That Day – Part Two

(Keith and I are on our way to The Finn’s for breakfast. But one little stop is required before our arrival.)

The Finn’s cottage was about three hundred yards away on our right when Keith cut the engine, lowered the the trolling motor and moved us closer to shore. There were a few weed beds and intermittent rocks that ran almost all the way down to our pal’s place. A spot way too good to simply pass by. And…that’s when I pulled it out (Oh, minds out of the gutter, folks. Minds out of the gutter!). For your information, what I pulled out of the rod holder was my wonderful and famous (at least on The Finn’s shoreline), now over thirty years old, heat seeking, wacky-worming, Shimano ultralite FX-2550A teamed up with the FX 200 graphite reel that was spooled up with 6lb mono. (Most people would consider it nothing more than an old piece of crap, but I have caught tons of fish with it, still have a soft spot in my heart for it and intend to keep using it every so often until it or I falls totally to pieces. And I’m not betting against the rod.)

“Oh, I see you brought the sissy stick,” Keith noted, a haughty tone of distaste in his mouth. (Keith thinks of ultralite rods the same way serious drinkers think about lite beer. They are only fit for men of dubious masculinity.)

“Well, up yours, my dear friend,” I replied. “How about ten bucks to the guy catching the first fish down this shore and twenty bucks to the biggest?”

“You’re on.”

Keith tossed a Texas-rigged pink worm towards shore. I underhanded a salt and pepper wacky worm. I watched as my rubber lure floated down and settled on a rock about three feet under. BANG! A largemouth zipped out of a weedbed and grabbed the worm. I set the hook. A couple of minutes later I lipped the 3 lb’er at the side of the boat. Hee hee! Ten bucks for the Ultralite King Paulie! Then Keith nailed one. Then me. Then Keith. Then me. And so it continued for about one hundred and fifty yards.  One after another. Fourteen or fifteen very decent sized bass. (And you already know who was first but, gee, can you guess whose was biggest?)

We tied up at The Finn’s dock and The Finn himself strolled down to greet us.

“Hey, Ollie,” I called to him. “I just made thirty bucks!”

“Good for you,” he said, grinning at me. Then he smiled at Keith and chuckled. “Screwed you again with his little one, eh?”

“Only metaphorically,” Keith muttered under his breath. Keith doesn’t like to lose money. In fact, he hates to lose money. And that is why, as his dearest and best friend, I stuck it to him good.

“Thirty dollars!” I exclaimed to The Finn. “Just imagine what I could do with thirty dollars. Holy cow! Just thinking about it fairly boggles the mind. Why, if that ad on TV is true, I’d probably be able to have a whole village in some wacky African country inoculated against some terrible disease like whooping diphtheria or bubonic scurvy or something equally crazy. Man, I could be a hero, Finn. A real hero. I might even be made king of the tsetse flies. Or, alternatively, I could always buy lottery tickets and licorice. Or I could even…”

“Why don’t you just shut the hell up?” Keith interjected in that grumpy tone of his, handing over three colourful Canadian bills with the number ten on them. (Man, talk about a grouch. What’s the point of winning thirty dollars from your bestest mate if you can’t playfully rub his nose in it?)

I promptly handed one over to The Finn. “Thanks for the tip about the salt and pepper worms,” I stage-whispered to him.

“My pleasure,” replied The Finn, folding the bill before pocketing it.

Keith stared at The Finn for a moment. Then he stared at me for a moment. Then he simply grinned and shook his head. “You are such a prick,” he said.

(Oh, how I love days with recurring themes!)

“Breakfast?” The Finn asked.

“Breakfast,” Keith replied.

“Sounds good, Ollie,” I agreed, stuffing the two remaining tens into Keith’s nearest jacket pocket.

He smiled.

The Finn smiled.

I smiled.

And three nice guys moseyed off the dock and up to the cottage for strong, hot coffee and a bite to eat…

(Enjoy breakfast with us in Part Three…wherein The Finn tells a strange tale or two.)

 

 

 

 

That Day – Part One

My good buddy, Keith, and myself had That Day a couple of years back. That Day is something to always be remembered and cherished and thought of fondly. A time to be held close to the heart. Especially on dark winter evenings, when the 16 year old scotch is warming the tummy, and the goose feather snowflakes are softly and silently drifting down from the Heavens, as if in a dream, through the pale light of the street lamps and the sun of Spring feels to be a million years away. That Day is separate from all other fishing days. There are great days on the water. There are bad days on the water. There are good and sometimes so-so days on the water. And there are days, of course, when you simply have to pay your dues. But That Day is the day that rises above all others and is, therefore, rather hard to describe.

But I shall do my best.

The sun was just rising in the east when we launched the boat at the shallow end of the bay. We were late into October and, though the air was going to warm as the day went on, our breath was clearly visible in the early morning chill. We were bundled up nice and tight. Warm jackets, lined boots and waterproof overalls. Snug thermal toques on our heads and fingerless mitts on our hands. Really quite cozy, in a cool latish October morn kind of way.

And the shoreline was still dotted with breathtaking autumn painted hardwoods, vivid in their various shades of orange, red and yellow.

We started by working a rock point that visibly jutted out about twenty yards from the east shore and then submerged to a depth of six feet for another eighty yards or so westward. First casts…a 3 lb largemeouth for me…a 4 lb bruiser for Keith. Two minutes later I catch an 8 lb pike. Soon after…Keith nails another big bass. I hammer another decent pike. And so it goes, dear reader. We dissect that point from bottom to top and come off it having landed a dozen fish.

