The week that followed was a long , hard fought week of tedium and hard work. Lloyd’s attitude of being the hard ass was still very much there, though he had occasion to soften up a bit following a day at work.
I received a letter from Mom, giving me my monthly drill letter plus another from my college buddy, Hector. He apparently was trying to start his own business of publishing an independent college news magazine in Seattle and wanted to know if I’d be interested in joining.
Number one, if it was anyone else I knew in college who majored and had a degree in either Business Administration, Journalism or Marketing, I would have gladly replied, hell yes, but this character did none of that. His major was Chemistry and he somehow got lucky that he wasn’t in prison. Last year as a college prank. We, meaning hector, myself and another senior who was also a former roommate, decided to plant seeds all over the Pullman campus of Washington State University. The seeds in question were from a bunch of marijuana he separated from that did nothing to get anyone high. To this day I’m convinced we were smoking hemp, not marijuana.
At any rate, I figured what the heck and wrote back telling him sure, adding an op-ed piece for him to place into that journal he figured was gonna make him rich. I figured he was full of crap but didn’t have the heart to say that to him.
Lloyd and I got along by not talking over controversial subjects. I figured right that he was a political and possibly a social conservative. He had to guess that I wasn’t, but since neither of us dared tread those waters, we were okay. Saturday came and his wife awoke from her well-deserved slumber to make us some lunch. I ate over the log I was bark shaving. It was a ham and cheese sandwich.
“My, it looks like you got this pile of logs pretty much knocked out,” Lana stated proudly. She smiled down at me and asked, “Y’all got a fishin’ license?”
“Dad got us one last week before we came up here. I think we were hoping to go fish the next day before I agreed to work for you guys.”
“Tomorrow being it’s Sunday and all, I’ll talk to Lloyd about fishing.”
“That would be nice,” I replied and went back to work after scarfing down that sandwich.
A couple hours later, we called it a day. I had wrote down in my ledger I kept tabs on, the running tally of logs I skinned. I had started out slow, one and a half the first day, but after a week, I was up to five logs. I still had a long way to go.”
“I guess, we’re going fishing tomorrow,” Lloyd announced as we sat down and ate dinner. “Oh, I got a call from Richard, he’s in Colorado and will be up by Monday.”
Lana gave him a noncommittal glance and continued eating. “That’s fine, dear,” she finally replied after she swallowed her food. “I also got a call from Billy; he’s coming up this week too.”
“Oh, Billy huh. He bringing his girlfriend or wife too?”
I could tell by Lloyd’s tone, he didn’t approve of either person, but it apparently wasn’t his place to tell her. Or, he intended to tell her is honest opinion to her in the privacy of their trailer tonight. Apparently the news they shared was not good news. I was to find out too.
The next day, we worked on the cabin until just before noon, then we all loaded Lloyd’s pickup with poles and tackle boxes, along with an ice chest and picnic basket. WE then drove approximately one mile from his property to above the Snake River. I was used to the other end of the Snake where it empties into the Columbia just south of Pasco. This part of the Snake I wasn’t familiar with. It was a fast-moving river that I could easily throw a rock across and it would land on the opposite bank. We overlooked a drop off of granite into a bubbling pool below. I looked upstream and the downstream. While I appreciated the spot he chose, I opted to go exploring a bit further up and figured I’d cast a line closer to the shoreline from a sandy point that jutted out and created another natural pool. I had to meander my way along the cliff’s face first though.
“You be careful, Jerry, I don’t want to have to call Mary Jane and tell her fool for a son got himself drown.”
I wanted to tell him to go to hell, but curbed the urge and just smiled back, telling , “I got this. I’ll be fine. I reached the spot I wanted and began placing a wiggling, squirming worm upon the barbless hook, the Wyoming Department of Game and Fish require us to use. Twice, I casted out and twice the worm became disengaged from the hook. I was certain a big old Spotted or German brown was laughing the free lunch I offered him. Finally, a third time I placed eggs on either side of the worm and casted it out. It got snagged on an underwater limb or something and broke the line.
I heard Lloyd cussing a blue streak and figured his luck and patience had run out too. Lana caught herself a couple two-pound trout and proudly laid them on the hood of the truck to show up Lloyd.
“You done Jerry?” I heard him call down to me.
“Yeah, I didn’t have any luck this time either. I’ll be right there,” I replied as I gathered the tackle box and fishing rod in my right hand and kept my left arm free for maneuvering back up that cliff. It wasn’t much of a trail and was very careful not to overdo myself, but I did anyway. Just as I reached the part where the trail ended and the cliff began, I grasped a rock that wasn’t secured. The rock, myself and Lloyd’s tackle box and fishing rod fell seven feet to Snake River’s cool waters below.
I didn’t panic, and I held a death grip on the gear so it didn’t go down to Pasco almost a thousand miles away. I spotted an alternate way up when I waded back to shore and took that. Lloyd and Lana looked at me with a surprised expression on their faces. “I told you to be careful.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t drown neither. It’s only hip deep, Lloyd. And I didn’t lose anything neither.”
“Well, that’s something. I take it you struck out too.”
“Yeah, I got skunked.” I saw the shit-eating grin on Lana’s face as she posed with her fish holding them up for me to see.
“You know, pride is a sin,” I told her.
“Yeah, I pray for forgiveness tonight before I go to sleep.”
“I guess that fire is messing with the fish,” Lloyd stated with disappointment in his face.
“Yeah, I’m sure that must be it. No way is she a better fisher man than us Easleys,” I replied with a crooked smile.
“Oh, you two, stop. Y’all just jealous, that’s all.”
We laughed. “Let’s get you home and get you out of them wet clothes.”
We drove home and I had to smile because at that point, it was the most fun I’ve had that entire time there.