River was an early riser. Most mornings he would be up at dawn to exercise. To cool down, he sat on his porch and just watched. He never looked at anything in particular, but he just liked being able to sit on his own property and enjoy the view. Once he was done taking in the sights, he made his rounds to a few spots in the neighborhood to harvest fresh vegetables and whatever else he could find. River always attributed good bait to his fishing success. His mantra was fish are like people; They like fresh ingredients too.
When finished harvesting, he went back home to gather his gear and headed to the backyard for a peaceful day full of fishing.
By mid-morning, Melody would just be waking up. She usually ate breakfast alone. Before she ate, she would step out onto the porch just to look at him and say good morning and then go back inside to eat.
At midday, she would check on him again to see if he wanted lunch. He always said no, and so she would each lunch alone too. Then mid-afternoon/early evening, she’d get so sick of being alone she would go out and make him take a break. Back in Twinbrook, she had a job. She wasn’t used to him being so close but so far away. She knew he needed to fish because it was their only source of income presently, but she couldn’t stand being alone all day every day.
“Hey, mister….Your wife is bored.”
“Oh is she,” he laughed. “Doesn’t she love to read?”
“Your baby is bored too.”
“Awww, my poor babies,” he teased and put down his rod and walked over to her.
He placed his hands on Melody’s baby bump and talked to the child.
“Hey baby! Mommy says you’re bored in there, but I doubt that’s true. But anyway, I love you very much, and I can’t wait to meet you next month! And…ummm…that’s it. Don’t give mommy too much trouble in there, ok?”
“You think I’m high maintenance, don’t you?”
“Of course not. You just have cabin fever, that’s all.”
“I knew staying home would be different, but I’m just not doing well with it, babe. Do you really have to be out here all day?”
“Fishing is a sport of patience, my dear. Even more so because this is our only income. Why don’t you get out and meet people? Join a club or something?”
“Riv! I barely know my way around this neighborhood! How do you think I’ll fare getting around town? We’re strangers here!”
He smiled. He thought it was amazing that within the house she was so commanding and brazen all the time. But the moment she stepped outside, she was like a lost little lamb.
“Ok, ok. I will hang this up for the rest of the day, and we’ll hang out. All right?”
“So…what do you want to do…see a movie, park, d–“
“Dancing,” she yelled as the word was coming out of his mouth.
“Of course. All right. I’m gonna go wash up.”
As soon as they arrived at the Blue Velvet, Melody hit the dance floor. She didn’t ask him to join her. She didn’t even care that they were under dressed for the occasion. She just wanted to strut her stuff. Dancing was her happy place. Everything made sense to her while she was dancing. River wasn’t much of a dancer and just shook his head and went to the bar. It was the very beginning of happy hour, but the bar was already quite full. River found the lone empty chair at the very end of the bar to sit. Two men were having a heated conversation as he walked by, but River just minded his business. But when he went to sit down, the two guys looked at him like he had three heads. We have got to go shopping, he thought as he suspected he didn’t look like he was from around there.
“Hey, how ya doin’,” he said.
They stared at him for what felt like a literal five minutes, but was probably just a few seconds. When the man in the black sweater spoke, it was clear that these two were just a little bit juiced.
“Ay, bruh…this fool here say that the lion is the king of the jungle. You believe that?”
“Ummmm…,” he said in disbelief, “that’s what they say.”
“WHAT?! Don’t believe that plum! That’s the most nonsensic…nonsensica…nonsensicative–“
“Nonsensical,” River asked.
“Thank you, man! See, I knew this dude was smart,” the man in black said to the man in red.
The man in red kept staring at River just rolling his eyes and shaking his head at his friend’s nonsense. But, the man in black wasn’t done.
“When you ever been to the jungle and seen a lion? When? When?”
“Never,” River played along.
“See?! Ain’t no lions in the jungle man!! That’s what I’m tryna say! That’s all I’m tryna say! Ay…where the bartender at? I’ma buy this dude a juice.”
“That’s very kind of you, but you don’t need to do that.”
“What? Why? My money not good enough for you man? My money not good enough for you man?”
“I’m sorry, that’s not what I–“
“Where you from anyway man? Sounded like a pofessor or something!”
“PROfessor, Eric! PROfessor! You making us sound like dummies in front of Mr. Professor,” the man in red finally said.
They thought that was hilarious. River did too, actually.
“My name is River. I’m a fisherman.”
“A fisherman named River,” Eric said incredulously still laughing. “That’s too much! What was yo mama on?”
“Ay man…forgive my friend here,” the man in red said. “He just a little what we like to call ‘ignant’ here. You know, he’s not just ignorant…he’s ignant! I’m Don by the way.”
“I’m Aden…not that anyone wants to know,” said the man in green.
“It’s nice to meet all of you…you too, Aden.”
Melody had been standing quietly by waiting for a good time to swoop in and take River home. There was a nice lull after those introductions, so she made her move.
“Riv…I’m ready to go.”
“Hey! Are you ok?”
“Yeah. The baby is hungry though.”
“Ok. Hey fellas…this is my wife, Melody.”
They all greeted her as best they could in their conditions.
“This is Don, Eric, and that’s Aden.”
Eric turned to Aden and started up again.
“Who is this guy? What kind of a man brings his wife to the club? Hold up…what kind of a man brings his pregnant wife to the club? Y’all say I’m crazy…THIS dude is cray!”
Don leaned over to River and said, “That’s your wife?”
“We’ve been married almost a year.”
“I’m gonna tell you like this…you won’t get no trouble from me, but if you mess up…I’m gonna hit that. I’m just saying.”
“Oookaaaay, I think it’s time for us to go.”
“Hey, I said I won’t be no trouble. I mean it…but I’m gonna be watching.”
“Let’s go, Melody,” River said.
“Hey Miss Lady,” Don said. “My name is Don, how you doin. If the fisherman here don’t act right…just give your boy a call, aight?”
“Man, leave that man’s wife alone, Don,” Eric said trying to block him.
“Get off me, man!”