Bow Season, A Short Story

They put the chain back on its track using the open tailgate on Aldo’s truck as a workbench. Nino’s Taurus was parked behind. Aldo poured bar chain oil into the saw’s housing. Nino held the saw steady and watched his uncle’s trembling hand spill the amber oil onto the handle. He said nothing of it, trying instead to move the porthole under the shifting stream to catch it cleanly. Aldo cursed, upset that his body was betraying him. He adjusted the tension of the chain with an Allen wrench before hastily wiping the housing down with a rag.

“OK, I’m good here, thanks. Now go catch some fish, nephew.”

“Don’t suppose you’ll let me help you load that wood first?”

“Ha! Don’t you worry about me; I’ll outwork any of you boys and you know it. I’ll take care of that wood and I still got more to cut. You just take care of the walleye. There’s a lot of perch hitting, too. Catch a bunch, because I’d like to take some to Ed Troyer. There’s three dozen wax worms in the fridge next to some leftover eggplant.”

“Perch, carp; I’d be glad to catch anything.”

“Don’t you kids eat all that melanzana either!”

“Yeah, yeah. Thanks for getting the wax worms. Be careful out here, OK?”

Aldo shrugged off his concern. As his uncle trudged back into the forest, Nino watched him walk, and before long the old man disappeared. Nino got into his car and headed toward Island Lake.

It had been two months since he’d had a chance to do any fishing, and when he saw the lake reflecting the orange treetops, the anticipation to get out on the water made him anxious. But in the quiet, he stood and stared across the lake, taking in the sight.

Nino opened the cabin door and watched them, not saying a word as his brother and Mauro feasted on heavy sandwiches made of thick-crusted Italian bread. The aroma of burning oak greeted him, and seeing them made him smile. Interning at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit was awful. The rounds on the pediatric unit had challenged Nino’s resolve, eroding his cheerful disposition. Most of his patients were either being treated for burns or were the innocent victims of car accidents and drive-by shootings.

Then they dropped their food, rising in mid-bite to greet him.

Don and Nino shared a long hug. Mauro watched covetously as the two brothers embraced before he gave Nino a hug and a grazing peck on the cheek. He returned to his meal while the two siblings talked with each other, getting reacquainted.

“How’re the rounds going?” Mauro asked.

Nino’s face softened, only briefly losing his smile. “Good. It’s kinda … you know. It’s OK. Hey, I’m so hungry, cowpie sandwiches are sounding good.”

“Sit your big Dago rear-end down and eat. The olives are awesome,” Don said.

Nino plopped down and cut two large pieces of Italian bread. He heaped on five pieces of hard salami, two mortadella and three slices of the prosciutto that he loved so much. He added two slices of provolone and a thick onion, piling onto the burgeoning sandwich. There were roasted peppers in oil, rich olive medleys loaded with jumbo greens, and wine-soaked calamata. Crushed cloves of garlic peeked out from the holes of some of the jumbo greens, the scent of which made his mouth water.

He took a ladle of oil from the olive medley and spread it across the meat, letting it ooze over the hard crust of the bottom piece. Don watched with amusement as Nino stacked roasted red peppers onto the heap of lunch meat.

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