The explosion was more of a thud than a bang. The water spouted medium high with abrupt splashing.
“Hell! What the hell?” The small guy had been taking a nap in the morning sun. He had driven all night while the big guy slept. Even though it was just a thud, the explosion woke him from a deep slept. He thought for a moment he was back in Iraq. He reached for his gun. He didn’t have one now. “What the hell?” There weren’t such big lakes in Iraq. It wasn’t Iraq he remembered. He was in Missouri or was it Kansas? Didn’t matter as long as it wasn’t Iraq!
The big guy was in his underwear, wading into the water. “Getting lunch. Bomb is better than a hook, I always say.” He called back over his shoulder. He only picked the biggest fish that floated to the surface. “You like sushi?”
“Uhm! Not really and I heard freshwater sushi is dangerous.” The small guy was sweaty hot from the sun.
“Shellfish are dangerous. Yeah.” The big guy saw a monster catfish rise to the surface. It struggled to return to the bottom, but it was too injured to succeed. The big guy threw the stunned dead fish he already had in his hands onto the bank and swam out for the catfish. When he reached for it, the dying catfish flipped just one last time stabbing the big guy in the hand with its long sharp pectoral fin. “Fuckin! Hell Belly!”
“Catfish bite you, Jack?” The small guy stood up. He was still sleepy but he was even hungrier. “Make a fire. Cook all of it. Eat most.”
“Bastard!” Jack slapped the catfish but it had died with the stabbing. When Jack got close enough to the lake shore to stand up, he threw the enormous catfish up in the air with a great grunt. “Incoming!” The now, flying dead catfish looked like an incoming missile with whiskers.
The small guy glanced up, flinched and gave out a little scream when he saw it making its final approach.
“Just a fish dead from an explosion.” Jack laughed. “Not an explosive flying fish. Jez, Lewis. Soldiering turned you into a pussy of a little girl.”
“More practical is all. Reckless gots you kilt over there.” Lewis smiled. “Not kilt yet!”
Jack was soaking wet. He wore large lose boxer shorts. They were thin enough when wet to reveal his less than public parts. Streaks of blood covered the left side of his shorts.
“Crap! You’re bleeding bad.” Lewis pointed with a burning stick. He had always been good at building fires. “That thing bit your finger off? Or was it your dick?”
“Just a stick in the hand not in the dick.” Jack reached down to rinse his hand in the lake water. “Wouldn’t be so calm if I got stabbed in the cock.”
“Who would?” Lewis put more wood on the fire. They was plenty of deadwood lying around. There had barely been a dirt road to get to the lake. Few people came out this far. Jack, Knowed about it since he was a kid. Jack had guided him the last few miles once they got off the highway. Secluded it was. Isolated was a better description. It was the reason they came all the way out here, the isolation. The wood flamed up. It made a warm late morning even warmer.
Lewis was building a structure over the mounting flame to roast the fish on when Jack screamed, “What the fuck! Get out of here.” Jack waved his arms at an enormous hulk of a raccoon. The thing had one of the smaller fish in its mouth but was growling back at Jack. “Shot you, you shit!” Jack threw a stick but the raccoon just walked down to the lake bank and casually started to eat the fish. “But no gun. Wished I had a gun. Bomb you later, maybe!” Jack yelled at the munching beast on the lake bank.
“Guess he likes freshwater sushi then?” Lewis laughed. “Get that catfish on the fire here before the rest of his family comes.”
Jack picked up the catfish, flipped it over, and gutted it. He threw the guts at the raccoon. “Eat these too then. Recycle, I says.” The raccoon growled with his mouth full. Jack then rammed a large stick through the catfish’s mouth and tied the tail to it with a vine.
Lewis laughed at the enormous catfish on a spike. “Doesn’t need any seasoning with all your blood on it. A lot of salt in blood.” Lewis remembered tasting human blood too many times. Back splatter from close in fighting. Lewis was small but he never took shit from no one, especially the enemy. Lewis had had a lot of enemies in his life and thus a lot of blood in his mouth.
“Damn thing stuck me good!” Jack wrapped his hand up with the lose part of his boxers. “Better taste good, damn it!”
“So big it will take some time to cook through.” Lewis was a good enough cook. Although, Jack ate so fast he likely didn’t taste the food in his mouth. “Get some bigger logs if you can. Get a blaze ablazing.”
Jack grunted and turned. More raccoons were coming for the explosion sushi that slowly floated to shore. “Family’s here. Get the blaze blazing, for sure.” He walked carefully into the woods. “Yeah, logs in here. Logs a plenty!”
“Should get that looked at.” Lewis nodded toward Jack’s hand. It was swollen and red.
