Apotheosis

Gone Fishin’

A gust of wind whirls my brunette hair in every direction and wraps it around my face. I swipe my tangled hair from my eyes and catch a glimpse of what I have been waiting for. I see a blurry figure slowly strolling down the hill, coming down to the dock. The broad shoulders and tall stature leave no doubt in my mind that this silhouette is my grandpa.

As he saunters down the hill, I look to the east, where the sun begins to peak over the horizon; hues of salmon and peach radiate from the sun as the colors pour into the blue lake. All is silent. The wooden boards of the dock squeak and shake as they slowly move up and down with the each step my grandpa takes. I quickly twist around to see him; he is wearing a blue and white collared plaid shirt with khaki pants, and I feel underdressed as I am still wearing my pajamas. I notice every detail about his appearance: walking with his shoulders back, his navy blue suspenders become taut; his heavy black shoes, tied with long black shoelaces, create a thud with every step he takes; a few strands of his freshly combed white hair are blown a little out of place from the slight breeze; the crumbs from the donut he ate for breakfast still remain in his classic bushy mustache. Finally making his way to me, he grins and says, “hey Sarah” in his deep voice.

***

“Hey Sarah, come up here.” I am waiting in the back of the line, but Grandpa heads straight to the front. This is one of the many perks of being well known and loved in a small town: you get to go right to the front of the line. I order my bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich from the Mill City Bakery’s stand at the farmers market; Grandpa stands next to me, but doesn’t get anything. He reaches into his pocket to grab his black leather wallet and trades the employee a crisp five-dollar bill for my breakfast sandwich. We slowly walk through the farmer’s market until we reach City Hall; on the top of the red brick building sits a white clock tower, and the clock has just struck 7:30. Grandpa picks a spot on a small brick wall surrounding a flowerbed, and we sit. The yellow, red, and orange zinnias in the flowerbed overwhelm us with a crisp and earthy scent; I tell Grandpa that these remind me of the flowers in my mom’s garden, but he doesn’t respond, so I don’t say anything else for a few minutes. As soon as I open my mouth to ask him about which stocks he thinks I should invest in, a man comes up to us, “Dr. Ott! Nice to see you”; I take a bite of my sandwich, knowing this was a doctor at the Mercy Medical Center; he was about to update Grandpa, a retired surgeon, on what was new at the hospital. Within the next five minutes, three other people come up to greet him. A man comes up to Grandpa and introduces himself to me, and as I reach up to shake his hand, I feel a bit embarrassed because I have gotten cheese all over my fingers.

***

A brown substance and slimy residue remain on my fingers. I use my pointer finger and dig around in it until I see what I am looking for: a worm. I rip the night crawler in half, and the worm contorts its body as I stab it with my fishhook. I look to my grandpa to show him that I am ready, and he already has fake bait on his hook; I guess the many years of being a surgeon leave him with the tendency to keep his hands perfectly clean, even when fishing.

***

Kicking and screaming, my mom drags me into Mercy Medical Center to visit my grandpa. Walking through a hospital is terrifying for a seven year old, so I keep my head down, noticing every white tile on the floor from the entrance to Grandpa’s office. When my mom and I finally arrive, I look up and see my grandpa. He is wearing his green scrubs and his white lab coat with “Dr. Roger Ott Sr., MD” stitched in blue. He welcomes us with a half smile and a hug. I look past him to see the rest of his office; medical charts, papers, and clipboards are scattered all over his desk and even the floor. Four piles of tan manila folders are stacked on all four corners of his desk, each about a foot high.

***

I cast my line into the water and it lands a couple feet away from the dock. The bobber creates a disturbance in the motionless lake. Each ripple moves up and down until it slowly dies out; the only motion in the lake is the tide moving steadily and splashing against the rocks on the shore. With no bobber, Grandpa casts his line out about three times as long as mine, and cranks his reel three times until the line is the perfect length away from the dock. My grandpa is a man of few words. We wait in silence. All I hear is the water crashing up against the wooden dock and the steady pace of Grandpa’s breathing. Unexpectedly, his line jerks and starts jolting left and right. My head immediacy whips over to see what is happening.

***

Hearing a loud crash followed by a sizzle, I quickly twist my head to the left. I watch as Grandpa makes me breakfast. He already had the sausages cooking when I came into the kitchen, he rotates them once and a while, showing the dark brown coating they have from cooking on high heat. He then gets five eggs out of the refrigerator and brings them to his yellow mixing bowl; he cracks four eggs with one hand while simultaneously scrambling them with the other hand. He tells me the scrambled eggs have to be a uniform color and “you can’t have some spots that are yellow and some that are white, they need to be all mixed together”. After heating up the pan, he cuts a tablespoon of butter and plops it in the pan; the butter sizzles as he picks up the pan and tilts it left and right, spreading the butter evenly on the bottom of the pan. He dumps the eggs into the pan and they crackle as they cook. He adds some more butter. After both the sausages and eggs are cooked, he gets out a plate and a glass of water for me. He does not use a plate, picks a sausage up with his hand, and heads into the living room, leaving me alone to eat the massive breakfast. Reaching for my fork, I knock over my glass, drenching my shirt with water.

***

Water splashes against the dock and droplets of lake water land on my feet. Grandpa does not take his eyes off of his line; he steadily reels his fish in until it is circling under the dock. He slowly cranks his reel and the fish beings to move to the top of the lake and just begins to come up out of the water, but it suddenly breaks loose from the line and swims down into the lake, until all I see is the seaweed in the water. Grandpa looks at me with a half smile and says, “we’ll get him next time”.

 

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