They picked a beautiful day for it. On that weekend, the weather was perfect for anyone willing to spend their time on a body of water that shimmered like a beautiful mirror, under a sun that was not too hot in a bright blue sky, and with hardly anyone else willing to travel out that far to go fishing.
It was a small vessel, running with a motor but with an option to use sails when the need to save on gas was high. Today, the wind was very light and calm, so George made a point of having extra fuel available when the vessel was being prepped for the day. He was looking forward to what the others would bring.
Steve was as predictable as usual. He would bring all the booze he could find (at least two coolers) and plenty of steaks and hotdogs if no fish were biting. He was George’s oldest friend and the one that he always took out on these trips when they could get away from girlfriends and now wives for a weekend (they were off on another shopping spree and then some talk about yoga – or was it ceramics? He had forgotten what she said already). They were good times. And then there was the other one.
Lewis, always Lewis… His biggest problem was that he was a boring man who thought that he was very interesting. George only knew him because of Steve and wondered if his best friend had lost a bet when he finally met the man. They had not yet invited him on one of these fishing trips, but Steve thought that today was the best time for it. Maybe…
“Ay, ay, Captain!”
George saw his buddy in a sailor’s cap holding the cooler. Lewis was taking the second one out of Steve’s truck.
“Good to see you, sea dog! You brought the refreshments? The chemical elixir we will need for the trek?”
“Arr, and sure I have captain! Arr!”
Lewis, noting the back and forth between the two, was smiling as he approached. “Hi, George. You want me to join in?”
A surprising question, thought George. He looked at the cooler and other boxes that were waiting in the truck.
“Well, time’s a-wasting. Leave out the lingo and let’s get to it.”
He put down the cooler and then went back for a box. Steve shared a smile with his oldest friend while George rolled his eyes. It was going to be a long day on the water.
It was not a bad day. The heat of the sun was not too intense and they did manage to finish enough beer to ignore the lack of fish. The most important thing for George and Steve was the lack of other boats on the lake. They could be a distraction that would have scared off the fish. They could disrupt their plans for the day.
“Lewis, tell me: how often do you get to go off fishing like this?”
Steve was trying to be nice, but George wished that his best friend was a little less obvious with his intentions.
“Not too often now. Five years of marriage and I am still trying to figure out what my role is supposed to be. It is like driving a car in the dark, sometimes…”
“Without a manual or a guide.”
“Right.” Lewis looked over at George. There was that smile again. At least they were getting along.
“Such a cliché, but all clichés come with their own truth. We get away from our wives on a long weekend and they go off shopping and doing whatever it is that women do when they need us out of their hair.”
“Like doing their hair?” Lewis opened another beer.
“Or spending on my credit cards until it hurts.” George cast his line out again.
“Or…having an affair?”
Again, George was really beginning to regret having his old friend on the boat. Another red flag for the bullshit, he thought.
Steve kept smiling.
“Sure. Women sometimes see that their husbands spending all their time away from home and think, ‘Hey, why don’t I enjoy myself, too? Nothing stopping me if the one who should care is more worried about his fish.’ Ha, ha.”
Lewis was still new to the etiquette of their trips, but he did manage to laugh along with this.
“Yeah, that’s…really funny. A lot of fun.”
“Guys, look. We are all out on the water and the weather is perfect and we ain’t catching anything, so we should just enjoy what this is, all right?”
George stared at the two of them. He had made his point.
“Right, absolutely. Let’s enjoy it.” Steve was into his third beer. “We deserve this.”
Lewis looked out past his two companions and the expanse of the lake. “Absolutely. We do. Our wives do, too.”
“Great.” George waited for any sign of tension on his line.
“Right, and anyway, it’s not like this is going to get gruesome or ugly between us.”
Steve froze with the beer at his lips. “Begging your pardon?”
Lewis looked back at him. “You know… Like in those movies where the guys take someone out on a boat and everything seems really nice and friendly, but it turns out that they are planning to have him ‘sleep wif da fishes!’ The Godfather, remember? Luca Brasi? Fredo? He got shot, too.”
George was no longer worried about the line. Steve stared at his beer.
“Ha, ha. Joke everyone.” Lewis took a beer from the cooler.
“Yeah, ha, ha.” Steve took off his sailor’s hat and tried to laugh.
“Yup, ha, ha.” George really did laugh. “But the thing is, there was only one other guy on that boat with Fredo.”
“What?” Lewis looked him up and down.
“The time he got shot. He was with one of his brother’s bodyguards and he was saying a prayer and got shot before he finished. And it was not that far from the house (Michael heard the shots, or shot). But we are pretty far out on the lake. Not another soul around for miles.”
George finished his beer.
“You would have to plan something like that very carefully. Maybe take a lot of time to get everything in place.”
“Right. The Godfather.”
“Actually, Part Two.”
Steve looked at Lewis.
“The Godfather, Part Two. That was when Fredo got shot. That was when Michael learned that his older brother could not be trusted; when he could not be brought home again.”
No wind stirred over the lake and no one had much of an appetite for the food they brought. George, Lewis and Steve all wondered about their wives and how they had spent their day. George’s wife wanted to get some groceries. Lewis’s really did need to get out of the house (hot yoga after getting groceries as well). And Steve’s wife was looking for a new fishing rod for her husband’s birthday in two weeks.
And the three friends looked back and forth at each other and decided to not speak for the rest of the trip.