Read Off the Dock Online

Authors: Beth Mathison

Tags: #General Fiction, #Romance

Off the Dock

BOOK: Off the Dock
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Young at Heart: Off the Dock

By Beth Mathison

Copyright 2011 by Beth Mathison

Cover Copyright 2011 by Ginny Glass and Untreed Reads Publishing

The author is hereby established as the sole holder of the copyright. Either the publisher (Untreed Reads) or author may enforce copyrights to the fullest extent.

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold, reproduced or transmitted by any means in any form or given away to other people without specific permission from the author and/or publisher. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to the living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Also by Beth Mathison and Untreed Reads Publishing

A Mobster’s Gift on Father’s Day

A Mobster’s Guide to Cranberry Sauce

A Mobster’s Independence Day Picnic

A Mobster’s Recipe for Cupcakes

A Mobster’s Toast to St. Patrick’s Day

Young at Heart: Off the Dock

By Beth Mathison

“Tell me again how you think fishing is romantic,” Frannie said, adjusting the edge of her wide-brimmed hat. She normally wore the hat for gardening, to protect her face from the sun’s damaging rays while she pulled weeds in her vegetable patch. She wasn’t sure what hat was appropriate fishing gear. Mosquito netting? One of those foam hats that house two beer cans and a hose for convenient alcohol consumption? As Frannie was getting ready earlier that morning, she had grabbed the first hat she could find, a pink print covered with tiny daisies.

“I didn’t say fishing was romantic,” David replied. His head was covered with a baseball cap, the team logo faded from wear and the sun. He had hauled it out from the trunk of the car when they had arrived at the dock. “Just that it might
more romance into our lives.”

“All right, let me rephrase my question. How will fishing together bring more romance into our marriage?” she asked. Frannie wasn’t a lawyer, but a paralegal for a small attorney’s office. She brought out her lawyerese when she got defensive. And the thought of spending the majority of the day fishing on a remote lake was bringing out her defenses in spades.

“Thank you for rephrasing, counselor,” David countered. “It’s that
part. Fishing…

“I see. And you thought that fishing was the romantic way to go?” she asked.


“Have I ever expressed an interest in fishing?”


“Was there some subtle clue in my behavior that said ‘I’d really like to go fishing with my husband’?”


“Then why did you pick fishing? I honestly don’t understand.”

“I think that it’s OK not to understand something,” David responded, adjusting the line in his fishing rod. “You get to pick a date once a month. I get to pick a date once a month. So, here we are on the calm waters of Lake Nagawicka. Together. Fishing.”

Frannie bit her lower lip as she considered his comments. Twirling the knob on her fishing pole, she watched as David tied a hook on his own line.

“Last month I did pick that English café with all the doilies and lace curtains,” she said. “That was way out of your comfort zone. You also had to endure that snooty waiter who ignored you because you were wearing khaki pants and a polo shirt instead of a suit and tie.”

“And I did try the mushy peas with my bangers and mash. That was a stretch for me,” David said. “I think I get credit for eating an entire serving of peas mixed up into a fluorescent green paste.”

“Point taken,” Frannie said, putting her defensiveness aside. “OK, what do I do with this hook?”

“You have a choice between a worm or a leech.”

“Do I have to touch either one of them?” she asked.

“No,” David replied. “For this date, I will do all the touching of worms, leeches, and fish. Unless you would like that experience. And especially if it turns you on.”

“No,” Frannie responded firmly. “Touching any of those things turns me totally off. I’m going to take a pass.”

“I did try the mushy peas,” he reminded her.

“Very different thing.”

“True. I can’t blame you at all. There is the slime and wiggle factor.”

David took Frannie’s hook and baited it with a worm. Casting it out for her, he showed her how to slowly reel it in, telling her to watch for the bobber to twitch, indicating a fish on the line.

The air was warm, a light breeze gently rocking the small aluminum fishing boat. David sat in the back near the motor, Frannie on the middle bench. They had attached padded seats on the hard aluminum seats before setting out from the dock. David had brought two fishing rods and a small foam cooler full of bait. Frannie had brought her purse, a small soft-sided cooler filled with food, and a canvas tote bag filled with rain jackets, sunscreen, and a sweater. She had organized the bags under her seat so that everything was easily accessible.

They fell into a comfortable silence, casting out and reeling back in. True to his word, David baited the hook for her each time she lost a worm.

The boat was anchored in a quiet bay close to the shoreline, the water calm away from the open lake. The trees on the water’s edge were lush with summer growth, creating a picturesque setting for their date. The boat sat twenty-five feet from land, out far enough that the lake breeze offset the warm July humidity. An occasional seagull or crane would soar above them, searching for fish.

The quiet was unusual for them. Not distracted by the demands they faced at home, Frannie shifted in her seat, squashing a desire to check the e-mail on her phone. It was difficult for her to stop the running to-do list in her head. It was a busy time at the office for her, and she was also busy driving the kids to their summer activities every day. She put the urge to check her phone behind her. One of their date rules was a strict no-electronics policy, unless a family emergency arose.

“So this is what you do when you go fishing with the guys?” she asked. “Cast and reel in, cast and reel in?”

“Pretty much,” he responded. “It’s nice, isn’t it? The quiet, I mean.”

“It’s different,” Frannie responded honestly. “I normally don’t have a lot of it. It feels…strange.”

