“If you want a passive aggressive, but self-aware enough to know it, adversary, well, pal, you pissed off just the right person.”
Trout was whispering in the steamed bathroom mirror, after going over the previous day’s argument while in the shower.
Someone knocked at the door, startling him.
“Give me a minute,” he said.
The voice on the other side of the door said it was an emergency.
Trout made sure the towel around his waist was tight and unlocked the door. He’d barely opened it before his roommate ran in.
After drying off in the hall, Trout got dressed.
My summer project was learning how to bake pies. I’d already told everyone about it. How if, come Fall, they had a hankering for a slice, all they’d have to do is call and I’d be pulling one from the oven.
If I had a windowsill, I’d said, they could bet on finding a pie there.
Some nights I wondered why I wanted to make them. Maybe it was some kind of bargain. Oh Lord, I’d never said, but maybe thought, just before falling asleep, if there was one wholesome thing I did, would that make my life less terrible?
There were things we didn’t talk about. Kind of like the neighbourhoods you circle around, after it gets dark. Even if cutting right through would be quicker.
Of the things we didn’t talk about, lots were small things. Things not worth the trouble of bringing up. Things we wondered why we even bothered keeping them there in our pockets. It would have been so easy to shake them out, on the porch or in the driveway, after getting home.
We didn’t though.
And then, there was the one real big thing. But, like I said, we don’t talk about that.
A lot of times, you want to say, oh just fuck off. But you can’t. Because people don’t. They just can’t say these things. Some kind of tribal rule. Or whatever. It’s impolite. Maybe whoever you told to just fuck off won’t help you gather berries or hunt boars or some shit. What a fucking shame. You’re off the team. Boo-fucking-hoo. Bet then, there’s that one time, you do say it. It slips out.
You don’t even realize you said anything, until the words inflate. And explode. And it’s a disaster. Fucking liberating. Capitalize all the letters on that one.
O’Brien spent the night in station’s only cell, brought in on a vagrancy charge.
In the morning, the deputy gave him a paper cup half-filled with something like coffee, a knob of bread, no butter, and then drove him out to the town limit. The deputy took O’Brien’s bindle from his trunk and tossed it in the ditch along the highway
“Thanks for visiting,” he said, “Hope you enjoyed your stay.”
After he drove off, O’Brien shook the gravel from his clothes, and slid down the incline to retrieve his things.
He’d seen enough to know the job would work.
He knew that somewhere on the lake, or maybe along one of the creeks or rivers pouring in or out, he could never remember which, there was a totem pole. The memory, thirty years old, at least, kept surfacing. This summer, he meant to find it.
He carried the canoe down from the garage and used the garden hose to wash out the spider webs and fly carcasses. The bottom leaked, he found, after pushing off, but not enough to worry him.
Starting his exploration along the left back, he travelled almost three hundred yards before it started to sink.
When the other man leaned forward and dug around in the bowl of raspberries, Badger hoped he’d at least run his hands under the water a few seconds after using the washroom.
“Best ones are always on the bottom,” the man said, leaning back in his chair, palm cupping a mound of the berries. “You should have some.”
Badger said he was fine, he’d already had breakfast, and he usually found them too tart.
“I like my women the same way,” the man said. “But don’t tell my wife.”
He chuckled and wiped his wet, red-stained hand on the couch.