The following events were observed by a rather handsome raven with a blunt chipped exceptionally powerful beak. He was sitting on the branch of a jackpine overlooking Bartholomew Creek when a conversation caught his attention. He recounted the tale to his favourite Miss, who purred and rubbed her head under his chin admiring what a fine storyteller he was.
Release me. Come on. Release me. I’m drying out in here. I’m gonna die. You tricked me. That shiny golden spoon with the sharp nasty little hooks all wrapped in feathers was underhanded and unkind.
The fisherman stepped carefully across to the other side of the brook. Slipping on the smooth mossy stones rod and arm sweeping out for balance. He sat down on a grassy bank flipped open the tackle box his father gave him years ago and considered his assortment of lures.
Salvador, the twelve inch speckle trout flapped his tail once twice groaning in the shadows of the wicker creel. Release me!
Simon opened the lid and looked at the fish. That would be ridiculous. I’ve waited months for trout season. You’re a beauty and in a few hours you’ll be sizzling in a frying pan with garlic butter and lemon. Releasing you is out of the question.
Specklatawny won’t be happy.
Patron Saint of speckle trout. Spiritual protector.
Remember when they found all those trout fishermen washed up on the shore of the Saint Mary’s River?
Well, it could have happened. I’m a magic fish. Listen Buddy, I really am dying here. You don’t have to do this.
Think about it. Neither one of us is saying a word yet we’re having this conversation. Either I’m magic or you’re losing it. This is a crossroads. A branch in the river. A moment.
Salvador was silent. There was nothing left to say. His spots were fading and his eyes were getting milky.
Simon took him out, and with a firm grip swooshed him around in the running water until some spark returned. Then he placed him back onto the mossy bed of the creel.
What the hell was that?
You taunting me back to life then tossing me back in here. What the hell was that?
Simon closed the lid and carried on up the river. Casting under logs and overhangs into shadows and nooks. Balancing on beaver dams his spoons sailing over the surface landing one after another exactly on target. He fished for hours without catching anything else. Something troubled him. He loved fishing. The solitude. Running water still and hidden pools. The distinct character of each river and stream. The rush of having something with weight snatch the lure yank the end of his line put up a good fight.
The raven followed him all day. Now from the grey arm of an ancient cedar he watched the man throw his gear into the truck box and climb into the cab. A cool faint breeze rippled Bartholomew gently bending grass and turning leaves as it came up off the brook. Simon turned the key in the ignition shifted into reverse and never saw her coming. Specklatawny. At the end of his line.