Sunday, January 17, 2016


Just a story I began to write but will not likely have the patience or energy to continue ...

Tomas got up early – too early, really – but this was to be his last day on the river and he wanted to fit in as much as possible, both during the daylight hours and then later at night. This way he would be in no hurry whatsoever. He could address each moment with finesse, and the chief ingredient of finesse is time. Wit, the right move, can seem, and should seem effortless, but in truth they are studied practices, like poetry and dance.

He zipped the tent entrance all the way closed so that no ticks or scorpions could crawl in, and then tied back the outer flap so that the breeze could enter through the screen during the day, which promised to be another hot one, possibly exceeding 100 degrees by mid afternoon. All the better that he had arisen early.

From the side awning of the tent, he retrieved his fly rod, unhooked his creel from the branch of the nearby cedar, brought both to the table, then sat down on the bench, turning to face the rising sun. He watched it spill red streaks through the trees, which turned orange, then yellow, then white as the great star gained the top of the hill’s steep shoulder and pushed itself into the bluing sky.

The night birds changed shift with the birds of the day, camp robbers and blue jays and little yellow birds that alighted in the cold fire pit and pecked at the ashes, finding, somehow, something of sustenance there.

Tomas realized that he himself was hungry, and, further, determined that he should eat, even if he weren’t hungry, because the day would be long and full of effort.

La preparación es la vanguardia de éxito.

Opening the cooler, Tomas retrieved the items that remained at the end of five days – three slices of bacon, two eggs, an apple and a quarter loaf of white bread. Two of the bread slices he would use for lunch, along with a tin of deviled ham. There was also one beer, which he would have at lunch, and enough coffee for a small pot now and a small pot later.

There was no point in making a fire. Not now. Wood, especially larger sticks, was sparse, and the morning was already warm, and, besides, the yellow birds were still busy at pecking at the feathery ashes in the pit.

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.

But Tomas did not want to take away from the birds. They reminded him of something, something he did not want to think about, but could still feel deep down, whether he thought about it or not. The yellow birds stuck together, side by side, and moved in a little crescent moon semi-circle, picking through the waste of what the fire had left behind, raising their small orange beaks from time to time to bite pensively at some bit of charred treasure, the marrow of something, the shriveled spirit, the shuck of life. Tomas watched the birds longer than he knew, all the uncounted while not thinking.

He found at last that his hands had detached the gas canister from the Coleman stove on their own volition, so he shook the container gently, decided there was sufficient gas to cook breakfast, pumped up the pressure in the canister, counting twenty strokes, replaced the nozzle into the intake and clicked the dial until he got a spark and a circle of blue flame jumped from the burner. He cooked the bacon first, then toasted the two slices of bread in the bacon grease, then fried the two eggs. A hatch of flies had buzzed forth from the huckleberry thickets and Tomas  shoo’d them away with one hand while he prepared his pot of coffee with the other. He was still in no hurry. There was still plenty of time. One more day here, and then he would head for Nogales, and then he would be on the plane and would not see this place again for perhaps two years, or perhaps forever. One thing he knew is that you never know. One thing he knew is that duty does not dream of a future.

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