The Skeleton at the Lake by Jose Hernandez Diaz

The Skeleton at the Lake

A skeleton was fishing at a park with a lake. It was a pleasant day, 75 degrees. He’d been fishing for about an hour, but he hadn’t caught anything yet. No worries, he thought. It’s such a nice day.

The skeleton worked as a professional gambler. He bet mostly on boxing and basketball, but he was also known to bet on elections and beauty pageants. He’d been living in Las Vegas for going on eight years now. He’d moved there after he graduated from the University of California at Irvine.

The skeleton smoked a cigarette as he looked out at the lake. He was listening to Chicano Batman and he didn’t have a care in the world. A few clouds lingered in the air.

Suddenly, to the skeleton’s surprise, a group of skeletons approached the park on horseback. Their horses were also skeletal. They were armed with pistols and they wore cowboy hats.

“How’s it going there?” asked the fisherman-skeleton.

“Howdy. Just riding through, looking for an outlaw ghost,” one of the skeletons on horseback replied.

“Oh yeah, what’s the ghost’s name? I know a few ghosts, actually,” the fisherman-skeleton asked.

“His name is The Ghost of the West in the Night. He’s been up to no good. Do you know him?” a skeleton on horseback asked.

“No, I haven’t heard of him, but I’ll keep an eye out. What did he do, exactly?” the fisherman-skeleton asked.

“He’s been robbing banks and murdering skeletons who try and catch him. We’re going to bring him to justice!” one of the skeletons said.

“A ghost like that must certainly be caught. Good luck, noble skeletons!” the fisherman-skeleton said.

They tipped their hats and rode off.

Thirty minutes passed and the fisherman-skeleton finally felt his fishing line move. He reeled it in. It was a giant Red Tail Catfish. It was easily 100 lbs. It took all of the skeleton’s strength to bring it in. This was going to feed his entire family.

As he took the hook out of the fish’s mouth, though, he noticed something. It was white as a ghost and delicate in his slippery hands: it was a lizard skull. He held it up and examined it. How about that? he said to himself. He put the lizard skull in his pocket. It was going to bring him good luck at work next week. He was certain about that.


The Skeleton at the Lake


Jose Hernandez Diaz is a 2017 NEA Poetry Fellow. He is from Southern California. His work appears in The American Poetry Review, Cincinnati Review, Electric Literature, Huizache, Iowa Review, Jellyfish Review, The Nation, Poetry, The Progressive, Witness, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading. His chapbook of prose poems “The Fire Eater” is forthcoming in February 2020 with Texas Review Press. He tweets at @JoseHernandezDz.


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