Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Rod and Mackerel

I once knew an old fellow. He was a man from the south country. His body was bloated and his voice loud and boisterous. His cap always covered his baldness, and he hid it well. With rod in hand, every day I saw him walk down the steep grade, over the sweeping hills, until he vanished off in the distance. A fisherman never shared his secret spot, and I never cared to ask. He would always return with a single fish. It would be large, vigorously kicking defiantly to it's bitter end. I would watch flummoxed. Where could they come from?

My mother was not very helpful on the subject. She had her suspicions I knew, but they were not ready to be shared with me. They were stories of the community no doubt. I myself heard one once, that the man was a demon. Those weren't fish he had caught, but people he had tricked into playing his game and were transformed into dinner. Every day in the twilight of the waning sun, I would see him bumbling along, whistling a tune, sporting a mackerel and rod in either hand.

But one day I saw him coming down the grade, and I decided to be brave.

"Sire," I said stepping in front of him, "Where be you off this fine weathered day?"

He didn't see me and continued to walk through me. I turned and watched him go on, whistling his tune. I was rather cross about the whole thing really. The nerve to ignore me. Deep down, I had had enough. I decided to follow him.

For close to an hour I followed him, watching from quite a distance, for the road was open and no more trees grew in the hills for me to hide in. I continued this all afternoon until finally I realized that the countryside had changed, or was changing - it was quite difficult to tell really. There was nothing out of the ordinary that I could place. No purple ovine  or two legged cows, mind you. It was the very substance of the world that seemed to distance itself from me. I looked up and saw the world shimmering brighter than I would have expected, as if the very sun had merged with the mediocre things. It didn't bother the old chap however, He just bumbled along, as he always did.

When I had all but lost hope, I saw the man finally set down his things, next to a placid pool of water, ballooning out from a larger stream that ran all the way to what I expected was the oceans. And there he sat unassuming, placing the rod into a small hole carved into the rocks at the waterside. Ruffling his jacket he took out the morning paper and began thumbing through it, his whistle transformed into a throaty hum. I saw this all from the grass actually, where I lay prone on the edge of the hill top. My whole life I never knew such a place existed, and I was quite the country boy.

"Think you can get the drop on me, eh lad?" He called out, his eyes still lost in the paper. "I may be old but my sense of smell is still sharper than a bleedin' sword."

I froze. How did he know? My breath was suddenly stricken. Lost in panic I stood up and lost my footing at the center of the hill. My body rocked forwards as I cried out. "Oh the misfortune," I thought as the ground gave out, "this is going to bloody hurt..."

To be Continued...

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