About a month after Ellie died I went on a fishing trip to Lake Cheekbyjowl, way up north of here.
I was out on the lake one afternoon when a storm blew up. A nor’easterly came screaming round the bluff at Nokanook Falls and near tore the pines off Sesqueleeguek Ridge. Out on the lake, the water heaved and riled and rolled my boat every which-way, till I was tossing around out there like a cork, and hanging on to the gunwale for dear life. I was near blinded by wind and rain, but I finally made it to shore near Toohahaha and lashed the boat to an old pontoon. I hunkered down in some scree and brushwood they got there, just below an overhang, and that way I rode out the storm.
I thought about Ellie as I crouched there, how she would’ve said I was a stupid bastard for going out in the first place, how I got what I deserved. She was always more cruel than any storm. I never said she deserved to get cancer, though I did think it at the time.
Of course, it was nothing but dumb luck that I survived at all: four men died that day on the lake, and two more near the timberline on Mount Davis.
But for me, the biggest loss that day was my old reefer knife, that I’d had since I was a boy. It must’ve slipped through a runnel or something when the water rolled the boat. It had a beautiful clamshell handle, and always cut like a dream, even when it was wet. That knife was a real friend to me for many years, and I don’t have many friends. Don’t need ‘em, do I?
So yeah, that’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.