Charlie Chum woke screaming like he did every morning. The previous night’s empty cans of Coors clattered to the floor as Charlie scraped himself off his yellowed mattress and sat upright, coughing and spitting a thick brown mucous into the empty pizza box at his feet. A rat, startled by the sudden and unusual motion, darted beneath the twisted pile of stolen bicycles in the corner of the tiny shack where Charlie Reginald Chum collapsed every night.
Charlie’s ragged breathing slowed as his gnarled fingers cast blindly over and around the upturned milk crate beside his bed. Locating a small tin, his rotten teeth punctured its lid and twisted: anchovy juice spattered his chin as he drank greedily. Chunks of fish scraped past his teeth as he sucked on the sharp metal opening. He sighed loudly and belched, flinging the now empty tin through the open window where it landed with a clatter on a pile of its peers on the ground outside. He could hear the hissing of the family of raccoons whose meal was suddenly disturbed by his morning projectile – they should be used to it by now, he thought blearily. Charlie threw himself to his feet and stumbled over to the window. “DAMN JEW RACCOONS,” he yelled as they scattered, “GET OUT OF HERE AFORE I USE YEH AS BAIT!”
Something was crawling on the surface of Charlie’s mind – something metaphoric, unlike the large number of parasites that was normally filling that role. No, there was something he was supposed to remember…something he was supposed to do today. Charlie slowly dipped his hands in a bucket of oily fish particulate matter, stirring the floating chunks in concentric circles, occasionally stopping to bat away an errant fly that landed on his face. The memory skirted the edge of his consciousness, eventually coalescing into the image of a languid bass flicking its sexy tail at him. “IT’S THE GAWD-DAMT BASS MASTERS CLASSIC TODAY!” screamed Charlie, knocking his bucket of fish formula over, spilling it across the floor. Flies immediately began landing over the liquid carpet, savoring its myriad flavours. “THOSE FUCKIN’ QUEERS AT THE BMC AREN’T GONNA GET THE DROP ON FUCKIN’ CHARLIE FUCKIN’ CHUM,” he screamed, pulling on a pair of golf shorts he’d worn in highschool.
Breathing raggedly and dripping with the greasy sweat of slumber, Charlie jogged in his crooked gait to his ruined boat and hopped inside, scraping off a huge scab on his knee. He put a dirty finger in the pooling blood and spread it on his face beneath his eyes, as if applying warpaint. His rheumy eyes blinked slowly as he regarded the blinding reflection of the lake before him. “Today’s the day,” he said. “Today’s the day I take home that gawd-damt Bass Masters trophy and prove everyone wrong.”
Today was not the day. Charlie’s boat puttered around in circles for hours and he never caught any fish. He later killed himself by drinking gasoline.
Bass Masters Classic wasn’t a fun game.