The Greatest Fishing Story Ever Told | ch 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–



On to Sun Day | 07

The Greatest Fishing Story Ever Told | ch 05



Something long, warm and wet. It tickled at my right ear, my head resting against my hands. Maybe it’s the redhead again.

Her gentle hands ran through my–

“Aww, wake up sleepy head,” I heard in a soft nurturing voice.

Then, “WAKE UP! WAKE UP!” a torturous voice rang loud inside the car – a now non-moving car. The voice? Hunter. He was sticking a wet-willy finger in my ear.

“We’re here.”

Yeh, sometimes he was so NOT cool.

“Ready for the last day of your life,” he said. “Look alive, you might even learn a thing or two. I’ma-na help Gramps launch the boat. Make yourself look useful, ‘kay, Hatch?”

I wiped my eyes, stepped out of the car and realized I’d slept through the whole three-hour ride.

I missed everything: the icing down of the coolers, the gassing up of the boat, the endless counting of sugar cane field after sugar cane field.


Ol’ Gatar’s Foodery, the rusty sign read over a weathered tin roof and paint-peeling shack. While Grampa and Hunter untied the straps and readied the boat, I set out on real business.


“Hey, Hunt, I’m gonna take a, well, you know.” I squished my legs together. “Gotta, yeh.”

Hunter pointed me in the right direction – inside.

Ol’ Gatar’s Foodery looked pretty grim. Lights flickered. The floors were sticky. Shelves were stacked mostly with bread, packaged pies, beef jerky and shiny fishing lures. The air reeked of funkified fish and the walls were covered with random license plates and tin signs.

A few of them read:

Death. Taxes. Fish.

Be nice or GET the heck OUT.

Who Dat eight me fish?

Unless Ya’ Mama Werks Here, Pik Up Ya’ Stuff.

One stood out in particular. It had an alligator with its mouth open wide.

WARNING: Children left unattended will be fed to Gators!

Just then, a one-armed man clomped out of the bathroom. I tell you he was seven-foot tall if he were a centimeter. He had a midnight black wandering eye and a low-hanging beard wrapped in rubber bands.

His name was Lazarre.

I know this because I’m writing this life-changing essay after it already happened. So go with it.

Lazarre Bio: details unknown.

Despite having a nub for an arm, he used it to close the door behind him. Then he poked me in the chest with the stubby nub.

“AY! Ya’ lookin’ at somethin’, sonny? ‘Cause I couldn’t help notice ya’ be eyeballin’ me, cher? Wouldn’t be ‘cause of me looks, now would it now, ay? Ya’ thinkin’, how I got dis souvenir. Right, cher?” The one-armed man grabbed his arm.

“No, not at . . . No.”

I back-pedaled, the urge to pee no longer an urge.

“No, SIR!” Lazarre shouted and sprayed my face with spit. “Twas’ the fiery-eyed beast of Bayous Vivrè.”

“Garou,” I said under my breath.

“AYYYY! So you’ve heard of the beast?”

I nodded.

Lazarre leaned back and pulled on his barbed-wire beard.

“Two hours.” Lazarre imitated holding a fishing pole in hand. “TWO DEVILISHLY LONG HOURS I grappled with da beast,” He spat. It nearly hit my shoe.

“Lesser sportsmen woulda snipped da line, high-tailed it outta dere. BUT NOT I. Lazarre, stood TALL. Determined to bring in da legendary beast. Dragged me good, she did,

through the prickly marsh,

over cypress knees,

across crayfish mounds,

into murky meadows,

and under the brackish waters.

“Madness, I tell you. Maddening, I STILL AM! Because finally, after two grueling hours, I paused only for a moment to scratch my nose – just a NANOSECOND, I TELL YA’ – and she dove straight down into da blackness. Snapped me line, PZIIP, HA HA!”

Lazarre cackled, picked long and hard in his nose and continued.

“See this HERE–“ He pointed to a scar running over his left eye, down to his cheek. Lazarre’s face was so close, I felt the scorching breath from his nose.

“She done dis. Fishing line, PZIIP – me lucky souvenir. Words of advice I give you, cher. You see a loose chartreuse line out there, sonny. PRAY.”  He smiled, missing teeth and all, but a smile nonetheless. “Questions?”

My back was hard-pressed against a rack of those packaged pies. A bunch fell off.

“Well–” I squished a pie onto my shoe.

“YES, go on.”

More pies fell.

“Well, um, your, um, how’d you–” I couldn’t ask it, so I motioned, grabbing my own arm.

“WHAT? Dis here?” Lazarre tilted back. He scratched his beard with his stubby, nubby arm. “Birthed this way, cher.”

Ding-ding. Ding-ding.

The doors chimed and a familiar face stepped into the doorway, Grampa.

The caustic look on his face said only one thing: TIME TO GO!

“So . . .” Lazarre’s tone changed instantly, more smiley. “Will you be eatin’ lunch with us. OR just makin’ groceries, cher?”

