(Orig. Published in Home Waters, A Fly-Fishing Anthology Fireside. This was published many years ago by my roommate Ted Williams.  When you see something in parenthesis, it is my comment)

 

 

 

No-Birds flung his hat to the ground and danced upon it.  “On a Tuesday,” he shrieked.  “On a Christly Tuesday!”

For a long time, he stood there with his hands on his hips.  Then he stalked to the spring, hauled out the plastic bread bag full of trout, dumped them onto the moss and started counting.  “Let’s get out of here,” he said.  “All’s we need is four more fish.  We can get them in Hoss-shoe.”

We had no trouble on the way out, except that the road was still wet and we had to winch up the first fifty feet.  “It’s a beautiful pond,” said No-Birds.  “But it ain’t so beautiful when it’s fulla C’nucks.with worms.”

Aimé wasn’t home, so we left a package of trout in the well and turned south on the Old Lake Road to Horseshoe Pond.  Before long an ancient, green pickup truck full of firewood rattled past us.  “Stop, stop, stop,” screamed No-Birds. “That was Aimé.”  But Aimé had seen us and was already backing up.  He strode over with his thick arm extended, bright blue eyes dancing, and wearing a big grin:  Aimé LeCours, the total population of the abandoned timber town of Elmont, the Maine legend who has trapped, hunted, fished, guided, and logged The Enchanted exactly twice as long as No-Birds and I had lived.  He crushed our hands.

“How’s fishing?” he asked.

“Horrible,” said No-Birds.  “We left some trout in the well.”  He then revealed, in all its lurid detail, the tragedy of the boat.

“I be demmed,” said Aimé.

“Has Boudreau been around?” asked No-Birds.

“Sure.  But not in here.”

“Must have been those guys from Megantic, then.”

“Could be,” said Aimé, rubbing his short, steel-gray hair.  “But I don’t t’ink.”

*****

After that trip I didn’t see No-Birds again until the next summer.  Twice in October we talked on the phone, and twice I had tactfully declined road-hunting invitations.   With his family-photo Christmas card came a note telling of is extraordinarily good fortune during deer season.  First of all, he had killed a club buck.

“See, Williams, it works,” he’d written, referring to his perfect church-attendance record, recently mandated by his wife.

But an even richer blessing had befallen him.  He, Aimé, Carter, and Violette had gotten snowed in at Elmont, and one night when the trees were cracking and the snow was swirling, there had come a tapping at the cabin door.  They’d thought for sure that His Satanic Majesty had appeared for an encore, but it was only two deer hunters with frost-crusted beards and Dr. Zhivago eyes who had just walked six miles down a mountain because the pond they had camped beside had frozen over and the float plane couldn’t land to pick them up.  They had pretty much given themselves up for dead and were astonished to find humans in Elmont.  So they babbled happily about the pond and the mountain and the ancient trapper’s cabin that belonged to any wilderness traveler who came upon it.  And the brook trout.  Here they paused suspiciously, looked around the room, and inquired, “Does anyone here fish for brook tr ….”

“No,” croaked No-Birds, pulling up his chair to pour them each a coffee mug of bourbon.

*****

In mid-June I called No-Birds to see if he wanted to go fishing.  “Guess what,” he said.  “I got a new fetish.  White-water rafting.”  It seemed entirely out of character, but then he explained that he was done with it forever and done with listening to Violette.  A client–doubtless a disgruntled one-had tipped No-Birds off to huge square-tails stationed between the appalling rapids of the Dead River.  On hearing the news, Violette had dropped everything and rushed to the KMart to purchase, for five dollars, a rubber raft “reinforced for white water.”  The following morning, they had run sixteen miles of river–the first mile in the raft, the last fifteen in their life jackets.

“We come around this corner,” said No-Birds, “and I hear this whining.  It gets louder and louder.  And I say to Violette, ‘Jesus, Billy, I didn’t think they were cutting wood in here.’  All of a sudden we’re sucked in.  White water?  Eee Taberwhit!  I thought we were dead.  I kept sticking my fingers into the holes in that raft until I ran out of fingers.  We lost everything.  Our rods.  Our flies.  Everything.  How pleasant do you think it was swimming down to The Forks in April?”

“You been into that new pond yet?”

“Williams,” he said, his voice suddenly low and serious, “you won’t believe this pond.  Aimé took me in a couple of weeks ago.  No compass.  No map.  No nothing.  He just went.  When we got there, I thought there was something wrong with the pond.  It was boiling.  Bang, bang, bang, Aimé builds this beautiful two-man raft.  You ever take a good look at the hands on that guy, mister?  It takes me half an hour to cut down this dead cedar, and when I float it over to him, he’s already got six, and he says, ‘T’anks, Bob, but she’s too short on one end.’ And did we catch fish!  It’s quite a poke in there, though.  Six big ones.  Up a mountain.”

He could not go fishing, he explained, because he had a big case coming up.  When I asked him what it was, he said, “You’ll love this one, Williams.  A guy from Norridgewock threw ‘fecal material at an officer of the law.'” (Totally false.  The only time I heard of it is in this story.  I never heard of it in any court system—but it is his story)

So without clearing it through No-Birds–or even telling him about it–I navigated into the pond myself, although not before also navigating into, and around in, a vast muskeg that nearly disgorged me into Quebec.  Warblers rustled through the hardwood ridges, and the lush forest floor was strewn with white moccasin flowers and trilliums.  I slept on the ground and discovered in the morning that I’d been about five minutes from the pond.  It was a pretty pond, small and weedier than Secret, almost on the top of the mountain, and with a few hundred feet of green peak rising from its north end.  Tree swallows wheeled and dipped, and trout fed steadily.  All around where paper birches bigger than any I had ever seen. (Next Article is the Conclusion of The Enchanted) (I took Williams into another pond and told him not to go in there alone nor take anyone else.  He went in alone and did not take the raft to the trail—a cardinal sin.  If you can get to the trail by boat or raft, do it!  Don’t try and cut the trail by land.  He cut the trail and did not see it.  He walked into the abyss and got out two days later!)

MARKET REPORT

Recently made new all-time highs on all three indexes.  In spite of all the great news the Fed indicated a willingness to cut interest rates, a move I have never seen and do not recognize.  The chairman went on record and said he would not follow an order of his firing by the president and he does not serve at the pleasure of the president.  Of course, he’s right, but he certainly follows his requests.  In the meantime, gold began to stir, often the precursor of bad things to happen.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.