The Choctawhatchee Bay is calm this morning. I’m fishing. I always fish on Father’s Day weekend.
There is a blue heron standing on the shore, looking at me. He doesn’t move. He only stares.
Today has been an unproductive day. I caught exactly one catfish and an old Pepsi bottle.
I have eaten my weight in Conecuh Quick Freeze Sausage and Bunny bread.
Things were going fine until this bird showed up for a staring contest.
My wife believes people come back as birds after they die. I don’t know how she came up with this idea.
Once, outside Mobile, we stopped on a red dirt road so she could introduce herself to a flock of turkey buzzards in a hayfield.
An ugly bird stood a few yards away from the flock. It stared at my wife and would not move.
“Do you see that bird?” she said with a grin. “That’s gotta be my daddy!”
I threatened to carry her off to Searcy if she didn’t get back into the truck. She ignored me.
But this heron is not ignoring me. He looks at
me with sharp eyes. Maybe my wife is on to something. This bird could almost pass for my late father if you used your imagination. Long legs. Bone skinny. Quiet.
“Hey,” I yell to him.
He is unmoved.
“Don't you have anything to say to me?” I ask.
The bird doesn’t even blink.
So I cast my line into the water and pretend I can’t see him. He steps closer.
I miss my father. I’m ashamed to tell you that. Because it’s been too many years, I should be over him. I should be grown up. I’m not.
It’s Father’s Day weekend, and I’m twelve all over again, floating in my boat.
I remember watching Daddy look at a flock of birds, once. His skinny legs came clear up to his shoulders. His…