Chapter 31 - Lake of Lyros
The lake stretched out in the distance as the smooth concrete under the vehicle transitioned into untamed dirt. The truck shook and Kale bounced over landing onto Grant’s lap. Kale thrust himself back into his own space, profusely apologizing. Grant responded with no more than a noise of affirmation, feeling annoyed.
“All right boys! We’ve made it. Looks like the water has gone down a bit from last week, we should be able to get to my favorite location now,” Lars said.
The truck came to a half and jolted a bit as it was put in park. Grant tugged at the handle of the door, hoping to put more distance between himself and Kale.
The door wouldn’t budge.
“You might want to unlock the door…” Kale said.
Grant fidgeted with the lock until it finally unlocked, and he jumped out with Kale following. Branches crunched from under his feet as he stuck the landing. Bouts of plants raised up through the crumpled rock that scattered over the land. Cicadas chirped as if alerting each other of intruders.
“You guys mind helping me bring everything down to the water? Everything is in the trunk including drinks and snacks!” Lars said as he hopped out of the truck.
Rhett turned around and faced Kale. “Are you really not gonna eat or drink anything this whole time we’re out here?”
“I will, I’ll just have to go to the car, or walk far away from you guys. I don’t mind taking my mask down if no one is around, although I still prefer not to in public spaces.”
“All right, let’s get it unloaded guys.” Lars dropped open the trunk and began pulling out the items and handing them to the crew.
Grant was handed a couple fold up chairs and made his way down the incline to the water, he followed Rhett who walked ahead of him..
The ground grew steeper as they approached the water. Pawprints of small animals were scattered in the dry sand. Tree branches and big chunks of rock made obstacles for Grant, his footsteps were calculated as he carefully placed one foot after another. He turned around and saw Kale and Lars walking, with less trouble finding their footing than himself.
They walked for about a minute until he saw Rhett plant two of the chairs down within the damp sand. The ground had less clutter spread around and now resembled what Grant came to know a beach to be. Seagulls cawed overhead as he also set two chairs into place, a bit further from the other two.
Kale dropped the cooler he was carrying and walked off into the distance. Lars opened the cooler, took out a smaller cooler within and began readying the fishing rods with the bait kept inside.
“Hey, you mind bringing that cooler closer to my seat?” Lars asked Grant, while pointing to the chair he wanted to use.
Grant nodded, bent over, and grabbed the handles on both sides and began lifting it, but he only managed to get it a few inches off the ground and struggled to bring it closer to Lars. How was Kale able to carry it with such ease the whole way down? He was led to believe that Kale was weak based on how his body looked.
“Hahahah! Having trouble are you? Don’t worry, living out in the middle of nowhere you’ll start to build up some muscle too!” Lars cackled.
“I’d like to see you try it too Rhett,” Grant called at him as he stretched his arms out behind his back.
“Sure, sure.” Rhett walked over in stride, head held high, bent over and lifted. “Holy shit! This is heavy!”
Rhett had a much easier time than Grant however, and lifted it with ease. It seemed obvious that this would happen, as he appeared to have more muscle than him. Grant only wanted Rhett to not think he was too incompetent.
Grant and Rhett sat down in the chairs by the water. They removed their shoes and socks and placed them to the side and let the waves cover their feet. Grant leaned back, taking in the spectacular view. He closed his eyes and felt a sense of nostalgia.
How long had it been? He couldn’t remember, but he could almost hear Elijah’s voice. The regular trips down to the lake with his family. It seemed this was the closest he was going to get. This lake seemed a bit smaller though.
“Here you go!” Lars handed them their fishing rods. “We’ll start with using minnows as bait, if that doesn’t do too well, we can switch to our babies.” Lars smiled. “Sometimes the fish are picky around here. Some days they want minnows, some days they want leeches. It’s a good thing that we have an unlimited supply of both.”
