Riverside, fiction by Kurt Taylor

Nicole swung around the cor­ner of the café counter in her smooth way, bal­anc­ing a tray of dish­es and cof­fee cups, just right, before stack­ing every­thing in the bus tub. She wore the same tight-fit­ting white out­fit she cleaned every day before she came to work at 6:00 AM. Two days ago, I’d seen every­thing she had. It was the first time.

She poured cof­fee in my thick mug, leaned in and whis­pered. “Don’t look at me that way,” her eyes rang­ing over the booths where men sat with their eggs and ham, scram­bled togeth­er today on spe­cial for $2.95.

Can’t help it, baby.”

Come on Daryl. Not here.”

What am I sup­posed to do? Stop com­ing in?”

And don’t call me baby. You need more water?”

I shook my head.

I get a break in a few,” she said. “Only fif­teen min­utes.”

The sports page said the Bull­dogs quar­ter­back was sus­pend­ed for one game. He threw a book at his alge­bra teacher, it said. The alge­bra teacher was also his foot­ball coach, so that didn’t work out. The Bull­head City Dogs were 1–3, going nowhere in the Inter-Val­ley league; King­man, Bull­head City, Park­er, Hava­su. Nee­dles. Shit, who want­ed to live in Nee­dles? Route 66 and all that nos­tal­gia crap, like get­ting old some­how gets good at some point. Bunch of retired peo­ple clus­tered along the Col­orado in mobile homes say­ing ‘ain’t life grand’ while they played cards till they die on the porch in 110 degrees and go ripe all the sud­den. It was bet­ter in Bull­head City. Casi­nos across the riv­er, lots of young pret­ty girls, but I nev­er had much luck with them. Pour­ing me all kinds of hand craft­ed beer at Joe’s Crab shack─they called it ale─and the cute ones from out of the coun­try with name tags that said where they were from. Exot­ic places like Cara­cas, Pana­ma City. Some­times I thought they wore them like those old stamps they put on lug­gage when you trav­eled. Slap a stick­er on a suit­case like you’d been some place.

Lat­er we sat out­side on a pic­nic bench back of the café, up against the red­wood table and the five gal­lon plas­tic pick­le buck­et full of sand and cig­a­rette butts.

I don’t want some reg­u­lar thing, Daryl. I like what I got and I don’t want com­pli­cat­ed.”

Don’t call it no reg­u­lar thing, then,” I said. “Don’t call it any­thing.”

I need this job, Daryl. Need it bad. I don’t want noth­in’ get­ting in the way.”

Noth­ing get­tin’ in the way? Like me sit­ting there at the counter every­day eat­ing break­fast? Leav­ing you tips?”

No, not like that.” Nicole leaned over to stub out a cig­a­rette in the sand, her white uni­form stretch­ing across her back. I could see the clasp on her bra through the fab­ric and the one inch strap.

You want to go to the foot­ball game Fri­day night?” I said.

Foot­ball game? You mean here?”

Dri­ve down to Nee­dles. Have din­ner, watch the game. Nee­dles has a real good run­ning back. Col­lege scouts are watch­ing him.”

Aren’t you still doing that scout­ing thing?”

Nah, not any­more. They got some new guy work­ing Vegas to Park­er.”

Mike asked if I could work stand­by Fri­day night. Fill in if some­one calls in sick. I could use the mon­ey.”

I can help you with that. I told you.”

That was a loan, Daryl. The oth­er night. I’m not tak­ing no mon­ey for that.”

No, no. No. I’m not say­ing that. Look, you’ll know about Fri­day night by what time, say five o’clock? I’ll call you, see what you’re doing.”

Mar­ty and Iris came around back to their truck. They both waved at us. Mar­ty was a defen­sive back with the Dogs two years ago, all league his junior year until he broke his thigh bone, the big one, in his next to last game. He’d been putting on weight but still had mus­cle on him. Iris was car­ry­ing their first child. Due in a cou­ple of months. They got in to Marty’s black Ford F-150, rolled across the grav­el and out to the high­way.

