Women are the only ones that do dumb things. Men always have a reason, even if they don’t really need one.
You have met him before, but I have to keep changing his name so that I don’t have to pay him royalties. From here on, in this episode of adventure, I will refer to him as “Todlums”. Todlums and I have been running together since we were about twelve years old. He was over at the office just last Friday. I invited him to lunch but I knew I was safe from buying his lunch, because he is always late, but that is another story and this is this one.
I bought a boat, but first. My brother in law and I bought a dump truck. We hired another brother in law’s brother to drive that dump truck. You have to follow this real close now. With no fault of his ,he (the brother in law’s brother) rolled the dump truck down the side of an iron ore mountain. I am not talking about on the wheels. I am talking about on one side, on the top, on the other side. Etc. The insurance company was quick and efficient. I mis-spoke earlier. We bought a boat. I do not recommend this process, just buy the boat first.
One Monday night I called Todlums.
“Let’s go fishing tomorrow.”
“You don’t like to go fishing.”
“I do now, I got a boat - pause - and some beer”.
“Come on RIGHT now, you are going to stay here tonight so you want be late tomorrow.”
A gloriously beautiful day it was. The sky looked like it was spray painted with sky blue paint. The wind was very light causing hardly a ripple on the entire lake. It was seasonably warm. The humidity was high. We took a short swim before off to the scaly creature’s habitat we did go. In Texas, I am pretty sure it is a law that you cannot fish close to where you “put in’the boat. You must, I am sure, straddle in, life jacket up, slowly ease away from the lake bank and then run wide open until you can no longer see the vehicle that brought you to the event. We did this with professional precision. With speeds reaching excess of plenty fast enough. Water spray provided a feeling of cooled jubilation.
“How about here?”
“Let’s drink a beer first; it’s hot.”
There is nothing like the sound of puepussstt echoing across a smooth glimmering lake. I placed the Cloud’s Pleezin Po-Boy sandwich on the bow of the boat to bask in the morning sun. They would be perfectly heated by the time lunch rolled around. It is just hard to explain the allure of such an event. After the first refreshment, it was noticed that we probably weren’t in the best fishing spot on the lake. It was determined that before we got our gear all wet and tangled, we would go to that cove over yonder. In a few minutes, we got to “over yonder” and killed the engine.
“Man, this is the spot. let’s drink a beer before we start.”
“We are going to catch ‘em today, man’alive. Just as soon as I finish this I am gonna bait up.”
“Have you ever been over to The Landing?”
“No, but I know a fellow, who’s buddy catches big’uns every time he goes over there.”
“Gimme one of those sandwiches and a beer before we head out that-a-way.”
The Landing was sure to hold treasures of sightseeing even if a fish never flops. No luck there either. This went on pretty much all day. A safe bet would be that the spinning prop got more fish than was caught by the total number of angles that day. I have seen a gazillion bumper stickers that read Any Day Spent Fishing is better than the Best Day Working. I am convinced that included the fact if you never wet your hook. This was one of those days, but the horizon was reaching up toward the flaming orb. It was time to head to la casa.
The sixteen foot bass boat glided effortlessly up onto the sandy beach. I told Todlums to jump out and back the trailer down the ramp. I would do the obligatory redneck circle with the boat and drive it onto the trailer. He would then pull me and the boat up the ramp. This can only be done by a man wearing a feed store cap and preferably the sleeves cut out of an old faded denim shirt. I was fixed, plus a half-finished Travis Club Senator cigar made by Finch Tobacco Company, San Antonio, Texas, clinched dead center in my mouth finished the list. This was going to be a snap.
Todlums got into his ‘62 Chevrolet pickup truck and only on about the fourth try got the trailer backed far enough into the water. Finishing up the ceremonial circle, the boat slid up on the trailer and its belly found the supporting cradle. Peering through the back glass of the pickup, Todlums was watching with anticipation for my signal. That’s when I spotted it. The Chevy was a three speed on the column and the shift lever was sticking straight up. The transmission was either in second gear or still in reverse. Now you tell me which one it was.
I certainly did not want to look silly in front of the scattered strangers around the loading dock so for caution’s sake, I yelled out to Todlems.
“Be sure it is in LOW (gear).”
Todluns thought I said, “I’m ready let’s go.”
The truck’s engine roared to life. There was an acute backward movement of the blue truck. Hell bent for bassacwards we went. The rear of the truck souged off into the lake until the tail pipe was blowing bubbles like a trapped whale breaking wind. Todlums was still looking out the back glass right at me; eyes bigger’n dinner plates. Before the whole truck got under water, Todlums had sense enough to hit the brake which slung the boat backwards, squirting off the trailer. I, Captain boat-pilot, had it under control. No problem. The boat was driven from the front swivel seat. The throttle was on the right side and the steering stick was on the left. Sitting tall and unnerved, I yanked back on the steering stick to twist the boat left and I showered down on the throttle to the peg. The moss green Kingfisher lurched forward like a big frog and rammed snugly against the bow stop. Evenrude was squealing at top lung. Todlums recognized the error of his direction and stabbed the gear shift into sure enough low gear. Out we started. The trailer once again dislodged from under the fiberglass watercraft. The boat prop caught hold and forward we went back onto the trailer. This one was going to be one for telling about. About a third way up the ramp, in all the excitement, the six cylinder pickup engine coughed and almost died. Todlums pushed in the clutch and raced the engine to top RPM’s.,,and jumped off the clutch. One more time, backwards I was headed. The trailer was built to tilt in the middle for easier loading and when center of gravity was reached, the back of the boat crashed onto the concrete ramp. Todlums was on his way, so, in short time, the full length of the boat was resting quite firmly on its belly. The back of the boat and motor prop were still slightly in the lake. Boat motor was still at full scream. Mud and water was reaching tree top heights and mud was raining down like from a slop filled volcano. Women and children. were running and screaming, hiding behind trees. One old dog was barking and jumping up and down. Everyone was in general disarray.
Todlums got to the top of the hill. ( to this day, I don’t believe that he knew what happened until he got out of the truck.) He came running down the ramp and stopped in a linebacker’s stance and just stood there in total bewilderment. The noise was deafening. A fellow fisherman standing next to a picnic table was hunkered over, shielding his beer cooler from the falling mud pies. He was bent at the knees and his brow was furrowed down to the top of his big nose. His mouth was all twisted up in a snarl, with his three teeth showing. His squint indicated that he was not totally convinced that he was seeing what he saw. He was holding his hand out making a silly twisting motion. Finally I realized that he was indicating for me to turn off the motor. I slowly reached over and clicked the ignition off. If was absolutely quiet; the cigar still in its rightful location. The only sound heard was mud splats from falling lake bottom mixed with seaweed and the swinging stainless steel basket fastened to the inside rail of the boat, holding my last beer, swishing back and forth; Skerrshh, Skerrshh, Skerrshh.