Ice Melts

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

The bible says to not provoke your offspring and this is why.

Ice Melts


“Would you look at that? Well, well, well, what do you know, sixteen inches.” Phillip let go of the measuring tape and it snapped back into the cassette.

“That doesn’t prove a thing Dad.”

“What’re you, some kind of retard or something? I said sixteen inches not six.” The ice cylinder scraped the tent’s ceiling as Phillip held it over his head like the Stanley Cup.

“Just because this lake is frozen doesn’t mean there’s no global warming.” Billy turned his coat collar up then thrust his hands toward the rattling heater.

“Pull that collar down boy, you look like a thug.” Billy reluctantly obeyed and moved to the side of the heater opposite his father. “Now I don’t know if your Mom or one of her friends been filling your head with that garbage, but I swear you’re reminding me more and more of that woman.”

“I should be okay then.”

“Don’t take that tone with me boy.” Phillip dropped the ice cylinder and spat a brown line of Copenhagen into the newly drilled fishing hole. Billy scrunched up his face at the on-target liquid arc. “Makes the fishes bite. Look here boy, why don’t you just loosen up a bit, alright?”

“My having a good time has nothing to do with my seriousness about the environment.”

“God, I need to get you outta’ that house. You’d think you were a crotchety old politician instead of an adolescent.

Billy rolled his eyes and took a sip of hot chocolate from the thermos his mother packed for him. He wasn’t in the mood to argue with his father. He heard enough arguing to last him a lifetime during the divorce. Now he just tried to make it through the monthly visits without being in one, but even that was becoming an impossibility.

His father wasn’t an intentionally mean man, at least not to him, but he was a simple, loud, abrasive person who never listened to anything but the will-o’-the-wisp that lured him to the whiskey cabinet every night.  When the family lived together, the nights that Phillip was truculent, Billy would be startled from his bed by a crash and found his father sprawled on the dining room floor, surrounded by the contents of his wallet and broken china. He would say ‘My boy, come here my boy’, and reach to touch Billy’s face, but his sour mash breath would make Billy standoffish. After seeing this, Billy’s mother would start in on Phillip’s drinking and an argument would ensue. Then, Phillip would hit her.

He hadn’t been drinking tonight and his take on Billy’s personality, even the though skewed by his simple view of the world, was right on. Phillip’s green eyes, broad forehead, puffy cheeks, and cleft chin were captured perfectly in miniature on Billy’s face, but there were never more different beings to walk the earth, except possibly Christ and Satan.

“I’m hungry. I can’t believe you didn’t bring any food.” Billy squirmed on his cot, trying to find to find a position that his stomach didn’t groan and lurch.

“Hell boy, I’m gonna catch us our dinner. That, I don’t need no damn scientist telling me about.” Phillip pulled his bottom lip and let the tobacco wad plunk into the fishing hole. “Some things are sure, like me being the world’s best angler. Like the fact bears shit in the woods – wipe there ass with fluffy white rabbits and real men, piss standing up.” Phillip pulled out a silver flask and twisted off the cap. “Global warming my ass.”

Billy shook his head, rolled over to face the tent’s walls and closed his eyes.

“I’m going to bed. Maybe in the morning you can take me to McDonalds.”

Billy didn’t remember when he drifted off, and when a wave of ice cold water hit his face, he inhaled sharply and flipped his cot trying to stand up.

“Son-of-a-Bitch’s a fighter!” Phillip had just pulled up an enormous trout and was having a time of it. He tried to corral the fish, indecisively switching between reeling, pulling at the line, and swiping at the fish with his hands. The fish exploded from the hole again, flashing its golden scales in the lantern light before disappearing below once more. Phillip yanked hard on the line this time and lifted the gasping, wriggling fish straight into the air.

Exhausted from the fight, he laid back on his cot with the wet trout in his lap, his thumb still in its mouth. Phillips eyes were hammered back deep in the sockets, tinged with red and each of his wheezing breaths sounded worse than the last.

“Fat – this joker’s – fatter than your mom!”

“Lay off my mom, please?”

Phillip sat up, looking at Billy as if he was deciding whether or not to get angry. Then he stood up letting the still fish thump on the ice.

“I gotta piss.” Phillip stumbled out the tent and trudged twenty feet or so before he began to relieve himself.

The moon was bright on the powered snow that had fallen earlier in the night. Sky and lake were a polarized expanse, yet both twinkled with a million of points of light. All this, of course, was lost on Phillip, who preoccupied himself with splattering more arching liquid. He stood outside in a drunken stupor after he’d finished, his head a steaming censor. When his brain dissipated enough alcohol to work, he hiked his pants, zipped up, turned and slipped on the newly formed yellow ice at his feet.

Billy, who was still shaking off the effect of his impromptu shower, heard him crash through the ice. He grabbed a flashlight and poked his head out the tent. The mirrored vista was perfected, the opening in the ice where his Dad had been standing, now the dark moon on the white ice. Billy turned on the flashlight and inched on his belly to the edge of the thin ice. He could see thrashing below the ice in one of his Dad’s footprints. He pushed away the snow. His farther was on the other side of the ice, dark blue in the face, eyes bulging, pounding away at glass-water barrier. Billy put his face close the ice and whispered to his father.

“Dad, just stop trying. You’ll never break such thick ice, sixteen inches I believe you said.  Don’t worry Dad, they’ll find you. It may take till late March because there is no such thing as global warming, but ice melts. And - don’t think you’ve ruined my visit, it’s been the best one yet. Oh, I hope you don’t mind me using the pickup. I’m going to get some McDonalds.”

The End

Submitted: July 21, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Anton Halifax. All rights reserved.

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