Tag Archives: fishing

The Day’s Catch

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His concentration went all to hell when that first lightning bolt flashed toward the horizon. It’s hard to pay attention to anything else when your butt is floating atop a plastic boat at risk of the next spark actually hitting the water beneath you. Finding a place to go ashore immediately became Tommy’s priority.

Warnings from his mother to watch for pop-up storms didn’t keep him from going out that morning. She didn’t want her son fishing alone in the first place.

Mom had cautioned, “There’s no fooling around with bad weather. Nature always wins. I’ve told you what happened to us on a float trip when I was young.” Using metal canoes meant a friend got hurt when lightning struck the surface somewhere upriver. They made it home feeling plenty scared but lucky.

With gear quickly stored, Tommy paddled for safety. Strong wind spiked waves that rocked the small kayak as rain began to fall, but heightened senses seemed to aid his rowing speed regardless. He thought, “Who woulda guessed these sticks could make me move this fast?” Boulders along the lake’s bank made for a formidable landing spot, though.

Both fast-moving dark clouds and Mom’s harping on bad stuff clouded the kid’s judgement when alighting shore. His inexpensive little boat found the sharpest rock possible, which shoved a hole in its flimsy hull. “Noooo,” Tommy hollered on impact. He had stood up at just that same moment and toppled forward to sprawl his thin limbs across the jagged shoreline.

Regardless of the pain, the boy’s first thought was, “Oh, man. I’m going to be in so much trouble!” He lay there on the rocks hurting but only dreading how he’d have to tell his mother about the damaged kayak.

Radiant beams shown into his eyes and broke that distraction at the abrupt arrival of a car on a berm adjacent the strand. He wiped rain from his face and blinked into the headlights’ glare. Relief washed over him to see his mother alight from the Honda and start toward him. She yelled, “Tommy, I’m so glad to see you’re off the water!”

“Me, too, Mom,” he mumbled. “Me, too.”

Two Word Tuesday writing prompt – radiant

 

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Identity

Rusty Tanton via Flickr

Rusty Tanton via Flickr

The turtle’s smashed shell and shriveled carcass stayed there for several days, a cloud of flies swarming above it and a dark circle staining the pavement underneath. Lamenting the terrapin’s slow pace and ultimate demise, Kelly stood on the shoulder of the road and stared down at the small chelonian cadaver. Why didn’t someone – the car’s driver, anyone – move it from the street?

Vance walked by her house en route to one of his sporadic fishing trips, saw her leaning slump-shouldered over the remains, and asked what was the matter. The girl looked up from her reverie, her eyes glassy in a deep well of tears. “It’s just so sad,” she replied. Perhaps her heart was too soft.

He felt bad for her, but not bad enough to touch the shards of shell and slimy mess himself, and said, “Well, why don’t you ask your father to move it out of the road?”

She was aghast. “My father? My father is the king of procrastination, and it would be forever before he did it. If he’d even do it.” Looking back down at the bloody mess, she added, “Besides, he’d have to stop watching Smokey and the Bandit for the hundredth time, and that’s not going to happen. That’s why I won’t ask him.”

Maybe his dad would heed a request like that. Her father? Forget it.

The two knew each other from school, but Vance lived on the other side of the railroad tracks from Kelly’s neighborhood and crossed that invisible socioeconomic line on his trek to the small lake where he fished. It would be several years before the pair knew what that figurative divide really meant.

In the meanwhile, they talked a few other times over the summer when he passed by her yard. He gave Kelly a Speidel Ident bracelet, sans engraving, which stoked her cheeks to blush and her brother to endlessly tease her. It was the first gift a boy ever gave Kelly.

School returned in the fall and they went their separate ways, as kids do when they get older, but without any formal dissolution of their childish girlfriend/boyfriend status. No acrimonious breakup or friendship eulogy.

Much like the poor turtle … just gone.

Circumstances pull people apart. They ran in separate crowds, had different friends. All those small town kids knew each other, but Vance went on to play sports and be voted class president, while Kelly did little else besides homework and work a part-time job. She bought her own car and school clothes. She dated lots of older boys but didn’t fall into the trap of early motherhood like so many other girls from her side of town.

