obfuscate (OB-few-skate), verb

To talk or write about a subject in a way that deliberately makes it unclear, selectively omits certain facts, or communicates wrong ideas or impressions, so that the listener or reader does not grasp the whole truth of the situation.

Last night, Jack told me about a night he spent alongside a river. It was two years ago, or maybe three. The river was down near the central coast of California. Though it could have been north of San Francisco. This river let out right into the ocean where big rocks sprinkled along the shoreline. Jack said that where the fresh water of the river met the salt water of the ocean the water changed into a different sort of green. Sometimes it was blue. It was a color he had never seen before. It was a color he said he would never forget.

That night, Jack told me, something strange happened. He wanted to tell me about a fish he had caught in that beautifully rocky river. He said the bottom of it was covered in golden sand. Brush and trees overgrew on the banks so he had to walk in from the ocean and trudge upstream. He said he walked upriver for miles to find the perfect spot and he did.

I asked the name of the river and he said he couldn’t remember. It was the best fish he’d ever caught and he couldn’t remember the name of the river. I asked what town he was near. He said there wasn’t one. What was the name of the campsite? He said he wasn’t camping.

Jack’s eyes became misty. They looked past me the way the black orbs of trout do.

“Jack,” I said, “What sort of fish was it?”

“What fish?”

“The one you caught,” I said.

Jack’s eyes recoiled into focus. He looked at me. He was different. It was not my friend who was looking at me anymore. I had asked too many questions. He was tiring of obfuscating the subject.

Jack cleared his throat and stood up. He walked to the sink and drank a glass of water. He put the glass back in the drying wrack and turned towards me. I stiffened in the comfort of my old friend’s home.

“Jack,” I said, “What kind of fish?”

Jack looked at me. Then his eyes softened. He walked towards me and patted me on the back as he sat down.

“What fish, old boy?” He laughed. “You know I don’t like to go fishing.”


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