And we’re not even an hour in.

We then proceed to work two small points coming out from the south shore. Bang! Bass. Bang! Pike. Bang! Bass. Bass. Bass. Bass. Bang! Catfish! Then, BANG!, that most useless, yet oh so much fun to fight, of fish, a sheepshead. A massive sheepshead. Keith battles with it for a good ten minutes before I manage to get her in the net. And she is a beauty. 16 lbs. (Though these days when he tells the story, Keith manages to mentally inject the fish with cement, bumping the weight up to 20, sometimes even, 22 lbs. A fishin’ magician’s prerogative, I suppose.)

“Want to try the sunken island?” Keith asks me, the fishing on the two points having slackened.

I just smile.

We slowly circle the sunken island, casting past it, to the side of it, to the middle of it, over it, short of it, every which way but up. And it’s as if we have somehow manged to hypnotize the largemouth that use the spot as a grazing area, because we simply can’t miss. From thirty yards out to three feet from the boat it’s bass after bass. In just over a hour, we catch twenty bucketmouths ranging in size from 2 to 5 lbs. We even nail a few jumbo perch, rock bass, pumpkinseeds and bluegills.

Jeez, this here fishing lark can sure seem like a lot of work at times.

The first boat we’ve spotted that morning slows about forty yards away from us. Three guys we’ve never seen before look hopefully at us. “Any luck, fellas?” one of them calls out.

“We wish,” Keith calls back, face as straight as a poker pro with a straight flush. (Hey, when you happen to discover where a sunken island is, you don’t reveal it’s location until you are on your death bed. And maybe even not then.)

“Oh,” says the spokesman for the trio, a glum look passing over his face. “Well, thanks anyway.”

“You’re most welcome,” Keith replies. Then he points off in the distance.”If you guys aren’t very familiar with these waters, you might want to try the back bay just to the northwest. We’ve pulled plenty out over there.”

I’m assuming he means weeds, because we have never caught a blessed thing in that little back bay.

But it cheers the strangers right up. “Thanks!” they all call, each giving us a small wave of gratitude before their engine roars to life and they start zooming towards the northwest.

“You are such a prick,” I chuckle.

“I know,” Keith admits, pulling up and securing the trolling motor. Then he turns and grins at me. “But that’s no reason to be saying hurtful things to sensitive people. Breakfast at The Finn’s?”

Suddenly I am ravenous. Breakfast at The Finn’s! Visions of eggs, potatoes and those special sausages dance in my teeny tiny little mind. Yes! Breakfast at The Finn’s.

“We really should drop in and see Ollie,” I say to my buddy.

“Yeah,” he agrees. “We really should.”

And so we do. But not before a quick stop along the way.

(Since this is Part One…next will be Part Two.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Runt – Part Two

(Moving on from Part One, I am at La Reserve Beauchene fishing lodge for a four day stay, thanks to a surprise inheritance from my beloved late Grandfather. I am trying to catch a fish in his honour on a lure that once belonged to him…an old Heddon River Runt Spook Floater. The fishing so far had been incredible. Everything I had hoped it would be, in fact. But the Runt and I are having a few problems…)

Three times over the next two days I had a fish on the lure, but each time the smallie managed to spit it out. I was catching plenty of fish on other lures, but was quickly losing faith in the Runt (And faith…or shall we simply call it ‘confidence’, is something that every fisherman needs). And to make matters worse, word of my sentimental journey had gotten around camp and sort of gripped the collective imagination. Every time I came in off the water somebody would invariably ask if I had finally caught something on “the lure” and then commiserate when I said “No”.

“Next time,” they’d say in encouragement. “You’ll get ‘er next time.” And it was very kind of them to be pulling for me, but “next time” only had a finite amount of opportunity. And, silly as it sounds, the pressure was getting to me.

By my third evening at Beauchene I was despairing of ever catching anything with the Runt. I was skittish about possibly losing the lure and the failure I was having with it was casting a pall on what should have been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I was catching tons of fish but, at this point, probably would have given them all up for just one keeper on the Runt.

That evening, just before heading to my room in The White House, one of the guides approached me and asked if he could see the lure he’d “heard so much about”. (I’m pretty certain now that he was sent by somebody, possibly Jean Guy, to buck up my spirits, but it was all played very close to the vest.) I walked down to my boat and pulled the Runt from my tackle box. We sat on the famous Liars Bench and he carefully inspected the lure.

“Very nice,” he said, turning it over in his hands. “It must be fifty, maybe sixty, years old. And it’s still in great condition.” He mentioned the lake I had reserved for the next day and gave me directions to a spot he knew held large smallmouth.

“And this is what your are going to do,” he intoned, speaking to me like one does when imparting an important lesson to a wayward 5-year old child or to a dispirited 46-year old angler. “You are going to cast the lure as close to shore as possible. Then you are going to let it sit there while you count to 30. Once you have counted to 30, you will take a deep breath and count to 30 again. Then begin a slow retrieve. I guarantee you will catch a fish.”

He placed the lure on the bench between us, gave me a friendly clap on the shoulder, nodded his head at me and walked off into the summer night.

