Richard Brautigan

The Lake Josephus Days

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We left Little Redfish for Lake Josephus, traveling along the

good names--from Stanley to Capehorn to Seafoam to the

Rapid River, up Float Creek, past the Greyhound Mine and

then to Lake Josephus, and a few days after that up the trail

to Hell-diver Lake with the baby on my shoulders and a good

limit of trout waiting in Hell-diver.

Knowing the trout would wait there like airplane tickets

for us to come, we stopped at Mushroom Springs and had a

drink of cold shadowy water and some photographs taken of

the baby and me sitting together on a log.

I hope someday we'll have enough money to get those pic-

tures developed. Sometimes I get curious about them, won-

dering if they will turn out all right. They are in suspension

now like seeds in a package. I'll be older when they are de-

veloped and easier to please. Look there's the baby ! Look

there's Mushroom Springs ! Look there's me !

I caught the limit of trout within an hour of reaching Hell-

diver, and my woman, in all the excitement of good fishing,

let the baby fall asleep directly in the sun and when the baby

woke up, she puked and I carried her back down the trail.

My woman trailed silently behind, carrying the rods and

the fish. The baby puked a couple more times, thimblefuls

of gentle lavender vomit, but still it got on my clothes, and

her face was hot and flushed.

We stopped at Mushroom Springs. I gave her a small

drink of water, not too much, and rinsed the vomit taste out

of her mouth. Then I wiped the puke off my clothes and for

some strange reason suddenly it was a perfect time, there

at Mushroom Springs, to wonder whatever happened to the

Zoot suit.

Along with World War II and the Andrews Sisters, the

Zoot suit had been very popular in the early 40s. I guess

they were all just passing fads.

A sick baby on the trail down from Hell-diver, July 1961,

is probably a more important question. It cannot be left to

go on forever, a sick baby to take her place in the galaxy,

among the comets, bound to pass close to the earth every

173 years.

She stopped puking after Mushroom Springs, and I carried

her back down along the path in and out of the shadows and

across other nameless springs, and by the time we got down

to Lake Josephus, she was all right.

She was soon running around with a big cutthroat trout in

her hands, carrying it like a harp on her way to a concert--

ten minutes late with no bus in sight and no taxi either.

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Richard Brautigan