Brian rubbed at the river rock in his hand. It was gray with small specks of white and smooth from eons of wear. He wondered which mountain it came from, how long it had been part of the Earth. He gave it a side-arm toss and watched it skip across the shallow river before being swallowed by the water.
“Would ya goddamn stop already?” Bob said. He flipped his fly pole back and forth with skill. Small rings rippled out from where his lure landed. “It’s hard enough catching fish as it is. I don’t need you throwing stones in the water and scaring them away.”
Brian swatted another mosquito on his neck. “Fishing sucks. You know I hate it. Why did you drag me all the way out here?”
“Why’d ya come?” Bob growled back. He spit into the slow-moving water as he cast his fly again. The phlegm drifted past Brian with a twirl. “Oh yeah, that’s right. Because you want my damned money. That’s how you managed to crawl from your city apartment and risk your soulless-self to the horrors of nature. Money.”
Brian looked at his father with an empty expression. He’d never seen his old man like this. The midday sun cut harsh shadows across his grizzled face. The cigar in his mouth was obnoxious and reminded Brian of the power plant smoke stacks he’d driven by on his way to the river. And still, his father made no eye contact with him. His eyes remained on the real task at hand, the fishing-fly. The fuzzy fly caught an updraft of breeze and flew far enough to land in a still corner of the river. The mouth holding the cigar smiled.
“You could just give it all to Mom,” Brian said.
“I’d rather see my faggot son get my money before that whore,” Bob said.
Brian grabbed another rock and squeezed it in his hand. “Wow, Dad, that’s great. I didn’t know you could exercise moral-relativity.”
Bob glared at the river and huffed more smoke. No fish seemed interested in taking the bait. A small gust of wind tore golden leaves from the trees. Brian watched the dead leaves turn to dried ships and float along with the current.
“There’s still a chance for you,” Bob said. “You could still turn out right.”
Brian skipped the rock across the glassy water to the bend where the floating fly awaited. “Did you ever love us, Dad? Either of us?”
Bob sighed thick smoke and flicked the rod in his hand. “You were alright for a few years, back when you played ball.”
“That’s it?” Brian asked.
“That’s about it,” Bob said.