Ch. 4

West of Kiinagashima is a small mountain lake colloquially known as Parachute. No trails lead here. The driver who dropped me off on the country road never asked my business.

“Know why they call it Parachute lake?” he said. “You have to parachute in, and when you get bored of fishing you shoot yourself.”

Yesterday I hiked for six hours uphill through brush and windfall. Made camp a few feet from shore, cooked squirrel over a small fire, and tried to ignore the persistent hum in my ears. It’s always worse outside of the city. I watched the rippling rings of scars cut by the jostle of fish picking off hovering insects, and I thought of Seijun. At midnight I lit a candle for her and set it on a small piece of driftwood and swam it out to the middle of the lake. I remembered how Leon and I once rowed out beneath the cream light of a near moon to roll her body over the side of the boat; how a moment before she hit the water her eyes slipped open, flat and specular, reminding me of the way she looked when the blade entered her body; how we returned the next year to reclaim the marrow and needle the worms and replenish the earth. We dredged her up then, not altogether surprised to find her neither eaten by fish nor disintegrated to bone, but now ripened into a rust red and withered root.

I stoked the fires until wax covered the stone, and in the morning I spread the ashes and scattered the fire ring. I heard the rapid thunder of a helicopter prodding the treetops and slow down to hover a hundred feet over the water. It’s door opened and goggled eyes leaned out. Hands tipped a pine crate sideways. Thousands of infant fish no longer than two inches plunged like tiny torpedoes, not splashing but slurping zip zip into the lake. Half of them gobbled up by a mad frenzy of bull trout while the other half escaped on waves of satiation.

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(rough draft: rev. 3)

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