He was a pret­ty good play­er,” I said. “Shame, though, the things that can hap­pen to a guy. We just about had him signed to Ari­zona State. Next thing, it’s over.” Mar­ty worked at the Gold­en Nugget, front desk. She stayed at home. Nicole wasn’t much old­er, grad­u­at­ed a few years ahead of them both, real­ly had no future, least that I could see. Wait­ress­ing. Cash­ing chips for drinks some­times if a bar­tender was in a good mood. There’d been rumors that when she need­ed mon­ey she’d knock on doors out­side at the River­boat look­ing for guys. Didn’t mat­ter to me. I knew she was clean. I wore a con­dom. The only one I had, sit­ting in the bath­room draw­er. They didn’t go bad, I fig­ured, even after six years. Not like that Gre­cian For­mu­la I’d brushed through my thin­ning hair that didn’t do shit. Squeezed it all out with an old bot­tle of Dra­no one day and the sink turned brown­ish green, like the edges of the Col­orado in the warm pools that didn’t get much flow in late sum­mer. Where algae thrived. Bloat­ed cat­fish float­ing upside down. The heat always won. It killed things in the water, not that any­one would call it that. But it did. Warm water killed fish. I saw them when I’d take the boat down stream where there used to be good pools, deep green and cool, and now were thick with scum and coiled up fish­ing line ris­ing and falling in the rip­ples and fish popped up on the sur­face like corks.

Nicole pulled out a Ben­son and Hedges, flicked a com­pact lighter and exhaled in the dry desert air. Moist lip gloss left a faint red ring on the fil­ter.

We can take my boat,” I said. “Nice run down the riv­er, have a cou­ple of beers.”

How we gonna get to the game, then?”

Now you don’t have to wor­ry about that. I think we can get to the sta­di­um all right.”

Like you’ve done this a few times?”

Been to Nee­dles on the boat, yeah. Nev­er with a girl as pret­ty as you.”

I’ve seen some of those riv­er rats on the Park­er Strip. Those old broads jump in any old boat just to get some guy to buy ‘em a drink.”

That’s the fun zone down there. Jet boats, water ski­ing, all that riv­er stuff’s for tourists. It’s okay, we can dri­ve if you want.”

Boat sounds nice, Daryl. It real­ly does.”

And you’re not some old broad, Nicole. Not by a long shot.”

I’m a young broad, going on old. Come on Daryl, we don’t have to kid around about who we are.”

I put my hand on her shoul­der. She placed her hand on mine for a moment, then took my hand and put it back on the table. She smoked. I nev­er smoked much, but I always want­ed to when I’d see her with a cig­a­rette. Every­thing seemed to stop when I was with her. Time. Age. The epochal jour­ney of water down the riv­er that was steady just about all the time. I’d stop think­ing about where all that water end­ed up, run-off in canals and ditch­es and irri­ga­tion for crops and nurs­eries where plants and palm trees and shrub­bery grew before being loaded on a truck and plant­ed in some Cal­i­for­nia hous­ing tract. In someone’s front yard, shield­ing the neigh­bors and the street, not where kids played or climbed trees or any­thing, that wasn’t done much any­more.

Nicole had slid on top the oth­er night, doing most of the work, and she stayed right there after she gasped and threw her shoul­ders back, strad­dling, knees up, and asked me to hand her a cig­a­rette. I lit one for her and she stayed locked in, smok­ing, while I squirt­ed lotion on her breasts and rubbed them light­ly. She made a hum­ming sound, giv­ing off smoke sig­nals that drift­ed up before get­ting chopped in the ceil­ing fan. From every angle she was near per­fect, and I won­dered when it was over for a girl like that, when things began to peak, when the cig­a­rettes and trail­er nights and cling­ing motor­cy­cle rides start­ed wear­ing down the clean effer­ves­cence, when beau­ty prod­ucts start­ed mak­ing sense. She liked the lotion appli­ca­tion so much she turned around, set that mag­nif­i­cent hind side in my face and put the tube of lotion in my hand. I did what I was told. That was when time stood still, when I was bul­let-hard and she kicked the primer on and we explod­ed togeth­er in the cham­ber, fir­ing in uni­son.

