Sunday, June 16, 2013
I always loved going fishing with my dad. Us, the water, the pine trees on the banks. Nothing was greater than sitting in our little boat, Dad baiting the hooks and me reeling in the fish.
Dad and I always go fishing during the summer holidays. It's a tradition. He always said it was just a way to relax after a hectic week, but deep down I knew it was an excuse to get away from my nagging mother.
On Father's Day he always took my brother and I to this lake. The water is always so crystal clear, the wind giving it a gentle spray as it whistled through the pine trees on the banks. The water would ripple beautifully whenever we'd skip stones across its glass like surface. It was just us at one with nature.
Dad and I had a falling out after my arrest for the Valentine's Day shootings. And though he never said anything, he knew I was somehow involved in the St. Patrick's Day massacre as well. I remember his steely grey eyes watching my face as I declared my innocence. His face, wrinkled with time, held back his expressions as I spoke. Despite not being able to read him, I could tell that he didn't believe me. While my mother hugged me, my father stood up, adjusting his waistcoat, before extending his hand. "Good to have you home, son," he said gruffly, pumping my hand twice in a forcefully handshake.
After my prank on Jennifer in April, I began to plot my Mother's Day surprise. I was surprised when my doorbell rang and I found Dad standing on the doorstep.
I let him in and that was my mistake.
After I had made him a cup of coffee, Dad told me that I had to stop what I was doing. That it wasn't healthy. "You should be out, working for a living and meeting a nice girl in which you can settle down with," he said, sipping his drink.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Dad," I replied, leaning against the kitchen bench.
"Sure you do. I saw the way you're eyes lit up when you talked about Valentine's Day. And then when the news bought up the St. Paddy's Day killings, you took extreme interest. Your mother noticed this too."
I clucked my tongue. "You're wrong," I said, my fingers lightly dusting over the large kitchen knife.
Dad stood up, straightening himself. "I better be," he said.
The next time I saw him was after they discovered Mother's body. Dad was weepy eyed at the funeral, gutted that he had blamed me instead of my brother.
"Can you ever forgive me?" he asked, holding back sobs of misery. I nodded, pulling him into a hug. He still smelled the same. Like wood and pine with just a hint of musk. A real manly smell.
I invited him to stay with me until it was alright with the police for him to return to his house.
Dad and I got along famously. We cooked together, repainted the guest room and even renovated the bathroom. Everything was slowly getting back to normal until I came home from work the day before Father's Day.
Dad was sitting in an oversized armchair, a scrapbook in his hand. His face was like stone.
He dropped the scrapbook on the table and I felt my heart leap from my chest. It was the scrapbook of all my plots and schemes. It contained everything from newspaper clippings of my crimes to scribbles and doodles on napkins.
"I knew it," Dad muttered, his head in his hands. "I just knew it."
"Don't. Just don't."
I watched as he got up from the chair and made his way down the hall towards his bedroom.
I laid awake all night, wondering how I could make it up to him. Then an idea crossed my mind. I'd take him on our traditional fishing trip. That should cheer him up.
In the early hours of the morning, I got up and began to prepare breakfast. Sausage, egg, bacon, toast, and of course, Dad's morning coffee. He always had to have a coffee first thing in the morning or else he was a grumpy asshole for the entire day.
I knocked on his door.
"What?" he shouted.
I opened the door, balancing the tray on my knee. Waving a white napkin as a sign of peace, I placed the tray down on his bedside table.
Dad's eyes misted over and his lip quivered. He was moved by what he saw.
"Happy Father's Day," I told him, patting his shoulder with my hand.
"Oh son," he said. "I'm sorry I doubted you. You know that I'll stand by you regardless of what you do. You're my flesh and blood."
I watched as he took a sip of his coffee, watching the steam rise from the mug. He grabbed a piece of bacon between his chubby fingers and shoved it into his mouth. I licked my lips and took a seat in the chair at the end of the bed and watched my father devour his breakfast.
A smile etched on my face as Dad popped the last bit of toast into his mouth.
"Hurry up and get dressed, Dad," I said, standing and picking up the tray. "We're going on our annual fishing trip."
As I closed the door to the bedroom, I saw his eyes light up and I knew all was forgiven.
We drove the winding roads to the lake. The smell of freshly cut grass assaulted our nostrils as we pulled into the parking lot. I was surprised to see we were the only ones at this serene location. It was perfect.
Dad climbed out of the truck, adjusting his jeans and his fisherman's hat. "What a perfect day," he exclaimed, taking in a big breath of fresh air. "It's good to be outdoors."
That was the last thing I heard him say.
My reel began to spin.
Grabbing hold of the rod, I began to pull backwards, excitedly telling Dad what I had caught. He didn't say anything.
A large bass landed on the floor, flopping around, gasping for air.
As I watched the fight go out of it, I began baiting the hook. Well actually Dad was the one baiting the hook. You know, with a finger, a toe, an eye...whatever I had left of him.
As I threw the line back in the water, the bass stopped breathing. I began to gut it and I smiled.
It certainly reminded me of the last activity I ever did with Dad.