Roscoe Has an Epiphany
by Kenneth Sibbett
Mallard Roswell Doberman III was born premature, at 28 weeks, and some thought it was a miracle he even lived. Others thought it was a damn shame that God let, and these are there words, a retarded idiot like Roscoe ever live. His mother and father fit into that category. Most folks were pretty sure if it wasn’t for the check they received every month like clockwork, his father would have drowned him in the commode and said it was an accident when they got him home. It would be very hard to prove he didn’t do it. Rosco was at the emergency room so many times as a kid, they started to name a wing after him.
Roscoe was not retarded by any means. It was determined by better minds than mine, that he was just “slow”. Hell, I didn’t care. I liked him. I met Roscoe in kindergarten and he and I have been pals every since. I would say, on average, I’ve had my ass-whipped at least 3 times a year, every year for almost twenty-years. Now, that’s not to say I can’t fight or have never won one. I’m probably 50/50 when it comes to wins and losses, so that should give you a good idea of how many times I’ve had to fight someone for calling Rosco an idiot or a retard or worse. Like I said, he’s my pal.
I’m not exactly Einstein myself, but I could scare up a few A’s and B’s if I set my mine to it. I didn’t. I prefer breezing through life, no muss and not a helluva lot of fuss. I do enough to get by, which is all I want. I’ve never figured out why a person works so hard, for so long, to have things they don’t enjoy anyway. A man kills himself to buy the best boat and the best fishing rods money can buy, and dies before he can get his rig in the water. Me? I buy a used Rod and Reel, don’t strike a lick and I’m frying more fish than I can eat. Go figure.
That’s not to say I’m a lazy man by any means. I happen to operate “KC’s Painting and Wallpaper Co.” Free Estimates, by the way. It not a huge business mind you and I don’t want it to be. It’s just Roscoe and myself most of the time, unless I need to hire a few boys to help part-time during my busy season. That ain’t never happened yet, but a man can dream I guess. We mostly paint a room or two for people and with a wink and a handshake. I charge less and they pay cash and everybody’s happy except Uncle Sam, and my lips are sealed. I slip Rosco a few bucks and give him room and board in my old garage that we converted into an apartment.
Like I said, he’s part of the family. My wife and twin boys will also carry an ass-whipping if you mess with Roscoe. When I married Leanne, I told her that Roscoe was part of the deal. While she knew him, it wasn’t until we got married and she started to cook a little extra everyday to carry out to Roscoe, that she fell in love with him. Now, she would probably leave me before she left him. The boys are both 10 years old and ain’t never known a day without him. He was there when they came out and he’s like that old uncle who always pulls a quarter our of your ear. Except ole’ Roscoe couldn’t pull wax out of his own ear with a box of Q-Tips.
I’ve lived in the same old house my whole life and when Mama died she left it to me and my sister, who hated this house and this town. As soon as she had her first period she started making plans to leave “this fuckin’ hellhole” as she referred to it. She knew she was going to have to spread her legs to do it and by God, she damn sure gave it a go. She finally got knocked up by some guy working in town with a company installing a new septic system out of Florida. They stayed for three months at our only motel and I ain’t heard from her since she left. I still love her though and half of this house will always be hers, along with half the taxes.
During fishing season, me and Rosco don’t let work keep us from fishing and it seems like fishing season is almost year ’round. Living in the south, there’s very few days when you can’t find some kind of fishing to do. The last time a pond froze over around here, I was just a boy. My dad and I, well, my step-dad anyway, walked down to Ed’s Pond and like the fool my mama always said he was, he took off from a running start to show me how he could slide across the pond. He did. But about halfway across, the ice was thin as a brand new dime and, well, he weren’t a bad fella, for a step-dad anyway.
One day, Roscoe and I loaded up my little aluminum two-man boat that I traded a VCR for, right about the time they were changing over to CD’s. The fella’ I traded with swore those little CD’s would never catch on, but if there’s one thing Ive learned in life, it’s that you can’t stop progress. Who would have thought 20 years ago that kids in the first grade would have cellphones. Anyway, the boat had a hole in it but after I patched it up and painted it, it looked brand new except for a few dents and dings.
