The prompt: Write a story about an unusual Father's Day gift.
He turned the key that unlocked the bottom drawer of his dad’s dresser.
It was the one where he kept his “valuables.”
He immediately recognized the box in the corner as the one in which he had placed the Father’s Day gift some thirty-five years ago when he was ten. He opened it and there in all its colorful glory was the Feathery Thingamajig. He was stunned that the old man, unsentimental to a fault, had hung onto it all these years.
He remembered going to Bannon’s Fly and Tackle Shop and buying the long, silky red and yellow feathers, a number 10 hook, sinkers, and as many shiny spinners and twirlers as he could get for his dollar.
He worked for hours in the kitchen gluing and tying them together into what he was certain would be a sure fire fish killer lure.
Every summer night the two of them would go out onto the lake in the leaky old rowboat and fish until it was nearly dark. Dad never seemed to catch anything, but the deadly new lure would fix that.
When he opened the box on Father’s Day he said: “What have we here? This is a finely crafted piece of fishing tackle for sure. Did Mr. Bannon make it for you?”
“No, I made it myself!”, he said swelling with pride.
“Well, Tommy, I am very impressed. What do you call it?”
“It doesn’t have a name.”
“Every good lure has a name, like the Hula Popper or the Dowagiac Spook. We’ll call this one the Feathery Thingamajig.”
The next day when he came home from day camp he found a carefully varnished and lettered plaque on the wall by the front door. “The Feathery Thingamajig,” the plaque read. “Property of E. Harold Deane.” And there, stretched between two cup hooks, was the jig.
Just seeing it in the old battered box put him back on the lake on those warm summer evenings: he could picture the breeze rippled water sparkling with the light of the setting sun; he could hear the creak of the oars and his dad softly whistling the theme from “The High and the Mighty”; he could smell the earthy, musty aroma of the log strewn shoreline where the big ones lurked.
He loved to fish. Every night as soon as his dad put his fork down, he would be waiting with their tackle boxes and poles.
Dad would take the thingamajig down from the wall and it put it in his box. “We may be needing this tonight,” he would say, though he never actually used the lure.
The wind or water conditions never seemed to be quite right.
He caught a lot of fish, pickerel and bass mostly. His father would take them off the hook, but belonged to the you-caught-it-you-clean it school of fishing. He had his rod, but he rarely cast it. Years later, his mother told him that dad didn’t really like fishing.
He remembered the evening he cast his lure into an overhanging tree. His father rowed under it, stood on the rear seat, and as he stretched, fell with a resounding splash into the water. He stared in shocked horror but when his dad bobbed up floating on his back and spitting water like a breaching whale, they both laughed until they lost their breath.
When they got home his mother took one look at him and said: “Harold Deane, you get out of those wet things before the mosquitos eat you alive.” Then they all laughed.
On the lake they rarely talked. His father said that fishermen needed to be quiet so they could sneak up on their prey. But his father was usually quiet and as he came into his teens, he began to interpret this as disapproval or disappointment. In high school, when it was uncool to hang out with your parents, the fishing stopped.
As the years went by, and after his mother died, he started to lose contact with dad. A move to the other coast, a high-pressure job, kids of his own, and a devout wife who held her family close and considered his father profane and irreligious, reduced their contact to conversations on birthdays and holidays. He barely had time for his own family. He didn’t become estranged, he just drifted away; and his father was too proud to use guilt as the bait to reel him back.
On the morning after he returned home from his father’s funeral, he came down to the kitchen and found his youngest son playing a fishing game on his Ipad.
“Hey, Kyle, how would you like to do some real fishing?”, he asked.
“Like, yeah!”, Kyle replied, dumbfounded.
“Let’s go down to Bass Master and get rigged up,” he suggested.
They spent hours in the store selecting and arguing about lures and equipment, and came away with two large green tackle boxes and a trunk full of rods, reels , and nets. As he tucked the old jig away in his box, Kyle asked: “What is that crusty old thing?”
Later, as they stood on the riverbank, his son caught a keeper size trout on his third cast. "Can we go fishing again?, he asked.
"As often as you like," he said while unhooking the fish and placing it back in the water.
"Hey, why don't you try that feathery thing, Dad."
He took the Feathery Thingamagig out of his box and clipped it to the end of his line. He released the bail on his reel and cast toward the center of the wide river. The brilliant lure arced across the sky like a flaming meteor, and when it hit the water, crumbled to pieces. He stood and watched as the bright feathers drifted down the river and out of sight.
“Why are you crying?, Kyle asked. “It was just a crummy old lure.”