FictionSpring 2020

Whatever Happened to Quill Gordon? – Caleb Coy

March 17, 1992

I just tied a Quill Gordon lure in the shop. Nearly pricked my finger winding the fibers just right so the ginger hackle fanned out the way it ought. I used wood duck feathers from one of the ducks I shot up at Crawford’s Pond. Also some peacock herl. She’s a thing of simple beauty, spade heckles like a mayfly mated with a hawk. In the sunlight over the water she’s like a little feather speck. I can’t wait to take her out. That long winter should bring me a hungry catch.

The doctor said it would be good for me to keep a journal to help manage my stress. My wife said it’d be one less pill to take or one less trip to the hospital if it worked. I’ll give it a shot. I told her it can’t be the stress, though. I run a tackle store, for crying out loud. She says it’s from years of winding thread around hooks and trying to get my ties perfect. The doctor says the stress is from worrying about the store staying open. I hardly have any customers. I work a little out of my way to keep folks satisfied with all their leisurely outdoorsman needs. It’s not like I’m working myself to the grave. All right, I guess I can stop here. Doctor didn’t say how much I had to write.


March 18

I was looking forward to trying out that Quill Gordon lure today, but it must have gotten lost in my pockets somewhere. I went out for a catch anyway, using a standard lure. I looped my line for hours, about killed my arms. Didn’t catch a thing. Didn’t enjoy the waters or the foliage or the noises. I think I was just angry about that little lure.

I don’t know why I get so stressed. The hardest part of fishing is tying a fly on a hook. The hardest part of running a tackle shop is tax season. Nothing happened today that I can put a finger on and say, “this made my blood pressure increase.” Found a can of dip laying right in the middle of the floor, though. Told Snuffy a million times not to do that. Had a good talk with Harry Gripp and Rick Selner. Wanda fixed potato casserole. We’ll see how long I can keep this up.


March 20

People in a small town know how to work hard as much as anybody else. We just don’t make other people do our work for us. Plenty of people would just as soon prefer not to do hardly any work at all. They’ve got no ambition. I built my business from the bottom up.

Eleven or twelve years since I opened up my own bait shop. I keep hoping that one day it will be a landmark of Missouri. I’ve got me a good outfit here. They think now that a little shop overlooking Foster’s Pond wouldn’t put this town on the map. Nobody knows how good the fishing is. And we’re the only place for miles with homemade fishing lures. And I don’t cut corners. I use real Marabou and I don’t mat the hackle down. I swear by Heaven I do not cut corners! But good help is hard to find.

In between Porker and Whiskers I can’t keep my head straight. Then I come home and have to deal with Wanda asking me about my day when there’s not much to tell. Honey, if you’re reading this, I love you and you’re my world. Doctor says I should fuss in here so I don’t ball it all up. 


March 23

Forgot to write for two days. Today Porker was predictable as usual. He came in in the morning and dragged his fat, lazy hind end around moping like his sister died. Can’t ever get any good use out of him until noon. That’s his peak hour. Of course, that’s also when he wants to get his lunch break. Then he’s so tired of sitting around doing nothing he’s ready to go home and piddle like he does here. And that temper of his! 

But I know what the doctor would say. I get envious of other people’s laziness. Work makes me think about fishing, and fishing makes me think about work. How is a man supposed to relax? There’s no hope for that boy. He’s paler than the moon on a drunk night, and half as smart. I swear the only thing he ever finishes is a pie. He’s like a diesel engine is what I tell Wanda. The day’s near over when he’s ready to do anything requiring the least bit of energy. If I didn’t know his daddy I would have fired him long ago. Long ago.


March 25

Found four of Snuffy’s empty dip cans under the counter. Count them. FOUR. The boy won’t have a mouth by the time he turns sixteen.


March 26

What’s skinny, runs his mouth like a motor, has a crusty mustache, and attention deficit issues? I’m pretty sure Whiskers has only two things that make him run and they are money and pride. Oh, he will do anything for an extra dollar. Often I’ve caught him betting on Nascar races with customers in my store. I told him a dozen times I won’t have any of that on my property. 


March 29

I tried timing Porker as he put ties together today. I lost count. What is a boy like that going to make of himself? If I get him to move a canoe I shouldn’t have to whistle at him to get him on his feet. I don’t have it in my heart to fire him. His daddy comes in the store all the time. I specifically told Porker to take those new shipments of lures and stock them before anybody comes in. And what does he do? He says he’ll get around to it. Well, I know what that means. He said the same thing yesterday. I keep telling him I’ll get his daddy involved. I never bother though. Maybe I should.


