Walt had been coming to fish at the same spot with his father for the last 35 years. He had carried his fathers heavy red tackle box down the track to the same camping location down by the same jetty which overlooked same Lake, all the while using the same rod, to attempt to catch same monster fish. 35 years had passed, and still, they had not caught that monster from under the ripples of Lake Backfermore. Oh they had come close a few times, don’t get me wrong. Once they had even hauled that sucker right up to the pier before the line twanged against the wooden upright, then snapped. They had cursed their luck that day, just like every other day, with a six pack of Coors, and a fry up of the smaller offspring they had caught. Then, like every year, reluctantly they packed up camp for another season, with nothing but yet more stories of the big one that got away.
On his fathers death bed, Walt had been forced to make a promise to return to the campsite only one more time to make the pilgrimage to try and finally catch the monster that had evaded them both for almost 4 decades . If Walt failed, his father had made him promise, that the annual pilgrimage should die with him and not become Walts obsession. Walt nodded, he would obey his fathers wishes and make only one more trip to the Lake with his red tackle box.
It was winter now, fishing season was well and truly over, as Walt stood on that snow covered jetty, his rod in its holder. The line had been cast out long into the steaming lake, the morning air was fresh and crisp, as the sun rose in the hills beyond. His cold breath hung around him as he stared out blankly to the smooth lake, the beans bubbling in the pot over the camp stove behind him. Walt stretched away the camp bed knots in his back, then slipped on his engineer boot loosely, surveying the lakes still vastness. Walt thought that the water was so smooth, you could have snorted a line from its shiny mirrored surface. But still no old friend from below appeared to greet him . Nothing bobbed in the stillness of the lake as he stood in the morning chill in nothing but his white boxer briefs and untied engineer boots. Maybe the fish was dead now, like his father.
He picked up his heavy sheepskin jacket that hung over the washing line by his tent, and slid the heavy coat on, not bothering to tie his bootlaces, and clunked his way over to the rod on the jetty, making sure all was secure. Maybe today he would use a different lure. Maybe today he would catch the monster with something new from his fathers red tackle box.
Below the surface, the old catfish watched, and waited.
The kettle boiled on the small camp fire next to the beans on the camping stove , and the steam whistle chirped, alerting Walt who was still crouched on the jetty. He stopped raking through the colourful lures in his fathers tackle box , the same box that he had struggled to carry down the goat track to the camp as a child on so many of their trips. The same box that had cut him and jabbed his curious fingers with lures and hooks as his father had laughed at his clumsiness.
Walt stood up, his boots clunking their way back to shoreline campsite, which lay in the high contouring weeds.He was smiling now. In his hand was the golden snitch of lures, the lure that his father said would catch their nemesis. He wound in the line, and replaced the lure with the fine golden snitch, and filled it with feed, and then cast it out long into the lake. After a few minutes watching the water settle, Walt returned to attend to the screaming boiling kettle.
The catfish watched, and waited, then slowly made his move.
Walt missed the first twitch on the line as he poured the boiling water into his bowl to clean away what remained of his breakfast beans. But as he turned slowly he saw the fresh ripples lapping the shoreline. At first he merely gazed at the hypnotising waves, until he heard his fathers voice scream in his head, “Walt! he’s here the buggers here!”
The bowl fell to the grass as Walt watched the line twitch for a second time, and he ran to the jetty. His boots thumped heavily on the dewy planks as the untied laces of his boots whipped eagerly at his bare legs. As he neared his fathers red metal tackle box the line twitched again, and he knew today was the day. But the jetty was wet, and slippery, and Walt slipped as he ran over the wooden planks, stumbling over his clunking boots, and pitching forward, striking his head against the rusting corner of his fathers old tackle box.
Walt pitched over the side of the wooden jetty, blood pouring from the wound in his temple as he crashed into the icy waters below. The heavy sheepskin jacket dragged him down to the grasping weeds as he faded from consciousness and blinked out in the murky depths of Lake Backfermore.
The curious old catfish approached Walt slowly, then faced him. Walts glassy eyes blinked in disbelief as the huge monster of a catfish spat out the golden snitch, turned to the smaller fish next to him and spoke, “finally son,” it gurgled, “after all these years we’ve finally caught the bugger!”
Lake Backfermore, settled once more, as the catfish fed.
gregg C 2017.
submission to : Feed your monster.