Sam was a galunky kind of guy, my cousin says. He walked like this. He takes on a bow-legged swagger that makes us laugh. And boy, could he drink beer. He lifts his hand, tipping imaginary cans in quick succession. He talked real fast too. Back then we laughed, asked what was the rush? Never slowed him any. Girls loved him. He was such a big guy, think they figured he must have a big heart.
My cousin slows a little in his walk, tugs on his ear to remember more.
We hung out a lot and unless he was excited, talking fast, he was real quiet, would just sit, stare out to space like he was someplace else. Maybe he was thinking about the girl he loved who died one winter, fell through the ice as she was skating towards him. She was only twenty feet away, her arms out wide. They say he was there all night, smashed the ice in a hundred places to find her. They pulled her out in the Spring. I think when he talked so fast he was trying to forget, like the words would fill up the space she left.
My cousin stops in the road,
brushes imaginary hair from his eyes.
I lost touch for some time, years went by. I didn't hear from Sam, neither of us were much use at letter writing. Then one summer I came home to visit, bumped right into him in a store downtown. He talked real slow, like he was a clock that had wound down. He said he'd taken up fishing. He said he didn't much care for fish but when he flung the line out hard, heard the whir as it spun out over the water, saw the river winking and glinting at him, he felt he could catch anything.