Things we do for love (cont.) by Michael J. Richards

Jack straightens up and looks around. The early morning sun gets in his eyes. He squints. “Here okay? It’s as good a spot as any.”

We take off our coats. I take off my beanie. Jack puts his shades on. We pull out our fishing-gear, our flasks and sandwiches and set about sorting the day’s fishing.

“Good of you to give me a lift, Sean,” he says as he feels in his trousers. He pulls out a hanky and a scrap of paper. He puts the scrap away, wipes his nose and shoves the hanky away. “Dominique’s got the car at the moment.”

“No problem, mate,” I tell him as I turn towards the river and look at the current. “Off on a trip, is she?”

“You could say that,” Jack says. He bends down, searching his box.

I turn away. I size things up. “Where do you wanna go? There” – I point to a small clearing by the river, where someone has sat before – “or there?”

“You choose,” he says, pulling out his reel.

I go down. “Only a few yards apart. Doesn’t matter. I’m here now. That okay?”

He looks up. “Yeah, yeah. Fine.” He picks up his open tackle-box and heaves it down the bank.

I watch him. I can help but don’t bother. Like seeing him struggle. His problem is he’s got no muscles. He’s as weak as a soggy milk pudding. “You okay, mate?”

“Got a few things on my mind, haven’t I?” he says.

* * * * *

For the twenty or thirty minutes or so, neither of us speaks. Occasionally, I catch Sean watching me. I smile. He winks back. We place our seats, position rod rests, connect up landing-nets, put bait and keep-nets within easy reach. Setting up rods comes last, of course. Finally, everything is in place and we stand back and pour hot drinks from our flasks.

“We’re in for a good day,” he says, opening his cigarettes. As he pulls out a lighter from his faded jeans, he strokes his bald head. “Yeah,” he says, letting out a cloud of smoke, “it’ll be good.”

I stand and watch, waiting until he has smoked it down to the filter.

He catches me staring. “What?” he says.

I avoid his eyes. I feel queasy. I can’t look at him. I rub my boots against the grass.

“You’re like a horny horse,” he says. He throws away the dog end. As long as I’ve known him, he’s always enjoyed my discomforts. “Hoofing at the grass like that.”

But I take no notice. I carry on, concentrating on my boots. I can feel him his eyes on me. Finally, I look up at him. Against my will, I go for it. I smile at him, hoping it’s friendly. “You’re sleeping with my wife, aren’t you?”

Read the full story in While Glancing out of a Window.