I love stories where what seems ordinary is twisted to reveal lies,horror, stupidity and incompetence. Beware the surface reality might be something else underneath.
When Bert needed to unwind he would load up the old, rust ridden Ford with fishing tackle, bait, net, a large yellow bucket, double salami sandwiches and at least six beers kept icy cold in the blue, wide-strapped cooler box. Needless to say sunscreen and his favorite fishing hat with the drooping feathers would land on the passenger seat. Bert was a red head and sun and red heads never seemed to get along. He would shrivel up like an overcooked lobster, spend two days in agony and start peeling which would leave him just as white skinned as before. Tanning was out of the question besides which, he wanted to relax and enjoy the last day or so of summer and not worry about blotchy, itchy skin.
He started the cranky motor and slowly backed out of the muddy driveway, taking the back roads to the secluded fishing spot. Only four of them knew about the place and all swore to keep it hidden from the encroaching interest of avid fishermen in the area. Mum was the word where Bert and his fishing cronies were concerned; this was one secret they would take to the grave. They referred to it jokingly as Paradise Lake. Without fail they netted carp, barber and bass which weighed anything from 2 kilograms upward. This was indeed any fisherman’s slice of paradise.
Bert sang along to the melody of Yellow Submarine playing softly through the Ford’s speakers. His taste in music seemed to be stuck in the roaring 60’s as his children were so fond of reminding him. If I don’t mind their condescending remarks about age and senility, it doesn’t matter, he thought wisely. The road wound through a dense forest of pine trees and Bert was struck by the elegant beauty of nature and the aroma of the needles lying in a thick carpet on the forest floor. The route marker for the dirt road was barely visible on the weathered, wooden sign, yet Bert knew from experience that this was his left turn coming up. He eased into the turn enjoying the powerful motor of the ancient Ford. A dark cloud blocked the little sunlight that penetrated the dense tree canopy and Bert felt an inexplicable, foreboding shiver track goose bumps up his arms. The day had thrown an ominous shawl around its sun baked shoulders. To dispel the gloomy atmosphere, Bert turned the radio up and hummed along, tapping his fingers lightly on the steering wheel in time to the drumbeat.
Ten minutes later Bert pulled the old Ford over to a copse of gum trees. He could already hear the wavelets kissing the shore softly. Bert unloaded the fishing tackle, net, rod and food supplies; grabbed his hat, stuffing it hurriedly onto his wiry, ginger hair. He liberally slathered sunscreen onto his face, neck and arms, nonchalantly throwing the SPF 60 into the cooler box and wiping his hands on the back of his old jeans. Shouldering the various items and carrying his fishing rod in his right hand, Bert ambled down to the water. He found the boat exactly where Nick had left it, pulled up under the weeping branches of a huge willow tree, covered with the tarpaulin and securely tethered to an iron pole, which he had spent the better part of a Saturday morning hammering into the ground.
Three years ago the four of them had collaboratively bought the Yamaha 85AET, two stroke fishing boat; had spent the winter months sanding her down, servicing the outboard engine and eventually painting her a deep royal blue with white stripes running down her sides. The engine came with an automatic starter button (no pulling or yanking to the relief of Nick and James who already suffered from mild arthritis) and the added advantage of Power Trim and Tilt. She was a plucky little fishing boat, ironically named Little Titanic
Bert lifted the tarpaulin off, folding it neatly and stashing it in a forked branch. The gear and food supplies landed haphazardly on the boat’s planking and Bert urged Little Titanic into the water. As soon as her motor was free from the sandy bottom, Bert hopped in and pushed the starter button. True to form her engine purred to life and he settled back to steer. Azure blue water, olive and lime green vegetation surrounded him and he felt the stress of everyday living sloughing off like a second skin. With uncanny accuracy, Bert navigated to their paradisaical fishing spot.