The next day dawned sunny and bright and found me alone on my reserved lake. I positioned the boat about 50 feet from the suggested hotspot and cast the Runt no more than a foot from shore. I counted silently to 30, took the prescribed deep breath, then counted to 30 once more. Here we go, I thought to myself.

I had just started the retrieve when the water boiled and a big smallmouth slammed into the Runt. I set the hook and the fight was on. Three times the fish flew from the water, skittering and tail-dancing across the surface…but this one wasn’t going to get away. A few adrenaline-pumping minutes later I lipped the bass at the side of the boat and let out a great whoop. The Runt and I had done it! A mixture of relief and joy surged through me as I inspected the 20-inch bronzeback. Oh, what a wondrously gorgeous creature it was. I grabbed my pliers, popped out the treble hooks, gave it a kiss on the top of its head and returned it to the water.

I sat down in the boat and, I’m not ashamed to admit, had a little cry. Actually, I bawled my eyes out. Oh, what I wouldn’t have given at that moment to have my Grandfather actually there in the boat…together again one last time. Memories of that dear man washed over me and I couldn’t help but smile through the tears. The trip now felt complete and I gave silent thanks for his wonderful gift to me. After composing myself and wiping my eyes, I picked up the Runt and cut the line.

“Good job,” I said softly, placing it back gently in my tackle box. “You’re retired now, old pal.” Then, with a contented sigh, I stood up in the boat, grabbed another of my rods and cast out a tube jig.

My Grandfather would have understood.

Hey, the sun was shining, the sky was blue, a slight breeze was in the air and there were still fish to be caught.

 

(For more info on the incredible La Reserve Beauchene, simply Google it or give the manager, Tony, a call at their toll-free number…1 888 627-3865. Everything about the place is simply first class. A bucket-lister, to be sure. And again, NO, I am not being paid in any way, shape or form for extolling the virtues of the establishment.)

 

 

 

 

The Runt – Part One

You would have liked my Grandfather, Ray Donaldson. Everyone did. Kind, patient and polite, with a wonderful sense of humour, he was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He was wounded at Passchendaele in World War I and awarded the Military Cross for gallantry. As the long-time president of the Nova Scotia Fish and Game Association he spearheaded the first wildlife preserve in Canada’s Maritime provinces. Crack shot hunter, champion trap shooter, fly tier, expert fly fisherman, man of faith, lover of everything outdoors, he really was a grand fellow…and I loved him dearly.

Before passing away in the mid 1970’s, my Grandfather placed a clause in his will bequeathing $1,200 to each of his six grandchildren, payable upon the death of my Grandmother. And no one would have predicted at that time that my dear Grandmother, his darling Sadie, would wait nearly three decades (1 month short of her 103rd birthday) before voyaging on to stroll eternally beside her sweetheart once more.

“I only have one piece of advice,” my mother said to me after handing over my cheque. “Use the money to do something you would have enjoyed doing with your Grandfather.”

No problem there. The next morning I called up La Reserve Beauchene in the province of Quebec and booked myself in for a four day stay.

(And I now interrupt to answer your question…”Why La Reserve Beauchene?” I’ll get into the reasons more at the end of Part 2. But after reading various articles, seeing a few television fishing shows and being told by the late, great Canadian writer Paul Quarrington that he considered Beauchene to be one of the top ten fishing lodges in the world, well, let’s just say that the place sounded to me like Fishing Heaven On Earth. And that description turned out to be more than apt.)

The evening before my departure, my mother dropped in at the house and carefully handed me a lure. “It was one of your Grandfather’s,” she said, a wistful smile on her face. “See if you can catch something with it for old time’s sake.”

I was astounded. I had always thought that my Grandfather fished exclusively with flies, but as it turned out, he would sometimes sneak off for a little solitary spin-casting. Well, we all have our little secrets, I suppose, and this was one of his preferred lures.

It was a Heddon River Runt Spook Floater – a jointed lure, red and white on top, with black-on-gold eyes and a silver scale finish on the belly. Two rust-free and still sharp treble hooks hung menacingly from the joints. I was excited and touched to think that after nearly thirty-five years of having last fished with my Grandfather, I now had the unique opportunity to catch a fish in his memory with one of his old lures on a trip made possible by his thoughtful generosity.

After checking in at the lodge, I chatted with the manager, Jean Guy, over a cup of coffee and the tale of the bequest and the lure popped up. Smiling at the story, he went to a map on the office wall and pointed out likely places on the main lake for me and the Runt to start our quest. “Good luck,” he called after me, as I left the office and headed down to the dock.

The first cast I made with the Runt was to the mouth of a small feeder creek, and no sooner had the lure hit the water than a huge smallmouth bass exploded from the depths like a rocket and knocked the lure about six feet into the air. “Holy cow,” I thought to myself. “This is going to be too easy.”

Famous last words, as they say.

With my heart thumping from the near miss, I cast out again, began my retrieve and…found myself snagged. Really snagged. Gads!, what a horrible feeling. Fearing I had come this far only to lose the old lure, I maneuvered the boat to the creek mouth and saw that the Runt was hooked on to a log about six feet down. I gave the rod a tug in the opposite direction of my retrieve and the lure popped free and floated to the surface. Almost sick with relief, I cut the line and put the Runt back in my tackle box.

(Next Week…Part Two. Oh, and just for fun…Google La Reserve Beauchene and take a peek. And, NO!, I am NOT being paid to shill for the lodge.)