April 22

I got caught. Haven’t written in weeks. Went to the doctor to get my blood pressure checked and he asked me about it. Then Wanda asked me after I got back. Doctor said my blood pressure was better last time after I started writing. I haven’t noticed a big difference, but the doctor says he recommends it and says it works for other patients. I’m not other patients. 

So here’s what I did today. I got up, I sold some fishing supplies, I put up with Whiskers and Porker and Snuffy, nearly threw my hat across the room and I came home and had dinner and watched TV and then went to bed. How’s that? I don’t feel much different.


April 23

Almost broke my neck after slipping on a Skoal can.


April 24

Here I go thinking Whiskers can handle a simple job and he gets distracted by his own conversation. Nobody wants to hear about Jeff Gordon’s motor oil, just pitch the tent and hang it up on display. And I don’t need to hear your opinion on rap music or your jokes about women’s body parts and neither does anybody else.


April 25

I’ll have to have a talk with Snuffy. If his daddy hadn’t taught him everything in the book about engines I wouldn’t have taken him on. But I don’t have time to fix motorboat engines and Whiskers only knows cars. That’s all I can get the boy to do without getting in trouble with the law on account of him being fourteen. He can sweep and change a light bulb every once in a while. How many cans does he go through in a week? I have a feeling he sells it to the other boys. They can’t all be his cans! That isn’t the only way his mouth is dirty! I’ve heard things come out of his mouth even Whiskers wouldn’t say. Fourteen years old.


April 29

I went out today and caught a blue gill, but not a large one. I came home unhappy. Wanda says it’s still because of that lure I lost, but I told her no, I’ve been that hung up before. When I was a little boy, all I wanted every time was to catch anything. Once I got beyond that I wanted to catch as many fish as I could. As an adult I decided I was good enough that I wouldn’t have a good day of fishing unless I caught a big one. I thought there would come a time when I could stand out there in the water and enjoy the fishing, not the catching. I’ve talked to countless men who said, biting or not, that’s where they want to be. Who knows if they’re lying? Everyone brags about a good catch, and if they don’t bring a photo they exaggerate. If it’s really about being out there, find me a man who catches nothing his whole life and is satisfied.


May 3

So in walks this boy Bigsby. Like a steam engine pulling into station. Grinning like a quarterback on prom night. I didn’t even ask to see an application or get a reference. He looked ready enough to work. Some people just have a glow of hard work like they’re going to be a permanent asset. Take a kid who’s two-hundred pounds of lethargy and another who lets his tongue lead him off the road and this kid could really rub off on them. He starts tomorrow. We’ll see.


May 4

I’ve already made young Bigsby my right hand man. Already on his feet, speaks when spoken to. Didn’t irritate me in the least bit. He caught on to everything swiftly. Wanted to know about the pond. Watch him turn out to be some psycho escaped from prison. As long as he’s a hard worker, I don’t care.


May 5

Found Bigsby gazing through the window overlooking Foster’s pond. He’s taken a keen interest in it. He looked zoned out up there but in a real serene way. I told him take a picture of it and take it home. Maybe it’s the ducks.


May 6

Taught Bigsby how to tie a fishing lure today. Taught him the old clincher knot. He watched me one time, eye on every move, and he decides to give it a shot. He takes some feathers and herl and heckles and without pausing to think about it he winds me a Quill Gordon more perfect than the one I lost about a month back. I swear I thought that boy was putting one on me. How did he learn so fast?


May 7

Dip can number 4,872. Maybe. I’m sure that’s how many I’ve found. I could make a million dollars recycling them.


May 9

I took Bigsby’s Quill Gordon out today. Just me and the fishes and the spot where we are. I scribbled beautiful lines in the air for nobody but me to see. I was hip deep in the reflection of my own line dancing and it was like half of me was one man and half of me was another looking at the same shapes being drawn. I felt like God was peering at me through the foliage. Some lucky trout forsook all the bristly caddis for my little fly. When I unpinned him, I marveled at the lure in his jaw. The river and the fish and the lure were all crafted so well. The trout got away I was so distracted, but I still have that lure. It’s now too lucky, thanks to Bigsby. From now on I’m calling him Quill Gordon after his lucky lure.