In the morn­ing she got up and made cof­fee while I lay in bed. She show­ered, maybe ten min­utes, then stood in front of me in her smooth white out­fit and pulled her black sheer panties out of her purse, and dropped them on my face.

Bye, Daryl,” she said. “I’ll see you around.” I was in the café two hours lat­er hav­ing a sausage and bacon omelet, extra cheese.

* * *

Buddy’s Riv­er Sup­ply had most of what I need­ed. If Nicole couldn’t go Fri­day night, I’d have a cache of things I could use any­way. Beer, sun­tan lotion, baby oil, a new Sty­ro­foam cool­er that would hold a six-pack or two. An extra fish­ing pole with Buddy’s spe­cial lure, a three inch pink plas­tic wig­gly thing I fig­ured would at least get Nicole think­ing.

You going out for more than a day there, Pard?” Bud­dy leaned across the counter with his palms flat on the glass, in front of racks of fish­ing poles, land­ing nets, box­es of bait.

Don’t think so. Could, though.”

Bud­dy shook his head. “Bet­ter put in some food. She like to make break­fast out on the water?”

Who said I’m going with any­body?”

You haven’t been out on the water all year. Least you said that, last time you were in here. New fish­ing pole? Cool­er?” He shrugged his shoul­ders.

I got­ta try out a cou­ple of new lures. See if you’re on the up and up, or still rip­ping off the tourists.”

Hey, none of my fuckin’ busi­ness what you’re doing out there. Get what you need. I’ll be over here.” He jerked a thumb to his right, down at the end of the counter. Two men were wait­ing, heavy set, gray beards, ban­danas tied around their thick necks.

Out on the floor in the fish­ing sec­tion there were more lures and plas­tic bait hang­ing on hooks, piled in card­board box­es. Some were scat­tered on the floor like a kid had plunged in, flung a hand­ful around and left them on the tile.

A nice Hudson’s Bay blan­ket was fold­ed on top of a stack of cheap cot­ton t-shirts. I picked up the blan­ket, thick wool, the trade­mark green, red, yel­low and black clas­sic design. It was warmer than the old fad­ed blue Mon­tana State Foot­ball wind­break­er I kept on the boat. It wouldn’t get cold tonight, not on the riv­er after the game. But it might cool down enough to need a blan­ket if we stopped for a while, had a beer, lis­tened to the crick­ets chirp­ing along the banks and watched for bats fly­ing around on the night shift.

Misty’s Adult Delights was two blocks down the street. I’d go over there after fin­ish­ing up at Buddy’s. No win­dows in the front. Rear entrance. Dirt park­ing lot. Not a lot of ways to go in a shop like that with­out some­one notic­ing. When I’d called over there this morn­ing, some guy answered the phone. I hung up with­out say­ing any­thing.

Ryan came down the aisle at Buddy’s hold­ing a huge black night crawler. “This what you’re look­ing for Old Man?” He pushed the jig­gling rub­ber worm in my face. I pushed it away.

That what you use, Stud?” I said.

Don’t need noth­ing, Daryl. Don’t use no lures.”

Catch and release?” The cor­ner of my mouth curled. “Let ‘em go when you’re done?”

Three or four days, some­times. Let ‘em thrash around a bit. Brush those lit­tle gills. Throw back what I don’t need.”

Makes you proud, doesn’t it? I mean, hav­ing enough to go around. River’s like that, isn’t it?”

Old Man Riv­er. It’s end­less. End­less sup­ply. It just keeps com­ing at you. Nev­er know what it’ll bring.”

Fish bite if you got the right bait.”

Ryan got up close. I could see the day old stub­ble on his twen­ty-some­thing face. “Heard your bait’s a lit­tle worn, there, Old One.”

Heard that, did you? Hard of hear­ing, too? Knew you couldn’t read much, at least not the papers. News-papers. You wouldn’t know all the things they pull out of the riv­er when they drag the bot­tom.”

Spend­ing a lot of time at the Café, is what I’m hear­ing.”

Now why would you bring that up?” I stuck my index fin­ger in Ryan’s chest. “Impress me with your knowl­edge of local gos­sip?”

