General Fiction posted March 27, 2021

This work has reached the exceptional level
The story of two brothers and the love they shared.

The Fishing Hole

by Mr. Green

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.
My brother and I, we done found this fishin' hole along a winding stream, up in the woods. We would have the grandest times he and I. Those were the best of days, fore you see, Jimmy wasn't just my older brother, he was also my best friend. Well, I reckon I'm getting the cart before the horse, so I best wipe away my tears, and back up some.

Now you just listen to me talk, reminiscing on those old days like they was special or somthin'. Well, they was, but they aint no more. I'm just an old man now. Who's gonna listen to a lonely old man anyway.

Now and then, I come down to sit here in the cool evening air, and throw out my fishin' line, listen to the birds sing along the banks of this stream, and think of my brother, my friend, and I suppose, to be honest with you, my hero.

My brother Jimmy, he would flash his smile at me about this time of day. That smile would always make me feel safe, whenever I was with him.

Anyway, he would smile, and tell me that the sun was gettin' ready to go to sleep, and we had better not disturb its slumber, so that would be his way of telling me, it was time to head for home. We always made it home, before it got too dark outside.

I met Jimmy when I was twelve years old, goin' on thirteen. My Pa, he come to me one day and said it was time we talked, and as I was lookin' to be in my teens' rite soon, I figured that talk, must be about the birds and the bees. I heard they had somethin' to do with growin' up. I didn't know how, but I figured my Pa was about to tell me. I was never more wrong about anything in my life.

My Pa, he looked like he had been waitin' for me to come of age, or somthin' like that, cause I soon learned that he had been keepin' a secret from me, and it was that secret that my Pa was about to tell me. Cause me bein' just a kid at the time, I soon learned just how painful history can be.

He told me, about where my family come from, and how they come to these united states for the first time. Now I never knowed my Pa to have much money, and by the clothes he could afford to put on my back it weren't too difficult to see that we was just poor people.

Once in a while, I'd walk to the small store in town, and on occasion, I'd hear some of them uppity-ups' who thought I was beneath them, call me nothin' but white trash. Whenever that happened, I learned to just pay them no-never-mind, and I kept a-walkin'.

My Pa done told me, that my ancestors, my family, that's what that means. He told me they was spirited away, aboard a big ship, way back in the 1600's.

I wasn't too sure what that meant, spirited away, but I didn't tell Pa. He said, they was in somethin' called a paupers prison, over in some other kuntrey. I wasn't too sure about that word "pauper" either, but I would learn as I got older.

Then he explained what a slave ship was, and that my ancestors come here on one of those ships, and they was sold, that is, a contract of ownership was sold, and when they got too old to work in the fields, farms, or factories, their contract was sold again, and again.

He told me that some of them white slaves ran away, and when they was caught, they would be punished by a disfigurement of a sort, that I would prefer not to repeat here.

My eyes must have begun to water, cause my Pa, he just put his arm across my shoulders, and held me close. I told him that I never heard of such a thing, and when I asked if anybody helped them, I was told there was no one to help.

I thought that was pure mean, and it come to my mind afterward, 'So my ancestors come here as slaves', and I wondered, how people could be so cruel to each other. I remember asking why I never heard of this before.

Now, I think my Pa, he was one of the wisest men I ever knew, so I waited, and he just looked at me (must a been wondering what to say), and then he asked me,

'Bobby, what color is white?'

Well, I didn't know how to answer a question, where the answer was right there, and I thought that didn't even make much sense, so I said, "White, is the color of white." With somewhat of a furrowed brow, on my face.

He said; "Do you remember, what your teacher told you in art class last year, about colors?
I thought for a moment, but my young brain was feeling a mite stubborn about these questions, and I didn't say nothin'. My Pa reminded me, that in art class, I was told that White is not a color.

Now I felt even more confused. So, my pa, he just come out and told me what my teacher explained. He reminded me, that white is the absence of color, and that by applying the primary colors in different ways, you could create any of the other colors except, white.

.... And I wondered..., What does this have to do with anything?

He said to his way of reckoning, on account-a what has been passed down, from father to son, this history seems to have been forgotten, because people do not want to accept its reality. He said, the history of white slavery is without color, it has been made invisible by softening the language, and hiding its existence, for reasons, I was too young to understand.

