The Greatest Fishing Story Ever Told | ch07

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A life-changing essay told by a boy named Hatch
retold by a guy named Gary Alipio.
(kids 9-12)

Pestering insects, pesky neighbors, angry seas, boat blunders, and an encounter with a two-footed cryptid that inhabits Bayou Vivrè – the Loup Garou. You ready?

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SUN DAY 07

Brickety-brack, brickety-brack. Nothing.

Brickety-brack, vrr-uuuum, vrr-ummmmmm. The boat turned over.

The hum of the motor vibrated under my feet. A plume of smoke covered the air. A magical smell of burning oil shot up my nostrils.

Sniff.

I don’t think I’ve ever whiffed such choice in my life.

Sniff sniff.

The memory of Hunter waving us so-long was just that – a memory.

Bring on the FISH.

Grampa stood at the helm of the boat and steered us away from the dock.

We putted down a slim water pass until we were clear of the soldier-like fishing camps lining the bayou.

A guy could get shot for causing a wake in the ‘NO WAKE’ fishing camp zone.

So I’m told.

Grampa snagged the cap off my head, and as he pulled back on the throttle, a rush of warm air pressed against my face.

The roar of the boat.

The spray of brackish water.

The wind whipped at my hair.

The bug smacked dead against my sunglasses.

AIYEEE!, I screamed . . . in my head.

Grampa reached over and tightened my life vest. Then he opened the throttle. She may not have been much of a looker, but Ol Nessie sure cut through the water leaving behind a spurting fishtail.

Just then, a terrible feeling came over me.

An awful, toss-me-overboard, I-might-as-well-die feeling.

I forgot my fishing pole in the car.

Aiy-nooo . . .

*******************************************

Round two. Putt-putt, putt-putt, putt-putt.

I tightened the straps of my life vest, leaned forward and waited.

The roar of the boat.

The spray of the water.

The wind . . . oh, you get the idea.

Grampa really didn’t say much about the mishap. Just a smirk and a grunt.

A snorting, grumbling grunt.

Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a brown fuzzball against the banks. An otter. It looked right at me then disappeared in the murky waters.

Moments later, it re-surfaced with a crawdad in its mouth.

To the right, four pelicans flapped in the distance. One of them lingered behind, its wings clipping the water.

A dark dorsal fin cut through the waves and rode besides the boat for a blink.

Porpoise.

Fish jumped in and out of the water. One nearly landed in the boat, hitting the side.

“What was that?!”

“Mullet.” Gramps replied. He said they don’t make good eatin’. He also said Mullet jump sometimes because they were being chased. But sometimes they jumped just for fun.

Ones that make high soaring leaps were not being chased.

Ones that jump and do a backflip were not being chased.

Ones that jump practically in a boat moving at forty miles per hour, they WERE being chased.

In the distance, a flock of seagulls trailed a large skimmer. Trawlin’ for shrimpses.

The captain, a short stubby man with the reddest redneck, he stared at us long then flipped a finger at us.

Grampa whipped a finger back.

Some sort of code.

Grampa swiveled the wheel, a sharp turn, and the water before us narrowed into a smaller channel.

The channel ahead had space for no more than two boats.

One lane in.

One lane out.

“Bayou Vivrè,” said Grampa. “Welcome to Bayou Vivrè.”

WAAAAAAANNNNNNNHHHHHHHH!!!

The motor of Ol Nessie was loud enough, but up from behind, another boat passed us like a bat out of hell.

Yes, if you’re like me, you too are wondering about such a saying?

Why are bats flying out of hell so fast?

How do we know bats don’t like it there?

And if they don’t like it there, then why is it there always seems to be some unlimited amount of bats to fly out of hell?

Once they leave, do more magically reappear waiting the day for someone to speak about them flying out of hell?

Wait . . . what I talking about?

Oh, yeh.

The other boat.

It sliced through the water hella-bat fast. As it passed, I recognized the driver.

The one-armed nubby Lazarre.

He nodded, and gave me an evil wink with his non-wandering eye.

;-{

Lazarre sped off so fast his boat created a large fishtail.

Let me rephrase: a gigantor-normous fishtail that soaked us to the core.

Perfect.

Running out of underwear faster than the bayou water sure do stank.

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Want more? Leave a comment below for the complete 10,000 words.

The Greatest Fishing Story Ever Told | ch 06

courtyard

SUN LUNCH 06

“What do you mean you aren’t coming with us?” I said to Hunter as my turkey sandwich choked at my throat.

Mini throw up.

“Checked in with Ma.” Hunter held the rope tied to the boat while Grampa backed up the truck and lowered it into the black waters. “She got called in to work, so I gotta go watch the Harp. No go for me.”

Gramps hit the brakes hard, and Ol Nessie glided into the water like a cat sliding across fresh Pledge-sprayed floors.

“I’ll swing back and pick y’all up in three days.” Hunter broke his train of thought and raised both eyebrows my way. “Why? Scared?”

The thought never crossed my mind.

“Me, heck no.”

“THWACK!” shouted Hunter. “Heh heh heh.”

Yep. My first trip without brother tonsils – short for pain in the neck Harper – and he still fouled things up.

Only now, the thought of going on a fishing trip . . . into Bayou Vivrè . . . with a Loup Garou . . . with Grampa Grump . . . alone.

I had only one thing to say about that–

PLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL

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On to Sun Day | 07

The Greatest Fishing Story Ever Told | ch 03

pole

SATUR NIGHT 03

I know what you’re thinking. What’s the cause of my meltdown? How is my family so average Joe? Why are you still reading?

