Cory’s dad finished baiting his hook and held it up for a moment. The skewered worm squirmed in agony, and Cory wrinkled his brow. Insect sounds created a cacophony all around them, and the occasional dragonfly darted about over the surface of the water.
Ignoring his son for a little longer, Cory’s dad cast out. Cory jumped a little, fearing the hook would somehow stick him in the lip. Visions of girls cringing at the thought of making out with him made his blood boil a little.
“Careful with that! You almost got me!”
The boat rocked from Cory’s dad’s movement, and Cory held up his arms for balance. The water was placid aside from the ripples created by the boat’s movement. Like most lakes he had seen, it was too murky to see more than a few inches past the surface, but he still had high hopes for later.
“You could use a scar or two on that perfect little face of yours,” Cory’s father said, the annoyance dripping from his mouth like venom. “Maybe I’ll aim for that stupid earing next time.”
“It’s not stupid. Chicks dig this thing.”
“Back in my day earrings were for women and gays.”
“Well in the 21st-century remarks like that will make a lot of people mad.”
“Guess it’s a good thing it’s just the fishes and us then, huh?”
Cory rolled his eyes. The small bass boat had a single chair designed with a fisherman in mind, and his dad situated himself in it. The only other seats were behind the steering wheel, and Cory spread his body between both of them. He watched his father tug on the line a little every few seconds, bobbing the lines red and white marker buoy up and down. Despite his father’s steel-nose demeanor and prejudices, he was a bona fide Pokémon fan. The marker buoy on his line was a pokéball.
“You know, dad,” Cory started, emphasizing the word as if there was a question about whether or not this was his real father. “Aside from you being an a-hole about everything, people would make fun of you for liking a children’s TV show so much.”
“Call me a name again and see if I don’t capsize this boat,” Cory’s dad said, glancing to the side as he spoke but still paying attention to his line. “I don’t care what people these days think. Pokémon goes way deeper than anything you kids know about.”
“How old were you when it even came out? Like 30?”
Cory’s dad stood and used his legs to rock the boat a little. Cory laughed, relishing the fact that he had annoyed his father a little. He stayed quiet, and his dad stopped rocking the small boat.
The sun climbed up from the horizon and passed the noon position in the sky. With nary a nibble on the line, Cory’s dad gave up and reeled in his empty line. The worm had somehow come off the hook, and he cursed.
“Shove over,” he said to his son, and Cory drew back in his legs and sat up straight in the passenger seat.
Cory’s dad started the boat up and guided it back to the dock. The chirps and buzzes of the many insects hiding in the reeds along the shore were all the sound that was produced among the duo. Though there was a small cargo hold on the bass boat, there was only enough room for a small cooler of food, and they had left the water skis in a carry bag on the pier.
Hopping off the boat when it was close enough, Cory was the one to unpack the skis and line. Though Cory and his father rarely got along for longer than a few minutes, Cory did note that his father was a man of his word. They had started taking fishing trips every few weeks in the summer. Dad promised they would go as often as Cory liked, and they did.
When Cory was little before he knew the type of man his father was, dear old dad had persuaded him to come on the fishing trips with the allure of also water skiing. Naturally athletic, Cory had picked up the sport in no time, and now he loved few things more than gliding over the surface behind his dad’s boat.
Since the divorce, Dad had to sell the old jet boat they had, settling for a bass boat as a replacement. According to Dad, the new boat was better because it was the best of both of their worlds. It was designed to let him fish properly, but it had enough juice to drag his son along too. Despite all the negativity that he associated with the trips, the positive feeling of skiing with his dad at the wheel washed it all away and he started smiling.
Dad took notice, and despite his attitude, Cory knew that he wanted a relationship with him. Cory couldn’t say that the feeling was mutual, but he held out hope that his dad would make a change for the better one day.
“I got you a surprise,” Dad said, grinning and displaying the too-straight, too-white veneers he had put on a year prior. He had his hands behind his back.
Cory looked up with skepticism. The grin either meant sincerity or a prank and in recent years pranks were more common. But, he allowed himself to be vulnerable, sighing and lifting his eyebrows to indicate he wanted Dad to reveal the surprise.
“I got you a booster ball,” Dad started, pulling the item out from behind his back. It was red and yellow with the words Double Booster emblazoned on the side. “It should help us get a bit more speed, and I think you’ll be able to stay up easier.”
Cory smiled. “You trying to say I suck at skiing?”
Dad laughed. “Anyone with eyes knows that.”
Cory huffed a chuckle through his nose. He kept the smile on and continued suiting up while Dad hooked up the line and the booster ball. When finished, Cory hopped in the water and Dad hopped on the boat, tossing the grip to his son and drifting out from the dock. Cory gave the thumbs up, and Dad gunned it.