Don't Rock the Boatbycupatea©
"I saw it first," my younger brother Joe said as he put his fishing line back into the water for the third time. "It's mine if it shows its head again."
"Ahh come on Joe!" I sang out in sorrow, my weak voice vanished into the afternoon wind. "Why can't we share it?" I frowned at him in hopes of changing his mind. "I haven't seen one of those in years."
I sank to the shoreline and sat down, realizing that he wasn't going to share it. Joe was just that way, selfish. Slowly my fishing pole fell to the ground beside me. In despair, I repeated the same thought again, in hopes of changing his mind "Why can't we share it?"
"Cause I saw it first," he replied the smugness in his voice echoed across the creek like selfish pigs in a poke.
"Finders keepers," he kept saying as he recast his line back into the water hoping to attract the prize fish's attention.
He'd been like this since we were infants. So why did I think it would be any different now? Still I continued to try to convince him that it would be a good idea. Sharing was always a good idea. Mamma had taught us that, I remembered her words quite well.
"Frank, you share those cookies with Joe, it ain't nice to not share." She gave me a crooked smile and handed me two glasses of milk filled to the brim, but not overflowing.
Damn, those were the days. The years just flew by like fish hooked on a string waiting to be cooked, but suppertime never arrived. I'd grown tired of waiting for my own prize fish to find its way into the bucket. The big event should have happen years ago. It was my turn to catch it. It was my turn to have good fortune. It wasn't fair for Joe to have all the luck! I frowned at him and recast my line back into the lake from the other side of the boat.
The chase never ended, I sighed and started to wind on the cord. I'd never learned how to bait the line as good as Joe. I guess, I just ain't a fisherman, I guess I never was. I pondered this as I watched my line in the water. It was completely ignored by all the fish gathered there, but I'd become accustomed to that.
"Come on Joe," I whined again, "why can't we share just one?" I never liked beggin', but now I was desperate. Time was a factor, and time was runnin' out.
"Yea just was never charmin' enough were yea brother," whispered Joe as he reeled in his third catch. "It's like I told yea when we was youngins', you have to capture your own, that's just how it is, fair or not."
He recast his line back into the water and I turned away not wanting to see the crowd forming at the end of his line. It just wasn't fair! Some things in life just never changed. Some of us are winners, while others are losers. I'd been cast in the second place of that line-up and I wasn't all that happy to be there.
I took a short drag from my cigarette and blew the smoke-out of my mouth allowing it to form a circle around me as I glanced at my younger brother. What made him so special anyway? He wasn't any better lookin' then me. He wasn't any taller or any smarter, still he seemed to have talent I didn't have. I'd been thirty years now since he'd caught his first one and I'd never been able to even get a bit on the line. Somehow life just didn't seem fair, what did he have that I didn't have?
I bent down and ruffled through the lunch basket searching for that tuna fish sandwich I'd packed a few hours ago. It seemed to be missing...
I glanced across the boat toward Joe. A frown crumpled across my face as I watched him put a piece of the familiar bread on his fishing line.
"Don't tell me that's my lunch you're using as bait!" I questioned realizing my voice had risen to unhappy octaves. It was louder and more sinister then normal, but I didn't care.
I got up in hopes of saving a part of the sandwich, but as I moved closer to him the boat tipped violently from side to side.
So I get wet, big deal.
I continued to close the distance. Bits of seaweed and salty water streamed in and surrounded my shoes. He'd gone too far, that was my lunch! I felt my temper quickly building to unimaginable heights. This would be the end of his unfairness. I let my pole drop into the bed of the boat and sat down heavily on the seat before me, pushing some seaweed away from my now socked sneakers.
"Don't rock the boat man! You'll scare 'em away!" My brother sounded urgent, like it was a matter of life or death.
Quickly he tried to stop the boat from moving. He almost looked frightened. What had I missed all those years ago? I watched him in sudden amazement. How had I missed that? He was scared! Why would he be scared? He knew how to swim. He'd been a lifeguard for years at the local Y, while I'd been too scared to dip my little toe into the water for fear I'd drown. Sure I'd learned how to swim, the hard way. He'd pushed me in and sang out in his most authoritative voice
"Sink or swim brother, its all up to you!"
I'd swam, and hated him since that incident. I guess I still did. He was the bastard in sheep's clothing, but I'd been the only one to realize that.
"That's six today!" my brother called out as he unhooked his latest catch and placed it into cold storage in another container. I frowned at him, sickly like and tossed the reminder of my sandwich into the water, no longer interested in it. Why should he catch more?
"Hey," he said in total disbelief, "why did you toss my bait into the water?"
I watched as it vanished from sight beneath the waves. It floated totally alone in the water, now that was a puzzle. What'd I been missing all these years?
"If you want it that bad brother reach in and grab it!" I replied with hatred laced to my vocal cords.
I pushed him gently toward the water and he struggled to remain on his feet. The fear in his eyes told me something else was wrong? I wondered what that might be.
"Damn," was his only reply as he righted himself and reached into the lunch basket searching for something else to use as bait.
"Why not use yourself!" I yelled out in suppressed anger and gave him a giant push toward the side of the boat.
This made me happy to get even for all those years of not catching anything and watching him rise to fame and fortune for the capture of just one.
"NOOOOO!" he screamed as he slipped over the side and was surrounded by hundreds of them.
"Wow," I said in amazement, "You mean all this time they were really fishing for him??