NIGHT FISHING - KENT GOWRAN
There were no other cars around when Coleman parked the pick-up truck and retrieved the pistol from under the seat. He closed the door but didn’t lock it, and then walked toward Montrose Harbor.
“Lousy motherfuckers. Send an old man out to ditch a gun in the middle of the night. Shit.” He kept his shoulders hunched against the winter chill, his eyes scanned all around, looking for any sign of life. He didn’t want anyone to see him, not even some drunk whose vision worked in triplicate.
Ice covered much of the lake along the shore, and Coleman walked along theretaining wall a ways before he found a spot where he figured he could tossthe revolver and have it land out in the water.
“Let’s get this done,” he said to himself through chattering teeth. He rubbed his hands together to get them warm, then grabbed the gun with his right and gave it the best throw he could muster. The piece went up into the air but didn’t get much of an arc, and it clattered across the ice, and stopped its slide just about a yard short of going into the water.
Coleman looked all around again.
He looked at the gun out on the ice.
Maybe the morning sun would shine down and melt away more of the ice and send the pistol into the water. He looked up at the empty night sky, and then Coleman climbed down onto the ice.
“Just hold steady now,” he said to himself as he took timid steps in the direction of the stranded gun. He thought he heard the ice crack beneath his weight. He held his breath, but let it out after a moment. What was there to be afraid of? “If you fall in, you fall in.”
He made it to the revolver and bent to pick it up. His back roared with pain as he tried to straighten up. One hand went to his back and, with the other, he tossed the gun into the water.
Coleman turned to head back to shore, slipped on the ice, and his feet went out from under him. He hit the ice hard on his back and his breath went out of him.
Coleman didn’t believe in God. Or much of anything, for that matter. But, for just a moment, he heard a sound, out there on the ice, that, if he had to, he could only describe as angels singing.
His head cleared and he realized the singing must’ve been someone driving by with their car stereo turned up too loud.
Coleman stayed motionless as the pain spread through his body. Maybe, he thought, maybe this is the way it ends. Fuck the cancer eating his bones, he’d go out frozen to death on the ice at Montrose Harbor.
Probably even make the news, he thought, pull a stunt like that.
Coleman’s eyes snapped open.
“Hey! Sir? Can you hear me?”
Coleman lifted his head from the ice. Two Chicago cops stood along the retaining wall, one shining a flashlight down on him. He raised his arm and waved to them.
“I’m coming to get you,” called one of the cops.
Coleman grunted and tried to roll onto his side. He couldn’t do it. He didn’t think he’d broken anything; he was just frozen to the bone.
The cop came into view and knelt down on the ice next to him.
“You all right?”
“I think so,” Coleman said.
“What were you doing out here?”
“On the ice?”
“Had to get rid of a piece.”
The cop took a step back. “Excuse me?”
Coleman laughed. “Bad joke. I was just...”
“Where’s your pole?”
“It fell in the lake, I guess. I was trying to find a spot to cast in...I lost my balance. At my age, that happens more often than I care to admit.”
The cop’s face relaxed. “You gotta be more careful,” he said as he helped Coleman get to his feet.
“That’s what my doctor is always telling me. Be more careful. But I’m sick. Dying, you want to know the truth. Cancer. Just had to get out here one more time. You follow me, officer?”
The cop nodded and said, “I hear you. But you do know it’s illegal to be out here at night, don’t you?”
Coleman let out a laugh. “Are you going to arrest me?”
“I don’t suppose so.”
“I appreciate it.”
“Let’s go back, all right?”
“Sure,” Coleman said. “I guess I’ve had enough time on the ice for tonight.”
As they walked, the cop said, “You know what you said? About the gun?”
“That happens a lot. All along the lake shore.”
“Pretty good way to get rid of a gun, I guess.”
“The lake and the sewers,” the cop said. “Chicago’s own weapons disposal system.”
“Better than leaving a gun where some kid might find it, right?”
“I suppose. But sometimes kids do find them. Playing in the lake during the summer. A kid caught one fishing right here at Montrose Harbor a few years back. Big stainless steel automatic.”
“Yeah,” the cop said. “Good guess.”
They made it back to the wall and the cop and his partner helped Coleman back up. He shook the hand of the cop who’d come out after him, and then shook the partner’s hand, as well.
“Thank you, officers. I might’ve died out there.”
“What were you doing, anyway?” said the partner.
“Night fishing,” Coleman and the first cop said in unison.
“You should be more careful, sir.”
“He knows that.”
“Yeah? Well, last year we pulled a guy out of the water not far from here. Fell right through the ice. Not sure if he froze to death or drowned first. Still had a fishing pole clutched in one hand, too.”
“It’s a dangerous world,” Coleman said.
BIO: Kent Gowran grew up in rural Illinois and currently lives and works in Chicago. His stories have appeared in PLOTS WITH GUNS, DZ Allen's MUZZLE FLASH, HORROR GARAGE, and other wild venues. He keeps a poor excuse for a blog at Blood, Sweat & Murder.