A life-changing essay told by a boy named Hatch
retold by a guy named Gary Alipio.
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?
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.
I don’t think I’ve ever whiffed such choice in my life.
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.
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.”
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?
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.
Running out of underwear faster than the bayou water sure do stank.
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