by Joel Arnold
It was a cold January when Paul Robinson parked his flatbed pick-up on the edge of Shady Lake. The ice was ten inches thick. Plenty thick, yet it still didn’t compare to the rind of ice that had settled around his heart.
He let the tail-gate drop, hauled out his wooden fishing shanty and slid it over the ice to a spot a good fifty yards from the other fishermen. It was dusk, and many were already leaving, their perch, walleye, and trout packed in coolers to take home to their families.
He began to arrange the inside of the shanty, a homemade thing of clapboard and two by fours. He lit a pile of pre-soaked coals in an old coffee can for extra warmth, the flame swirling for a moment like a dervish, then settling to a comfortable glow. As he slid his Styrofoam bait bucket across the shanty’s floor, steam seeping from beneath the lid, he heard the crunch of cleated boots behind him. He turned.