Since his parents’ divorce, the 10-year old went fishing with his father every other weekend that summer. He loved it. And he loved their rituals. The car ride as they sang, off-key, whatever pop song came on the AM radio station; the quiet of the lake; and the root beer floats and French fries they shared afterwards.
They were at their usual spot, downstream from the bridge. Jimmy was enjoying the calmness when he felt something big pull on his pole. His father offered encouragement.
“You got him, Jimmy boy, you can do it.”
It was big, bigger than anything he ever caught before.
“Whoa, son, it’s a big bass.”
“Or a turtle,” offered Jimmy.
His father helped him reel in the prize. Jimmy was the first to see it wasn’t a bass as he dropped the pole.
Later, the police would tell them the man went missing two days ago, and that he must have fallen off the bridge.
The car ride home was quiet. They did not stop for the customary root beer float and French fries.
For years, Jimmy thought about that man. He imagined that the man had a son his age. He wondered how that son felt about losing his dad.
He would never know that the son wondered how Jimmy felt finding his dad.