We hated each other in a way, but still somehow arranged to go fishing that day. The canoe was only about 17 feet long and only the two of us were in it, but there was still a social divide that separated us.
To me, Jack was always the fat kid with a speech problem. The neighborhood kids and I used to tease him growing up. He used to always go swimming with a dark-colored shirt on, otherwise he’d get teased about how big his tits were and how he had more rolls than the corner bakery.
Then in high school he lost all his weight and became good looking. He wore a black leather jacket, smoked cigarettes and always seemed to have a girl on his shoulder. As for me, I don’t know what the hell I was in high school or where I fit in. I was definitely not as cool as Jack.
I think that’s why he hated each other. I was somewhat jealous of his newfound social status when just a few years earlier he was getting his man tits grabbed by the older boys and crying. He hated that I held a bag of skeletons from his closet. To get rid of them for good, he had to get rid of me. Or he had to at least give me the time of day even if he didn’t want to hang out with me anymore because I could release all his demons into the world.
We rowed the canoe on the lake but had trouble keeping it straight. I didn’t want to listen or cooperate with him and he didn’t want to hear it from me. It was hot as hell outside and the sun was baking us alive in the canoe.
We floated by some fallen timber and there were painted turtles lying out and swimming around and poking there heads out of the water here and there. We weren’t catching anything and our mouths were drying out as we sat in the heat with nothing to drink.
I kept saying stupid things and Jack kept telling me to shut. The more I talked the more he told me to shut up. I was really pissing him off and I loved every minute of it.
I stopped speaking to keep the peace. Eventually, we just fished in silence. Otherwise we would have flipped the canoe and drowned in the middle of the lake. If we didn’t drown, we would have caught some bacterial infection from the shit-stained, algae-infested lake we were fishing.
Jack was fishing one of my Fenwick lures. He cast out and a pickerel hit it hard. I tied on a daredevil—my favorite lure for pickerel—and cast it in the other direction and reeled in. A few yards from the boat a big pickerel just smashed my lure and I reeled it in.
Jack then pulled up a good-sized crappie. Off in the distance, we saw some baitfish splashing across the calm water surface. In unison, as if we were thinking the same thing, we started rowing toward the baitfish so we could get a better boat position.
We didn’t have to say a word to each other we just rowed to where we wanted to in perfect harmony without any fuss.
I tied on an old Bill Dance Spit N Image in pumpkinseed color and cast it just beyond the school of baitfish. I slowly twitched it across the surface and a bass leaped out of the water and nailed my lure. I pulled up a 3-pound bass—a good size for NJ bass. Jack was fishing a top water lure and had bass hitting it on every other cast.
By this time, the sun was setting and we were supposed to meet Jack’s parents. They were going to be pissed. We were going to get in trouble. But we didn’t give a damn.
We were having too much fun by then.