Bob, or Man on Boat
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“Markus has a remarkable ability to strip life down to its basics, to the point where the metaphors we manufacture as the looking-glass for our existence end up standing in for existence itself. Fish, mud, night and river come to stand in place of family connections as fathers and sons, by giving themselves to fishing give themselves over to a lone search and to loss.”—Brian Evenson, author of The Open Curtain
Peter Markus has published three story collections and lives in Michigan.
was the light of the moon. The moon, that night, it was as big, it was as full, as the moon can get. The moon, it was too big for Bob not to notice even though he was looking down into the river. The moon that night shining up at Bob from the river, it looked to Bob like the moon was some sort of a fish. It wasn’t too hard for Bob to see that the moon, it was shaped like a face. It was not a face that Bob could say whose face that it was. It was not the face that was Bob’s
called Dog. Bob never bothered to give this dog a name other than plain old Dog. Dog. Bob and his dog, Dog. Why give a dog a name, was what Bob figured, when all a dog really wants is a bone. Bob gave Dog lots of bones. Bob did not give Dog the bones of chickens or pigs or cows. Bob gave Dog the bones of fish. Bob would toss these fish bones out into the river and tell Dog to go fetch. Dog, Bob would say. Go fish. Dog would take to that dirty river water like Dog was
fish the fish up and out of the river. But still, even though you cannot see the fish, you know that the fish are there. You believe this. Somewhere. In the river. Under the river. The fish are there. A fish is near. So I believe. I believe that Bob is here. Bob is there. Somewhere. On the river. In a boat. There lives a man. There fishes a man. Bob. Even though I do not see Bob. I know that Bob is here. I keep on fishing. Go fish.
man says, Bob was a fish. Bob was walking across the water. He was heading out towards the lake. So I go out onto the lake. I don’t stop until I cross into the waters of Ohio. When I cross into the waters of Ohio, I come across two boys fishing a river called the Maumee. I ask these two boys if they happened to come across a man who looked like he might be named Bob. They ask me have I checked the mud. The mud? I say. I say, What would a man named Bob be doing there?
gets it. I don’t think he’ll eat it. You can eat any old fish. But this fish. This fish will be a keeper. Some fishermen and some fisherwomen, when they get a fish that is too big to eat, these people will sometimes get these fish mounted and will hang these fish up on a wall on the inside of their house. Bob hasn’t got any walls to hang his fish on. When Bob gets his fish, I think I know what Bob is going to do with it. I can picture Bob now, lifting up this fish. I