Winter is on its way out: the swollen river sounds like a thousand slamming doors echoing down the canyon. In the town at the bottom of this gorge, the sidewalks of Main Street go dark as the shops close down for the night. Blocks away, a fisherman fabricates meticulous flies in his den, one after another, waiting for the calm waters of late spring. This is the year, he says to himself, that I will catch the jeweled trout that slipped through my hands. Upstairs, in the bedroom, his wife lies in bed, a paperback romance in her hands, a wild river thrumming in her head.
It could be worse: you could be your uncle, who is selling the car to whoever wants it; or your mother, who is engaged in the wretched business of insurance payouts. You are almost thankful for solitude as you clear out the old man's closet. It is stacked to the ceiling with his wrack, and it all seems so ordinary—cobwebbed fishing poles, a black bowling ball—until you get to the box marked Stetson, and open it to find a cowboy hat. You don't understand why it's here, but it makes you think of the lightning-struck tree you cut down last summer, how it kept deep inside it a cryptogram of seasons written in the spaces between rings.
Jeff Alan spends his days writing, appreciating the wildlife in his yard which abuts an expanse of woods, and amusing his insecure cat. He has work forthcoming or published in Eclectica, Right Hand Pointing, Pure Francis, Boston Literary Magazine, Diddledog, The Best of Every Day Fiction 2008, and elsewhere. His website is located at www.bonescribble.com.