Any­body in par­tic­u­lar over there?” Ryan said, push­ing my fin­ger away. “Some­body I know?”

Catch and release, man. You had your lim­it.”

Got that right. Any­thing under six inch­es,” he held his palms togeth­er inch­es apart, thumbs up, “women throw ‘em back.”

Let me see that jig­gly thing you were hold­ing.” I put my hand out. He dropped the crawler in my palm. I looked under the legs, on the bot­tom, put the black rub­ber amphib­ian up in front of my eyes. Then up to my nose. Took a deep breath.

Might work,” I said. “I’ll take it.” I pulled the Hud­son Bay blan­ket from the rack, put the night crawler on the red stripe and walked down the aisle to the counter. Ryan fol­lowed me. I put the blan­ket and the crawler in the cool­er, along with a pack­age of ‘D’ cell bat­ter­ies, the lotion and baby oil and grabbed the fish­ing pole case and held it all in my arms.

Put every­thing on my account,” I said.

You don’t have an account here, Old Man.”

Start one.” I walked out of the store.

The ther­mome­ter in front of Mis­sion Bank said 102 F. It was eleven-thir­ty in the morn­ing. Misty’s was on the next block. The back door stuck so bad I had to pull with both hands, mak­ing a squeak loud enough to be heard at the front of the store. Like it was the door alarm, instead of chimes to let staff know a cus­tomer had entered the prop­er­ty. I stepped in and walked down the hall­way passed the bul­letin board full of pull-off index cards with names of lone­ly men and women, phone num­bers promis­ing any­thing from expert ‘clean­ing ser­vices’ to out-and-out whor­ing. The hot cor­ners of Neva­da and Ari­zona promised chance encoun­ters, fringe ben­e­fits for those who ven­tured beyond the state lines of Cal­i­for­nia and Utah. Cops paid no atten­tion, their hands full with men on the run deal­ing meth, bad checks, stolen pis­tols, hijack boun­ty trans­ferred from big rigs to pick­ups rolling around back roads. Most men who took part in the tear-off index card bonan­za were old and harm­less, escap­ing the rut of lat­er life for an hour or two in a seclud­ed trail­er.

The sex indus­try was alive and well at Misty’s. The old back room empo­ri­ums with bad light­ing had mod­ern­ized into a pink and pur­ple plas­tic shrink-wrapped dis­play-case par­adise of prod­ucts that at first glance, didn’t look much dif­fer­ent than a sec­tion of Toys ‘R Us. The last time I’d been in I was look­ing for fla­vored condoms—banana, if my mem­o­ry served—‘for the nutri­tion­al val­ue’, my part­ner said, smil­ing through parched lips that need­ed a smear of Carmex. Now I need­ed the biggest bat­tery oper­at­ed crank toy I could find, some­thing to rock the boat, get a laugh and a moan at the same time, relieve the ten­sion and the pres­sure. Put things in my own hands, where I was best, and not down at the gut lev­el where anx­i­ety ruled. ‘That’s why God cre­at­ed bat­ter­ies’, one old broad at the counter said, laugh­ing, when I bought a piece I had to throw out lat­er when it leaked day-glo col­or­ing after a cou­ple of times with a Keno girl from Harrah’s. The Keno girl and I could both see in the dark for a while, drink­ing tequi­la shoot­ers and pass­ing out on the bed in the steam heat of an Indi­an Sum­mer on the riv­er at four in the morn­ing.

Cash was the tick­et at Misty’s, no cred­it card trails show­ing up on Amer­i­can Express for ‘mer­chan­dise’ billed to some P. O. Box. Amex reps knew the dark side of goods and ser­vices. The man at the front was heavy, wore a long-sleeved red plaid shirt with a pock­et pro­tec­tor, his face half-way between need­ing a shave and a sor­ry attempt at a beard. He put every­thing in a black plas­tic bag and hand­ed it over the counter with his head down and his fin­ger fol­low­ing a mag­a­zine arti­cle in Amer­i­can Hand­gun­ner next to the reg­is­ter. He wasn’t much old­er than me and it made me wonder.e wHe

Out­side in the park­ing lot the heat shim­mered in waves and I got in my Jeep Wran­gler and start­ed mov­ing to get the air flow­ing. I pulled into my car­port and opened the slid­er to the dou­ble-wide, lis­tened for the beep of the mes­sage machine. Two calls.

