-Did you find the shack ok?
-Hard to miss it. You’re the only light on the lake.
- How I like it, more fish for me-- the walleyes bite best after dusk. You can go ahead and set your bag on the table next to the stove. Don’t mind the dog, that’s Fillmore, likes to stay by the fire.
- Beautiful coat. Beagle?
-Coonhound. Got him to keep the woodchucks out of my garden though he mainly just licks his asshole as if he’s fixin’ to mail it.
-Pull a chair up in front of me between the two holes, there’s some gin by the door if you want. It’s a little rough, tastes like a Christmas tree, it’ll warm you up nice. I’d get it for you but I just dropped a line and I can’t move until I get a bite, my bait falls off, or my arm gets tired from jiggin’.
-Do you keep that up all night Ed? I bet it gets tiring. What’s this other hole for?
-Ha! Nah, that hole has a dead stick in it with a fat bellied minnow on the end, so if the fish don’t like this mousie I’m bouncin’ they have options. It’s all about options.
- I see…
- This ain’t nothin’ compared to dumpin’ grain at the mill. Shit, this is how I relax. Ha!
- Well, I appreciate you inviting me out. Truthfully, only been fishing a handful of times. Most of those were last summer on the Cape before we moved up here.
-Cod. Cape Cod. South of Boston.
- I know where Cape Cod is. Just got confused for a second. What did ya fish for?
-Lord. I can’t remember… Mackerel? Fluke?
-What’s a Fluke?
- It’s like a flounder I guess. Eyes on one side, close together like a colon.
- Shoulda just said flounder. I don’t care much for mackerel, too oily for my tastes.
-Now walleye in my opinion is good eatin’. Sweet and buttery. My old lady pan fries them in butter with thyme and old beer vinegar. Sun fish ain’t bad either but those little bones of theirs I’ll be pickin’ out of my teeth for a week straight. Fillmore nearly choked on them, dumb son of a bitch.
-Hopefully I’ll get to try some.
-Hope? Hope? Oh, we’re landing some. My only fear is we won’t be able to carry it all!
-I like your positivity. Anyways, thanks again for having me.
- Yeah, you said that. Wasn’t my idea, it was our wives. They’ve taken a liking to each other at church lately, thought we might get along.
- I… um…
-I’m gonna need a hand hauling all this fish back to Seneca Falls, so I’m glad you showed up regardless. Plus Fillmore is real shit when it comes to conversation. Ain’t that right boy?
See that? Didn’t even look up.
-Who usually fishes with you?
-Oh! Pull that line up behind you! Pole is bending!
Keep it going! Almost….
The hog farmer Thomas Knapp, has been coming with me the last few seasons but his sow was having piglets tonight and he had to keep watch. Last time she rolled over on the whole lot of them, ain’t nobody going to pay for dead baby swine.
-The hook is empty, you have anymore minnows?
- I do, but I’m gonna fix you up with a mousie, I have to put a fresh one on my line anyways.
-It’s a cute name for a rat tail maggot, horrid looking critters but the fish love ‘em. I keep them in an old coffee tin full of sawdust, otherwise they stick together like overcooked rice.
Pass me your line.
- That’s vile.
How...where do you acquire them?
- I got these from Thomas earlier on my way here, had to dig ‘em out of old horse shit. Ha!
You look a little green. Take a pull from the flask, that’ll right you.
-I suppose everything is ugly at some point in life.
- That’s a good way of looking at it! I like that.
Now drop the line in, not too far.
Good. Now shake it.
Gently. You’re fishing, not flogging a horse.
-You’re a natural kid.
-Did ya hear that?
-Shh shh shh shh. There it is again!
- I hear it. What is it?
-Whatever it is, it sounds like it’s in pain. It could be a river otter. Ain’t many of those around lately, haven’t seen one myself since early 1900’s. Most’ve them are coats now.
-It’s getting louder. Should we go look?
-Let me grab my lantern and pocket knife. Fillmore!
- I’ll grab my jacket.
-Fillmore. Lessgo boy!
-It appears he’s occupied…
-I’m doing the best I can Ed. His pants are waterlogged. I need to readjust.
- We can’t stop, there’s no tellin’ how thick this ice is and I don’t see nobodies round here to carry you ‘en me. I’ll carry him myself if I have to.
-Slow down! There’s blood on the ice, his pants are tearing! You’re likely to injure him further!
-I’m tryin’ to save his life!
- You’re making it worse.
-Let me hold the lantern, I have a better grip now. We have about 500 yards until we’re back in the shanty, let’s just try and keep his body steady. Once we’re back, I’ll check his vitals again.
- Ya some kind of doctor?
- Yes. Some kind of doctor. Now move your arm a bit to the right, you’re covering up his mouth.
- He breathin’?
- Very slowly. I’m having trouble finding his pulse, but it’s there. Hand me your knife. I’m going to cut his wet pants off.
- Here. I have a couple blankets as well.
- Let’s wrap one around each of his legs after I dress his wound, then we’ll slide him closer to the fire. It’s best if we don’t move him after that. Any further movements could cause his heart rate to fluctuate.
-How deep is it?
-An inch at the most. I imagine he sustained the injury when he broke through the ice.
-There’s more than just fish in the waters…
- You’re suggesting that--
- I ain’t suggesting nothin’. I’m saying it don’t look like an ice wound to me.
Listen. I have a spot of chocolate wrapped in some brown paper in my bag. Melt it down in some of the water. He needs to ingest something sweet.
-I’ve seen it three times my whole life. First two times, just seen it from across Seneca lake, snap a gull out of the air and dive back down, leavin’ nothing but a ripple.
-You can’t be serious. This man nearly died of hypothermia. Nothing else.
-Watched it rip through the hull of a steamer ship, two summers past. The weight of its body just splintered the whole damn thing. It was a dirty kind of green, like thick pond water. Left the city folks in their Sunday's best just bobbin like pastel buoys.
-Maybe a little. It came back ‘round and tore off the paddlewheel, it’s teeth dragged half of it under the lake while it’s tail flung the other half towards our boat. It must've been at least fifty feet long.
-Help me move him towards the fire please.
-Hell. I've had too much gin. But I won't forget. I won't forget. So green. Eyes that never blinked. Like a fish. Like these Walleyes over here.
-Get some sleep. We'll head to town in the morning.
-Hey! Hey! You movin'?
-Doc! Hey Doc! C’mere! He’s woke!
-Don’t move him. Let me take a look. Can you hear me?
-What’s your name? Where are your from?
-I don’t think he understands ya doc
-Green. It was...so...green...