 

 

 

 

 

A Very Nasty Kid, A Very Angry Dad, A Very Dead Cat – Part Three

(Well, Part One and Part Two are officially 23 skidoo…so we now find our ourselves rounding the clubhouse turn and heading for the home stretch. The very nasty kid seems to be in hiding, the very angry Dad isn’t quite as angry as he was…but we still have a very dead cat to deal with.)

On the afternoon of my, ahem, encounter with Angel and his mother, I took off for a fishing trip up north. Upon my return three days later, Sue and I were sitting in the living room enjoying beverages both potent and cold. I was staring at my beer bottle, kind of startled at how fast the tasty brew had pulled an amazing disappearing act from the once-full receptacle. (It’s true! You can’t have your beer and drink it. too.)

“The kids and I went for a bike ride today,” Sue told me.

“Where’d you go?” I asked, standing up and heading to the fridge in search of a mate for my empty friend.

“Wilket Creek,” she said. “On the way home, we saw a cat get killed by a car. Fellow didn’t even stop.”

I poked my head back around the doorway to the kitchen. “Did the kids see it?”

“Yes. And they were rather upset…until they found out it belongs to the Macedonian family.”

“Belonged,” I corrected her. “It now belongs to the Gods of Kitty Cat Heaven. Macedonian Division.”

“I stand corrected,” Sue said. “I’m just a bit surprised that it’s still just lying by the curb at the end of the street. I can only assume the family doesn’t know.”

A very dim light popped on in my teensy tiny brain. “Do we have a box?” I asked.

“Yes. Why?”

“Well, they should at least know their cat is dead. I’ll put the body in the box and leave it on their doorstep.”

Sue made a face. “That’s kind of creepy,” she stated. “How would you like to open your front door and find your dead pusspuss lying stiff and stinky in a box?”

“Not very much,” I agreed. “Tell you what…I’ll put the cat in the box and just give it to them.”

In my weird little universe this seemed like a kind and charitable thing to do. Maybe all the drama of the past while could be smoothed over with the offering of a deceased feline.

Sue just stared at me for a moment. “You really haven’t thought this through, have you?”

“Nah,” I admitted. “Why start now? You know it just makes my head hurt.”

Sue sighed and ran a hand over her eyes. I went to the basement and found an appropriate sized box.

Ten minutes later, box in hand, I was standing outside of the Macedonian family’s front door. In the box was a very dead cat. A VERY dead cat. A VERY dead cat that had the appearance of a VERY dead cat that had gone twenty or thirty bad rounds with the Heavyweight Cat Champ Of The World. Wow! Talk about a horror show. Ick!

I knocked on the door. The mother opened it and her eyes shot wide open in fear. She called out something in Macedonian over her shoulder and a man came from kitchen. He stared suspiciously at me for a moment. Then he stared suspiciously at the box. Then he stared back at me for another few seconds before cautiously opening the screen door. I was going to explain to them that my wife and children had (unfortunately for all parties involved) seen their cat get run over by a car and that we were all really sorry and felt really bad that their cat was now a VERY dead cat and that it would always remain a VERY dead cat and just because the cat was dead and the fact that their kid was a total psychopath didn’t mean we couldn’t all get along and…

My mind went totally blank.

“Here’s your cat,” I said in a dull monotone, handing the box over to the mother.

And I walked home.

“You know they are going to think you killed the cat,” Sue said, after I walked in the door and explained what had happened.

“Why would they think that!?!?” I asked, that teensy tiny bulb in my brain dimming somewhat.

“Here’s your cat!?” Sue almost shouted. “Here’s your cat!? That’s it??? No explanation?? Just…here’s your cat!? Paul, look in the mirror. Take a good look.”

So I did. And it wasn’t a pretty picture. Grungy jeans. Torn T-shirt. Three days growth of stubble. My face beet red except for the white skin around my eyes that had been shaded by my sunglasses. My hair sticking straight up from sweaty ball caps. I looked a mess.

“And all you can say is, “Here’s your cat!?” Then you just hand over the box??? Try to see it from their perspective, Paul. This crazed-looking guy knocks on their door three days after smacking the crap out of their lunatic kid, throwing him into their house and then threatening in a screaming tirade to kill him. Then you show up tonight and hand them their dead family pet. Their dead family pet that looks as if someone has bludgeoned it with a baseball bat. “Here’s your cat!?” Paul, this must seem to them like the Macedonian equivalent of that scene in The Godfather when the movie producer wakes up in the morning and finds the severed head of his favourite race horse underneath the sheets. Those poor people have probably turned out all the lights in the house and are now peeking desperately out the drapes in fear that you might come back. “Here’s your cat.” Good Lord.”

And she was right. (She always is.) So I briefly bowed my head in ‘dopey husband shame’ before heading upstairs for a shower.

But…it all turned out okay.

The Macedonians moved out five days later. And we’ve never seen them again.

I wonder why…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Very Nasty Kid, A Very Angry Dad, A Very Dead Cat – Part Two

(Well, you’ve met the very nasty kid. Now let me introduce you to the very angry Dad.)

Sue was sitting in the living room, reading the newspaper, as I came in the front door.

“How did it go with the father?” she asked, looking up.

“Uh, put it this way,” I replied, slipping off my shoes. “What’s Macedonian for, “Not so good”?”