Okay, time to pack.

One pair of sandals. Two pair of socks. Three shorts. Four shirts. And five underwear. Why five underwear for only three days of fishing? Well, if you were suffering from rapid eye nocturnal prepubescence – that’s a fancy bonus word – you’d understand. Google it, if you must.

“Ready, Freddy?” Hunter poked his head in the room. “We’re leaving earlier than the early birdies.” His mouth twitched. His left eyebrow raised high. Something troubled him.

“What?” I asked.

“We’re goin’ fishin’. Not the North Pole.”

“Ohhhhh.”

“All you really need are these–”

Hunter handed me three items: bug spray, a khaki hat and a canary yellow feather.

“No way,” I shouted. “I’m not wearing girlie stuff.”

Hunter shushed me, covering my mouth.

“Shhhh.”

He let go and whispered.

“Save your life, that, it just might.”

I had never been fishing before. It’d be my first time. So clearly I didn’t know what to pack.

It’s a trip all us Hampton boys take when we turn twelve. So I’m told. Yep, in just four days, 11 year-old me, no more. See ya’, wouldn’t want to sneeze ya’.

“We sleep. We eat. We fish,” said Hunter. “We sleep. We eat. We fish,” he repeated. “Then afterwards, we sleep, we eat, we fish some more. You’ll be lucky if you even change your underwear.”

;-)

I was finally invited to go on the family “just men” fishing trip.

That means no Ma.

Which also meant there would be no pain in my foot. Harper.

Sweet.

Just the men: me, Hunter and Grampa Leon.

Grampa Leon Bio: (a.k.a. Grampa Grump), a grouchy, retired, live-and-breathe for fishing Grampa. He rarely ever smiled. He rarely ever raised his voice. He was like a rock. A big, solid piece of matter with absolutely no grass left on the mountaintop. Thus, the need for a hat worn daily, hourly, minutely (if even a word).

At least Hunter was going.

Don’t get me wrong. I’d been on family trips before. I once set a Hampton record for most throw-ups on an airplane. But that’s another story.

This trip was different. Good forced socialization for me.

We were headed into the wetlands, into the Mississippi swamp, into Bayou Vivrè.

An irritating, whiny voice shouted. “I wanna go fishin’. I wanna go fishin’, Hatch’a,” yelled my arch-nemesis, Harper.

Three, two, oops.

The rocketing pillow I tossed just nicked Harper on his backside.

“Eee-waaaaa,” he cried. Harper could whip up a tear faster than bad breath can stank. “Me ma-ma, me ma-ma, Hatch’a hit me.”

Before drama could follow, Hunter had a plan. “Quick.” He snapped a finger and dove into his dirty clothes-covered bed. “Emay ouyay under eetshay, oolfay.”

That’s piggy code for: me, you, under sheets, fool.

Zzzzzzzz!

*******************************************

In complete darkness. Wind whistled outside the window. Lightning flickered. Fears settled. Then, a bright light flashed in my face. A voice rang out in a deep, scratchy tone.

“There I was, stuck between a rock and a hard place,” the voice said, “staring DEATH in the face!”

Gulp.

The flashlight came off my face and onto Hunter’s as his left eyebrow raised. His teeth chattered. His eyes bulged. He continued in an intense voice.

“Four years ago, I sat right where you are.” Hunter paused, correcting his thought. “Well, actually, not right where you are – tucked in bed, wearing an Oompa Loompa shirt. But, yes! I sat in the same predicament.”

“What pre-dictament?”

“Predicament! An unpleasantly perplexing or dangerous situation,” he exclaimed and continued in a snarly voice. “As I, too, was NERVOUS about the adventure before me.”

“I’m not nervous . . .”

“Shhhhh,” he interrupted and glanced around as if someone were in the room. “Grampa never told you about this ‘cause you would have said o-nay ay-way.”

“Why would I say . . .”

“Sh-sh-shhhhh,” he interrupted again, looking around. This time he high-stepped, tip-toed over and peeked into the closet. “No talk. No whisper. Just . . .” He pointed to his right ear.

In the darkness, Hunter tilted the flashlight so his eyes looked as if they were going to explode out of his skull.

“The swamp was ANGRY that day, I tell you, or may the heavens STRIKE ME DOWN and grow me a nutria-rat tail. Gnats a nibblin’. Horseflies a bitin’. Catfish a meowin’.

“I stood alone on the back pier when the big red sun dropped like a BANSHEE into the horizon! The air grew heavy with fog, THICK like a winter-wool blanket. And I could tell by the hair sticking up on my neck SOMETHING was afoot.

“When suddenly, the Loup Garou APPEARED!”

Hunter threw his arms high in the air. His head twitched and eyes boggled.

“I had never before seen such a VILE creature. It stood the size of an outhouse. Its yellow eyes could pierce HOLES into your soul. Its jagged teeth were as sharp as kitchen knives – and in need of braces, I tell you.”

He snickered.

“Its stench REEKED beyond a Harper stuffed-up-training-potty. Before I could move a muscle, the shaggy-headed beast stuffed me into its mouth. CRUNCH-CRUNCH!”

Gulp!

Hunter’s face became still. His voice returned to normal. “But not before I plucked the lucky feather out of my hat, and tick-tick-tickled his nostrils.

“Ah-ah-ah-chooooooo!

“I shot right out of his mouth. And right back onto the pier – me fishin’ pole, in hand.”

Hunter smiled, tilting the flashlight off his face.

In a cheerio voice, he said, “Alrightie then. Get some sleep. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Zzzzzzzz!

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On to Sun Rise | 04