Hope Springs Eternal is an editorial piece written by Tim Clark and shared with The Ugly Writers under the theme Organized Chaos for the month of September
Hope Springs Eternal
There is a silent optimism that drives people to fish.
We were leaving our motel last night for dinner. It had been a long day, covering a lot of miles, stuffed into a car and we were moving slow. A young man came up behind us, and we moved over to let him pass.
“Thank you,” He said, as he walked past. He was carrying a tackle box and fishing pole. They both looked clean and well cared for. He was dressed in pull on low healed, square toed boots, straight legged jeans and a western style shirt, the kind with snaps instead of buttons, and he was wearing a baseball hat that said “Moorman’s Corn Seed.”
“No worries, good luck fishing,” I told him.
“Ah, I’m just putting it in the pickup. I’ve been fishing all week, haven’t caught anything.” He looked a sad, stooped over, carrying a small, compact parcel of disappointment. Gravity was a little more efficient where his feet fell. He seemed to get shorter with each step.
“Oh, well, have a nice evening,” My wife told him, and he disappeared around the corner.
We went to a small, trendy restaurant, with a name that suggested a small diner, we expected chilidogs, onion rings and burgers. The walls were painted with vibrant, colorful, macabre scenes from a Mexican le muerta celebration. There was a metal band from the eighties playing on the jukebox, someone must have put in $20.00, it never stopped. It seemed deafening, though it was probably just a reaction to being in the car all day, and longing for something sedate and tidy. We ordered street tacos; it was all they had on the menu. They were good, not authentic, an American reduction of a traditional staple perfected over years of poverty and survival, but the service was passable and the Modela Negra was icy cold and delicious. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. You have to try.
It was what we get for neglecting our steadfast rule past the lights and shine and looking at who is eating there. You can tell a lot more about a restaurant by the diners than the signs and advertisements.
The lobby of the motel was slow and casual, it was Sunday. The parking lot was bright, and lit with gleaming neon bulbs. It was cool, and pleasant, so we walked up a stairwell to the top of the floodwall protecting East Moline from the Mississippi River. The moon hung low and huge in the sky, a ripe, moist orange, and the reflection on the river made it look like two moons, they were both perfect, like paintings.
It was such a nice evening and we were so happy to be able to be standing, we had been sitting for so long. It was a pleasant walk down the path that had been paved on the top of the flowing, curving, twisting floodwall, we met a few strollers, some joggers and bike riders, strangers from a strange land, we nodded, said hello, and occasionally remarked on the absolute magic of the evening.
Eventually the mosquitos became such a nuisance we decided to go back, we could stand in our motel room.
When we got back to the to the parking lot the fisherman was getting his pole from the hatchback of a Ford Escort, his “pickup.”
He saw us and smiled.
“I decided to give it another try. It looks like the fish are feeding on the flies. That’s a good sign.” He seemed hopeful. It showed in his face.
“Do you have some bug spray?” My wife asked, always the mother.
“I do.” He held up a bottle, it had a picture of a target superimposed over a caricature of a fying insect with an evil, toothy grin.
“Good luck,” I said.
“Thanks,” He replied, and walked toward the river. His hat sitting at an angle, he looked like a completely different person. There was a spring in his step and his head was held a little higher. We left the next morning without seeing him. I don’t know if he caught anything, but I am going to believe he did.