David baited another hook for her. “Maybe that’s why I like it so much,” he said. “It feels good to get away from all the busyness for a while.”

“What do you talk about with the guys?” she asked.

“Well…” David said. “We talk a lot about fishing.”

“Hmmmm…” Frannie said. She fiddled with her reel. She was starting to feel uncomfortable with the prospect of talking about fishing lures and leeches for the next few hours. It had been almost three weeks since their last date, and their difficulty in relating to each other was obvious. When they spent that much time without meaningful conversation, it was a struggle to get to know one another again.
Intimate strangers
, they called themselves when they had drifted apart.

“Ugh,” David said. “I think it’s been way too long after our last date. Want to play association?”

“Absolutely. You read my mind,” she responded with relief. “You start.”

They had learned the game early in their marriage from Frannie’s Aunt Darlene and Uncle Bernie, who had been married over sixty years. One person would begin the game by saying a word. The other person would respond with another word, preferably without thinking about their response. For Frannie and David, it filled up the moments when they had trouble coming up with conversation. Although a simple word association game, they always learned something new every time they played.

“Hemingway,” he said.

“Ernest,” she replied.



“Nice,” David said.

“Brittany,” Frannie responded with their daughter’s name.

“No, I meant the reference to slime. Oh, never mind.” David cast his line out.

“Cookie,” he said.

“Snickerdoodles,” she stated.

“Snickerdoodles? What the heck is a snickerdoodle?”

“You don’t know what a snickerdoodle is? Have you been living under a rock for all of your forty-plus years?”

“Apparently,” David said dryly. He paused, looking out over the water. He narrowed his eyes. “Does it have to do with men’s private parts?”

“What?” Frannie choked out.

“Doodles,” David said. “Aren’t doodles a code word for…you know. Though I’ve never heard one snicker. They do all sorts of other neat tricks, but never snicker.”

Frannie looked at him like he was on another planet. “A snickerdoodle is a type of sugar cookie,” she said.

“Aaaaah,” David said, nodding with understanding. “A type of cookie. See, you learn something every day.”

“All right,” Frannie said. “Enough about doodles. My turn. Ceiling fan.”

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
,” David immediately responded.

Indiana Jones

“Yes,” David said.

And the Temple of Doom
?” she asked.

“You know the movie?” he said.

“Of course I know the movie. You love the Indiana Jones series. You watch it every time it’s on cable.
is the classic one with the gross dinner scene. The one with the monkey heads, right?”

“Yes!” David exclaimed, excited. “Later that night, Indiana is attacked by some thugs, and he uses his whip to stop the guy. The whip gets caught up in the ceiling fan and hangs the guy. It’s beautiful stunt work.”

“Aaahh, I see,” Frannie said with understanding. “Thus the ceiling fan reference.”

“Great movie,” David told her.

“You really like those movies, don’t you?” she asked, reaching her arm back awkwardly, then casting out twenty feet from the boat. The bobber landed with a loud thud on the water’s surface.

“I like them a lot,” David responded. “The sense of adventure set in a simpler age, those women with all those cute dresses from the thirties and forties.”

“Would you like it if I wore those dresses? Frannie asked.

“No, I like what you wear,” David said. He looked at her appraisingly. “Those short pant things that show off your calves, the sandals that make that clicking sound when you walk, that top that leaves just enough to the imagination to make things interesting. And, of course, that stylish hat with the darling daisies. I like all of it. It’s just…you.”

“The short pant things are called Capris,” she told him.

“Like the juice,” he said.

“I really don’t understand men sometimes,” she said, ignoring his juice comment. “What you like or don’t like.”

“That’s OK,” he replied. “I don’t really understand women. I don’t think any of the opposite sex can understand each other. It’s like that Mars and Venus book we both read ages ago.”

“And yet men and women live in an uneasy alliance, even marrying for long lengths of time, creating lives together.”

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” he asked. “Honestly.”

“I think you’d make an awesome Indiana Jones,” Frannie told him.

“Really?” he asked, beaming.

“You’ve got the sense of adventure, your rakish charm, respect for women, just enough disregard for political correctness and authority. You’ve also got a great ability to fly by the seat of your pants in many situations without losing your cool. That’s a definite gift.”

“You mean like opening my own painting company? That kind of adventure?”

“That. And the way you are with the kids. Pushing them without seeming like a dictator. The way you drive a car definitely reflects your adventurous spirit while keeping your cool.” She paused. “Remember our second date?”

David smiled. “When we snuck onto the boardwalk after hours and watched the sunrise?”

Frannie returned his smile. “You do things out of the ordinary. Things I would never think of doing.”

“Like when Indiana Jones replaces the golden idol with a bag of sand?”

“Exactly like that. I would have never thought to climb under the gate and sit on the beach under the boardwalk. It’s where we had our first kiss. It was very romantic.”

David nodded, still smiling slightly, looking out at the calm expanse of water.

“Bobber,” Frannie said.

“Fishing,” David responded automatically, continuing the game.

“No, I mean what does it mean when my bobber is twitching?” Frannie asked, the rod shaking in her hands.

“Holy moly,” David said, setting his own rod on the bottom of the boat. “You have a fish.”

“I have a fish?” she asked, looking at the twitching red-striped bobber. It dipped up and down a few times, then stayed under the surface.

“Hold on tightly to your rod, now,” David instructed her. “Don’t let go of it.”

BOOK: Off the Dock
2.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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