She Loves Me, She Cleaned My Truck

Posted on May 7, 2018


All photos by Mike Sepelak, Mike’s Gone Fishing

I opened the door to my ‘76 Ram Charger and nothing fell out. Absolutely nothing. That should’ve been my first clue, but I was busy shucking my gear in for the day and thinking about other things until I got in and saw the card carefully stood up in front of my speedometer. I opened it and read “I love you. I cleaned your truck, Rebecca…”

All the flies were gone off the visor, put into a cardboard box next to me on the seat, as if you could put any fly in any box. I traced the holes where they had been. The Muddler that came with the truck that I’d never used. I used to joke the Ram Charger was free, but that fly cost me $2200. The Skykomish Sunset from the last time I fished with my dad. The silences we shared on the river spoke volumes, where everywhere else they spoke only failure. Having it there, in my peripheral vision, it was like keeping him in my mind.

And the others, trips with friends, moments and journeys you could never repeat, but only chase. The scant remnants of a Humpy that had served on the day I got laid off and lit out – only to have a 100-fish day. I opened my eyes with a lurch and looked in the rear view. The dog prints from the back window left there two, no five years ago now, by my old Rottie, Goblin, that I could never bear to replace. Gone. Windex ad gone.

The map in the pocket of the passenger door that Gina left there on our last hike on the Tualtin. That hike that made me believe she wasn’t really going to lose to cancer. The next time I heard from her it was on IM, and it wasn’t but her mother going through the accounts. She gave me the news.

The dried-up lei around the mirror Josie had made that day we gave up on fishing and made love by the falls on our first date.

Up there, what was in that hole? Oh, yeah, the Matuka. Last time fishing with Joe, before he got married and had kids. I was going to give that to his son when he was old enough to come out with us.

That Royal Wulff was with Richard before he lost his casting hand in the table saw. I remember that big white grin of his that day on the river, like we were kids again. I haven’t seen that smile since.

I could name them all. I swept my hand over the dash. Just yesterday there were phone numbers written there in the dust: Big Fossy, Earl-the-Dodger, Dogpile. People you had to call at friends’ houses because they weren’t suckers enough to be owned by cell phones. I didn’t even know their real names. How would I ever find them again?

It was all in a box on the seat, including the snot-globbered tennis ball Goblin used to tuck between my seat and my neck while I drove, and kept prodding at it until I would toss it into the back where I’d taken the seats out, him and it bouncing and rolling around as I drove, like fetching in the car was a good as being on the river.

I picked up the ball and had it in my hand when I heard the hatch open and gear hit the bed. The passenger door creaked open as Garret climbed in. “Dude, what happened?

“She loves me, she cleaned my truck.”

“But it had a certain…patina.”

I shrugged.  “Just stuff,” but inside, the skills they taught me in anger management class were wearing thin.

He turned around. “Were the nose prints on the back window ‘just stuff?’ They always made me feel like that dog was coming back. “

I dropped the ball back in the box. “She’s more of a cat person. She wouldn’t get it.”

“It’s going to take years to get this back.”

“I don’t think it’s coming back.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, it would be like disrespectful after she did all of this work.”

“So, going through your stuff is not disrespectful, but putting it back is?”

“She had good intentions.”

“Has she ever even been in your truck?”

“Once, when her car was broken and she needed a ride. She called it ‘scruffy.’”

“She came in, squatted down, and peed on your rug.”

“Actually, I don’t think she did it. I think she hired it out.”

“Even worse. This is the beginning of the end.”

“What do you mean?”

“She’s trying to change you.”

“Maybe I need changing.”

You definitely need changing. But this didn’t need changing,” he gestured around the cab. Just then he had a thought and started rummaging under the seat. “The bottle of Jameson, it’s gone. That was John’s bottle, for when he was coming back.”

I looked at him, tears began to roll down my cheeks. “He’s not coming back.”

“Don’t say that. Don’t ever say that again, or I’ll pop you right in your mouth.”

I closed my eyes and counted to ten, like they taught me in class. “She’s loves me. She’s smart. She’s got a good job.”

“At least she doesn’t fish.”

“What do you mean?”

“Women who fish, who already fish and are good at it, well you love them the moment you see them. Women who fish because you fish and they want to spend more time with you, well that never ends well, because you stop doing it for you and start doing it for them. So, this sucks, but at least she doesn’t fish.”

“One hopes the women in the first category feel the same way about men.”

“I’m trying to convince every one of them.”

“Hey,” he chin-pointed to my sunglasses case, “I don’t suppose…”

I reached for the case. Years ago, when I was dating Brenda, I’d lost my glasses cloth and was bitching about the dog slobber on them when she reached into her kit and handed me a pair of chartreuse satin panties.  “No more complaints.” And because they worked surprisingly well, I’d always kept them as my glass cloth for my river shades. I didn’t think Rebecca had ever seen them. They were gone. “Well, I probably shouldn’t have stuff like that around now, anyway.”

“Who are  you and what did you do with the guy you stole this truck from.”

“Just trying to be a better man.” I picked the toothbrush I used to chew on when I was in traffic and slipped the handle back into the vent where it belonged. No sense letting my personal hygiene go.

I thumbed the card guiltily as I thought about what it said. “I love you, I cleaned your truck. Rebecca. P.S. Now we can go fishing.” I put it in my pocket.

“Where do you want to go?” I asked, and slipped it into reverse.