Fredo slid the fish onto the pan, clash and sizzle, smoke rising to the kitchen ceiling.
“Only way to do catfish, man. Breading’s my own recipe.”
“Didn’t know you cooked,” said Barney, popping the top on another beer, slurping the foam that bubbled up from the lip, then sucking the ends of his moustache.
“Catfish ain’t ‘cooking,’ it’s just eating what you caught, man.” Fredo plopped a plate in front of Barney, steaming fish lying across it like a body in the street.
“How’m I supposed to eat this?”
“With a fork, dumbass.” Fredo had a tea towel over one shoulder, moving around the kitchen, slamming drawers and rattling spoons.
Barney’d never seen him like this. Normally Fredo moved slow and quiet, eyes half-lidded, answering questions in his own sweet time. But ever since this afternoon, since they were taking shots at the target out back of the cabin, Barney able to hit the bullseye at 300 yards with his Dad’s old rifle, God only knew where Fredo’s shots went, but they sure as hell weren’t going into the target.
“You having any?” Barney asked.
Fredo just kept shuffling things around in the kitchen and didn’t answer, Jesus, he was as bad as Barney’s wife, what bit him in the ass, thought Barney, before tucking in, the fish hot as a furnace, but the breading was heaven, grease running off onto the cracked plate. Barney got going, it was amazing, he’d never had fish like this before, just kept shoving it in and shoving it in until he felt something sharp hit the back of his throat.
Barney couldn’t breathe. He looked up at Fredo, but he couldn’t even get out enough air to make a sound, he felt heat building up behind his eyes, and finally Fredo looked around from where he was standing at the sink, Fredo saw him, Fredo would give him the Heimlich or something, Fredo could fix it.
But Fredo had slowed down again, eyes lidding down, smile creeping up his face.
“Watch out for the bones, Sharpshooter,” said Fredo.
Founder of the Portuguese Artists Colony in San Francisco, Caitlin Myer regularly reads her work at Why There Are Words, Quiet Lightning, and other established reading salons in California. Her one woman show on Simone de Beauvoir was produced in Seattle.
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