Kelly went on to college well after her peers, supporting herself to make it happen. She had credentials to hang on the walls for her efforts, much like Vance and other classmates of similar privilege had accomplished long before she did. She didn’t begrudge them.

Everyone met back at home when they saw each other at class reunion time and exchanged pleasantries. Vance always said hello to Kelly but didn’t say much more. She wanted to catch up with him, ask about his kids and his great job, but she didn’t bother. He and his old buddies busied themselves with one another and each other’s wives.

Besides, she didn’t want to mess his hands with a dead animal such as that.

Instead, she’d just smile inside thinking of him carrying a fishing pole when he walked by her house. She wondered whatever happened to the little gold I.D. bracelet. Her heart softened when she thought of those things.

*This post was prompted by Stephanie’s line, “my father is the king,” as highlighted at http://www.studio30plus.com.

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The Stuff of Legends

Rain swelled the Salt Fork Creek beyond its banks during all seasons of the year, and the murky water flooded the highway badly enough to sometimes close both driving lanes.The scraggly patch of woods stretching out in either direction seemed to shrink in the liquid onslaught. An orange diamond-shaped sign clearly proclaimed, Impassable During High Water. Not everyone could read the words to heed its warning.  Image

One such resident was rumored to be Bigfoot himself. Local legend had it that Sasquatch lived in those woods, and no matter how saturated they might become at times, he (or IT) was supposed to be running around or hiding out there somewhere. Quite soaked and miserable existence his must be! Some people who believed those tales called the creature “MoMo,” for “Missouri Monster,” but most folks deemed it all hillbilly lore just used to scare little kids out of their wits.

No cliffs or caves were found in those flat lands, so habitat was questionable unless Bigfoot was living in a sinkhole somewhere out of plain view. Nobody could truly say where he might sleep at night. The man-like beast was claimed to be a fearsome sight, over seven feet tall, smelly and covered in dark matted fur. With the current weather conditions, that hair would smell like the worst wet-dog-trapped-in-a-sewer-drain ever imagined.

Not a single soul had actually come in direct contact with it, but multiple encounters were reported to the Sheriff’s Office and television networks about how Old MoMo must have eaten up all the contents of So-and-So’s hen house or attacked some kid’s pony on that farm down by the river bottoms. Other believers reported finding scat that could clog a toilet in any regular human domicile or the remains of small mammals which “no coyote could’ve torn apart like that.”

And the footprints. Oh, the footprints! So many plaster casts were given to the County Museum that Ms. Jenkins, the historian in charge, just started chucking them into a dumpster out back. She told the unsuspecting donors that their bequest would be displayed on a rotating basis, so they should check back another time. A direct rotation into a heap of soil at the city dump was more like it.

Harry, no pun intended, was one of the guys who believed the myths and would say so every time he drove near those whereabouts. He went so far as to cross his fingers and squinch his eyes shut when passing over the Salt Fork bridge to bring himself luck of not running afoul of the monster.  Even if he was the one driving. Best of luck to a fool crossing in the other direction, lest his rusted beater of a pickup pass over the center line into their lane during a fit of his superstition.

After Harry’s initial experience spotting a Squatch out of the corner of his eye, it was hard to get him to go anywhere near that water again. He professed to know, “It’s full of all kinds of creepy crawlies — leeches, water moccasins, crocodiles … or alligators … whatever’s in the cricks ‘round there.” Fishing was no longer in the cards for him after he heard more than Spring peepers one evening when his line was cast in the muddy Salt Fork in hopes of catching that prize flathead. An overwhelming stench reminiscent of a compost pile sweep all around him, and Harry spied something move behind the trees on the opposite bank — too big to be a man — with arms that hung almost down to the ground.

It took a minute for Harry to pick himself up off the rocky bank after falling off the five-gallon bucket he upturned for a seat. He sat on that poor excuse for a chair until he caught something, and then he used it as a temporary live well. Lucky for him, it was empty that day, and he scrambled to his feet and hurriedly tried to dig the phone out of his coveralls pocket. It was an old Nokia bought at a pawn shop, but it could still take a picture. In all the kerfuffle of not hooking himself in the head or losing his rod and reel to the dingy depths, he missed the shot. The elusive being had already dashed off across the field into the distance, but Harry still believed his eyes.

