The Fishing Trip

by Gary Clark

The Fishing Trip

I was surprised that I even noticed the little man standing their waving, being in the state of mind I was in. There I was sitting in my ten foot john boat in my favorite lake, pole in the water and an empty cooler by my side. Now please understand that the cooler had not been empty when I started out, it had contained a brand new 12 pack. But after the send off my wife gave me, it didn't take long for me to make short order of those dozen silver bullets. Interesting name for an alcoholic beverage don't you think? It almost makes you believe that the marketing guru's that came up with the brand name were trying to send some kind of ironic message to the masses. But I digress. As I was saying my wife was none to happy for me to take this little fishing trip today. She was blabbering about going to church and doing something with the kids afterward. I was trying to get her to see my side of it. Hey, I work all week and I need some down time. Sunday's are my time to come out to the lake, drink a few beers and relax in the sun. Hell, she doesn't even know I exist except when it comes payday or when there is a chore she wants me to do. I figure, that in the scheme of things I'm about eighteenth on her list of importanceand that is after the dog.

Well anyway this little old man was waving me over on the shore about thirty yards up the bank. Now as you can imagine, I was in no mood for company so I just kind of waved back hoping that he would go away. But the little guy just kept at it, he was a persistent little bastard. So, finally I made my way over to him and asked him what I could do for him. He said that he just wanted to sit in the boat and talk for awhile. He said he had a special fondness of fishermen. My first inclination was to tell him to go take a hike, but something in me just couldn't do it to him. He had the kindest eyes I had ever seen. What could it hurt? He was too small and feeble to rob me, like I had anything to rob, so I rowed over to him and told him to come aboard.

Things remained quiet between us for awhile and then he asked me the weirdest thing. He asked me to tell him my story. At first I thought, oh great I've picked up a looney toon. But he explained to me that it was kind of a hobby for him to hear about folk's life. I asked him if he was going to write a book and he said that he had a hand in one a long time ago but now he just liked to take in the stories that people shared with him. I saw no problem with that. Probably because I was about half lit by my 12-pack. I'm not known for sharing my feelings and crap like that. My wife will tell you that it is one of her pet peas she has about me. Whatever that means. Who has peas for pets anyway? So anyways I talked about my life and told him about my work and my kids and my wife and stuff like that. He said that it sounded like I had the life that every man sought after. He told me that he never got around to having a wife and a family of his own. He seemed a little sad about that.

The little old man asked me why I was out there all alone without my family. I told him that Sunday was my day to relax and do things that I wanted to do. He asked me if I ever brought the family out to this old lake. I was a little embarrassed to tell him that I hadn't. He asked me if I thought that my kids might take a liking to fishing. I told him they might, especially the boys. But I told him that I was for damn sure the wife wouldn't have any part of it. He then told me that maybe if she was a part of the trip she might not put up such a fuss about cleaning and cooking my catch, not that it looked like I was having any luck today. Maybe this would shut her up I began to think, it would be something we could do together as a family.

Then the old geezer asked me about my religion. Now I was told by my Daddy to never ask about somebody's religion, their politics or their momma, if I wanted to keep the looks that he gave me. So, I told him it was none of his business. He just kept on though, saying it was just a part of everybody's story. He told me everyone's got an opinion about God and he wanted to know mine. Well I finally gave in. I mean, what was I going to do? Throw him in? Seeing that he was old and feeble and all. So I told him that I wasn't particularly fond of church although I had made a habit of not missing Easter Sunday in eight years. He seemed impressed by this, cause he leaned back and mumbled something I didn't catch, but it sounded religious. He asked me if he could tell me some stories from the bible. Well I hadn't had a nibble on my fishing line in so long I okayed it, seeing it would just help pass the time. Well I tell you that guy knew every bible story I had ever heard, and then some. And he had a way of telling them like nobody's business. It was like he had been there or something. I asked him where he got all of those stories and he told me from church. I told him that I never new church could be so interesting and that maybe I would go with the wife next week. He seemed to like that too although I thought he was nodding off cause he looked down at his shoes for a spell.

Just about then I got such a yank on my line that I thought I was sure to be like that Jonah inside the belly of the whale that the old man told me about. Well I commenced to fighting with that fish and forgot all about the old man until I finally hauled in the biggest bass I had ever seen. It was seven pounds if it was an ounce. So when I turned around to show him, the little old man was gone.

Now the folks I've told this story too think I was drunk out of my mind that day. Because how did that old man get back to shore. Surely I would have heard him jump in the lake if he took to swimming back to shore. I don't have any idea but I know that when I got home that day I grabbed my wife and gave her such a hug she thought I was crazy. And my kids, well they ain't as pesky as I remembered before. And about church, well you may not believe it but it is not near as boring as it used to be. Still, every once in a while the preacher will get a little long winded. And when he does I just let my mind wonder back to that that day of the fishing trip where I met that little old man who wanted to hear my story. I just wish I had of asked him his. But somehow, I think I may know it already.

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