Honourable mention in the 6th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest.
The last known photograph of Uncle Joe never made it to the pages of Mom’s photo album. Some folk said he looked into the open mouth of that giant Chinook, saw its tongue moving and he went a bit crazy. They said that after all those years fishing the straits he finally got soft in the head just as the photo was being taken and let the fish fall from his fingers back into the ocean, watching it sink and disappear, before following it, almost like in slow motion, over the gunwale of that rowboat, slipping through the waves without even batting an eye. He floated a few inches below the surface for a moment, they said, and then dropped like a stone to the bottom of the channel, food for the fish he had spent forty-seven years fishing, catching, killing and eating.
People were too stunned to stop him, they said. Just watched open-mouthed as one moment the shutter clicked and the next he was sinking. Body never found. A fatherless and husbandless family left to start out again all by themselves, since most folk aside from tourists kept their distance from Uncle Joe, and Mom never had anything to do with his wife or her two brats. Hard to manage in Campbell River but she kept it up right to the end, herding us all away from the grieving widow at the memorial service in the church social hall, and then after, while she sipped warm tea and ate a sandwich, she didn’t so much as glance at Aunt Doris.
They packed up real quick and went down to Ladysmith, I recall, and I’ve not seen them since. But I’ve not forgotten Uncle Joe or the empty white coffin at his memorial service, where someone put a large photo of him on top, from happier days, when he was single and didn’t have to wear glasses.