Tom swerved hard into the parking lane in front of Dale’s house, his right front tire bounced off the curb. Dale was standing out in the yard, smoking a joint with a couple of regulars; they hardly noticed Tom’s arrival.
“Let’s go fishing!” Tom hollered from the street where he walked around his truck, securing the tie downs on the canoe he had strapped in the bed. Then he walked over to where the boys were congregated on the lawn.
“Are you ready to go’ bro?” Tom asked.
“Not really,” Dale said, exhaling a cloud of blue smoke.
“Don’t tell me you’re not packed yet?”
“No… I’m not going.”
“Not going!” Tom was floored “We’ve only been planning this trip for the past year, and now . . . all of a sudden you’re not going.”
Come to think of it, Dale had seemed aloof these last several days; he didn’t act like a guy who was going on a two week fishing adventure in the wilderness.
“How can you not be going?” Tom said. “This is the Boundary Waters we’re talking about here, the Minnesota fishing opener . . . remember?”
“I’m not going.”
“Dude, my truck is packed. I have all the food, the gear, everything; all you need to do is grab your fishing pole, and lets go.”
“I can’t go,” Dale said, turning his back he walked into the house with his entourage in tow.
Tom brought up the rear as they all flopped into furniture about the living room. These guys were all old high school buddies. They were famous for partying like wild men. Although they had graduated in 1976, not much had changed. Three years later and here they were, doing the same old thing, gambling, drinking, and smoking dope. Dale’s place was like a second home for these guys. He always had plenty of weed and getting high was the order of the day. Beyond that, there wasn’t much happening.
How could Dale pretend to be going all this time and then back out at the last minute? Tom squirmed in his chair. That son of a bitch must have been planning this betrayal all along. Tom wanted to stroll over and blast Dale in the nose with a straight right hand, wipe that shit eating grin off his face, but he knew these guys would all jump in and throw blows on him. Instead, he sat there contemplating his next move.
It was too late to invite someone else; he was packed and ready to travel. Dale owed him an explanation. Why was he crapping out at the last minute.
“So what happened? I thought we were going fishing.”
“I scored a pound of weed last night and I need to stay in town to sell it. I need the cash.”
Tom shook his head in disbelief. “You would rather stay here and sell pot than catch walleyes and northerns for two weeks in the Boundary Waters?”
“Look . . . don’t you get it? I don’t want to go!”
“Well, I wish you would have told me sooner instead of waiting until the last minute. I could have offered it to someone else.”
Dale fired up another joint, took a deep drag and passed it down the line. He had given Tom his final answer. When the joint came Tom’s way’ he waved it off. He was in no mood to smoke.
Tom sat staring out the window at his truck. What to do? He had been to the Boundary Waters a number of times before, but never alone. He had all the gear and knew how to navigate with a compass and map. Screw this, he didn’t need Dale or any of these losers. He was going fishing.
“See ya,” Tom said, bolting from his chair.
“Where you goin’ Anderson?” Dale asked.
“I’m going canoeing in the Boundary Waters, dipshit! Fishing for two weeks over the opener by myself,” he said and walked out.
Everyone in the room looked at one another in disbelief; they were so codependent they couldn’t conceive of doing anything alone, especially a camping trip of this magnitude.
“Do you really think he’s going?” someone asked.
“No, he’s bluffing,” Dale said. “You’ll see him hanging out at the bar tonight.”
Tom jumped in his truck. Why had he ever asked Dale to go in the first place. He’s an idiot. He has no idea what he’s missing. Tom wasn’t going to let anyone stop him now; besides, he could never live with himself knowing he let a looser like Dale torpedo his trip. Tom revved up his truck and dumped the clutch.
“Fuck’em,” he said, squealing away from the curb, filling the air with smoke and burning rubber.
This is the opening passage from the book: A Benevolent Wilderness. If you wish to view a longer sample visit the author at Smashwords.