I sat there for a long time, and then my Pa began to tell me about the events that were taking place in the world, outside of our little town, about the ugliness that comes out now and then. But my brain just kept absorbing new thoughts, like I wanted to make sense out of it, but it was too much.

Suddenly I was wondering, if that was why, most of the important well to do (uppity -ups) looked down on us so much. Maybe that was why, I got picked on, and always felt like I had no place in this world. I was getting to where I felt like I was never going to amount to much of anything. But just when a voice in my head, wanted to yell at my brain, and tell it to stop thinking so hard, I learned why my Pa was telling me all of this.

That is when he told me, that he had fallen in love, and he wanted to get married again, and how would I feel about that? How would I feel about having a mom around? Boy, did that stop all that activity in my brain, I couldn't do nothin', but look at my Pa, and smile.

He told me that she was a black lady, she was beautiful, and she was a gentle, kind person, who he believed, I would like very much.

I had never had a mother, never known a mother's love, or been held by anyone who loved me, except for my Pa. I was growing up in a tiny little town, and with the exception of being the target, of too many bullies around town, the meanness of the world, had not yet touched me.

I hugged my Pa, and asked him, when I could meet my mom. He smiled, and I think he was relieved, to find that I didn't see the color of a persons' skin, but the person inside, the individual, and that I was very happy. Then he asked me, how I would feel about an older brother.

Everything inside of me stopped once again. I thought to myself, how old would he be? Would he like me? Or would he be another bully, and pick on me too? I was thrilled and at the same time a little scared. That's when I learned, he was just a little more than a year older. Pa said, he was bigger than me. But my Pa, he told me, his mother had raised him right, and he was a fine young man.

About two weeks later I met my mom, and I met Jimmy, and that was one of the happiest days of my life.

My Pa was right, she was mighty pretty, and from the first time she hugged me, I knew she would love me, and I could sense, that there was somethin' real gentle about her, and that made it easy for me to love her too.

Jimmy and me, we hit it off real well, and I knew I had a genuine brother. He wasn't someone, just playing a part in our lives, because our parents got married. Jimmy was the real deal. He and I would remain close for the rest of our lives.

Just in case you're wondering if I'm ever going to catch a fish, on the end of that line I threw out, well, I don't put a hook on that line anymore. I just put a lead-sinker on the line and toss it into the fishin' hole these days.

I suppose it's the memories I'm after, and not the fish. At seventy years old, I find those memories, are real important, especially today. You see yesterday, I was sixty-nine.

Thinkin' back on better times, I remember about a year after my pa got married, I was walking down to that store with twenty-five cents in pop bottles. I searched through a lot of back alleys, to find enough pop bottles so's I could turn them in for the reward. I asked Jimmy, if he wanted to go along, but he told me that he had something to do for pa first. He said he would catch up to me.

When I got to town with my little wagon full of pop bottles, I saw three of the boys in town commenting, and pointing in my direction. Well, like I told you earlier, I just decided to pay them no-never-mind, and walk right past them, after all, I was on a mission.

But the closer I got, the more I realized how scared I was getting. I guess I don't have to tell you, but those boys took my bottles, and threatened to beat me up if I told anybody. I didn't want to cry in front of my family, so I walked to this here fishin' hole.

I must-a been here for about twenty minutes when I heard someone walkin' up to me. When I turned around, I saw Jimmy. He had this look about him that told me somehow, he knew what had happened. He came up and sat beside me, he asked me how I was. I knew I hadn't wiped away all of my tears, so I just said, I was alright.

I was about to ask him how he knew where I was, when he told me that he was trying to catch up to me, when he saw me walking away from three boys who were bigger than me.

Jimmy explained that somehow, for some reason, them boys wanted him, to tell me how sorry they were, for what they had done. He smiled and reached into his pocket and took out twenty-five cents and gave it to me. He told me them boys gave him the bottles they had taken.

We left the fishin' hole, and we walked straight back to that store, where I bought some candy for Jimmy and me. Those boys must-a-been real sorry for what they had done, cause they never bothered me again.

The only thing I ever done that amounted to much was that I learned to draw. My mom told me I was going to get real good at it, if I kept practicing. Eventually I got good enough that I found, people wanted to buy some of them. So, I kept-a practicing and they kept-a buying.