None of his friends did, though. They chalked it up to Harry falling just as far off the wagon as he had off his fishing bucket. He swore from that day forward that he hadn’t a drop to drink but saw an actual Sasquatch. It just got away too quickly, striding across that prairie like its butt was on fire.

The fable ran as deep as the mud in that overflowing creek. Harry lived to tell his story and planned to warn everyone who’d listen to stay away from those parts. Everyone he knew heard the story. He’d worn it out completely. No wonder he couldn’t get anyone to go fishing with him anymore.

*This post was prompted by crocodile at Studio 30 Pluss30p

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Fish Tales

Mr. McCall had known Julia since she was a little girl. Her grandparents owned land by his place, and he’d practically watched her grow up. That was long before her parents divorced and her mother had lost her mind in the aftermath.

Mrs. McCall had died sometime in between, and Julia’s mom had tried to help him recover from his loss. She had been unreachable in her own sorrow, though. Julia remembered going to Mr. McCall’s house for something to eat when her mother would space out for days on end. The widower took Julia and her brother under his wing, fed them and made sure they were safe when their mom was mentally lost to them.

Her dad’s leaving had scarred them all, but mostly their mother. It was a good thing their mom’s example didn’t affect Julia and her brother any more than it did, or they’d never have made it out of that miserable existence. Mr. McCall was a life-saving father figure after her dad’s abandonment, and Mac — as they called him — helped give them the substance to survive both physically and emotionally.

Julia needed a strong male presence as much as her teenage brother did. There were otherwise so many bad influences in their world, especially for a pretty and impressionable young girl like her. The most daunting one was unfortunately her brother’s best friend, Pete, but Mr. McCall tried to see to it that Pete didn’t bother Julia. At least not if he could help it.

Mac talked to Julia’s brother once about how bad he thought Pete was for both him and Julia. To no avail. He’d noticed a change in Julia’s behavior around that boy in the last few months, though, and he feared what may have already happened between the two.

He was taking a chance, with Julia not being family and all, but decided to discuss the matter with her anyway. If her own family wasn’t there to step in, he was the next best thing to it. Damn her mother for not doing so herself.

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The old man took the girl fishing from time to time and decided to broach the subject one of those peaceful afternoons. They had their own spot on the bank where they usually set up, away from where the boys or other neighbors could hear their conversation. It was within this seclusion that Mac stumbled over his words in an abridged version of the-birds-and-the-bees as well as the boy-birds-gone-bad.

This was heretofore a discussion he’d never imagined having with a girl her age, the daughter or granddaughter Mac never had himself. “Now, Julia, honey,” he began. “I wanna tell you something that your momma mightn’t never had told you before.” She sat on the ground with her pole in the water, its red bobber bouncing on the surface, in rapt attention at Mac’s exhortation. “You have to watch out for boys. I know because, believe it or not, I once was one myself.” A slight smile crept across her face but quickly disappeared when she realized he was quite serious.

Mac continued, “You need to watch what you’re doing … and watch what THEY’RE doing. ‘Cause them boys might be up to no good. You’re becoming quite a fetching young woman, and adolescent boys might not be trusted around a looker like you. Their bodies start to take over for them.” Julia began to protest, her face flushing to a darkening crimson, “Oh, come on, Mac …”

“You let me finish,” he admonished. “Your daddy’s not here to warn you about how some boys aren’t gentlemanly but will act a certain way to get you to … warm up to ‘em. And I just want you to be on your guard.” Julia’s gaze was downcast by now, but she respected her elder and listened to his advice. To prevent any further embarrassment on both their parts, Mac decided to stop while he was ahead. He asked, “You understand what I’m saying here, hon?”

She raised her head to meet his eyes and gave a slight nod. Julia said, “No worries, Mac. I still have that old pocket knife you once gave me for my birthday, and I know how to use it if the need arises.” She’d succeeded in cutting the thick tension with her knife of humor.

Mac was the most positive influence in her life, and Julia knew he’d do anything in his power to protect her. There was no way she could tell him what Pete had already done.

I used the weekly writing prompt fetching from the Studio 30+ online writing community.

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image: cjdjkobe at everystockphoto.com (attribution license)

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