portion of the artwork for Dan Townsend's fiction

Fishing with Uncle Weeze
Dan Townsend

My mom has two brothers. One of them is Uncle Weeze. He used to do pyro for bands, which was incredible to me. I must have been ten because Uncle Weeze was on the crew for the Aerosmith and Guns N’ Roses tour, and it didn’t get any bigger than that.

I was in Webelos Scouts, and I wanted to get the fishing activity pin, which is like a weak-ass merit badge. You had to do fishing with a cane pole. I asked Uncle Weeze, “Do you know how to do that?” I pointed to the paragraph in one of the books we had.

“Oh for sure,” Uncle Weeze said. He is eight years younger than my mom. Back then, he would “swing through town” and “crash” with us. He’d sleep on our couch, and we’d stay up late eating pizza and watching scary movies that were classics.

While we watched, Uncle Weeze told stories about all the strange places he’d been. He traveled the world making explosions and buying the coolest things to bring back to me in Texas, which is boring and hot. He got me a samurai sword for my birthday that year, but I wasn’t allowed to have it until I was older.

How old? It would depend on my maturity.

We meant to wake up early and be at the lake by sunrise, but we had to stop by Walmart for worms and some things to make poles with.

It didn’t take long to get everything together, and then we were fishing.

Uncle Weeze smoked cigarettes on the dock at the state park. I stared at him while he talked. He had tattoos and an earring.

He told me my mom means well, but she was always “cracking the whip” on him. He said he hopes she’s not hard on me.

I asked, “Can you buy nunchucks in Japan?”

He said, “Definitely,” and flicked his cigarette in the water. “In Japan there are whole stores full of nunchucks and throwing stars and karate outfits.”

We tried fishing with cane poles for an hour or so. Then we went exploring.

We found a waterfall. It wasn’t very big. It wasn’t like the ones in the movies where girls are always jumping off and screaming. It was small, next to a pool with water so clear that we could see the fish swimming here and there over the flat brown rocks. Uncle Weeze took the Styrofoam cup of worms from the plastic Walmart bag and slung a few in the water, the dirt trailing smoky from their bodies as they sank and got eaten by the zooming fish.

“Uncle Weeze!” I said. “What are you doing? We should catch them with our cane poles, so I can get marked off for cane-pole fishing.”

“Nah,” Uncle Weeze said, frowning. “That other spot was the spot for that. This is a chill spot.”

* * *

My mom’s other brother is Uncle Mark. He took me to shoot off model rockets. Sometimes they went off and smelled like a giant match that had been blown out, and sometimes they didn’t. When they didn’t go off, Uncle Mark would yell, “Did you push the button? Did you push the button?”

I would say, “Yes, I did!” and I would look at the detonator like, Why are you trying to get me in trouble?

And then my uncle would say. “There must be something wrong, but there can’t be. I checked everything. It must be a dud. All that for a dud.”

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FRiGG: A Magazine of Fiction and Poetry | Issue 38 | Fall 2012