May 11

Bigsby keeps staring at the pond. Still can’t complain, though. Does everything I ask him to. Just can’t figure out what it is about the pond that’s so pretty. It’s like there’s something underneath the waters that nobody else can see except him. What’s he waiting for? Some glorious miracle to erupt out of the depths? He fills himself up on it’s stillness. Doesn’t even breathe. He’s so vibrant, so free. Oh, what am I going on about? He’s worth every penny. He also said he didn’t mind if I call him Quill Gordon.


May 12

A goofy thing happened today. I called ol’ Quill Gordon into my office. I felt bad because it’s all sloppy with bank notes and receipt rolls and half-opened boxes. I was patting my pockets and searching drawers looking for my keys or something and I asked him if he could tie a few lures for me and hang them on our specialty shelf. Then he puts his hands on his hips all gallantly and says “I gotcha taken care of.” It made me raise an eyebrow a bit so I repeated it to make sure what he meant because I don’t fool around when I tell someone I need something done. I said, “What’s that supposed to mean? Are you gonna do it or not?” and he just said it again. “I gotcha taken care of.”

Then I just stared at him and he was beaming at me with his bright eyes all polished. It was like he was a sucker for corny jokes and was about to tell one. But there was no punch line. I just want a YES or NO answer. But he left the room and I didn’t worry about it and I told Whiskers to make sure the lures were tied whether he did it or Gordon or whoever. They better be done tomorrow.


May 13

I walk in and Whiskers tells me the lures were tied, thank God. And Carter had apparently called and ordered a box of them ready for when he came by. I called the boys together and told them that their priority for the next hour was the box of lures. Quill Gordon was the only one not in the office, so I searched and sure enough he was standing by the window. I called for him but he didn’t move a muscle, just stood with his back to me. “In a jiffy,” he said. “In a jiffy.” What is this, the fifties? But the lures he made yesterday were perfect. I saw them when I walked in. I told him I was going to have the other boys pack them in a box and then he said that phrase again. “I gotcha taken care of.” I asked him to repeat it. He did and he kept staring at that pond. If anybody else had said it, I would have figured they didn’t mean anything by it or they were going to do it in a bit. I asked him if he already did it. I was joking, but he wasn’t. He had already boxed them. Said, “I gotcha covered” and just stood there like a mannequin. But it turned out he was right. I never saw Carter come by, so I called him up, and he said he got the box and everything.

There’s something weird going on with that kid. I can feel it in the way he was there I guess, like some supreme influence reigns over him. Maybe he’s on some drug. Maybe I’m just not used to that kind of work ethic. I want to turn him over and see what he’s made of sometime.


May 16

I talked with the other boys about Quill Gordon. Porker says he isn’t right. Whiskers says I should fire him. Snuffy said he was a fag, and of course as soon as he said it Whiskers agreed. Whiskers didn’t believe Quill had tied all those lures. He thought I did it and was trying to pull some trick on them. Maybe I should if it will teach them a lesson. Oh, and the whole time Gordon is staring out at the window.


May 21

I’ve been watching Quill Gordon close for the past couple of days. I can hardly ever find him but when I can he’s at the window. Maybe I should get him a chair. No, because that would only encourage Porker to sit even more. I thought about giving him something to do once or twice just because I thought maybe he was bored, but then I decided to motivate the other boys. And they’re never around each other. And he doesn’t eat, drink, smoke, chew, fool around, or do absolutely nothing. Everything I ask him to do he’s either already done or gets done when I’m not looking. I thought I told him he could take a break if he wanted. Maybe staring intently at a body of water is his idea of a break. Guess I should try it sometime.


May 24

He ties the perfect lures, beautiful in form and function. Points the feathers away from the hook. Never mats the hackle down. Customers take notice. Carter said the other day that Quill Gordon as an imitator. and an attractor. He said all lures are either imitators or attractors, but our boy Gordon, named after a lure, is both. He makes the perfect lure and he attracts business. Told me I should consider the boy a boon.


June 2

I snapped today. Quill Gordon is why. I told him I needed ten lures tied and boxed by lunchtime so I could inspect them. And he said, “Gotcha taken care of.” I asked him if that meant he was determined to do it and he didn’t reply. Porker and Whiskers were just sitting in folding chairs in the corner and I told them Quill thought he could tie a hundred lures by himself. Porker said that was fine by him and I asked Whiskers if he thought the boy needed help and he said he wouldn’t work with “Quill the Queer” because that boy wasn’t right upstairs.

