GONE FISHING EXCERPT

We’ve never fished so close to home before. Twitch says it’s real bad to go fishing in our neighborhood. That we might get caught. And if we get caught, he’ll have to hurt Mom. I tell him I don’t want Mom to get hurt, so he makes us fish in towns way far away, or on the other side of the big buildings downtown where the police won’t know. My teacher taught us the police were nice, but Twitch says they’re really not.

I don’t think I believe him.

Today is different. Today we’re down at the park a few blocks from our house, and Twitch is staring at my friend. Well, she’s not really my friend, but I like to pretend she is. Sometimes she waves at me when we come home from fishing. I wave back and imagine all the things we could do together like ride bikes or play hide-and-seek. You know—normal kid stuff. I think she’s my age or maybe a little bit younger, but I’m not for sure.

Most of the time she’s playing with other kids, but today she’s all by herself on a swing. I like the color of her hair. It looks like cinnamon; the same color as my dog Bear who lives at my old home. He used to meet me at the door when I came home from school to lick my face and wrestle. Sometimes I think of him at night, right before I fall asleep, but I can’t remember him too good anymore. I miss him a lot. I hope he’s okay.

“You ready?” Twitch asks. Twitch, by the way, is my secret name for him. His hands get all shaky when we go fishing. All twitchy. But I never say it out loud. No way. Never to his face.

“Do we have to?” I ask.

Twitch ignores me and continues to stare. I don’t like the way he looks when we find a fish. His eyes do this weird faraway thing, like he’s in a place only he can go. I know better than to bug him when he looks like that, so I stay quiet and wait for him to turn my way. Finally, he does, scratching at something in his neatly trimmed beard. “You know we do. Don’t ask stupid questions like that.”