I can’t understand how my situation got out of control, considering how simply it began. It all started when I crawled out of bed this morning and decided to go fishing. I listened to the thunder rumbling from afar and to the raindrops tapping on the roof. It wasn’t going to be a pleasant day for fishing, but a little wet weather wasn’t going to dissuade me. So, as soon as I got dressed, I grabbed my fishing gear, hopped on my bike, and rode to the spillway at Eaton Brook Reservoir.
For two hours, I sat there letting the rain beat on my back and during that time, not even a single time did I have a fish bite. Wallowing in defeat, I packed it up and rode back home. As soon as I reached the edge of town, I saw my best friend, Norman, scooping junk mail out of the mailbox. “Hey Norman,” I called out. “Nice weather we’re having.”
Norman looked towards the sky and let his face get wet. “Yup. Sure, looks like it.” Then he looked at my fishing pole hanging off my bike. “Catch anything besides a cold?”
Not wanting to look stupid, I concocted a story. “I caught a couple of small bass and decided to release them. Then as I was about to give up for the day, a whopper grabbed onto my lure, and I nearly fell into the water. I tried my best to bring him in, but he must have swum around a submerged tree limb and tangled my line. At that time, I had no choice but to cut my line and let him go.”
“Man, that sucks,” was all Norman said, but I was intrigued by how easily he believed my lie. I was left with only one question. How far can I go? I was about to find out.
Mom was busy in the kitchen by the time I got home, but not so much as for me to test my limits. "You won't believe what happened today, Mom. I was up at the lake fishing, and about an hour after sitting in the rain, I finally had a bite! It pulled at me so hard, I thought I was going to be dragged in the water. Fortunately, I was able to wrap one arm around a tree next to me and stop myself from falling in. You wouldn’t believe how hard it was to hold on to dear life and at the same time try to bring that monster of a fish to shore. I must have been out there for an hour fighting him before he was next to shore. I let go of the tree, reached down to grab him, but then at the last moment, he jumped and broke free. I was so close to catching a whopper. Now, I have nothing.”
Mom gave me a tender hug and told me, “That fish may have gotten away, but you’ll always have me. Sit down, honey, and I’ll serve you some scrambled eggs.” And just like that, Mom believed my story as well. but I wasn’t done yet. There was one more person I had to see, and if he would believe me, everyone would.
Bob Ellis owned the local gas station and always made himself available to yak the day away. If anyone had ever heard or concocted more stories than him, it would have surprised me. So, I decided Bob would be my final test.
As soon as I made my breakfast disappear, I headed down to the gas station. As expected, I found Bob sitting by the garage bay door, watching me come by.
After a cordial greeting, I laid it on thick. “Hey Bob, have you heard about the carp at Eaton Brook? I’ve heard scuba divers have gone to the bottom of the lake and saw them up close. They say some of them were over six feet in length! Can you believe that? They also say the reason you couldn't catch them was they lay so deep in the water and had no interest in worms or lures. Still, I knew I had to catch one. So, you know what I did? I found a stick of dynamite at a construction site and decided to put it to good use. This morning I went up to the spill way at Eaton Brook, lit the fuse, and tossed the dynamite in the water. About thirty seconds after that, I heard a boom like, I’ve never heard before. Shortly after that, several fish started to float to the surface. And then I saw a monster of a fish slowly make its way to the surface. I dragged it in to shore and wrestled it up on shore. Then it hit me. How was I going to get it home? There’s no way I could carry a hundred-pound fish on my bike, so I had to leave it. But by the time I returned by car, someone else had helped themselves to my prize. I may not have the fish, but I’ll always cherish the memory of catching it.”
Bob just looked me straight in my eyes and asked, “Is this just another fish story or are you telling me the truth?”
I raised my right hand and swore, “If I’m lying, I’m dying.”
He just nodded and said, “Thought the thunder was too loud one time. I guess that dynamite was what I heard.”
When we were done talking, I went back home to watch some TV. About an hour after that, there was a knock on the door. I heard a man’s voice when Mom opened the door, and a moment later, she told me to come here. When I got to the front door, I saw a State Trooper standing there, giving me the eye. “What’s going on?” I asked no one in particular.
The trooper replied, “My name is Officer Carl Hagman and I have a few questions for you.”
Not knowing what this was about, I was a little nervous and confused. Still, I had nothing to hide, so I said, “What would you like to know?”
“First of all, did you go fishing this morning?”
I nodded my head and replied, “Yes sir. Up at Eaton Brook.”
“By the spillway?”
“Did you catch anything?”
Now, I hesitated. I wanted to tell the truth, but with Mom standing next to Officer Hagman, I couldn’t bear hurting her by admitting I lied to her. So, I said, “Yes sir.”
Officer Hagman wrote a few notes on his notepad and asked, “Did you use dynamite?”
I felt as if the air was sucked out of the room. I was Mom’s face turn white and I imagined mine was as pale as hers. Pulling myself together, I vigorously shook my head and said, No sir. No way.”
Officer Hagman continued, “Bob Ellis said you told him you did. He even remembers hearing the explosion. So, I’ll ask you one more time. Did you use dynamite, dynamite stolen from a construction site?”
I felt the walls of the law crushing, entrapping me in a prison I didn’t deserve. “I swear to you sir, I didn’t steal or use any dynamite.”
Officer Hagman shook his head. “Bob also told me to swear that you did.” Officer Hagman put away his notepad. “I’m not going to arrest you, but I need you to come downtown, until we can straighten this out.”
So, now I’m biding my time in an interrogation room, while the police check out my story. Sitting here alone isn’t so bad, but knowing my mom is in the main lobby worrying about what’s happening to me is unbearable. I wish I could take back that one small lie that started it all, but it's too late for that. All I can do is hope the police discover the truth hidden in my lies.
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Great story, Howard! :)
Thank you for the kind comment. I grew up with a bunch of fish-story tellers and a hardnose State Trooper. A perfect combination to complete the recipe.
Love the direction you took the prompt in: how DO people get here? This was a great ride finding out. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for the wonderful comment. A story is supposed to take you on a ride, and I'm glad I achieved the objective.
An entertaining read, Howard! Thank you for sharing! :-)
Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's a summation of fish stories I heard in the past (Yes, dynamiting fish was one of them) and I added my own fish story of an unfriendly State Trooper ruining the day.
Not just another fish story...