Part 8 of Trout Fishing in America

        THIS BOOK
Dear Trout Fishing in America:
 I met your friend Fritz in Washington Square. He told me
to tell you that his case went to a jury and that he was acquit–
ted by the jury.
 He said that it was important for me to say that his case
went to a jury and that he was acquitted by the jury,
said it again.
 He looked in good shape. He was sitting in the sun. There’s
an old San Francisco saying that goes: “It’s better to rest in
Washington Square than in the California Adult Authority. ”
How are things in New York?
                        “An Ardent Admirer”
Dear Ardent Admirer:
It’s good to hear that Fritz isn’t in jail. He was very wor–
ried about it. The last time I was in San Francisco, he told
me he thought the odds were 10-1 in favor of him going away.
I told him to get a good lawyer. It appears that he followed
my advice and also was very lucky. That’s always a good
 You asked about New York and New York is very hot.
 I’m visiting some friends, a young burglar and his wife.
He’s unemployed and his wife is working as a cocktail wait–
ress. He’s been looking for work but I fear the worst.
 It was so hot last night that I slept with a wet sheet wrapped
around myself, trying to keep cool. I felt like a mental patient.
 I woke up in the middle of the night and the room was filled
with steam rising off the sheet, and there was jungle stuff,
abandoned equipment and tropical flowers, on the floor and
on the furniture.
I took the sheet into the bathroom and plopped it into the
tub and turned the cold water on it. Their dog came in and
started barking at me.
 The dog barked so loud that the bathroom was soon filled
with dead people. One of them wanted to use my wet sheet
for a shroud. I said no, and we got into a big argument over
it and woke up the Puerto Ricans in the next apartment, and
they began pounding on the walls.
 The dead people all left in a huff. “We know when we’re
not wanted, ” one of them said.
 “You’re damn tootin’,” I said.
 I’ve had enough.
 I’ m going to get out of New York. Tomorrow I’m leaving for
Alaska. I’m going to find an ice-cold creek near the Arctic
where that strange beautiful moss grows and spend a week
with the grayling. My address will be, Trout Fishing in Ameri–
ca, c/o General Delivery, Fairbanks, Alaska.
                     Your friend,
                         Trout Fishing in America
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
Other works by Richard Brautigan ...