“Lazarre,” Grampa answered with a nod.

“Leon,” the scare-face Lazarre replied.

The men stared at each other good. I could tell they didn’t like one another.

“You finished here?” Grampa asked of me.

I swayed my head no.

“Finish your business then, boy.”


For what did my eyes see before me? Never before had I seen such a way’er-than-cool thing of things.

Lying on the ground in the middle of the bathroom was a rolled stack of moolah. Washingtons. Lincolns. That ten-dollar guy. Even a few Jacksons.


I snatched it up and peeked under the stall. No one there.

What luck?

I wondered whose it could be. I wondered what it was for. I wondered – who cares!

You snooze-y you lose-y.

Ten. Nineteen. Fifty. There must have been like twenty of every bill.

Rich. I’m filthy, stinkin’ rich. Filthy because, yes, I picked up money off the bathroom floor. A public men’s bathroom floor.



In my pocket the money went, and I never widdled so fast in my life.


On to Sun Lunch | 06

The Greatest Fishing Story Ever Told | ch 04




“I’m gonna be the greatest fisherman EVER!” I shouted and shot straight out of bed. But my legs weren’t quite awake, so I tumbled face first onto the floor. Smack.

“Classic,” Hunter cackled as the moonlight lit up our boycave.

It was time – fishin’ time.

Outside, the morning dew soaked the neighborhood lawns. Looked like it rained.

Sniff, sniff.

Ah, I could almost taste the fish in my drooling mouth now.

Grampa packed while Hunter hitched up the blue and white Boston Whaler. That’s a swank ride for you non-boat peeps.

Ol’ Nessie she was called. She was stocky like the Scottish Loch Nessie (another Google moment), and clearly showed her age.

Overstuffed with duffle bags, fishing gear, grocery bags and a loaf of bread smashed into the side window, Grampa shoved one more item – a basket – into the rusty station wagon.

“What’s that, you’re wondering?” said Hunter, eyeing Grampa’s methodical packing skills. For Grampa had a way of squeezing 13 eggs into a carton so you didn’t even notice the difference.

Looked like an ordinary basket to me.

“You’ll want to get a good look at it,” Hunter continued in sly voice. “It’s what you’ll use when you feed Ol’ Gatar. Any Hampton boy fails this task, well, let’s just say failure is not an option. But dying is. Heh-heh.”

Hunter climbed onto the trailer and secured straps onto the boat. He glided with ease, port side to starboard.

Didn’t think I knew this stuff, did you? But as I said before, I’m gonna be the greatest–

Back to Hunter, who glided port to starboard – that’s left to right.

A half hitch here. A slip knot there. A bungee on top of bungee. His superstar agilities will surely land him a million dollar shoe contract some day.

“Gatar’s the least of your worries,” he said. “Mostly, you gotta watch out for the horseflies. They’ll bite, buzz, scratch, scrape, nag, gnaw, pester and peel the skin clean off your hide.”

“THWACK!” Hunter said and slapped at his ankle hard. “Get used to that sound. The sound of battle, of war, of victory. Means you got one. Anything less of a THWACK!, and you’ll be itchin’ yourself to sleep, beggin’ for Ma’s Avon Skin So Soft.”

Skin So Soft?

“I told you, no girlie stuff.”

“Hmmmmm,” he snickered. “We shall see.”

“Get down now,” said Grampa the Grump. He had a voice that stuck, a commanding voice that spoke volumes without saying much at all. Cause and effect. ‘Cause Grampa said so, that’s why.

Hunter leaped right into a Cajun mudpie. That’s when water mixes with mud and just before it dries, forms a consistency equal to, tah-dah, pie.

Hunter stood straight to attention, my shoulders slightly behind his, side-by-side.

Grampa chewed on his morning coffee stirrer and tilted his head. I could see up his nostrils. Then he spoke–

“Three hours . . .”

I felt a lesson coming on.

“Rule number one,” he continued. “Always listen to Grampa. Rule number two: ‘No’ is not in your vocabulary for the next three days. If I ask you to do something, you do it. If I ask you to don’t, you don’t.”

Hunter stood straight. Clearly he had done this with Grampa many times, and clearly I needed to watch and learn.

“Yes, sir,” replied Hunter, standing firm.

“Yes, sir,” replied me, copy-cat firm.

“Rule number three,” Grampa chewed on the coffee stirrer. He twirled it in his mouth, a full 360°. Then his cold eyes turned to me. “Done your businesses?”

I nodded yes.

“No stoppin’ for three hours.”

“I can hold it, not that hard.”

“Hmmm,” he said and paused. “Hardest thing you’ll ever do in life, boy . . .” he grunted, a cause and effect grunt that caused the hair on my neck to rise. Then he added, “is the right thing.”

Yep, and my pee-pee started.

On to underwear numero two.


On to Sun Wake | 05