“Neah. Used to get stuck as a kid.” Jack waved at his enlarged left hand with his right. It obviously hurt him. “Go away, eventually.”
“Should of gotten a cell phone.” Lewis had not been a medic in Iraq but he had seen horrors occur relating to untreated wounds. Jack and he were friends now. He didn’t want such things to happen to his only friend. Making friends was much harder than making a fire.
“Track you with those damned things.” Jack carefully touched his reddening appendage. His forearm was expanding too.
“Lake water looks dirty. Why I boiled it.”
“I’ll be alright.” Jack cleared his throat roughly.
“Like you were alright in LA?” Lewis drank the hot water. They didn’t have any coffee and the chicory root coffee that Jack made didn’t interest him much. It didn’t taste like coffee at all.
“Like you were alright too?” Jack drank the chicory. It reminded him of his teens. He then remembered he had brought a girl out here. She shouldn’t have gotten so resentful. “She must be still around here?” Jack looked around along the lake bank. “Yeah, over there where the Hulk and his family been eating all the fish.”
“What are you talking about now?” Lewis looked worriedly at his only friend. “You drifting off on me again? You could be allergic.”
“Yeah, just over there. Teen sweetheart.” Jack stood up. “She could still be there.” Jack wobbled and shook his head. “Shovel? There a shovel in the boot?” Jack sometimes liked to fake a British accent. He wasn’t very good at accents though.
“Just a garden trowel.” Lewis stood up. “Why?”
“Wanna visit her.” Jack pointed at the bank covered with fish bones.
“You’re getting way out there again. Sit down!” Lewis demanded. “Look at your hand.”
“Get the shovel!” Jack muttered turning toward the car. He couldn’t remember taking this car. It puzzled Jack. He usually remembered all the cars he took. “Feel hot!”
“It’s what I thought! You are allergic! Sit down!” Lewis rushed over to wobbling Jack. He was hot to the touch. “Aren’t some catfish poisonous?”
Jack’s eyes were wandering. He couldn’t focus. “Hey Lewis.” Jack collapsed on to the ground taking Lewis down with him. “Didn’t know ya cared?” Jack laughed wheezing. “The clay explosive in my pants.” Jack pointed to the pile of his clothes.
“You and your hobbies.” Lewis just held Jack. “Stupid fuck. That thing kilt you! Damn it!” It would take too long to drive out to any place with a doctor and Lewis wasn’t sure he could find the way out by himself.
“Don’t mind a dying. Just die well, granddad used to say . . . Yeah! Die Well! . . . Yeah . . . Blow me up!” Jack gasped. “Life long dream. Being blowed up good.”
“That’s crazy! You’re fever.” Lewis had heard Jack say this before but then he had been stoned senseless. Now, he was sick senseless. “Fever’s talking stupid!”
“Blow me up Jack! Played with blowed ups my entire life to perfect, the perfect exploding end.”
“I know. Go out with a bang?” Lewis sighed. “Heard that too many times before.”
Jack whispered. “Blow me up with her. Loved that girl.” Jack pointed with his enormous left hand to the fishbone covered bank. “Make it the best of booms. Use it all!” Jack’s usual crazy eyes were so much crazier. “Blowed up good! Tell people Jack blowed up good!” Jack’s breathing rasped. “Please!” Jack demanded.
“Never could refuse a request from a friend.” Lewis then drug the wheezing Jack over to the lake.
“Hurry?” Jack whispered. “Want to be able to see the explosion first hand.”
“Right!” Lewis realized he was crying. Lewis hated it when he cried. “Getting your pants.”
Jack giggled at this statement.
There had been seven clay explosive balls left. There must have been twenty five detonators. Lewis pushed in multiple detonators per each ball, lined the balls along the midline of Jack’s barely breathing body. Lewis placed them on the Chakras points. The seven sites of consciousness on the body. Lewis took yoga once. It was as spiritual as Lewis ever got. Lewis covered Jack with leaf litter and wood debris. The detonators would ignite with fire and then set off the clay explosive balls.
When Lewis put the burning log on the pile, Lewis thought he heard Jack say, “Thank you!”
“You are Welcome honey.” Lewis said as he ran back to get behind the car. Lewis had no idea what the explosive force would be like. Jack apparently could do one thing really well in his life, the explosion was massive. But the car was small, too small to stay securely on the ground. The shock wave flipped the car over so it crushed Lewis lying behind it. Lewis’ last thought was, “Shoulda got a bigger car!”
The car fire kept the Hulk and his family away from the site for about an hour, but not any longer. They liked cooked meat too.
I am a biologist and professor living in Santa Monica, CA.