Jimmy, he would get depressed sometimes as we got older, cause nobody wanted to hire him, except for doing hard field work, he got real strong, but it wasn't what he wanted to do.

It was the mid sixty's when the people in town began to treat my family differently. Ever since that time things began to change.

They was callin' me names, names I never heard before. They was real cruel to my mom and to Jimmy. There was some people in town that began spreading rumors about my family, ugly rumors about Jimmy and my mom.

One day my pa, he decided to defend our family, so he went into town to talk to the courts, and to the police, but Pa, he came home all beat up,

That made Jimmy real mad, I could tell he wanted to go into town, but mom, she seemed to understand these things, better than any of us. She told Jimmy it was an old scar that would never heal. I went to Jimmy and asked him if he hated me, for all the cruelty going on, because of the color of my skin, and I will never forget the look on his face.

He told me "Bobby, I don't hate you. You didn't do anything wrong. Why would I hate you, you're my brother." Then he got quiet, and said, "I'm angry at those responsible."

Mom suggested that we go down to the fishin' hole the next day and take our minds, off of things. I smiled and told Jimmy that he had to bring the bait. Jimmy, he gave me one of those re-assuring smiles of his, and whispered in my ear, "I'll bring the bait -- You bring the beer.

Now I was plum flabber-gasted. I never expected to hear that. But be-in's how we was teen-agers now, Somethin' inside of me spoke up and whispered back, "Ok, lets do it." We both smiled, and we both hoped that mom didn't hear what we said.

Well, the next morning we got up and found mom lookin' after pa. We got ready to go fishin' and before leaving the house, I took two beers from my pa's cooler and tucked them into my tackle box. We had a great time. We caught three catfish, drank our beers, and we felt like, we was on top of the world.

In time, Jimmy told me that the sun was getting tired, and we better think about getting home. So, we packed up our tackle boxes, smashed our beer cans flat and put them in our tackle boxes as well. As we got older Jimmy and I would make the same agreement whenever we went fishin', he would bring the bait and I would bring the beer.

Pa's wounds healed up ok, but he was a changed, inside something changed. He became much more protective of the family, especially mom. It was like, he was aware of that side of life, and he knew that our family history was real, but Pa, he had never seen the world, from that side.

I would watch mom and how she handled things. It seemed like, the depth of her wisdom and understanding, went beyond the schoolbooks. That quiet caution I'd seen in her, had its roots deep inside of her past.

Things in town got worse, and one day, Jimmy come to me and asked me if I hated him because of the color of his skin, like some of the people in town. My heart broke, I had never known anything but kindness and love from Jimmy, and when I heard the emotion in his voice I began to cry.

I told him there was no way I could hate anyone, especially him, for the color of their skin. I told him, he was my brother, and he did nothing wrong, and no, I did not hate him. It weren't his fault, what was happening to our family.

About a year later, on a warm spring day, I found Jimmy hanging from a tree branch about a mile from our house. Nothing had never hurt me like that before. Three days later my pa was beaten so badly, this time he didn't recover from his injuries.

Mom and me, we had to bury pa next to Jimmy. I never cried so much in my life, all I wanted, was to go back to the first day I met my mom, and Jimmy.

Mom and me, we lived on the farm for a couple more years after that, but the sadness in my mom, wouldn't let her go. She stayed strong on the outside for my sake. And she saw to it, that I was loved and cared for until I could go it, on my own. Eventually mom's broken heart gave up the fight, and she passed away too.

She is buried next to pa, and Jimmy. I sat next to her grave for a full day and into that night, I couldn't leave her side.

As the years passed, I would pray, that these ugly days were over, but for one reason or another they would return, over and over again.

Well, I don't know what people will say when they find my body, lying here at this fishin' hole, in the morning, with my tackle box open, two cans of beer, one for me, and one for Jimmy, and this 38 calibier pistol lying loosely in my hand.

I reckon it don't much matter none, cause Jimmy and I will be fishin' and mom and pa will be happy again. Maybe you can tell them about this letter I will be holding in my other hand, the one praying, that the hateful feelings, will heal someday, and of my last request, that they bury me next to Jimmy.

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