The fishing boat grew smaller and smaller as we stood and stared into the sun. I shooed a team of three flies away from my eyes and sat down on one of the boat’s vinyl padded seats. The
My brother hauled the ski rope up out of the water and predicted our uncle would be back with the gas shortly. I looked out at the tree lined shore at least a half mile away and imagined there were Indians hiding behind the trees. Just like in the western movies I imagined they were intent on scalping us both unless my uncle Johnny returned just in the nick of time. I wondered if they would begin to beat their war drums like in the movies, and then paddle out to us in a canoe yelping unintelligible Indian chants.
That would really upset my mom. I thought about a funeral for a little 10 year old boy scalped by Indians on the lake, while his uncle went for gas to power the ski boat. The fact that it was 1961 was a small flaw in my western movie fantasy. Like a slow thinking movie director forgetting to use time period objects in a movie I had imagined my way into an impossibility.
“I sure hope they come back soon,” I muttered across the top of my imaginary little boy casket. Jerry looked at me with that look of his that meant he was thinking about what I said but had no intention of saying something as pitifully soothing as “Don’t worry they will.” What in fact came out of his mouth was more of that philosophical stuff he was always attributing to our dad. A lot of times I wasn’t sure if Jerry got it all correct since I was more involved in imagining funerals and hitting imaginary home runs at Yankee Stadium than in my dad’s philosophies.
“Dad says the idea of hoping for things is bullshit.” I looked back at him thinking to say something smartass just because I was pretty sure dad didn’t say it that way. Mom didn’t allow that kind of talk in front of us. I didn’t say anything though. I knew he didn’t like being interrupted when he was repeating dad philosophy. He even tried to bow his head down like dad did when he was looking at us from his full standing height. “He told me hope is an unconscious compromise with expected failure.” I had no idea what he was talking about really, but of course he carried on like a sage of the east. Maybe it was because he just got a tight burr haircut the day before and fancied himself a Buddhist wise man or something. “He says having hope is just another way of saying we aren’t really sure about something. Sort of like just saying maybe something will work out alright, but we aint so sure.”
“Well, what’s wrong with wanting something good to happen,” I asked?
“There ain’t nothing wrong with it you retard, it’s just that dad is saying something else is better.” I didn’t imagine a real Buddhist preacher would call me a retard so he was already losing a little ground with me. I looked out across the water and squinted way into the distance. I didn’t care what Mr. Budhha had to say, I was hoping they came back soon.
“Dad says we should learn to expect, not hope. He means that expecting something is going to cause it to happen and just hoping for it aint as good really. That’s what he means when he says that hope is an unconscious compromise with expected failure, except I told you a simpler way to understand it cause you’re a little retard.”
I looked at him and he smiled. He liked being a Buddha and all but he never got tired of being my big brother either. I figured his smile meant he was just kiddin about the retard thing. “What do you think about that hope business then, he asked?”
“I hope you drown before uncle Johnny gets back, I said.”
“Well, dad says that aint good enough, you gotta expect for me to drown if you want it to happen, otherwise you’re just whistling
I told him to eat me.