“What do you mean?”

I strolled across the room and sat down beside her on the couch. “Well, first off,” I began, “the father wasn’t at home. So I had a little chat with the mom. She got very upset.”

“I can imagine.”

“For a minute I thought she was going to burst into tears. But there was also this look of resignation in her eyes. You know… the old ‘oh, dear God, here we go again’ look. I got the distinct impression that I’m not the first parent to ever complain to her about her dear little lad. She brought the kid down from his room and made him apologize to me. Kid wouldn’t even look me in the eye. Apologized to the wall. The mother shrieked something at him in Macedonian, then told me she was very sorry and could hardly believe that her little Angel would ever do such a thing to an eight year old boy.”

“That kid is no angel,” Sue remarked.

“Actually, he is,” I told her. “His name is Angel.”

“Oh. So what do we do now?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“Well, what else can we do? Tell the kids to run away and hide? The street is their road hockey rink. It’s their lacrosse catch area. We can’t tell them to give up what is theirs’ just because a bully moved into the neighbourhood. This is our street. We’ll just have to keep an eye out when we can and hope for the best.”

So that’s what we did. And it worked out really well. The kids rode their bikes. Lacrosse balls flew. Baseballs slapped into outstretched gloves. It was kid Heaven again. For two weeks, anyway. (Which happened, we later discovered, to be the two weeks that Angel and his family had gone on vacation.) Then things turned to crap once more. Vacation was over and angry greaseball Angel had nothing better to do than wander the neighbourhood in search of bully boy victims. Cruelly snide remarks directed towards bewildered little kids. A threatening fist raised. A baseball hat went missing. A glove lost. A kid got pushed off his bike. The side of a car was keyed from front to back.

And local Moms and Dads were getting P.O.’d. Really, really, really P.O.’d.

Anger toward Angel and his ineffectual parents had become like one of those horrible, yet incredibly ingenious, time-delayed fuse bombs dropped by Allied bombers on German cities during World War II air raids. Into the ground the bomb went, then tick…tick…tick…tick. And you knew there was eventually going to be a terrible explosion. You just weren’t sure when the explosion was going to occur and exactly what savage damage the detonation would cause.

And then…well…it turned out that I was the bomb.

And that, when it occurred, the explosion was tremendous.

It was a Saturday morning and, once again, I was standing at the living room window watching a road hockey game being played out in front of our house. Stick handling like his brilliantly hockey savvy Dad had taught him to, Stephen weaved his agile way through his buddies and scored top shelf. God love him! What a guy! Give that kid a contract!! I turned from the window and strolled into the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee when a frantic knocking sounded at the front door. I went to the door and was met by the sight of one of Stephen’s buddies, Malcolm, staring open-mouthed up at me and pointing at what was happening on the street.

And that was when all hell broke loose.

Now, before I go any further (and this is NOT bragging), I have in my day convinced a guy holding a knife to a mans’ neck to hand the blade over to me. I have convinced a fellow holding a broken bottle and threatening to jam the glass into another lads face to drop the weapon. I have been in a couple of bar brawls. In each of these cases, quick thought was required as to how to keep any damage to a minimum.

But not in this case. Because what Malcolm was pointing at was my eight year old son being strangled by a fourteen year old punk. Angel had got a hold of one of the hockey sticks and was standing behind Stephen with the shaft of the stick across my sons throat and he was pulling hard. Stephen’s face was turning red and he was gasping as he tried to push the stick away. But he was just an eight year old kid and he wasn’t going to win this battle.

And I learned in that instant that I was absolutely capable of falling prey to utterly white and blinding rage.

(WARNING! WARNING! IF BAD WORDS OFFEND YOU…STOP READING NOW!)

(Oh…and try to figure out how many laws I break in the next few minutes.)

I ran up behind Angel and, with an open hand, smacked the side of his head as hard as I could. “You nasty little prick,” I hissed. He shrieked and dropped the stick. “You nasty, nasty little prick.” I smacked him as hard as before, then grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and shook him back and forth.

“Are you okay?” I asked my son. There were tears in his eyes, but he nodded his head at me. “Good man,” I told him. “Go see your Mom.”

“And as for you,” I growled at Angel, twisting the collar of his shirt tight and practically lifting him off the ground, “I think it’s time for you to go home.”

I began dragging Angel back towards his house and he began howling. And with every howl, I either smacked him on the side of the head or slammed my closed fist down on the top of his skull. Jeez. I was beating the snot out of a fourteen year old. And it was fun!

“Let me go, you cocksucker!” Angel shouted at me, his voice cracking with fear.

That stopped me in my tracks. I spun Angel around, grabbed him by the front of his shirt and shook him like a rag doll. Then I slapped him hard across the face, before grabbing his collar again and resuming my tried and true slap/punch dragging method. When we reached his house, I simply opened the screen door, stepped inside with the kid and, with one hand, threw him so hard that he slammed with a thud into the staircase. And then he began crying hysterically for his mother. I could hear frantic footsteps from upstairs. His mother turned on the upstairs landing and stopped dead at the sight of her son sprawled on the floor as an obviously furious adult stood over him. She gasped, her eyes went wide and she raised a hand to cover her mouth. I looked her straight in the eye, pointed directly at her sniveling little spawn of Satan and delivered the following screaming (Yes, screaming) soliloquy. (Simply put, I went nuts.)

