Robbie Brewer was destined to stand in the road holding a sign with STOP on one side and SLOW on the other. That’s what his brothers said: Lewis who maintained Port-a-Potties, and Stewart, who worked at the county Water and Sewer treatment plant. His Uncle Nathan, an executioner at the prison down at Jackson said that the only road work that he was cut out for was picking up trash along the side of the road on a Department of Corrections detail. He’d given up the guitar his mother bought for him on the Home Shopping Network to play it at her funeral. He couldn’t follow the video lessons. When the cancer killed her, his brothers cussed and beat him black and blue. “You stupid idiot. Cain’t even pluck out a few thangs on that geet’tar for yoar momma?”
He sneaked onto old man’s Quarrel’s private pond property instead of going to the funeral and caught a line of sixteen crappy and brim, and, for the first time, felt sorry for his catch. After a moment, he pulled the fish from the muddy edge, unthreaded each from the stringer, and watched them flit into the cover of the water.
He believed and meditated over everything they said about him. Beat a mule repeatedly over time, neither for good or bad, just for the hell of it, and that mule won’t be good for anything. “He’ll just sat,” some old-timer told him.
Robbie untied the laces of his black wing tips that jammed his toes and had made a blister on his heels, peeled off the brown socks, unbuttoned the white dress shirt and slung it to the ground, piled his undershirt on top, pulled down his gray pants and boxers and stomped them free.
He would grow gills and fins, and be stronger than the biggest catfish, quicker than the smartest bass, and fisherman would not catch him. He would speak and understand each fish, and their voices would not vibrate in his head like dull serrated knives that made him anxious and withdraw from people.
He walked into the numbing murky water up to his chest, then glided smoothly under. His family never made an effort to find him.
Jeff Lacy was born and raised in Georgia. For many years he worked as a public defender and a prosecutor in the Atlanta area and on the Georgia coast. He received a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Nebraska. His stories have been collected in Good Intentions, available from Amazon in paperback and Kindle, and Barnes and Noble's Nook.