More than one man’s journey to self-awareness, this is a raw, honest coming-of-age story that reveals the true meaning of family.
In Looking Through Water, William McKay finds himself reliving his past to help his troubled grandson, Kyle, deal with the present.
William’s story starts on an Adirondacks lake and wends its way through Manhattan to the Florida Keys. Colorful characters from the old man’s past come to life to help him tell an unforgettable story full of surprises and suspense. Fueled by nature’s fury, men are yanked out of their comfort zones and thrown together to confront life and death. Just as William appears to be on the brink of permanent unmooring, a stranger unexpectedly arrives to provide the tethering he has always sought.
Looking Through Water twists and turns as old wounds are revealed, wrongs are redressed, lives are threatened, understanding surfaces, and love arrives. With his grandfather’s past laid bare, Kyle must ultimately face how he might shape his future.
This story explores the emotions that make up the intricate tapestry of family structure by pulling at the threads of truth, lies, and misunderstandings.
* Bob is donating the proceeds from the book to Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, which is dedicated to helping injured veterans and active duty military heal from physical and emotional wounds.
William McKay stood on the wooden dock by the fog-shrouded lake, listening to the plaintive cry of a loon as it pierced the morning silence. He cherished that sound, heard so often here from the time he was a young boy. Now, approaching his seventy-third birthday, he retained the look of a former athlete, tall and slender, well suntanned, with a full head of hair, now turned white. A three-inch diagonal scar on the left side of his forehead added an air of mystery to his handsome, chiseled face.
As the morning fog lifted, he scanned the lake with bright eyes and his ever-youthful curiosity, then climbed into the small dinghy and pushed off from the dock with ease. He felt fortunate not to wrestle with balance like so many of his contemporaries. He began to row across the mile-wide lake as he had many times for more than sixty years, since he was a boy. Now that young boy had become the old man. So much had happened between then and now, he wished he could write that boy a letter telling him what to watch out for, but he knew that wasn’t the way things worked.
The lake had for many years been known as Iroquois Lake, named after one of the many Native American tribes who had inhabited the region. Iroquois was one of those Adirondack lakes that people referred to as bottomless. Early settlers in the region had dropped a coil of 150 feet of rope from a boat in the center and not hit bottom. Its dark water, usually calm and always cold, held an aura of mystery along with an abundance of fish.
In the early 1900s, William’s grandfather, a banker named Angus McKay, had moved his family to New York City from Perth, Scotland, where he had gained a reputation as an accomplished investor with a penchant for gambling. He won the lake and surrounding land from another banker in a game of poker. Angus’s first order of business was to rename the lake…Loch Loon. Then he built a lodge at one end, setting up the entire property as a not-for-profit club and selling six pieces to Scottish American pals of his to build summer homes. He kept the choicest two lots, one on either side of the lake, for himself and, eventually, for his son. The transaction, like many of his others, gained him a handsome return and added to his reputation on Wall Street as a brilliant and daring entrepreneur.
Some years later, Angus left the bank and founded a small brokerage firm, which he named McKay and Son in the hope that his son, Leod—William’s father—would come to work with him, and eventually he did.
Angus was defined by his business, working long hours six, sometimes seven, days a week. He was in that office so often that many of his protégés swore they never saw him enter the building in the morning or leave at night. Angus simply outworked his peers, along the way developing an uncanny ability to recognize great investment opportunities. Some looked at it as a gift. Others said he was merely lucky. Angus just smiled, knowing that the harder he worked, the luckier he got. At any rate, his good stewardship of money made him a sought-after manager by many wealthy investors.
If Angus did have an indulgence, it was Loch Loon. When his son Leod’s school year ended, he would see the boy and his mother off at Grand Central Station on a train bound for the Adirondacks, where they would stay at the lake until the Tuesday after Labor Day. He would join them for two solid weeks beginning with the Fourth of July, and as many weekends as he felt he could get away from Wall Street. His time at Loch Loon increased as he got older and his son came into the business.
Fourth of July at the lodge was a special Scottish American blend of bagpipes and fireworks. In addition to the usual gathering of family for holiday fun and food, the men would gather for late-night card games and plenty of Angus’s personal favorite, Glenturret single-malt Scotch whiskey. The card games included two Scottish favorites, Clobyosh or Clob and Bela, as well as five-card stud poker. Regardless of the game, the winner was usually the same. His neighbors used to joke that losing money on the card table to Angus was part of their tuition to his homey mountain refuge that he had created for them and their families. After winning their money on the card table, Angus invariably invoked an old Gaelic expression, “Mony a mickle makes a muckle”—pennies add up to dollars. It always got a laugh from the losers.
William had never known his grandmother. Indeed, he never even saw a photograph of her. She apparently had tired of long lonely hours at home with her only child waiting for her husband to leave the office. Once her son had grown up and left for college, she left too. If anyone knew where she went, they never said. Angus removed every picture of her from their New York apartment and the vacation house on the lake. He refused to talk about her, or to let anyone else mention her in his hearing. Even William’s father was not allowed to talk about his mother.
Now, as William reached the middle of the lake, he thought how quickly time goes by. He was the “old man of Loch Loon.” He lifted his oars and listened to the lake as his grandfather had taught him to do. A parade of memories coursed through his mind before he settled on one: a day thirty-seven years ago, after William had taken over leadership of his family’s investment company, the first day of a week that had forever changed his life.
Excerpted from the book LOOKING THROUGH WATER by Bob Rich. Copyright © 2015 by Robert E. Rich, Jr. Reprinted with permission of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved
About the Author
BOB RICH fell in love with storytelling at summer camps in Northern Ontario. As he traveled from the shores of Lake Erie to the Florida Keys, he was inspired to write by one of literature’s greatest storytellers, Ernest Hemingway. Now, after producing three books – Fish Fights, The Fishing Club and The Right Angle – and coauthoring a fourth, Secrets of the Delphi Café, Rich’s first novel aims to portray the incredible transformations that can take place on the water while waiting for a fish.