Word count: 832
BOOM BOX SAINT
It was my secret place, a place that was like an old friend, a friend you share things with, not just a beer or a pinch of Copenhagen, but inside things. For years I had the place to myself, so when I started running into other fisherman and campers I was defensive and angry. These people needed to get out of my face and go find their own spot. At first it was just one or two here and there and that wasn’t so bad. They seemed like good people, kindred spirits, looking for the same thing that I was looking for, a place to go when you needed to heal your soul, a place to take a friend who had a broken heart.
It was here that I would perform the yearly ritual of keeping a few Trout for dinner. This of course put me out there on the fringe with some of my friends who would have considered me a murderer, no better than some North Georgia corn-soaker who followed the hatchery truck around until it dumped his dinner into the creek; but, I gave little thought to those friends as I rolled my fish in cornmeal, fried them in Bacon grease, and wash them down with cool creek water liberally laced with Irish whiskey.
I shared one such meal with a doctor who was traveling across country to New York promoting a children’s book he had illustrated; he gave me a signed copy, which I still have, and it’s one of my prized possessions.
Then somehow the word got out. Car loads of yuppies began to show up with their brand new gear and ball caps sporting logos for high-dollar fishing gear. They looked down their Ivey League noses at me in my ratty, fish and jelly stained vest and my patched waders. They hadn’t been in the sport long enough to appreciate my antique bamboo rod and probably thought I was just some eccentric old fart, or a bait fisherman in disguise. They had pretty women with them who wouldn’t look you in the eye, as if they were ashamed of the company they were keeping, and their dogs—always retrievers—seemed starved for attention. One scratch behind the ear usually had them hanging out at my camp for the rest of the weekend—the dogs that is. Then the real bait fisherman showed up.
One afternoon a car with what appeared to be two whole families and some change pulled down the hill and into my camp. They jumped out and scattered like a flock of turkeys. The older children headed upstream throwing rocks in the water; the men headed down stream with their fish poles and bait cans; the women, toddlers, and babies headed for the middle of the stream where they began changing babies, throwing the diapers into the bushes, and shampooing their hair in the creek.
I decided to head down the creek to get away from them and do some fishing. When I passed the men, I noticed that they were fishing with worms in a section of the creek that was reserved for artificial flies and lures. Thinking that they may not be familiar with the regulations, I stopped and explained to them that they were in the wrong section and told them how to get to the bait fishing section. They nodded and I went on my way. Later, on my way back to camp, I seen they were still fishing with worms. They had a long stringer of fish that was clearly over the limit and I told them again that they were fishing in the wrong place. One of them turned and sneeringly asked me in a heavy Latin accent, “Are you the Game Warden?” I said, “No. I’m the son-of-a-bitch who is going to take down your license number and give it to the Game Warden.” With that they packed up and left. After they left, I filled up a thirty gallon trash bag with the dirty diapers, pop cans, and trash that they had left in their wake.
Shortly after that I made my last trip to my hideaway. I was camped in my usual spot, and on Friday night I had the place to myself, but Saturday morning a group pulled in and set up camp next to me. Everything seemed fine until the sun went down. Then a party broke out. They cranked up a “Boom Box” full blast, and the drinking, shouting, and loud music went on until about four in the morning when they gradually drifted off to their tents to crash. I waited until I was sure they were good and passed out. Then I quietly broke camp and loaded up my truck. When I was ready to pull out, I slipped through their camp and found the “Boom Box”. I placed it on the trail in front of my truck and run over it on my way out.