Dad­dy, I hope you’re doing well. Is it hot there? St. George is dry, lots of tourists. I’ll be through with the semes­ter in a cou­ple of days. Can you come down? Love you. Oh, it’s no big prob­lem, but Ben needs his shots, and, well, you know. If you can help. Bye Dad­dy.” Ben was my grand­son, Kel­ly my daugh­ter. No son in law in sight. Not in my sights, any­way. Nowhere to be found. Nicole’s mes­sage said she’d meet me at the boat dock around three. Did I want her to bring some fried chick­en or chips? Either was fine, she said. I called her back and left a mes­sage for chips. Wait­ed a moment, then said bring some fried chick­en too. Mike made a good batch when he wasn’t drugged up on pre­scrip­tion pain med­ica­tion he said he had to take because of his back, strained and pulling apart from the years on the grill. Mike was anoth­er one, on and off, day to day, ran his café like it was a garage sale, putting out every­thing he had in the morn­ing on a break­fast buf­fet and let­ting the reg­u­lars pile through look­ing for gems. They were there, like his fried chick­en, the omelets on the reg­u­lar menu he put togeth­er like a tep­pan grill mas­ter, bang­ing pans and chop­ping ingre­di­ents fold­ed into fluffy fresh eggs sautéed in but­ter. He laid a plate in front of me one morn­ing when it was ear­ly, Nicole was off and no one was sit­ting at the counter. Looked both ways, right out of a ‘B’ movie, offered me a lit­tle .32 cal­iber pis­tol he said he’d only shot a cou­ple of times out­side his ranch house on two acres up on the bluff. Need­ed a lit­tle change, cash, scratch—he’d used all three words—and pulled the wood­en grips out from his apron two inch­es before I said, Gee Mike, been think­ing about one, heard they were pret­ty good lit­tle shoot­ers when that guy on the radio was talk­ing about it on his gun show, but hey, no thanks, not right now. What is this today, looks like spinach and swiss, and mush­rooms?

Flo­ren­tine, he’d said. Flo­rence is big on spinach and mush­rooms. Eye-tal­ians, he said, and I thought every­thing they made had toma­to sauce.

Look at you,” I said. Nicole stood on the wood­en dock in tight black bike shorts and a white stretch bel­ly shirt hold­ing a wick­er pic­nic bas­ket with a red checked ging­ham cloth fold­ed on top. “Here, let me help you.” I stepped off the boat onto the dock, touched her arm with my hand. Her eyes matched the col­or of the riv­er and a puff of breeze was tobac­co laced and made me want to inhale hard. There were women who wore faint per­fume traces mixed with cig­a­rette smoke that lin­gered in your mind for years. She would be one of them, a drop of Opi­um under the ear and a Ben­son and Hedges were enough to make a man drop to his knees, con­fess sins of lust and lone­li­ness and beg at the same time for more of that damn pain.

I took the pic­nic bas­ket han­dle in one hand and Nicole’s slim fin­gers in the oth­er and guid­ed her aboard the 23 foot Regal.

Here,” I said. “Hand me those san­dals. Look great on your feet, but they’re no good on deck.” She reached down and hand­ed me the thin-strapped flat thongs. I stowed them in a side com­part­ment. I found some old boat shoes, a cou­ple of sizes too large but they’d keep her on firm foot­ing.

These don’t look too sexy, do they?” she said.

You’ve got more than enough. Go bare­foot if you want. There’s no waves out there. But if a jet ski sprays the boat you don’t want to go down.”

I might want to go down.”

I slapped the soles of the thin-strapped shoes togeth­er, made a whack. “Then we’ll put the san­dals back on.”

Ooh.”

How she’d look at a high school foot­ball game in neo­prene bike shorts and a lycra stretch top, I’d wor­ry about lat­er. If we ever made it to the game. I ges­tured to the bench seat and Nicole laid out, her ruby pink toes against pearl white Nau­gahyde. I went below and stowed the pic­nic bas­ket, put the chick­en in the fridge and pulled out two Buds and cracked them open. I came up and hand­ed one to Nicole.

