Jon opened the last bottle of beer, tilted his head back and chugged the brew while clutching a fishing pole resting on the side of the canoe. He was 200 feet from shore, the only boater on the still lake on a hot fall afternoon. He shook his head—the bottle half drained—and muttered “Go Hawks” at the radio he’d placed on top of his lifejacket by the Styrofoam cooler.
“Hawks on the one-yard line. Third down. Forty seconds left. A field goal won’t do it. They need to get in.” The deep tone of Perry Miner was flawless in capturing the drama of the moment. Jon anticipated the explosion of Miller’s voice when the Hawks scored. But the radio went silent, not even a hum.
Six hundred miles away Miner stared at the microphone. He never spoke another word.
Jon finished the beer, then swore. He leaned over and brought the radio to his face, shaking it hard. His hand, wet from the bottle, slid on the plastic, releasing the radio into the water. He jerked his body in a futile attempt to save it, instead, the canoe tipped and he was quickly covered with cold lake water.
He closed his mouth and held onto the cooler bobbing in the water. He reached down and took off one boot, then the other. He grabbed the lifejacket and struggled to put it on while he watched the canoe slowly disappear. He swam to shore.
Two hours later he was standing in the kitchen with his wife by the stove. She asked, ”Did you bring us dinner?”
He raised the pizza box and replied, “Long story.”
“Did you hear that Perry Miner had a stroke on air and died?”
Jon promised himself once again that he would stop drinking.