Then the bells at the door jingled and I told Gordon to get a customer and once again he tossed up that catch-phrase of his. “I gotcha taken care of.” And before I knew it the customer was leaving. I called out to Quill Gordon like three or four times and he wouldn’t answer. I got so mad I swiped a styrofoam bust off the shelf because it was staring at me. Thing flew across the room like a head off a geeyateen. But come the end of the day it was there on the register report. A hundred lures. It gave me a headache.


June 15

Troy Peck said he saw someone snooping around the store last night as he drove by. I didn’t see any forced entry points and thought at first someone stole the key. But it was just there hanging in my office. I don’t know why but the first face I thought of was Quill Gordon’s.

None of the cash was stolen. Did I already enter this month’s receipts into the computer? Maybe I’m throwing myself such a loop from this whole Quill Gordon thing that I forgot. And the floor looked cleaner. I thought I had told Snuffy to mop and he usually has a slipshod way of doing it. That flickering fluorescent light was fixed too. I know it was Gordon because there were twenty more lures tied, and I know nobody did those yesterday. Does he not have any friends or something? Or maybe I’m not crazy at all and I have some kind of elves or fairies coming into my store at night. I don’t believe in fairies.


June 16

I didn’t go in to work today. Had this cloud hanging over me. I just feel helpless when I look in that kid’s face. He’s an enigma. He’s my fellow man. I have to stop being afraid of him. He’s just a kid. He’s got me by the pants. I sat in my chair most of the day trying to watch whatever was on TV. I felt like he was hovering over me, grinning at something I couldn’t see. I kept looking up at the large-mouth bass hanging over the TV that I caught when I was seventeen. Wanda said she walked in and saw me making the same face the fish was, all open-mouthed and frozen in defeat. I imagined that it would turn its head and look at me and move its jaws to talk and say “I gotcha covered.”


June 18

I took out one of the strange boy’s lures again. I no longer use my own. I waved over the water a warping halo. I cast his creation upstream and saw it bob in the current. A jumping bluefish relished in the easy bait. I about cried.

Quill Gordon doesn’t mean any harm and he doesn’t seek anything for himself. He doesn’t say a word unless somebody says something to him. He never complained about Whiskers or Porker or Snuffy. He has yet to tell me if he has any family or any hobbies or lives anywhere I would know. I can’t just ask him. That boy is invariably reserved. He’s invincible.


June 23

Today I prayed for some accident to happen to him just so it would cure me of his presence. I can’t just send him away myself, his performance has done so much for this place. He’s the hardest worker I ever had, but I want him out of here. There’s got to be somebody who can explain this boy. Maybe not. There’s something I can’t put my finger on, something beyond the universe and nobody can fathom it. I need to buck up and ask him what he’s all about. Maybe if I find out something shady about him I can let him go.


June 24

The timing just wasn’t right. I went up to him, even stood in the way of his view of the pond, and first I said his name a few times like I was waking him up and he said his thing again. “I gotcha covered.” I said, “What gives, Gordon?” He just said it again and then I just put my foot down and asked him, I said, “What are you doing here, Quill Gordon?” And I couldn’t get anything more out of him than him saying it again. “I gotcha covered.” I even gave him the chance to say something else, but then a customer came in. I was going to get it but then he told me not to worry about it and went and handled the customer before I realized what had happened and I just stared at the pond trying to figure out what just happened.

It sure is a pretty pond, come to think of it. I always thought so myself, but never took the time to just sit and enjoy it. Quill Gordon swallows it up with that cool, dismissive assurance of his. Maybe it’s how nonchalant he is that really puts a frost on me. He’s got this unflinching indulgence that seems to just altogether ignore my distrustful inspection. Now look at me. I didn’t even know I could think that way on paper. I have no grounds to let the boy go. 


June 26

There’s a fishing rodeo coming up this weekend. I enlisted Quill Gordon to help tie about forty lures, twenty sulfurs and twenty yellow Sallies. “In a jiffy-pee,” he said. At least that was something different. And he went and did it too. Whiskers even told him to slow down because he was making him look so bad. He told Whiskers to take a break, told him he had him taken care of. Forty lures.


June 29

I’ve done lost it. Wanda asked me today where we were going for our anniversary. Of all the things I could have said I said, “I gotcha taken care of.” At first I didn’t catch it. Quill Gordon has gotten to me. 


July 12

Haven’t been able to write for a few days. Just had this numbing bother. I knew writing wouldn’t help it. Maybe it’s been making it worse. But I have to get it out. Wanda wouldn’t understand. She’d think I was paranoid. I’ve mostly been wandering around the shop, trying to think of something to do about this Quill Gordon situation. Whiskers said I ought to get him drunk one night and shake everything out of him. He said it would get him taken care of. I don’t even think he meant for it to come out that way.