Cute hat there, Daryl.”

Mia­mi Vice spe­cial.” A lime green long-billed fish­ing cap. “Picked it up in the Keys.”

Lot of vice down there?”

No more than here,” I said. I switched on the igni­tion, fired up the Vol­vo tur­bo diesel into a low rum­ble of pipes bur­bling under­wa­ter. I thrust the boat in reverse, turned around, start­ed the slow move out of the slip into the chan­nel that led to the riv­er. Nicole had both hands around the neck of the Bud, lip­stick match­ing all of her ruby red nails. I punched up the CD play­er, scanned to a favorite Brazil­ian jam I’d scored in a South Beach record store when the man­ag­er said she knew the rhythm gui­tar play­er, hand­ed me a set of head­phones and said ‘check it out’. The Regal had decent sound. I kept it loud enough to match the sound of throb­bing diesel with­out rais­ing the red flag of ‘par­ty boat, par­ty boat’ that marked the ama­teurs. We set­tled in to a slow cruise and came out past the row of casi­nos across the riv­er in Laugh­lin, cash machines with­out the high gloss of Vegas but just as prof­itable.

Tell me how to fish, Daryl.”

I can show you. I brought a cou­ple of poles.”

I don’t actu­al­ly want to do it. Just tell me.”

Come on up here.” I ges­tured to the padded swiv­el cock­pit chair next to me. I point­ed to the drink hold­er. Nicole sat down, crossed her brown legs at the knee and put the Bud in the hold­er.

You don’t fish up here, do you?” she said.

No. I tell you how to fish up here.”

This is nice. Up high, nice music. Do you get out on the riv­er much?”

The throt­tle inched for­ward when I pushed it, the diesels growled, the bow lift­ed and the boat set­tled into speed.

I get out, cruise a lit­tle. Used to go out all night when I first bought it.”

Back when you were mar­ried?”

I looked at her. “She took the house, sold it. The mar­ket was mov­ing up. I kept the boat. No, she nev­er went out with me. My daugh­ter did. She liked to chase the gulls in the morn­ing, swerve the boat around like she was in the dri­ve­way on three wheels.”

You miss her?”

I nod­ded, said ‘yeah’ under my breath.

Think you’ll ever get mar­ried again?”

Free­dom is one of the things I do best. Why would I want to spoil that?”

Freedom’s just a way to say lone­ly.”

I nev­er feel alone on the water. Even when there’s no one on the boat. I can go into a Star­bucks with peo­ple all around and not speak a word. Out here there’s the boat to con­cen­trate on, the water, what’s on the banks, casi­nos, oth­er boats. Get to a fish­ing hole and drop a line.”

Friend of mine says men go fish­ing so they can get away from women who talk too much.”

Men go to get away, peri­od. Most of the time we have no idea what we’re get­ting away from, but we know we need to do it once in a while.”

Do I talk too much?”

Uhh.” I shook my head, smil­ing. “No. Hand me one of those cig­a­rettes.”

Last time you lit one for me, you remem­ber that?”

Nod­ding. “You know you may look like one of those mer­maids out here on the water in that sexy out­fit but I don’t know how that goes down on a high school foot­ball field. Do we need to stop some­where and let you change?” I looked over at her, hands locked around her knees propped up on the leather.

I don’t know. Do I?” She hand­ed me a cig­a­rette. I didn’t light it.

Din­ner some­where?” I said.

We don’t have to do noth­ing fan­cy. Burg­er King is okay. I serve din­er food all day. Don’t mat­ter to me.”

She wore what every girl in town her age wore this time of year. Bare­ly some­thing, nobody cared. She couldn’t have fold­ed jeans or a blouse in the clutch hang­ing on the arm rest.

So you going to tell me about fish­ing? Then we go to Burg­er King, Denny’s, some place they let peo­ple dress casu­al, go to the foot­ball game. What else, Daryl?”

You want to steer the boat.”

You’re doin all right. Don’t need me to screw it up.”

