His companion was crossing the road with the green bucket, its weight pulling his shoulder down. I could see the tails of its occupants poking out of the top and splashing droplets of water onto the dry road. I noted immediately that the matching rolls of twine were, indeed, thick drop lines, each with a dull hook attached to the end. They were crude but useful in place of a pole. You would coil the last bit around your finger and wait for a bite. If the fish was big, pulling it in could hurt. I saw that the boys had no other supplies.
I also noted that the other boy was missing his right index finger. He stopped short of us, and stood in the middle of the road, looking down a bit. He was smaller and thinner than my other smiling visitor, but his face looked older. He seemed wary of me.
“Your brother?” I asked.
“He’s my best friend, and he stays with me and Mom most of the time. He’s gonna eat over, too. His mom, um, works a lot.”
Again, the sound of the flapping agitated chickens made me start walking. “Well, boys, I sure wish I had some of those – oops, let’s look out here.”
A blue van was trying to pass us. It moved past, gleaming from a fresh wash. I could see several young faces bobbing in the windows and talking. A yellow sticker on the rear bumper read, PROUD PARENT OF A SOCCER STAR. My two visitors were watching, as well.
The van slowed as it approached the bait shop and parked next to the Iced Tea sign. The sun quickly found the idle vehicle, rippling across the roof and creating a mirage of liquid royal blue. A man and three boys stepped out, while the woman waited inside. The man wore a fishing hat with colorful lures stuck to the sides. The boys were giggling and poking one another. They looked younger than my visitors, but it was obvious they were brothers. They all walked inside the bait shop.
I was still walking slowly toward the store, but my visitors had stopped. I was not na