July 13

He’s gotten to us all. Today Porker asked me if he could have a three-day vacation to go camping. I asked him if he could put up the knife display before he left and he said he’d have it taken care of. He wasn’t laughing. 


July 14

Found Quill Gordon tying lures after I told the boys we had plenty and I told him he could go home. He said that it was best for him to stay until the end of the day. What an arrogant thing to say! I asked him why and he just said “why not?” So I asked him to explain himself and he just whipped right back around and asked why I cared.

Do I regret the pace he’s setting? He’s an attractor, after all. I fear I will lose my relaxation after all this. Can a man work too hard?


July 20

Quill Gordon refused to take a check today. I stretched out my hand and shoved it in his face and he just stood there. Then he just decided to inform me that he won’t be taking any payment. I thought maybe he meant he wanted cash. But he specifically said I didn’t need to pay him, said it real feverishly. I’m out of practical options. If he refuses to accept pay, that must mean he doesn’t plan on working here anymore. But what if I’m wrong? I could get into big trouble if he pulls a fast one on me and says I haven’t been paying him, gets a lawyer into it. Still, I don’t care how weird or fishy it sounds if he doesn’t want pay, he won’t get it. It makes me feel a little guilty, but it was his idea.

As much as it would be a benefit to have free labor, I am suspicious of the long game. If I had a team of boys like Quill Gordon I could quadruple my sales, sell merchandise I’ve never been able to hold, even open up another store. But if I’m audited?


July 22

I don’t care if Quill Gordon is a priceless catch—voluntary free labor. People find him strange. He’s just out of place in this world.


July 28

I’m up the creek. Got a letter in the mail today saying I have three months to settle my business affairs and sell Uncle Sam my establishment so they can put a main road in through Foster’s Pond. Imminent domain, et cetera et cetera. Haven’t told Wanda yet.

With the money they’re willing to give me, I could open up a brand new store. But where? People around here have only known to shop here, know that Foster’s Pond is where you’ll find my place, my gear, my people. I wanted to expand, not relocate. What will I do? I’m up the creek. Up. The. Creek.


July 29

I broke the news to the boys today. I told Wanda this morning. I figured I’d do it sooner rather than later. Those boys will need the time to find a new job. At least one that will take them. Nobody will ever give them as much slack as I have. Quill Gordon seemed pretty untouched by the news. Of course, he’s only been with me about half a year. And if he’s working for free what difference would it make to him? But when I told him he said, “I gotcha covered.” I told him, “Yeah, I betcha do.” He just gave me a hungry smirk, like the kind you get when you see somebody has food on their face but you don’t want to tell them. I said to him that I didn’t know what his plans were but I’d maybe move my shop somewhere else. I told him I knew he would do well, and I meant it. I even told him I wished I had more kids like him around.

“I gotcha covered.” That’s all he could muster in return. It’s like he’s some foreigner and that’s the only English he knows. Just nods his head like an idiot. Like a golden statue that’s just been polished and installed in a brand-new museum, resolute, thunderous and great in a place that is not permanent. I’m not even normally capable of going on like this. Good night.


July 31

Late last night I started staring at that mounted bass on my wall again. Thought I saw it move. There’s no reason to feel happy about the hassle of selling my shop and figuring out what to do with myself. I don’t want to have to find another location. I could have sworn that fish was smiling back at me. I felt like it was pulling me toward it. Maybe I just dozed off, but I didn’t feel like I was dreaming. It was like the fish was tugging at my mouth and reeling me in, saying, “I gotcha, I gotcha, I gotcha.” It gapes its mouth and swallows me and I felt devoured, but kind of safe.

Wanda found me sprawled out asleep in the lazy chair, murmuring to myself.


August 9

The more I think about what will happen to Quill Gordon, the more I think about what will happen to me. I keep thinking the worst will happen. It’s affecting my moods at work lately. People come by just to see how I’m doing, not even to buy anything. 


August 11

I’ve been around for a while. I’ve seen some pretty weird stuff. How do I explain today? The first thing I see coming into work is Quill Gordon standing in the middle of the pond. Had to blink a few times and rub my eyes first. This was new. I trod down there and asked him if he was going to work today or not. He tells me he is working. I told him he couldn’t stand out there all day. I wasn’t paying him for nothing. Then I remembered I actually wasn’t paying him. But this was totally unlike him. I knew he was in love with that pond, but for him to go standing in it like he’s a nymph? So I asked him if he was going to come in soon, or if he lost his mind, or if he was trying to protest something like a hippy. But he shrugged and didn’t even make an effort to explain himself. Just him with his arms out and the water dripping off. I was about to dive in after the kid and shake some sense into him, but I felt like I wouldn’t be doing it for him, but for me. He did look pretty happy out there.

