Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Whale of a Tale

This one is just for fun.


It was a lazy Saturday, the kind I love in early May where the sun is bright and clear, and the spring breeze smells of lilac and honeysuckle. My wife and kids were at my in-laws for the weekend, and while I had a honey-do list a foot long, this rare moment of solitude, coupled with the not-so-subtle urging of Mother Nature, could mean only one thing: it was time to go fishing. My chosen target? Teach Cove. The temperature was about right for the larger bass to be up on the flats and I had a couple of new lures I had been dying to try out.

The water was mirror calm as I worked my Senko out over the flats. I had been on the lake for almost three hours without a bite, but the fish there were finicky. I knew they could start striking at any moment, and once they did I'd catch the limit for sure. If I could just find the right spot....

I was so intent on placing my lure at the edge of the weed bed I didn't hear them approach.

"Argh! Stand to and prepared to be boarded."

The voice was so unexpected that I was startled into nearly dropping my rod. The accent was terrible, but unmistakable. It was classic Hollywood pirate speak. I swiveled in my seat and almost dropped the pole for the second time for the sheer shock value of the sight.

They were in a paddle boat, a pink one, one of those molded plastic models where the people sit side by side and pedal with their feet, steering via a simple rudder between the seats. Only one of the seats was occupied, by a twenty-something male delinquent complete with shaved head, nose and ear piercings, ripped black jeans, and a t-shirt that read "Drink Up Me Hearties." The eye patch that probably should have been over an eye had instead been pushed up on his head so it rested just north of his left eyebrow.

The other character was dressed from head to toe in what could only be described as an off-the-shelf Captain Jack Sparrow Halloween costume. Some sort of black paint had been hastily plastered around his eyes. Rather than sitting in the other seat, "Jack" was balancing somewhat precariously over the divider at the front of the boat, the backs of his hands resting on his hips.

Did I mention that the boat was pink?

"Uhm, what?"

Jack twisted his mouth and spoke again. "This here's a hijacking. We're taking yer vessel."

I stared at the approaching boat. They were about twenty feet away and coming generally in my direction when Eyepatch made a poor adjustment with the rudder that swung them wide and pointing parallel to me. Jack swayed but managed to keep his feet.

"You have got to be kidding me."

Jack reached to the sash at his waist, pulled out a long gray object, and began brandishing it in the air. "Does it look like I'm kidding ye? Avast!"

I stared in disbelief. "That's a foam sword."

Jack didn't answer. Eyepatch having failed to correct their course, they were now moving past my position, and Jack had to twist in order to continue facing me. He whacked Eyepatch over the head with the sword.

"Not that way ye scurvy dog! Turn about and prepare a broadside."

I watched in fascinated disbelief as the pair of them slowly turned around and headed back for another pass. While Eyepatch struggled to keep them on course, Jack reached down to the floor by the empty seat and pulled out a large plastic gun, something I belatedly recognized as one of those super-soaking water cannons. He sheathed his sword and starting pumping the gun.

"Surrender now or prepare to suffer the consequences, landlubber." Jack pointed the gun in my direction. Were they serious?

It was at that point that two things happened simultaneously. My fishing pole, forgotten in the absurdity of the "pirate attack," jerked hard as something BIG struck the plastic worm out on the flats. At the same time, a stream of fluid I sincerely hoped was water hit me full in the face. I sputtered and spat and somehow managed to keep hold of the pole, but my knee jerk reaction from getting water in my mouth had an unfortunate effect. My left foot kicked the handle to my trolling motor and my boat lurched into motion.

What happened next is something of a blur, perhaps due to the near constant stream of water in my eyes. (Say what you want about Jack, but he had good aim.) My pole bent near double and I instinctively grabbed the reel with both hands. It probably wasn't the best course of action, as the trolling motor was now free to run wild. My kick had put it at an angle, and my boat lurched around to the left, right into the path of the paddleboat. They rammed the front of my boat, twisting me around in my seat and changing my heading once again. The impact threw Jack off the paddleboat. He landed in my stern, the water gun flying out of his hands.

"Oh, ye'll pay for that, ye will." He pulled the sword from his waist and set himself in a guard position.

At that moment, the line for my rod snapped. I glared at the pirate, my vision going red. All I wanted was a leisurely Saturday afternoon of fishing, and this buffoon had not only interrupted me, but he had caused me to lose what may have been the largest fish I had ever hooked on this lake. The bastard was going to pay.

I lunged forward with the rod, driving its tip at his face. He swung the sword up in a parry and the rod went wide. I swung again at him, and again, but each time he managed to block, throwing in a hearty "argh" as my pole missed him. All the while my boat continued in a circle, and Eyepatch tried to correct his course to come back for another pass.

When the foam sword snuck past my guard and whacked me on the shoulder I had had enough. I braced myself, reached back with my hand, grabbed the handle of the trolling motor and wrenched it the other way. The boat rocked violently as it shifted direction. Jack was unprepared for the sudden change; the motion threw him off balance and he wheeled his arms in the air in an attempt to recover. I jerked the handle a second time, and the pirate poser tumbled overboard.

"Yes!" I screamed, my fist pumping the air. "Take that, Jack Sparrow!"

Jack bobbed to the surface, spitting water from his mouth. "That's CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow," he called back, the black around his eyes running in streaks down his face.

He watched me cut the power to the trolling motor and bring it out of the water. "You won't escape," he said as I made my way to the rear of my boat. He dog paddled toward me.

I smiled as I pulled the cord to the twenty horsepower outboard. It roared to life. "So long, Captain," I said and hit the throttle.

The boat rocketed forward, as much as a fifteen year old aluminum fishing boat can "rocket," leaving the Captain, Eyepatch, and their pink pirate ship in its wake.


I was still angry when I got home. Stupid punk pirate. It's not like I got days to myself all that often. Was it really too much to ask that I get just a few moments of peace at the lake? Wasn't I due that as a reward for all I did for my family day after day?

My eyes caught sight of the box on the kitchen counter, with its accompanying card, that my wife always left for me when she assigned such a long list of chores around the house. The box was a gift, her way of thanking me for completing her lists when she knew I'd rather be doing something else. She was thoughtful that way.

I looked at the box, thoughts of rewards tumbling through my brain. I hadn't finished the list, but my anger at having my outing at the lake ruined overshadowed my better judgment. Wasn't I due?

I opened the card. It read, "Thanks for doing all of that. You've wanted this for a while now - I hope you enjoy it." She had signed her name at the bottom, enclosed in a big red heart.

Ignoring a sudden twinge of guilt, I grabbed the box, tore off the wrapping paper, and removed the lid.

There inside, lay a brand new copy of "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides."

I started chuckling. What were the odds? The chuckle turned into a full belly laugh and it was some time before I could breathe normally again. I wiped the tears from my eyes as I went in search of my tool box.

Some way or another, my wife always seemed to get her way.