Clearwater (Flash Fiction)

Old Ely Lungren fell through the hole he’d dug ice fishing out at Clearwater Lake last winter. I tell folks that I found his old pickup parked out at the trail head. But, when I got to the lake, his pack and his saw were just sitting out there in the middle of the ice, the fishing hole refrozen over. People around town say he used to take a bottle of bourbon on those fishing trips and maybe that accounted for the accident. My buddy Denny reckons it was Ely’s girl Lauren who followed him up there and pushed him right on in. Others say maybe one of them big old catfish got tangled up in his line and hauled him down. They sure got some big ones up in Clearwater and they must get mighty hungry when the ice comes in. But the truth is, whatever happened, Ely sure is famous now cos you can see him, face frozen beneath the ice, hands clawing up at the surface like he’s some kinda dinosaur fossil.  Well I figured you don’t see that every day, so I started charging folks twenty bucks for me to take them out there. Easiest money I made in my whole life. But today I feel the first signs of the coming springtime: the slow drip of water off the pines, a vee of geese cawing overhead. And I know it won’t be long before Clearwater thaws and Ely comes home. And when he does I need to be gone; way up in the hills, through the pass and over the border. Cos I know that when Sherriff Dewey finally hauls him outa there, it’s my hunting knife he’s gonna find buried in old Ely’s back.