MISTAKEN, TO A DEGREE


My older brother (called Slim) finished his supper one evening at his lake-side camp, and backed over in the recliner to watch Vanna White turn the letters on ‘Wheel of Fortune'. The telephone rang. He got up to answer it, grumbling under his breath.

The caller was a local friend, with a problem; some out-of-state visitors were scheduled to arrive next morning to fish at the lake. He had lined up local fishermen with boats, to serve as guides. Now, one of his guides had canceled out at the last minute, and he badly needed another local guide and boat; would Slim help him?

"No problem", Slim told him; "how many people are coming?"

"There's four, total; I want to put one guest in each boat, and fish them bream beds up around the Narrows."

"Sounds like a plan. I'll meet y'all at the public boat ramp at daylight", Slim promised.

Early the next morning, the vehicles pulled in at the public boat launch site. Slim sipped the last of his coffee, stepped out of his already launched boat, and meandered over to meet them.

"Morning, Slim", his friend greeted; "Hoss, I sure appreciate your help on such short notice."

"Nothin' to it", Slim replied; "I was just loafing, anyway."

"Let me introduce you around", his friend offered. "This is the Right Reverend Foley, and this is Brother Jones, and that's Reverend Wilson over there, and this is Doctor--- "

"Okay, Doc...you're in my boat! Y'all don't catch 'em all, now."

Slim grabbed the man by the elbow and hustled him away from the others.

"Lets go, Doc---we burnin' daylight!"

Slim is one of twelve siblings in a Southwest Arkansas share-cropping family, where religion was taken seriously. Come Sunday morning, perhaps we were not always the first family into the church, nor the last to come out; but we were brought up by God-fearing country parents who made sure we got a hefty sense of the straight and narrow. But---a boat-load of preachers? That was a different kittle of fish, as far as Slim was concerned.

He quickly hustled the doctor into the boat, and handed him a life vest. Slim revved up the outboard motor and took off, leaving the others standing at the boat ramp, sorting themselves out.

Slim kept the boat at full throttle until they were well away from the landing, then he killed the motor and let the boat drift to a stop.

"You know, Doc", Slim said, as he popped the tab on a cold beer and offered it to his guest, "that was pretty durn close, back there!"

The visitor looked at him with a puzzled expression.

"What do you mean, sir?"

"Wa'al, for a minute there, I thought I was gon' get stuck with one-a them damn preachers."

The visitor almost fell out of the boat laughing. When he regained his composure, he said:

"Slim, my Doctorate is in Theology."

(Since that day, whenever the telephone rings at the camp, Slim flinches.)