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MEN WITHOUT WOMEN

THE MACK ADAMS STORIES, VOLUME 2:

MEN WITHOUT WOMEN

Mack went through the trees and down the bank.

Will was next to the water already. That afternoon they would fish. Later they would go to Bellmont.

“I think they will bite plenty today,” Will said. He finished tying on his fly and bit off the line. Will liked to bite line off clean and then spit it out. He was always careful not to hit Mack.

“We will catch rainbow trout,” Will said. “We will take them to Bellmont. Bill can clean them for dinner.”
Will liked to fish. But Mack knew fish would not bite in Shoal Creek. Will had not found the right places yet.

“It might be good to fish here, Will.”

“I know it will be, Mack,” Will said. “This is a good place.” Will spat out the end of his line. He was careful not to hit Mack.

“We could bring the players,” Will said.

“The players might like it, Will.”

Will took out a flask. He drank Doctor Pepper but called it a “cold drink” or a “coke.” Will was from the South.

“Do you know what?” Will said. He cast his line in a shallow pool.

“No.”

“Aggy chaps my ass.”

Mack cast his line. Aggy chapped Mack’s ass, too.

“Aggy’s all right, Will.”

Will knew Mack would say this. It was how things were. But it made Will angry at himself to think Aggy could be all right.

“Anyway, I don’t like Aggy sending those fellows out there,” Will said.

“Which fellows, Will?” Mack asked. He knew which fellows Will meant. The ones in odd clothes. Aggy always sent out men in odd clothes. Mack didn’t like to think about them too long. It could make you feel funny inside to think too long about men dressed like this.

“The ones in odd clothes,” Will said. “Why don’t they have pretty girls, Mack? That is no way to play football. You need pretty girls to make the football good.”

Will was right. Pretty girls made the football good. But Mack did not answer. Aggy always made Will angry.
“I want to hit Aggy in the mouth, Mack. The ones in white pants. Also the ones in overalls. I want to hit them all in the mouth.”

Mack cast under the tall trees. He wanted to hit Aggy too. He remembered Aggy telephoning them at night and not giving them a good big breakfast the next morning. Mack thought men who wake you at night telephoning and do not give you a good big breakfast are not all right. Such men are low-down.

“Will?”

“Yes, Mack?”

“Don’t think too long about the ones in odd clothes.”

The sun went lower as they fished. The trout did not bite. Will offered Mack a cold drink from his flask. He had put the ice in just right.

“Do you know what?” Will said.

“No.”

“Señor Aggy may not be all right.” Will talked in Spanish sometimes when fishing. Also when he was angry. Now he was both.

“Señor Aggy es sumbitch.”

Mack did not have Spanish from the south. But he understood his friend.

“The fish are not biting, Will. Nada.”

Will was tired and angry. He was done fishing. This place was not good like their friend Greg had told him. He bit off his line and spit it out. He was careful not to hit Mack when he spit. But not as careful as he was before. He stepped across the creek. It was not worth it to set trot lines. The fish would never bite here. They would not bring the players.

“Mack?”

“What, Will?”

“Señor Greg--¿Está bien?”

Mack was quiet. He pulled in his line. He didn’t know anymore. The sun had gone down. They climbed the bank behind the Alumni Center. It had been a long day. It was good to fish together but it was not a good place to fish. They had no rainbow trout for Bill to clean. They would go to Bellmont and talk with the Major. He would know where fishing was good.