“IF YOUR FUCKING KID EVER SO MUCH AS FUCKING LOOKS SIDEWAYS AT MY KID AGAIN, I FUCKING SWEAR THAT I WILL FUCKING KILL HIM!! DO YOU FUCKING UNDERSTAND?? I WILL FUCKING KILL YOUR FUCKING KID!! I’M NOT FUCKING AROUND HERE!! I FUCKING MEAN IT! I WILL FUCKING KILL HIM!! SO YOU, OR YOU AND YOUR FUCKING HUSBAND BETTER GET FUCKING CONTROL OF THIS LITTLE FUCKING BASTARD OR HE IS GOING TO BE FUCKING DEAD!”

And with that, I simply turned around, walked out the door and strolled home.

Man, I felt exhausted.

Back home, Sue and Stephen were sitting at the kitchen table. A bowl of Neapolitan ice cream sat in front of my son. There was a big grin on his face. “Boy, Dad,” he enthused, “you must of said the eff word a million times.”

I looked at Sue. “You could hear!?”

“Every word,” she said, a smile playing on her lips.

“But that house has got to be a hundred yards down the road,” I said.

“Every word,” she repeated, the smile still lighting up her lovely face. “And it sounded pretty impressive. I think you might have made your point. Would you like some ice cream?”

“Sure,” I said, sitting down at the table beside Stephen. He grinned at me. I grinned back and gave his shoulder a gentle little closed fist bump. He did the same back to me. And it did my heart good. It really did.

And so, between assault and battery, trespassing, threatening death and whatever other felony I may have committed in the space of about five minutes, I spent the rest of the day waiting for the cops to knock on the door and have a little chat with me. But no knock ever came. And three days later a cat was dead.

Poor little cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Very Nasty Kid, A Very Angry Dad, A Very Dead Cat – Part One

On a Saturday morning years ago, I was standing at our front window and sipping on a cup of coffee. I was watching my son, Stephen (eight years of age at the time) and his buddies running around pell-mell in a spirited game of stick clacking, tennis ball bouncing road hockey. From up the street came an older kid I had never seen before. I reckoned he was probably thirteen or fourteen years old and he kind of reminded me of a very young George Chakiris, the guy from West Side Story. He was dressed (oddly, I thought, for a summers day) in an untucked long sleeved white dress shirt, black trousers and black leather shoes. His hair was dark and unfashionably slicked back. I don’t want to appear judgemental, but without ever having seen the kid before in my life, I had the impression of a small town greaser with a chip on his shoulder.

It’s rather hard to describe, but I just had the sense that there was something a little bit “off” about the kid.

Sue was in the kitchen and I asked her to join me at the window.

“Any idea who that lad is?” I asked, as she stood beside me drying her hands on a towel.

“I do,” she replied. “He’s one of the boys from the family who’ve rented Dan and Cathy’s house while they’re in Switzerland for the year.”

“Oh,” I said, before taking another sip of coffee, noting that the kid had stopped behind one of the nets and was observing the end-to-end action. “Quite the fashion plate, wouldn’t you say?”

“I think the family is Macedonian,” Sue said, as if the statement somehow explained the hair and clothes.

I just looked at her for a confused moment. She gave me a inscrutable smile, then turned and went back to whatever was so interesting in the kitchen.

I looked out the window once more and saw that the kid had stepped around the net, snatched up the tennis ball and was now standing in the middle of ten little kids who wanted their ball back. Stephen, being the tallest kid in the pack, went up to the boy and said something. The kid sneered and said something back. And it must have been ripe, because all of their jaws dropped. Stephen again said something, then held out his hand for the ball.

And that is when that creep kid horked right on to my son’s outstretched palm.

I’d seen enough.

I was through the door like a shot, striding quickly across the lawn. Stephen and his pals turned and looked relieved to see me. And you would think that the rat kid might have scurried off at this point.

Nope.

This was no ordinary rat kid. (Maybe it had something to do with being Macedonian.)

And now he sneered at me.

I didn’t hesitate. I grasped the wrist below Stephen’s phlegm covered palm, grabbed the kid’s left arm and wiped the snot off my sons hand on to the rat kids sleeve. I then snatched the ball out of the kids hand and dropped it on the ground. The kid looked down at his soiled sleeve for a moment, then looked up at me. There was no fear in his eyes. There was nothing in his eyes. And it was kind of spooky in its own little way.

Without a sound, he turned and strolled calmly back towards the other end of the street.

“Tell your father I’ll be dropping down later to have a word with him about you,” I called to the kid.

The kids shoulders kind of flinched, but he never gave any other indication he had even heard me.

And I kind of figured that…well, that was that.

But I was wrong.

(You’ve met the nasty kid. Stay tuned for the very angry dad.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Two Guys Talking – Part One

(Do you have “nuisance bears” where you live? You don’t? Well, would you like one? Or two? Or even three? We’re lousy with the damn things here in Ontario. Someday I shall relate the oh-so-exciting tale of Ollie Hartman having to shoot a black bear (“Right in the kitchen, I tell ya! I got the fuggin’ bugger right in the kitchen!”) that had busted down the front door of his cabin at two in the morning. But today you just get two guys talking.

