Thrown in the River: The Last Laugh

Two cold dips in the river quenched one hothead's competitive fire.

| March/April 1981

in the river - the last laugh - mustard and red

The game warden didn't expect to end up in the river with the fish. 


"Last year we said things couldn't go on like this. Well, they didn't ... they got worse. "  — Will Rogers   

Well sir, spring has finally arrived in Plumtree Crossin'. The wild onions are cowlickin' up outa most ev'ry front lawn on Main Street, an' overeager youngsters is runnin' around decked out in short pants an' goose bumps. As you kin well imagine, the warmin' weather's also lured the reg'lars down at the Gen'ral Store away from their winter's perches 'round the pot-bellied stove an'—on legs thet's one more spring less spry than they usta was—out to see jist how the world's shapin' itself up.

Now them ol' coots do require a little settlin'-in time afore they actually warm up to most any kind of change, an' the switchin' o' the seasons ain't no exception. Ol' Ott Bartlett, in partic'lar, greeted the spring with all the grace an' poise of an underfed sow bear with an oversized litter of toothy cubs.

In point of fact, 'twern't but a week ago when the ol' loafers were over near Lick Skillet throwing lines in the river on one of them early-season fishin' junkets—which usually do more damage to a jug 'er two of Purvis Jacobs' liquid life preserver than to the area's trout population—thet Ott let on how orn'ry he could be.

Seems thet the ol' boy had jist missed bringin' in a fair-to-middlin' speckled trout, havin' broke his line on a snag in the process, when Lester Hogshead—the local game warden—come a-strollin' up. Let me say here an' now thet most of the fish 'n' game cops I've met have been fine folks. Ol' Les, howev'r, is known to be snake-mean an' turkey-stupid. An' no sooner had he walked up to Ott than he started in to ribbin' the ol' gentleman.

"I see you lost yerself a fish. I s'pose it ain't surprisin', though ... yer reflexes sure cain't amount to much ennymore. In fact, ain't fishin' a pretty strenuous activity fer a man of yer years?"

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