It was a great day for fishing. The weather was not too sunny or hot; a gentle breeze blew once in a while. I checked my line, then slowly reeled. Nothing, not even a nibble. The fish don't seem to be biting. It would be dark in another hour. Nevertheless, I recast my line. Pleasant memories came to mind of a time when my children were younger and I would take them fishing. Now that they’re older, they don't seem to have much interest in it.
In the distance, I spied a man walking towards me. He waved; I waved back. He looked like someone I knew years ago; although, I couldn't quite place his face.
"Hello there, neighbor," he greeted, cheerily. He was of medium height and slim build, wearing a dark t-shirt, cut off denim shorts and straw hat.
"Hey," I responded, with a slight nod.
"How's the fishin'?"
"Not so good," I answered.
"The name's Sonny Heidelberg."
"Ah, I thought you looked familiar." The Heidelbergs used to be fairly well-established in this small, rural community. A handful still lived here; the majority of them moved to larger cities and out of state, returning annually for their family reunion. They were characterized by their dark complexions and prominent noses. Sonny had the same features.
"Do you know any of the Fords?" he asked.
"Not really, Eldrick Ford and his family moved away after they sold the farm fifteen years ago," I replied.
"What about Delbert Ford?"
"He died in a tractor accident; he’s been gone about thirteen years.”
"Oh, that's terrible. He had a girlfriend, Sara, Sadie, no it was Sally! Sally Mitchell. What happened to her?"
"My wife is related to the Mitchells but, I don't recall a Sally."
"Okay, okay, well, since you know the Mitchells, you must know Credell Mitchell."
"He got shot at the juke joint, Bo’s Place, ten years ago."
"Oh, man. Credell was my running buddy. We used to get tossed out of Bo’s bout every Saturday night. I'm sorry to hear that. Well, I should head back, my family is probably wondering where I'm at. Nice to have met you, Mr---"
"Williams. Jesse Williams," I answered.
"Jesse Williams, got it. Tell Mr. Milton I said hello. Enjoy your fishin'."
"Yeah, thanks." I watched as he walked down the hill towards the road from wherever he came; I resumed fishing. When darkness descended, I packed up my gear and headed to my uncle's house, just over a tenth of a mile away. I unlocked the gate behind their house, then relocked it. I thought it best to let them know I was leaving.
An unfamiliar maroon Cadillac with Missouri license plates was parked in the drive way; they must have company. The closer I got to the entrance of their home, I could hear laughter and smell cigarette and cigar smoke wafting through the screen door. I knocked softly and the four faces turned to look at me.
"Come on in, Jesse," implored Uncle Milton, "Do you know the Johnsons, this is Millie and Joe; they're from Missouri.”
"Missouri. As in St Louis?" I asked.
"Of course. I see you got your fishin' hat on. You catch anything?" Joe asked.
"Not a thing. Uncle Milton, Sonny Heidelberg told me to tell you hello."
Everyone in the room looked at each other quizzically and murmured among themselves. Finally, Aunt Marie spoke.
"Jesse, Sonny's been dead for about twenty years."