Rooster and I were sitting in the living room overlooking the lake, sipping 16 year old Glen Moray as Daisykins The Goofball Rottweiler lay on the floor with her head between her paws, big moist eyes tracking back and forth between my buddy and I in apparent hopes that one of us might suddenly throw her a steak or something.

“Had a little adventure yesterday,” I informed my friend, happy to see a ruby-throated hummingbird suddenly alight on the feeder nearest the picture window.

“Do tell?” he responded.

“I do,” I confirmed.

“So, please do.”

“I shall,” I said, taking a wee bracing nip before proceeding. “It was such a nice morning yesterday that I canoed over to the inner lake to do a little pike fishing. It was perfect pike water. Smooth as glass. Anyway, I turned right after the entrance, and paddled down to the south end. Figured I’d beach the canoe just past the bog island and do a little casting from shore. You know, the same place you caught that twelve-pounder last year.”

“Nice fish,” Rooster murmured. “Wonder how big it’ll be this year.”

“I was thinking the same thing,” I said. “Gee, this is good scotch! Anyhow, I get down to the south end, step into about a foot of water, then on to the shore and pull the canoe halfway up the bank. I was just bending over to get my rod out of the boat when I suddenly hear this little “Wah!” sound.”

“Oh, dear,” Rooster remarked knowingly, taking a little more than a wee sip of the Glen Moray.

“Yes,” I agreed. “Oh, dear, indeed. Then I heard another “Wah” sound.”

“Oh, double dear,” Rooster said, reaching for the bottle.

(Now, if you have ever had any experience with black bears, you know exactly where this story is going. If you have never had any experience with black bears…pay attention…this may save your life one day.)

“Still bent over, I slowly turned my head, looked off to my left and saw exactly what I expected to see. Two little bear cubs about forty yards away staring straight at me and not liking what they were seeing at all. And, to be honest, I wasn’t too damn happy with what I was seeing at all, either.”

(The problem with the predicament I found myself in is that there are basically four ways it can end. And three of them, to say the least, are…not good. Here are your problems. One…you are not sure if you are now between the mother and her cubs. There are few situations in nature more dangerous than getting between a Momma Bear and her babies. If she catches you, she shall tear you to shreds. Two…you are not sure if the mother is directly behind you. Another rather untenable position that can end with serious shredding. Three…the mother is beyond her cubs but close enough to hear her youngs’ distress calls and, if the wind is blowing in her direction, will soon be able to pick up your scent. And, please trust me on this one, you would probably be very surprised to see how fast a black bear sow can run when her young are endangered. So please simply do what I did.)

“So I slid the canoe back into the water and pushed off as far as I could before picking up the paddle and stroking hard.”

“Wise move,” Rooster said.

“Solomon-like,” I agreed.

It really was good scotch.

Daisykins had given up on any hopes of a sirloin or a side of beef appearing and was now snoring happily away.

Rooster turned and faced me. “Erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation?” he asked.

“What!?” I replied, nearly dropping my glass.

Rooster laughed. “It was this ad I saw in the newspaper the other day. Sex clinic for men in Toronto. Ad was in the sports section, of course. Nothing like the fear of a nonexistent boner to go along with the morning cup of coffee and the baseball box scores.” He lowered his voice into the smooth sounding tone of a pitchman. “Erectile Dysfunction?? Premature Ejaculations?? Non Invasive, Safe, Fast and Effective Treatment. Call Today!”

“Did you call?” I inquired.

“Yeah,” he shot back. “Your appointment is Wednesday morning. I haven’t told Sue.”

“Thanks,” I chuckled.

“But it got me thinking,” he said. “What’s worse? Leaving the show early? Or not getting to the show at all? If you have the first problem, the second can’t occur. But if you have the second problem you…”

“Actually, Rooster” I interrupted, “the second problem isn’t a problem at all if you happen to be by yourself. Think of it as a time saver.”

Rooster stared at me for a moment, then gave his head a shake. “You want me to start the BBQ?” he asked.

“Sure,” I replied, raising my glass in salute.

And, if you’re lucky, that’s the way it goes with old friends. Laughs, love, loads of BS, lots of trust and even, sometimes, a BBQ. Just two guys talking…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wilderness Paul’s Tackle Box Auction – Part Two

OK, guys and gals. Time to sit down and get the bidding paddles ready…because Wilderness Paul’s Tackle Box Auction is going to begin right now!

Lot No. 1 – We open our auction with what can only be described as a “novelty piece”. What we have here is a small coleslaw container from the local supermarket containing more than two hundred hooks of various sizes. Note that when we pick up one hook we discover that all the hooks have become interlocked and are now nothing more than one big, highly dangerous hunk of silver steel. Great as a gag gift for the fisherman who has everything but a metallic ball of useless crud at the bottom of his tackle box. Wilderness Paul will even throw in a free box of Band-Aids and a $25 gift certificate that can be used in partial payment for a tetanus shot. Bidding starts at $400.

Lot No. 2 – Hey, what’s this!? Oh, it’s a lure I borrowed from my good buddy, Keith Weir, when we were bassing last August. And, oooeee!, it’s a crackerjack basher of bass. One of Keith’s favourites, in fact. And, if memory serves me right, he’s asked me to give it back at least ten times. Maybe twenty. But, jeepers, actually getting around to returning it to him has (for reasons I am simply unable to fathom) somehow managed to keep slipping my mind. Well, tough luck, Keith. Wilderness Paul says that everything must Go! Go! Go! and your lure is Gone! Gone! Gone! Cry me a river, pal. Bidding starts at $750.

