Tanya casts her chartreuse worm long and high, gently ripping the air with the simple machine rhythm of a reel unspinning.
Ripples roll across the black pond. Insects with tiny wings of flesh dance over the water, flirting with the fish. Cicadas summon the night, muffling the sound of tires rolling down the nearby interstate. A screech owl lands on the rooftop of the white stucco office complex and stares at the scene.
I jerk my reel a nudge, watching bluegill snap bugs off the pond's surface membrane.
I look at Tanya in her Dad’s old boonie hat, Incredible Hulk T-shirt and white jeans, backlit by the artificial green glow of the landscaped turf leading down to the water from the parking lot.
"Corporate ponds rule," says Tanya, stating the obvious.
The flapping rubber sound of retreads ripping loose from an eighteen wheeler. Downshift grind echoes off concrete. The owl talks back.
"How did the fish get here?" I ask.
"Walked," says Tanya.
I nod to myself in agreement. In the morning the office will fill with the employees of Dannermark Corporation. Five hundred or so white polyester serfs tilling abstract acreages of financial data.
"Pull back!" says Tanya.
I yank my rod and set the hook. My body is now connected to a good-sized fish. A long extra tendon runs out from the webbing of my fingers, hooked into a distant aquatic muscle throbbing spastically in the water.
I pull it in, daydreaming the sensation of dental surgery. Through the numbness, strong hands wrapped around pliers tug at cartilaginous cord woven into the roof of my mouth.
Soon, the fish splashes in the shallows at our feet. Tanya grabs it and extracts the hook. A catfish, 10-12 pounds, whisker-like antennae signaling the mothership.
Tanya holds up the wriggling fish in two hands.
"Let's kill it," she smiles.
I stare at the fish's eye and try to discern its expression.
"Pan fry it," continues Tanya. "My place. We can eat on the balcony and watch the freeway."
"Shouldn't we throw it back?" I say.
"It's mouth is all torn up," she says, holding jaws open to reveal gnarled tissue. "No point."
Tanya throws the catch into her styrofoam cooler filled with pond water, and gets back to work.
Later, I watch the catfish's entrails spill onto the white linoleum of the kitchen counter as Tanya cleans it with a paring knife.
Reds, whites, blues and grays. She examines the discreet organs with dainty precision, reading them like an Etruscan seer.
"Looks like a good night to stay in," she says. She tosses the entrails and scales the fish, whistling along to the entropic sounds of the Concert for the Comet Kohoutek. Soon, the hot spattering of oil in a cast-iron pan.
After dinner, we watch the FOX television drama Pentagon City. The Homeland Security agents look like battle-hardened refugees from a J. Crew catalog, armed and ready to shop. While the primary squad hunts down an Arab sleeper cell in a warehouse near the old airport, another subplot begins to play out. This hot new brunette actress Nia Hirsch plays a twentysomething resident of an apartment complex full of her peers. Very Melrose Place. Until you watch her attach the new detonator to an improvised explosive device destined for the nearest mall.
An enigma. No ideology revealed. Revolution as fashion?
I imagine real American revolutionaries, bisexual Abercrombie narcissists with white teeth, clean pores, and credit cards, dedicated to blowing up all the ugly shit.
And then Tanya shows me her guns.
Life is full of surprises.