It was the Monsoon Season, a spell of two or three weeks when central Arizona received nearly all the rain it would it get the whole year. Today it had rained for three hours in a neighborhood with no storm drains, and the streets ran like rivers.
"What are you doing?" his older brother asked him. For a moment he considered the question, sitting on the edge of the curb, his pink hand submerged in the fast, filthy water, and wondered the same thing. Certainly his Mother would wonder, later, when she learned he'd spent the day with his hands and eventually feet in floodwaters thick with garbage and pulverized worms. She'd look at him like he was the dog from that urban legend, the one about the woman who rescues a stray only to learn later that it's a Tijuana street rat. Why had she thought this was her son, when it was clearly some sort of hairless trash monkey?
"I'm fishing," he said finally. "I'm going to catch a fish." He then turned his attention back to the river, cupping his hand in the current.
"There's no fish," said his brother. "You're not going to catch anything. Just 'cause the street looks like a river doesn't mean there's suddenly fish in it now."
He silently agreed that this was probably true, though the constant barrage of tiny objects (pebble, twig, something soft, pull-tab) against his hand in the cloudy water kept his hopes alive and then bump, his fingers closed suddenly around something big, the biggest thing yet, and he pulled it from the water.
It was a fish. A plastic fish, blue, a toy from something. He turned it over and over in his hand.
"I told you," he said, holding the fish up for inspection. "I said I would."
His brother leaned over, then looked unbalanced, like he'd leaned too far. His mouth opened and shut.
"That's not a real fish," he said finally. "It's just a toy fish. Not a real one. That's just a toy."
The younger brother thought this was a fantastically petty thing to say. He knew it wasn't real. But he'd said he was fishing and not ten seconds later had a plastic fish and wasn't that amazing? Didn't that deserve something? Something more than this poisonous spite? His brother was petty, and he wanted to tell him so, but he didn't know that word yet. So he said:
"You're a turd-boy. You smell like turds."
Then he left, feeling just like God, and looked for a bowl of water to put his fish in.