Lot No. 3 – Ahhhhhhh. Now here is a lure with a tale to tell. See the missing bits of paint, deep scratches and cracks on this lure? I like to tell people it got that way when I loaned it to Prince Charles and he suddenly found himself locked in a titanic struggle with a maddened musky. Yesiree. That’s the story I like to tell. The story doesn’t contain a grain of truth, of course, but I like to tell it all the same. What actually happened was that I was inspecting the newly bought lure in the parking lot of the tackle shop when I accidentally dropped it, then watched in horror as somebody in an SUV ran over it. Note the totally mangled treble hooks. Wilderness Paul guarantees that this lure has never been used! Bidding starts at $1,100.

Lot No. 4 – Gee, if only this lure could talk. What a marvelous story it could convey. My mother-in-law (Bless her tiny, cold heart) likes to call this little beauty “The Selfish Bastard” just because it happens to be the lure I was using on a northern Canadian lake at the exact moment that my first child was being born back in the city. (And after all these years you’d think I would have heard the end of it. Yeah, right. How much bitterness can one woman carry around? Man, you should hear her drone on and on and on about it. Every family gathering…Aarrrgggghhhhh! She makes me crazy!) Wilderness Paul wipes away a nostalgic tear and wonders if there is a price we can place on such a sentimental item. And the answer is, “Of course there is, you fool.” Bidding starts at $7,800.

Lot No. 5 – Dear God! What was I thinking about when I bought this piece of sh…er…ha ha ha…what we have here is a classic lure, folks. An absolute classic. Here…let me give it a quick shake. Oh, it doesn’t have any rattles. That’s kind of odd. Heh heh. Oh, well. But it has two eyes. Yeah. Imagine that. Two brown eyes. And…and it turns different colours if you move it back and forth. Boy, what kind of crackpot genius came up with this idea? Red, blue, yellow. Watch closely. Isn’t it pretty? Look closer. It’s sort of hypnotic, isn’t it? Very relaxing. And…you appear to be getting sleepy. Very sleepy. You are drifting off into a deep, deep sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleep. Sleeeeeeeeeep. Wilderness Paul gently says, “Slowly pull out your wallet and open it.” Good. Very good. Bidding starts at $150,000.

Wilderness Paul’s Tackle Box Auction. Certified cheques or cash only, please.

 

Wilderness Paul’s Tackle Box Auction – Part One

When I recently read in the newspaper that some dimwit from San Francisco had paid $26,000 (American, for goodness sake!) for a small piece of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor’s 80 year old wedding cake, I realized that P.T. Barnum was absolutely correct when he said something to the effect of, “You will never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the North American public.”

It appears that the desire for people to own a piece of memorabilia from a famous person (famous AND dead is even better) has grown into an industry of epic proportions. People have gone totally gaga lately bidding at auctions for things that once belonged to the likes of John F. Kennedy, Elton John, Jacqueline Onassis, Lady Di and a host of other notables. And the money these items are fetching, like the over-priced piece of royal fruitcake, is simply mind-boggling.

And that is why I, Wilderness Paul, figure that if a piece of stale pastry can rake in a cool $26,000, then it’s time for me to buy a ticket at the station and hop aboard the gravy train. To reach out and grab myself a slice of the pie. To get you folks out there to dig deep, deep, deep into your pockets and pony up the kind of dough I just know I deserve. To get me walking on the sunny side of Easy Street.

“How?” you wonder, scratching your head in simpleton-like confusion.

“Easy,” I reply, a wily grin on my face.

You see, I, Wilderness Paul, have decided to auction off the magnificent and often mysterious contents of just one of my many tackle boxes. Yes, sir! I have something to sell here and, knowing only too well the kind of stupendous intellect possessed by my fellow members of the angling brethren, I’m willing to bet there’s a veritable boatload of slack-jawed fisher folk out there just rarin’ to make me filthy rich by bidding on items of (ahem) Canadian piscatorial history. (Hey! Is that my good buddy, Early Retirement, I see strolling over the horizon?)

“But you’re not really famous,” I hear you protest. “And you’re not even dead!”

“How observant you are,” I reply. “But so what?”

As we all know, time will take care of the latter, while the former is rather more uncertain.

Just because I’m a relatively unknown goofball right now doesn’t mean I won’t someday become an astronaut. Or a ballet star. Or one of those people who, after the police dig up the corpses in the basement, is described by the neighbours as “a really quiet guy who always kept to himself”. Or, maybe through some bizarrely madcap bureaucratic mix-up, I’ll suddenly discover that I’m the King of Albania. Wow! And then you’ll be sorry, matey. Really sorry. Sorry that you didn’t bid on items from the tackle box that now belongs to the King of Albania.

So don’t be a dope. Shut your eyes for a moment and picture yourself owning a lure, or some other piece of fishing crap, that once belonged to His Most Serene Highness, King Wilderness Paul of Albania. Then try to imagine what your wife will say!

Just remember that the memorabilia market is a speculative market, and that people have been speculating about me for years. So, much like the ancient tomb of Tutankhamen, let us begin the auction by slowly opening up the magical tackle box of Wilderness Paul and seeing what wondrous treasures our eyes behold. Oooooooooooooooo…..

(Next week…let the bidding begin!)