I went inside and figured he would get bored with it in about an hour. I was wrong. Instead, Porker and Whiskers brought out lawn chairs and watched him, started making bets on how long he’d stay out there. Snuffy joined them, started spitting dip into the shallow end of the pond. I would have stopped them, but honestly, what’s the use? It’s not like my business is going somewhere any more. This young man boosted my sales and increased customer satisfaction, only for that death bell to sound for the whole shop when the letter came in the mail.

Maybe Quill Gordon is a blessing and a curse. I don’t know whether to pity him or envy him.

I left Quill Gordon standing out there when I closed up. Lord knows what I’ll do if he’s still there tomorrow.


August 12

Quill Gordon, I know you had something to do with this. Come morning I drove to the store and I knew you were still out there like you’d sprouted from the water. I just didn’t expect that crowd to be there this morning. I guess the boys had gotten the word out. I come to think now that they were jealous of me like I’d scored some big game. I really thought at the time you would solidify and outlive me and the shop and the pond and the entire country. You had me unwound, and all you did was pose there like a gargoyle. You know what I thought? I thought, let them take my business and my property. Let them take away Quill Gordon.

And I wasn’t expecting that phone call either. I still can’t believe it. The government came to find out that Foster’s Pond is what they call a “precious wetland area under environmental protection.” Well isn’t that something? I can imagine that they were pretty upset about this discovery. And when I came to find out that they’d received an anonymous letter from a young man in the area, I just knew it was you, Quill Gordon. Because then you knocked on my door and grinned at me like a little boy that had just passed gas at the dinner table, dripping down from head to toe like tears of joy. So you asked me if I needed anything else. What was I supposed to say? I only told you “No” because it was the smallest word that came to my mind as I stared in rapt amazement.

The words come easier when I write. Maybe the doctor was right in a way he didn’t even know. I don’t need you to tie any more lures or mop the floor or take out the garbage or re-stock the coke fridge. You told me Mr. Clarke wanted to buy a cooler, and you let me say that I’d take care of it. “I got it covered.” Those were the words that came out of my mouth. “I know,” you said. Then you said, “Well, I guess I’ll be going now. Take care.”

And you were gone. Hardly a goodbye. No explanation. No benediction. Nothing. Old Quill Gordon had left the premises. Guess you served your purpose. Now you’ve done gone back to where you came from.


August 13

Porker and Whiskers seem to have been inspired by the pond nymph’s invisible stain on the place and they’ve started to pick up their pace. As luck would have it, the new road that won’t be built on my place is instead going to run real close to it. I figure that means more customers. Guess I’ll have to hire more help. Could use a few Quill Gordon’s around. Like to see somebody try and fill those shoes.


August 19

People are still stopping by and asking me where that Quill Gordon boy went off to. I have no earthly idea. Good kid. Terribly selfless, honest to the bone. And people are going to be asking about him for a long time. Good thing I wrote it down.


August 26

Been two weeks since Quill Gordon left. But what else would he want with this place? He came to me in the same way he left, from nowhere to nowhere. Wherever he is, he knows what he’s doing. I almost want to write to the kid, just to tell him that I wish him well. I feel like I should send him the money he never collected. Maybe I’d tell him about all the rumors that started. People are saying he was a deranged killer looking for victims. He was a sex fiend who was trying to get friendly with us. He was a vagrant who used my shop to live in and bathe in the pond. He was working for the government. He was an alien. He was among the prophets.


September 13

I’ve been meaning to find some spot where the water runs deep and the crickets fiddle endlessly. Some days you catch nothing, even when you match the hatch to perfection and you sculpt the air with the grace. Some days a catch is so big you feel like you should throw it back because you didn’t try hard enough to earn it.

I’ve got some fuzzy orange palmers I need to take out today. But I feel like just skipping stones on the pond, listening to them tap tap tap across the water.

Caleb Coy is a freelance writer with a Masters in English and a Masters in Education from Virginia Tech. He lives in Christiansburg, VA with his wife and two sons. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, The Fourth River, and The Common. He is the author of the 2015 novel An Authentic Derivative. His website is

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