Drop #19: Sockeye Salmon

Hugh was checking out a trail he’d seen earlier, hoping it would lead to a secluded fishing spot, so I walked over to Julian’s bungalow.

‘Hi there,’ I said, knocking on the open door.

‘Oh, hi,’ Julian said, coming to meet me.

‘You got a minute?’

‘Sure,’ he said. ‘And a beer too, if you want one.’

‘Sure.’

He went in and came out with two Coors Lights and we sat on the porch, looking towards the lake. ‘Greta’s at the store,’ he said.

‘Yeah. I saw her driving off.’

‘Yeah.’

‘Anyway, I just came to invite you two over for dinner at our bungalow tonight. Hugh’s going to set up the grill and cook the sockeye salmon he caught yesterday.’

‘He went fishing after the hike?’

‘Yeah, caught some good ones too. They’ve been in the fridge but it’s kind of broken, and we figure we should cook them up tonight.’

‘Good idea,’ Julian said, folding a long, tanned leg over the other and looking at his beer label as some guys do.

‘They make great eating and we have like five fish,’ I said. ‘There’s no way we can eat them all ourselves.’

‘Greta’s a little pissed you guys got a better rate for this place than we did.’

‘Oh yeah?’

‘Yeah, she figures it’s kind of lame that you went on Hotels.com last minute, while we booked months ago, and we’re paying almost double what you are.’

‘Shit. That sucks.’

‘I think it’s kind of funny,’ Julian said, lighting a cigarette. ‘Anyway, it’s a good deal either way—hey, you want one?’ He offered me the pack.

‘Oh, no thanks.’

‘Greta knows I smoke, but I still only do it when she’s not around.’

‘That’s nice.’

‘I don’t know what it is, actually. Something to do with guilt, more likely.’

‘Really?’

‘Probably.’

‘Oh… so listen, what about dinner?’

‘You know what? I’m going to have to pass on dinner.’

‘Got other plans?’

‘Nope.’

‘Don’t like salmon?’

‘Love it.’

‘Then what is it?’

‘This is the thing, Kate—and I’ll just say it as plainly as possible: I know we just met yesterday, but I felt really attracted to you on the hike. I felt it right away and it’s even stronger now, so I just don’t think it would be wise to keep spending time with you. Greta is kind of onto me too, and I don’t want to mess anything up. I have a dodgy record with this type of thing.’

‘Wow.’

‘Sorry, I just don’t want it to be weird.’

‘But you’re kind of assuming I’d let you seduce me.’

‘I’m not assuming anything. I’m just saying I won’t do well around you—I’m struggling right now, actually—and Greta won’t either.’

‘Because you won’t?’

‘Exactly.’

‘OK then. That’s fine.’

‘OK then.’

‘Good.’

‘Yes,’ he said, putting the smoke out quickly. ‘Good.’ He’d barely allowed himself two drags.

 

I walked the couple of hundred yards back to our bungalow slowly, stopping once to watch a bird bathing in a puddle. I was kind of relieved, I had to admit, that Julian had turned me down. Since the long hike yesterday, in the quiet hours alone while Hugh had gone fishing, and in the dark stillness as I lay beside him at night, it had also grown in me.

Going over there, I’d gone fishing too. Thankfully, today, the fish weren’t biting.

When Hugh came back, I reported that our guests wouldn’t be able to make it after all. He grilled the lot anyway. We managed one whole fish each. The rest went to waste.

By E.M. Vireo

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About EM Vireo
flooding the world with fiction

4 Responses to Drop #19: Sockeye Salmon

  1. Interesting! Didn’t go where I had expected.

  2. emvireo says:

    aha! where had you expected it would go?

  3. Francesco says:

    I assumed “I” was a guy (probably because all the other stories of yours that I’ve read were from a male’s perspective) which was kinda misleading. Maybe it should be a little clearer that it’s a oman from the start.

    On the whole, I’m loving the stories though. I don’t read much, but I’m really getting into them. 🙂

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