• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 05
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The Light Behind

Alf is a blight on the landscape. His blood-sore cheeks are a stain on the watercolour scene. He languishes on his folding chair, the legs buckling under the weight. His stomach is distended. It bulges over the trousers, belly button caressing thighs, as he sways slowly from side to side.

I select a bloodworm and try to tease the hook through its hairy flesh. It doesn’t give, not ready to succumb to its murky fate. I go again, ramming it this time, until the skin pops, innards explode. These bastards can bite. They have a venom specially reserved for folk like me. Tiny fangs ready to shoot revenge. It’s gunning for me now, flailing wildly beneath my fingers. I haul my rod back, and throw the thing into the water.

Alf follows suit, but first giving the worm his standard ‘lick for luck’. I hear the roughness of his tongue scraping against the side of the worm. It recoils. I recoil. Alf winks at me before launching it into the glistening abyss in front. We sit back, in silence, watching the water. It’s clear as anything, and we can make out the vivid red worms far beneath the surface.

It’s a nice day for a bloodbath, I think to myself, images of fat trout and gawping salmon filling my hungry mind. We sit for hours, watching the bright red sparks bob about in the water. They are laughing at us now, I’m sure.

There’s a bite to the breeze, and I shift in my seat.

“Why don’t we head out into the open air over there, Alf? Out the cave? It looks warmer that side of the lake.”

“You don’t want to walk into the light,” he says. He shakes his head, puffing out his cheeks, thread vein seeping out over the skin. “What if we miss our big catch? Oh no. This is the only spot for the big one, boy. You watch.”


The Light Behind

And so I watch. And we wait. And this is how every day starts, and pans out, and ends. And we never catch anything, and we never venture out to the light behind the lake, for fear that we might miss that one big catch. There is only this side of the lake. There is only me and there is only Alf and the petulant blood worms and the futility of it all.