It was near evening and we were just drifting along, a few minutes before the fish usually start biting, when out of the blue Roscoe looked at me and said, “KC, do you believe in God”? Well, I guess you would have to know Roscoe to know how strange a thing that was for him to say. The only time him or I had ever been in a church, was the time we painted the AME Zion Baptist Church over in Kennanville, where it’s mostly Blacks. Made good money on that job, and one thing I got to say about the Pastor of that church, he paid me as soon as I was through. I still have two Pastors who owe me money for painting their private residences and it’s been way over a year. A Pastor and his money ain’t soon parted, not around these parts anyway.
I thought about it for a minute or two and said, “Rosco, why you asking?” Rosco took his Cat hat off that I had given him a few years ago, scratched his head and said, “I think God talked to me last night, right after I laid down to bed”. He didn’t say anything for a few minutes and I finally had to prod him along by asking, “Well, Rosco, what did God say to you?” Rosco stuttered a minute and said, “I,.., I..,I ain’t quite sure how he put it. But it was.., something.., like this, ‘Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” I damn near fell out the boat.
I sat there with my mouth open so long, a mosquito flew in it and almost choked me to half to death. Now, I’ve known Rosco most of his life, and you could have beaten me with a broom handle and I still would have said you were lying if you told me those words came out of ole’ Rosco’s mouth. Finally, I came right out and said it. “Where did you hear that from Rosco, off the radio or see it on a billboard somewhere?” Folks, I ain’t never known Rosco to tell a lie. He just ain’t got it in him. You ever met someone like that? Well, that’s Rosco. “KC, I swear on my dead mama’s grave, that God told me them there words.” he said after a few minutes. “What ya’ suppose they mean?”
Since I had never read the Bible, I had no idea, but in Rosco’s eyes I know everything. I guess even though we’re about the same age and I’ve taken care of him since he ran off from home at 16, he sorta’ looks up to me. I was just about to tell Rosco that I would look it up somewhere when we got home when all of a sudden something pulled on his line so hard it almost took him out of the boat. He managed to hang onto the rod, but with the boat not anchored the fish was actually moving the boat. I put down my own rod and tried to help Rosco catch this monster. Just as I reached for the net I saw something jump out of the water that to this day, and it been over 20 years, I still haven’t gotten over.
The biggest Largemouth Bass I have ever seen suddenly broke through the water. Rosco and I stood in the boat with our mouths wide-open and in awe as this majestic beast came 5 ft. out of the water. His head was as big as a bowling ball with a mouth that I could easily put two of my fists in. It had to be over 5 ft. long and weight over 40 lbs, at a minimum. But even with his size, this wasn’t what set this magnificent fish apart from any other bass I had ever saw. Being a fisherman, I knew the largest bass ever caught was just over 22 pounds. That was a baby compared to this. I’ve also caught my share of bass and most are a deep green or olive color, depending on the time of year they are caught. But this bass was a rainbow of colors and seemed to defy gravity as it stayed in the air like Micheal Jordan once did on a basketball court, with one of his patented basketball dunks.
It then landed right in the middle of our boat. Right between Roscoe and me. His head, and especially his eyes, were dead on Roscoe. This monster maneuvered his immense body so he could get a better view of Roscoe. It was then that Roscoe sat down and stared into the eyes of the beast. I would swear on a stack of Bibles they seemed to be reading each others mind. I sat down and watched a sight not seen by this old fisherman before or since. Roscoe then wiped his forehead, looked at me and said “KC, let’s get him back into the water.” I almost fainted. Here was the biggest bass ever caught, in our boat, and he wanted to throw him back in.
“Roscoe, let’s at least get a picture of this monster.” I said. “We ain’t far from the shore and my cell-phone is in the truck.” But Rosco would have none of it. He wanted him back in the water right away, before he suffered any. He reached down, took the hook out of his mouth and petted him on his head like a puppy and I swear the fish wiggled his tail like a dog. We both took an end and to my everlasting regret, let the most beautiful fish I have ever laid eyes on slowly swim away, but not before flipping it’s tail once and splashing water all over Roscoe.
Rosco, my buddy, who had been picked on all his life, called a retard and an idiot by his own parents, looked at me and said “KC, forget what I said about God talking to me, I think I know what he was telling me now”. I looked at Rosco and said, “Rosco, that fish could explain it a lot better than I could anyways. Let’s catch us some supper”. And that folk’s, is the God’s honest truth!
Roscoe Has an Epiphany