Boating Lessons By Len Kuntz

May 23, 2011 Comments Off on Boating Lessons By Len Kuntz

We row through the rain, a deluge, a monsoon so thick we might as well be blind, great gray walls of water slaking down like slanted guillotines. Your head is bowed, your neck exposed as the weather pelts your hair and skin and pings off our aluminum canoe like liquid ricochets. If we can get to the other side we’ll be safe, dry, but halfway there you toss your oar and say you can’t do it anymore, it’s not worth it. I point out how far we’ve come, what we’ve been through together, yet you shake your head, spraying me with your residual splash, and say, “To be perfectly frank, we shouldn’t have got in this boat to begin with.”

A wave crests over me, but when I open my eyes I see that you’re still there and you’re not kidding.

Later on land, back where we started, you take the car. “Go ahead,” I say, “You can have it, it’s yours.”

But before you leave, you offer to drop me somewhere. You say it’d be best if we not stay in the same house anymore. You’re soaked but your eyes are clear.

I shake my head. This feels like someone else’s movie.

Your lips quiver, pale lavender, frozen worms, and I realize it’s true: I will never kiss them again, never feel them buzz inside my ear.

When I say, “Isn’t this awfully easy?” you laugh so hard you choke, and snot slings out of one nostril, so I turn and leave you like that, cackling. Freed.

In the morning the sun comes up, bold and solo. I watch her puffed-up breast like someone new to pornography. I dare her to scald my corneas. I plead for pain but get ignored instead.

The woods are still wet, so I break into your uncle’s old cabin. I drag the canoe with me. It squeals as I pull the boat across the floor. I’m not stupid enough to think metal will burn, but I douse the place with gasoline just the same. I break chairs over the hull. I shatter a mahogany coffee table and cabinets and kitchen drawers and when there’s a heap I light a match and hear the rooosh! of the flame slinging hot and hungry.

Smoke clouds swell black and sooty. I wait. I watch. I want to see some scarring, some staining. I need to be sure no one else ever rides that boat without at least wondering what the hell happened to it.

© 2011 Len Kuntz

Len Kuntz lives on a lake in rural Washington State with his wife and son. His writing appears widely in print and online at such places as Blue Stem, The Wrong Tree Review, Clutching At Straws, and also at

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