By: Dawn DeBraal
"Wake up, Freddy," Pa tapped me on the shoulder. I didn't think twice, sprung from my bed, and followed him downstairsfishing day. We were going for the big ones on the river. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, attended to my morning needs, and put on an extra coat. It was cold out there and would be even colder on the river.
We landed the boat with no problem in the dark. We've done it a hundred times. Pa threw me a sandwich, and I ate it quietly while looking for a log that could be submerged. My flashlight moved back and forth. We were going to get our limit I could feel it. Four in the morning is an ungodly hour.
"Stop!" I called out. A large log drifted in the backwater of the river. Pa moved the motor to neutral as we drifted upon it. It wasn't a log. It was a person.
"Give me the light," Pa whispered. He shined it in the water. The body bobbed up and down in the current as if it had been anchored, somehow.
"What the hell?" Pa handed me the flashlight, and I continued to show it on the body. He took the dock hook from the bottom of the boat and pulled at the corpse, trying to get it closer to the boat. It smelled strange.
"It's hooked on something. Put the light on the water." I aimed the flashlight down. Pa hooked something down below. He grunted and pulled at the hook until a rope appeared. As he pulled the rope, a cinder block attached to the rope came up out of the murky water.
"Someone did this to him," confirming what I had been thinking. As he pulled on the rope, the body came closer to the boat. Pa put the brick into the boat and pulled the body over the bow. A liquid splat, and he lay on the floor. I wanted to scream, but somehow a million questions stopped me. Who did this? How long had the boy been out there? Why did someone tie him to a brick and throw him in the water?
From almost total darkness, the boy's face stared up from the floor. His eyes were wide hollow holes. Something, a fish perhaps had eaten them. I heard my pa cuss under his breath.
"We need to get him to shore and call the police." Pa marked the spot on his fish graph of where we found the boy. We probably should have left him out there, but it didn't seem right.
"Don't touch anything," Pa said as he started the motor and headed back to the boat landing. "It's all evidence. Even the type of brick, and how the rope knot was tied." I turned to face away from the dead boy. I aimed the flashlight ahead of the boat.
"Pa! Log in the water," I called out. He put the boat into neutral as we drifted closer. I vomited my sandwich when I saw it was another one. A body floated just at the surface, bobbing in the waves we created.
"What are we gonna do?" I looked at Pa, who, for the first time in all my life, looked helpless. He leaned over the steering wheel, resting his face on his hands. I knew he wanted to lose his sandwich and was doing all he could not to vomit. Did we pick up the other body or just mark the spot and haul the boy to shore?
I played the light of my flashlight across the water, gasping when I saw many things were bobbing in the water before us.
"Pa? There's a whole bunch of them." I whispered, not knowing why I would whisper. This was evil at its highest level, surrounding our boat.
"Let's go home, Pa," he never said a word. He pushed the motor out of neutral and headed for home, shuddering every time we bumped into something.