It’s easy. Here. Step over here.” She stayed right there in the buck­et chair, knees up, fin­gers laced. Look­ing at me with her green eyes, sandy brown hair flipped to one side. She brushed it away and cocked her head, turn­ing back to me.

I know what you want, Daryl. I don’t know if it’s the same thing I want, though.”

I got a cou­ple things. Things for us to try. For you, actu­al­ly.”

A big white stuc­co casi­no spread out on the Neva­da side, a mile south of the main strip in Laugh­lin. There was a fish­ing hole on the west side and I steered the boat in a smooth turn, the Regal tilt­ing so Nicole was slight­ly above me.

I don’t need no toys, Daryl. You’re fine. We don’t need that stuff.”

We hugged the bank, slowed down, the bow low­er­ing and cut­ting the water. I stood up and looked over the wind screen. The can­vas top would be nice now, I thought. Cov­er up the cock­pit, shield us from the blaz­ing sun.

You want a beer?” Nicole said, get­ting up from the leather buck­et.

Uh huh.” I throt­tled down to idle, stepped to the star­board hull and began to pull up the frame­work for the can­vas. The rig­ging was tight. I worked it into place, put my hands on the back of the captain’s chair and stepped around the back of it to port and grasped the met­al tub­ing until the hinge loos­ened, straight­ened out and held in place. Nicole’s arm came around me hold­ing a Bud and she pressed her breasts into my back, hugged me around the waist.

You going to tell me how to fish, now?”

I turned around. We clinked bot­tles, tak­ing pulls on the end of the long neck.

There’s the easy way, drop a pole with some kind of bait, what­ev­er you’ve got around and prop your feet up. Then there’s the more sci­en­tif­ic way. Learn about the fish, when they feed, where, find the bait and find fish. Hook fish. Catch fish.”

Daryl?” She looked at me with her green eyes, sheen on her fore­head.

Yeah?” The Regal rocked in the wake swell rip­pling across the water from a jet ski.

Are you going to put the can­vas up? If you are, I’m going to get com­fort­able. Is that okay?”

Black can­vas stretched out over the alu­minum frame and it but­toned down, leav­ing room on both sides for air flow. I opened the Sty­ro­foam cool­er on the deck, poured the two ice bags inside and went below for more bot­tles of Bud. The cool­er held ten bot­tles. Nicole had her legs togeth­er on the white nau­gahyde, her arm on the gun­wale, her bike shorts and white lycra top fold­ed at the end of the bench seat.

I left my can­vas shorts on, dropped the turquoise fish­ing shirt on top of her pile of clothes and sat down next to her, gen­tly cradling her head until it dropped on my thigh. I touched her fore­head with the bot­tom of a cold bot­tle. She let out a sigh. The sam­ba jam was con­gas and marim­ba now, the sounds of soft hands drum­ming on stretched skin, rhythm as old as man.

What’s the next rule in fish­ing?”

Make it last as long as you can.”

Can we do that?”

We’re going to try.”

As long as we don’t call it no reg­u­lar thing, Daryl.”

This is far from a reg­u­lar thing, my dear.”

She leaned her head up, turned around on her hands and knees, kissed me on the lips and put her bot­tle down on the deck.

I have a back­ground in sports jour­nal­ism and have host­ed tele­vi­sion and radio shows, and writ­ten fea­ture columns.  I’ve writ­ten and broad­cast­ed sports news for over twen­ty years.  I’m also a vet­er­an of the cable tele­vi­sion indus­try, spend­ing 23 years in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Col­orado man­ag­ing cable oper­a­tions.

My writ­ing has been fea­tured in NoHo­LA, Urban Liv­ing mag­a­zine, and I’ve host­ed Inside Dodgers Base­ball seen through­out South­ern Cal­i­for­nia.  I blog at http://​kurt​tay​lor​.blogspot​.com/ and cov­er box­ing for Sad​dobox​ing​.com.

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3 Responses to Riverside, fiction by Kurt Taylor

  1. Bobs says:

    Thanks. Reminds me of some­one I know, and makes me want to go fish­ing.…

  2. Pingback: LONG « FictionDaily

  3. Kathy says:

    WOW Held my inter­est

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