Another seemingly endless work week was behind Brake Waalyn once again. Eight to twelve hours a day, showered in hardwood sawdust being bullied around the mill by the new owners people hating daughter was wearing his already disgruntled attitude thin.
As he drove out of the sawmill parking lot, the thought of looking back at the plant even if it was on fire, repulsed him. When Brake looked in his rearview mirror, all he saw was his two fishing poles, jiggling and wiggling in the back seat, that only left the car to go fishing. He was only missing one thing to make his circle of sanity complete, his buddy, Fred, who was smart enough to know that home was not a house, but rather a place in someone’s heart. And like every Friday afternoon when it wasn’t winter, weather and work permitting, he would be picked up at the end of the driveway to be with his buddy.
Sometimes, it was a the short ride back up the gravel road back to the house, but that was okay too.
It was another Friday afternoon and that meant not going home to his half drunk wife, Jazzmyn, who didn’t care if he ever came home and his two know-it-all teenage girls, Britney and Ashley, a year apart, who wore too little clothes and too much makeup. No, Brake just barely stopped at the at the end of his driveway and picked up Fred, who would always be waiting for Brake. From there, it was a stop at the same inconvenience store in Copperville,as he does every adventure time to buy bait, a six pack of beer, a pack of little cigars and a couple meat sticks and then it was down the road they went. It was time to relax a little, fish a little and daydream about being someone else’s shoes, whose life doesn’t suck.
The only place to fish within quick driving distance was the dark stained Branchy River, a tributary river that eventually meandered into oblivion at a wetland of the Mississippi River.
In all the years Brake fished in these solitary places, he rarely saw another person, nor was there ever another person fishing his spot when he arrived there. Small dairy farms dotted the coulees and valleys here and there, but because the terrain was so hilly and springs of water leaked everywhere, the area wasn’t easily settled and remained unscarred by human encroachment.
Many a Friday evening, Brake sat quietly at one of his fishing spots, sipping beer, smoking cigars, listening to the river and its inhabitants, with his unbaited pole just laying on the ground, while Fred sniffed around.
Meanwhile, as he daydreamed and fished, Brake imagined endless situations in which he wished he could just wish himself into. Anything seemed better than the life he stumbled into eighteen years past...The night of a senior beer party in the woods behind Old Man Englebretson’s house of horrors. If it wasn’t for the fact that he had a daily reminder, the night would just be a fuzzy memory.
What Brake remembered about that night in the woods, was a Native American girl, Jazzmyn Wolf, who kept hanging on him as if she was his girlfriend and she definitely was not.
Brake, a tan complected man looking boy, with dark brown messy curls, cascading down to his shoulders and a friendly,yet slightly shy demeanor, made him a catch for any girl. But,Jazzmyn didn’t want waiting in line for her turn to seduce Brake.
Brake was also kind hearted and he couldn’t tell Jazzmyn he didn’t really care for her and didn’t want to get physically
involved with her. Aside from that fact, her father, a real Native American medicine man that stood at least six foot four, didn’t care for white boys dating his daughter.
As the party roared on in the woods, Brake felt something he never felt before. Drunk! The kids should have been worried about having an underage beer party on someone’s private property, but no one was in the least. Just the opposite.
Everyone knew Old man Englebretson was chilling out in the state mental hospital after it was discovered he killed his wife and her fifty cats with a hammer.
The old man may have had a sliver of a chance of getting out of a nut house someday had he not fed his wife to his pigs and put the dead cats in gunny sacks then casually dropped them off on the neighbor’s porch because, “that’s where they all came from in first place.”
The last thing Brake clearly remembered about the party was sitting on a log next to the bonfire, puffing on a joint for the first time in his life. His next recollection was waking up in Jazzmyn’s bed with her father Barton Wolf, the Chief, yelling at him to “get the hell out of his house.”
That should have closed that chapter in his life, but wouldn’t you know it, Jazzmyn got knocked up and Brake was the so called “culprit.”
It wasn’t a great way to begin a lifelong commitment, but Brake, raised “to do the right thing,” was stuck with the mess he made.
Jazzmyn’s Dad on the other hand, hated him and told him so regularly and her brother Zayk, bullied and picked fights with Brake every time they happen to cross each other’s path.Being a faster runner,Brake was only caught once, then promptly beat up. Brake was also fairly certain that Jazzmyn hated him too.
But this afternoon, that was behind Brake, both literally and figuratively. Now it was he and Fred, going fishing.
He parked his car on the shoulder of the road then he and Fred piled out of the car enthusiastically. Opening up the back door, Brake took out the tackle box, then choose the fishing pole that looked the least tangled up, taking pole and bait in one hand. He pocketed the pack of cigars, then pulled two beers off the six pack rings and gave an anticipated meat stick to Fred as he slammed the door with his foot. Without hesitation the two friends headed west to the Branchy River.