The plaster fiasco didn’t end up so bad. The alleyway is covered in a white suit and the staircase has splatter blotches. The leg hairs I lost whilst plucking out the hardened specks of gypsum were the worst casualty. The rest was just art.
The periwinkle sky today reminded me to use the fishing licence I bought six weeks ago. I barely know how to tie a fishing line, but I need fish to make my molds. Folks weren’t dropping fish on my doorstep like I’d imagined and the boss’ daughter still wasn’t cracking on selling me the existing molds to make my ceramic fish from. I needed some crawlers and the nearest bait shop had closed two years ago. I mentioned the dilemma to Sean at work and he told me to go get some out front.
”I don’t want to dig up the lawn.” I said, following Sean to the side of the house.
”Naw dude, just soak the lawn and when the lawn starts to ‘Hiss’, just pluck ‘em out.” Sean went to retrieve the hose.
He told me to turn on the hose and he started in a spot next to the big ash tree. The ground started to hiss.
”Tha’s the sound of their holes filling up with water, look near these little mounds, that’s where they come out to shit. Here’s one.”
Sean stretched the long worm out as it vainly tried to retreat back into the ground. He stretched it out. I began to see many worms and started plucking them up. I hadn’t done this since I was a child and their squirms gave me the willies at first.
We gathered some stares from some passerby neighbors and Mary, the elderly woman next door leaned out her window and asked us what we were doing.
Sean raised his voice.
”Bob is looking for worms Mary. So he can go fishing.” Mary replied by laughing herself into a coughing fit.
Sean retrieved a red plastic keg cup for me and half filled it with some sweet topsoil from the flower bed. I dropped the Medusa head of wriggling worms in and he covered them with an additional handful of dirt.
”That’ll do ya.” He said with a smirk.
I rushed home to get my pole.
I gathered a bucket and my pole and tied a hook on my line. I thought about bringing some sinkers but thought the lead was bad, so I grabbed a bobber, a few jigs and some extra hooks and tossed them in the bucket with my pocket knife. I grabbed a piece of whole grain bread from the fridge because that’s what I knew.
Lake of the Isles is a few blocks away and folks used to fish over this concrete drainage pipe right near my spot so I set on my way. The renovation of Isles has been hazardous and delayed. The lake used to be a swamp and it was regressing, so they decided to dig it back out to the tune of a few million bucks about two years ago. Considering that the homes surrounding the small lake are all worth several million dollars apiece, the tune was muted by their audacity and they all felt like Mary Tyler Moore. The project has been delayed and has gone over budget. Due to the construction I had to wade through some mud to get to the concrete slab and rail overlooking the northern inlet.
I dug in my cup and found a big crawler, I took it out and told myself to be a man and I ripped it in half. I threaded the half worm and flipped my reel to let out some slack. Hit right away. I yanked out a small pumpkin head. I thought it would be bad luck to keep that first fish I caught for my molds so I held the gills closed and the dorsal fin down and twisted the hook out.
”This is your lucky day” I told it and tossed it back in the water. My bait was still on so I let out and dropped the worm back down. I didn’t have time to tighten my slack when I felt a “smack”. I yanked the long fish out of the water, the tip of my pole bent. I pulled it back and saw a green rock bass. I chucked it in the bucket and baited another worm. A curious thing happened when I peered back out into the murky water. On the left side of the cement bank, what I perceived to be a prehistoric softball emerged. The gnarly sharp edges of the nose protruded the surface. It had a long, thick neck the circumference of wonder. I only saw a shadow of its body as I yanked another bluegill out of the water.
Waiting for what I was.
To be the.
Spinning sunny fish in the sun sparkle their Darwinism like parading drunks.
Never looking in the mirror,
they can’t fathom
the depths of their own eyes.
I got scared about how the turtle is my life and all then called it a day. I took my bucket of fish and rushed home. I could still hear the fish flopping in the bucket when I dropped the fifty pound bag of industrial gypsum on the back steps of the flat. I rushed to the hall closet and got my drill in the red case out. I shuffled through the papers on the dining room table and found my paint mixer attachment. I filled my five gallon bucket a third full of water. Then I started to add the gypsum mixture, spinning the drill. I got a bubbling paint thickness mixture and my impatience grew. I ran inside and got a shoe box. Lid and box. I put them on the steps of the back staircase open up. I dumped the runny mixture into them. It was loose. I grabbed a fish and set it in, then another facing the opposite way. I waited. The fish sunk. I ran inside. I came out to a plastered covered fish flopping down the steps. I grabbed the plaster covered fish. I held it tight and whopped its head on the stair. I dipped it in the water bucket it got carried home in. I put it back in the plaster. It flopped again.
My first go at mixing plaster had obviously turned into a learning experience. I removed the fish and attempted to pick up the shoe box lid and slide it into the box on the stair under. My purpose was to remove them both to the trash. Apparently, cardboard absorbs water and the bottoms fell out on the stairs and my shoes. I rushed into action.
I filled the bucket from the water spout out back and splashed the plaster away. The white liquid ran down the regress to the street gutter like a dropped gallon of milk. I watched and threw more buckets. I mixed some more gypsum into the mixing bucket all sweaty and wary until I got a thick mixture, then I pushed some fish into it. 15 minutes later, I had molds.
When it dried and after I had made the molds of the fish, I looked at the dried plaster in the alleyway. It was shaped like a bluegill.