me what to do.
With my rod hand I set the hook deeper into the fish's steely jaw. I lift hard. He pulls. My side begins to rise.
I'm coming Violet! Daddy's coming home!
With my root hand I push with steam engine rage. The rushing sound of the water fades to silence. The sound of the dive-bombing swallows fades to silence. My desperate grunts fade to silence. There is only my body, a tangle of roots, and a magical trout. I push and begin to move.
At home...in our bed...Bradley Cooper is run through with a spear inside her dreams.
River explodes around me. Mountains rumble. Lush trees twist in an electric wind. Like a furious hound of hell my trout is so incensed by my stinging hook that he pulls me up as I shove off of the roots and find my feet once again.
The cold now hits me, a frozen sledgehammer dipped in ass-kicking pain. But I am alive!
What Stone Age strength, what Super Powers emerged from the mere vision of my Violet on the screen up in my head. I am so buzzed on survival. I now know the feeling of God-Like. The river swirls strong around my legs but it cannot tilt me again. What was only seconds seemed like hours, like days.
I compose myself. Reel in the magic trout, thank him. Pet his head. Release him back to his life. To his Violet.
Soaking wet and cold, I think I should probably get back to the car and the heater. But, I fish on. I justify staying.I have been waiting all week to fish. Violet will have her Daddy back. I fall in the fucking river often. And because whenever I do, it isn't really ever as bad or as exciting or adventurous as it seems. But, whatever.