Page 51 - WTP VOl. IX #1
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 lake. They chose Lucasville. It was a nice moun- tain town, with two small lakes nearby and good camping. Phil from work said the trout fishing was great up there. But on the way, Jack changed his mind. Driving up the road, he got to thinking about Moosehead Lake.
“What’s wrong with Lucasville?” Marcia asked when he suggested it.
“Moosehead’s nicer. More isolated. It’s only a couple hours farther.” He didn’t say what he knew. That Dal- ton was buying up the place, had a huge development project planned—a world-class resort. The deal—his deal, the one he’d brokered—wouldn’t be made public for another few months. Dalton was keeping it under wraps to avoid the inevitable uproar. Of course, once the grading started, the uproar would ensue, anyway: environmentalists and outdoors types pissed over the clear-cutting, the runoff from the golf courses. They already claimed the lakes
in the area were dying, full of pollutants from the hotels going up all over the place. This would start them screaming again. But it would blow over— protests always blew over—and, anyway, by the time the outrage built up enough to hit the papers, it would be too late.
For Jack, the deal was a bit of honey in a hardscrabble career. Long nights, negotiations. Five months of meetings in high rooms with city vistas. A lot of fake camaraderie and real worry. Then, the deal. His deal. It had made him wish his father were still alive. It had made him realize how much he still wanted to make his father proud, even now at his age.
Out for drinks and back-slapping the night the deal was signed, Jack had whispered into more than one ear that he could go a lifetime without hearing the name Moosehead Lake again. But driving up into the mountains, the words came into his head, and he felt a sudden, surprising desire to see the place before it changed forever.
Moosehead Lake was not large, but it was unusu- ally deep and known for the clarity of its water.
It had been carved out by the last of the great Pleistocene glaciers, and was surrounded by peaks formed when the ice retreated—Jack still remem- bered this from Boy Scouts. He struggled to recall the name of the Native Americans that had consid- ered the lake sacred, but could not. He wondered if it was true anyway. You read that about every lake, mountain, and river, he thought. That the Indians considered it sacred.
The last time Jack had seen the lake had been on a camping trip with friends, but the times he remem- bered clearest were with his father and Uncle Syl, who took him there when he was young. The first time, he was only six. Even now, he remembered the sway of the boat, his line disappearing into the water. He remembered the deep, still silence of
the men, and their hands, red and thick-knuckled, dusted with blond hairs. For him, his father was the perfect model of manhood: strong armed and strong willed, a man who reeled his fish in without expres- sion, who took for granted his right to their lives.
Syl, in contrast, was a lovable clown. He used to raise his arms over his head and say, “Wannamakkachula” each time he put out his line.
“It’s a prayer,” he told Jack. “To the god of trout.”
At six, Jack had taken this seriously, had believed that there was a god of trout. Not a god whom humans could entreat to help them catch the fish, but a god the trout themselves worshipped. He watched Syl and Pop clean their catch, and saw the fish move their mouths in prayer.
It was late afternoon when Jack turned down the dirt road that led off the turnpike. He drove slowly, peer- ing through the pines for the first glimpse of the lake, then catching his breath when he saw it, a perfect pane of dark glass before a backdrop of mountain and sky.
“Will you look at that,” he said, surprised at the tight- ness in his chest. “Shaid, you awake? Take a gander at this view.” He glanced in the rear-view mirror. Shaid sat slumped in the back seat. He was staring out the window, without surprise or even curiosity. Jack drove slowly through the pines, looking for the best campsite with a boat landing. He found a perfect spot, level and sheltered. While he put the plug in the boat and got the trailer tie-downs off, Marcia threw the life vests and fishing gear in. He backed the boat into the water.
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