“You have a minnow farm too?” Grant asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Hah! Nope, but we trade fishing bait at Nha-Stop, since I supply them with leeches anyway. It’s a pretty fair trade. We always get to fish for free, only thing we have to pay with is our time.”
“A lot of time,” Rhett whispered. “Lars has made me stay out here for almost an entire day before.”
“Don’t act like you didn’t enjoy it. You can barely even remember it! I had to help you get back to the truck, you couldn’t even reel in the rod yourself by the end.”
Rhett let out an embarrassed smile and cast out his line. “Yeah, well.”
Grant had never casted out a rod before, he only held it when his father used to cast it for him into the lake. After watching Rhett, He tried his best, but had no luck.
“You’re pushing down the wrong part.” Rhett laughed.
After explaining and teaching him how to properly cast, within a few attempts Grant sunk his line far enough into the lake. Feeling satisfied, he plopped into his seat and leaned back. “What’s Kale doing? Doesn’t he like to fish?”
“He does, he just has a habit of looking around and collecting seashells. He’s been doing that ever since he was a kid,” Lars said, opening a can of beer.
“Oh, you’ve known him since he was little?” Grant asked.
“Of course! He’s been like a son to almost everyone in the village, always helping us out when we are in need and making sure everything is going well.”
“That doesn’t really sound like a son to me…” As soon as Grant said that, he remembered having to always work for his parents, so maybe that was a son’s duty after all. What did Grant know? He never talked to other children about chores when he was younger. Although he knew one thing, there was no way the people in Lyros treated Kale as bad as Grant’s own parents treated him. Everyone loved Kale, well, besides a few.
“Kale’s a good boy, I know it’s hard to see that, but I get the impression you don’t mind him as much as you did when you first moved here. You and Rhett both.” Lars finally cast out his line, shooting it further out than the other two, and flashing a grin.
“Lars, it’s not about how far. It’s about who gets the fish. Anyway, If I try again I know I could easily overshoot you.” Rhett looked at him with conviction.
“Hahaha, oh yeah?” Lars returned the expression. “Tell you what, if you can, you and Grant can have an extra day off this week.”
“No way! Really!?” Rhett stood up on his feet.
“You better make this,” Grant stared at Rhett as he swung back and then forward.
“Ha! I knew you couldn’t!” Lars laughed.
“Damn it, what about that day off?” Rhett asked as he sulked back into his chair.
“We’ll see, I actually wanted to talk to you guys about something. I have somewhere to be later this week, so I was planning on all of us only working four days anyway.”
“Oh, important leech farm deals?” Rhett joked.
“Yes, sort of.”
Grant perked up. “Are we getting new businesses to sell to?” Lars had promised that if profits go up, their pay correlates to the amount the business made. At the time, even Grant couldn’t believe that deal. A complete opposite from working retail and getting sales just to make more money for the elites.
“We may have new customers… But, that also means our workload will increase too. I was thinking of having Kale come to help us on some of the more intense days, he has helped me in the past, but now has his own means of making money.”
“Now that I think about it… What does Kale do?” Grant asked.
Rhett shrugged. “I’ve never asked.”
“Kale… Well, since he has all his health issues, we all pay him to help around the village. We figured that’s only fair. He likes to keep watch anyway.”
It all made sense now. He went on his patrols around the village with his cat, or watched from afar on his deck, attempting to keep order in Lyros. What from though? What was so important there that they needed a guard of sorts? Or maybe he felt if the residents paid for him he needed to at least act like he was always being of use?
“Oh, that’s nice of you guys. Making a fake position to help keep Kale afloat,” Rhett said as he reached over to the cooler and pulled out a beer.
Lars also pulled out a beer and cracked it open. “It’s not a fake position though. It’s very real.” His tone was serious.
“Hahaha okay.” Rhett laughed in disbelief.
Grant slowly moved his gaze forward, and looked up. Once again, the sight of the four winged vulthos flew above him.