SmokeLong Quarterly

Share This f l Translate this page


Story by Thomas Cooper (Read author interview) March 18, 2009

Photography by Kelly Sikkema

Smith and Jones dip their lines in the water and soon begin pulling up slimy bluegills one after another. They toss the fish in the bucket where they splash and thwack.

“Goddamn bluegills,” says Smith, jigging his lure.

“It’s called Bluegill Lake,” says Jones. “Bluegill Lake.”

“If I could bend over they’d swim right into my fingers. Bet I could kick them out of the goddamn water.”

“Easy does it, Smith. Your face is purple.”

“Got one of those Alaskan fishing brochures in the mail the other day. What do you say, Jones? You and me? Get our asses up there. Halibut. Tuna. Substantial fish.”

They’ve had this conversation before and, if they’re lucky, they’ll have it again. Tomorrow, most likely, though that’s a word they’re careful about in deference to superstition.

“Possibility,” says Jones. “Today, though, what the hell’s wrong with bluegills?”

Smith scratches underneath his shirt at his Fentanyl patch. Jones hawks phlegm in the water, nips the vodka-spiked grapefruit juice from his flask. They wait with their poles poised over the water, at the end of Jones’s line a lucky fly made from a lock of his late wife’s hair. At the end of Smith’s, a plug tufted with his dead dog’s fur, a purebred Labrador of championship lineage.

About the Author

Thomas Cooper’s short stories have recently appeared in New Orleans Review, Pindeldyboz, Beloit Fiction Journal, Quick Fiction, Opium, and elsewhere. His chapbook of flash fiction, Phantasmagoria, is forthcoming from Keyhole Press.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Four of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Four

Support SmokeLong Quarterly

Your donation helps writers and artists get paid for their work. If you’re enjoying what you read here, please consider donating to SmokeLong Quarterly today.

SmokeLong Fitness -- The SmokeLong Community Workshop

Book Now!

Included in the price of SmokeLong Fitness:

One live Zoom webinar each month with killer workshop leaders (recorded for participants unable to attend).

One open-mic party each month (or other live Zoom events)

Discounts on intensive workshops

Discounts on senior editor feedback

Surprises (good ones)