The Fishing Trip

Sam Elmore

Two lane black-top road, just east of Franklin, La. As I near the city limits of Franklin, I come up behind a fairly new pick-up truck. From the face visible in the side mirror, I can see that the driver is a man in his mid-forties. He is alone in the cab.

In the back of the pick-up is a teen-age boy, sitting in a folding plastic lawn chair. He is wearing an overly-large blue chambray shirt, and a Cincinnati Reds baseball cap. At his feet is a large blue and white Igloo cooler.

Sticking butt-down in one of the side-bed holes of the truck is a light spinning rod of some kind. It is rigged with a red and white plastic bobber and the line is doubled back, with the hook secured inside the eye nearest the reel. I can almost hear the clatter as the bobber is slapped repeatedly against the rod by the wind.

The kid is smiling from ear to ear, as his too-big shirt flaps around his lithe frame. Our eyes finally meet and he grins even more, then waves. This is one happy kid, thinks I. I wave back, and smile at him. He points down to the Igloo cooler between his feet, still smiling.

I turn my palms upwards on the steering wheel, in a wordless question. He laughs, showing pearly white teeth and red gums. He bends towards the Igloo and unsnaps the catch, then raises the lid. When he raises up from the cooler, he holds aloft a long stringer of Blue-Gill Bream! I guess at twenty-five, and big ones, too. He stretches out the stringer for my review and laughs again. I give him two thumbs up and mouth the words "atta-boy, Kid!"

His response puzzles me for a moment. He holds his hands up in front of his chest, palms opened towards me, and ‘pushes'…twice. Oh, okay! ‘Wait', he seems to be saying. So I wait. He bends back into the Igloo and comes up with---a HUGE large-mouth bass. I guess four pounds at least…mebbe five!

This time, he grins whole-heartedly, laughing all the while. I press my right knee against the bottom of the steering wheel for safety, stick both thumbs above my fists, and pump them at him…left right left right…"Way to GO, kid!" I yell , unheard in the wind.

The truck signals, turns right, and goes on about it's business. I drive on down the road…thinking.

What if…..

The boy leans forward to put the bass back into the cooler, and his Cincinnati Reds baseball cap blows off and lands in the cooler. He retrieves it and hastily puts it back on his head. The kid is bald! There isn't a hair on his head. Now it occurs to me that his skin seems almost translucent. He closes the lid on the cooler and leans back in his chair, seemingly well-pleased with his lot in life.

The truck ahead signals for a right turn. I ease off on the accelerator. The kid waves one last time as the truck makes a right turn. As the truck completes it's turn, I am able to read the logo on the door panel:

"The Make a Wish Foundation"