Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Man Kisses Bass

Out fishin' on a spit of land stuck into a lake in St. Charles County, and catching nothing, I saw a single fisherman, a stranger, in a johnboat coming toward us. He drew up and asked in his nice rusty-sounding Missourah accent, would I take a picture of him and the bass he'd just caught. He had a disposable camera...

He was an old, thin man wearing a shirt printed with colorful fishing flies. Could have been my dad, if dad had lived and got skinny; or, your dad, left alone on his own; sometimes strangers are angels in disguise. I said yes, of course, and pulled his bow up onto the gravel a bit, and grabbed the camera offen him. And from the water he ups a beautiful, heavy, live largemouth bass about half as long as I am tall. And he wanted me to take a photo of him kissing it.

So he kissed it and I did. He wanted to talk; he was lonely. I recognize that right away in a person, and tolerate it as long as I can. He offered us the fish to take home. I said no. He said, well, you put it back in the water, then, and handed it over. Now I had never before held such a big fish. I could look right down the fish's throat and see all the way into it -- its needly white bones and ribs. I held it by its tough wet lip. The poor thing flapped -- the air was burning it. Awestruck I hesitated and the man said, bringing me around, "Turn 'im back into the water." So I did. Off it went, with an amazing story to tell to its friends and family. Off went somebody's lonely dad. And I had felt the real weight of real life.

No comments: