My imaginary pal Feather and his younger brother River fancied fishing in the horse tank, a most unsuitable name, as we didn’t have horses. Cow tank didn’t sound right, I guess. Even fish tank would have been more apt, as it did contain fish. The Imaginary brothers had helped me catch a couple of minnows down by the river. They grew into white suckers, and lived almost a decade in the tank. We used binder twine connected to willow poles like the one I’d seen in an illustrated Huck Finn book. Old nuts borrowed from Father’s shop were the dull hooks, heavy enough to hold the twine straight. We had to look like we were fishing even if we all knew in the recesses of our minds it was a sham. For delicious bait morsels, we jammed carrots from Mother’s garden or dill pickles from her pantry into the nuts. Occasionally we’d try cattails, but the suckers didn’t care much for them either, which begged the question of who the genuine suckers were. Regardless of the low success rate, the whole idea stunk of camaraderie, disguised as fishing, not unlike reality.
“Today’s my lucky day, I can feel it!” yelled Feather, as he lowered the line to just off bottom, where the suckers were more prone to nibble. Then he’d ram the pole between two wires to hold it in place. “I hope the ocean’s calm today.”
River would scowl enviously, and quietly place his hook down at the other end, but four inches from the bottom, instead of Feather’s two. “I’ll show that idiot,” he’d mumble.
I was the pacer, making sure my lure moved around. I’d heard fish like moving targets. I was wrong.
Back in the humble hovel, Father roared, “Why in Hades are there pickles and carrots in the horse tank?” If Feather and River weren’t gonna fess up, why in heck should I?