the wet road and stopped as a funeral motorcade passed by in the
opposite lane. First came the patrol car followed by the hearse,
then began the long line of vehicles driven by family and friends of
the deceased. Five minutes later we were still sitting on the side of
the road as headlight-burning vehicles continued to drive by. I
glanced over to see Timbo--his saliva retention affliction acting up
again--mesmerized by the “whump whump” of the windshield
wipers and the resulting strobelights.
“Hey! You can go now,” I said. “The funeral procession is over.”
“Huh? Oh...you sure? How do you know--they’re still running their
lights,” he answered.
“Well, as best as I could tell, the last ten drivers weren’t wearing
suits...and it’s raining, bro. That’s why their headlights are on. It’s
Ah, rain! I closed my eyes and contemplated the dazzling
compound alchemizing out of Angelique’s bosom. Algelique was
the first tropical storm of the season--a curse or a God-send,
depending on where you lived--and we were experiencing her
remnants. I wanted to embrace Angelique at that moment; it had
been awhile, so to speak.
Timbo and I continued up the road to Enoch’s Country Store
where we turned at a sign that displayed: PROVERBS 3--CAMP
“That’s a sign!” he declared.
“I can see that,” I said, “And black letters on a white background
“No, no...a Sign, a divination, a potent. Proverbs Three--I can’t
remember it all but there’s something in there about the clouds
dropping down buckets of dew.”
“You mean to tell me that Enoch’s metal and plastic sign--the
vehicle for your portent--says that?”
I glanced up the tree-canopied road, now shadowed mokey green
as the rain intensified. I wasn’t about to argue with his innate
recognition that sometimes the spiritual and earthly converge in
the most mundane places. Timbo had been fraternizing with
heathens for at least ten years now--ever since I taught him to
roll--but his roots still ran deep and uncut.
We soon began paralleling a tannin-stained river that raced down
from the mountains like some undulating henna snake-tat. What
we witnessed was a far cry from the river that had been reduced to
a trickling trout-stream for the past two years; it was now running
fast and high. We stopped at the take-out turn-out and for shuttle
stashed my old short-chained Diamond Back in the woods, laying
it down and covering it with leaves. Nearby a Natural Resources
sign lawed: ARTIFICIAL LURES ONLY. 18 INCH MINIMUM.
“Any Sign in that?” I asked.
“Nope. Don’t read a thing in that,” he answered.
We looked a short distance upstream at what we called The Take
Out Wave, now steep and maned with a frothline running along its
“Now I’m gonna spend some quality time there!” Timbo declared.
“I’ll be sitting on that wave ‘til dusky-dark!’
We drove along for several more miles, the road sometimes
meandering away from then returning to the course of the river;
not a wilderness run by any means but still a favorite of ours,
convenient and dropping nearly seventy five feet per mile. We had
caught it runnable a couple of times during the last two years, but
each trip had been a boney, marginal episode at best.
We pulled into the put-in turn-out and stepped from the car,
marveling at the view in front of us.
“Jeeze--zus! Would you look at that!” I blurted. “We’ve got
ourselves a good level today!”
We quickly changed, hopped into our boats, and slid into the
water. The eddy pulsed as mats of dead leaves swirled around us.
Ephemerals in Nebula Turbidia. I peeled out and enjoyed a bouncy
ride down a series of waves before coming to the first horizon line
where I charged a cushioned hump--our old friend Sugar
Boof--and landed in the moving pool below. Timbo followed and
landed fat and grinning.
“Ain’t life grand!” he exclaimed.
We continued down the river, punching holes, catching waves, and
boofing even when we didn’t need to. Rollicking Unlimited.
Whisps of fog draped the trees as the rain let up-- “Groundhog
makin’ coffee” the old people called it.
As I neared The Take Out Wave I carefully spun my boat then
began cranking out forward strokes in order to catch the wave on
the fly. I dropped into the trough and as my momentum carried me
up the face of the wave, I leaned forward and paddled even harder
until I slid down the wave, blasting the mound of water in front of
Suddenly Timbo came trashing down the left edge of the wave,
arcing in my direction then bumping me off the wave. I washed off
its backside and eventually caught the third eddy down. I was a bit
puzzled at his loss of control but dismissed it as being either
excitement or cobweb syndrome and turned to watch him surf.
And, oh, how he surfed! He arced right then cut back hard left,
sending a silver slab of river into the air! He rode high on the wave
then paddled like a madman to regain the trough. He sometimes
one-handed his paddle and with his free hand excitedly gestured in
what I gathered to be some sort of esoteric magiamancy. On that
wave he was Resident in the State of Glee, Sir Surfmeister, the
Knave of Wave, the Earl of Curl (I did noticed the absence of flat
spins, though, a move commonly found in his rodeo poke of
“HihOtTa...hUckINhIsHhOoK...hEnhIHyiP!” he shouted
indecipherably above the shish of the river.
Shipsafire! There he goes speaking in tongues, I thought.
Exultation Manifestation! Somebody hand that boy a snake!
Even the branches of the trees seemed to celebrate his joy! An
unaccountable breeze blew in, bending the leaves and branches left
when he surfed left, right when he surfed right. They trembled and
reached when he rode high on the wave, and rebounded in a flutter
when he skittered down into the trough. And he surfed and surfed
I finally worked my way up into an adjacent eddy to better watch
this shredfest (and to remind him that he had been on that wave for
a long, long time). At that moment a fan of sunrays broke through
the clouds, illuminating my friend on his stage and a...
strand of monofilament line running from his mouth to the whippy
overhanging branch of a riverside beech tree. I looked closer and
saw a colorful spinner-bait skewering his bottom lip. Trout Mask
Replica; Captain Beefheart where art thou.
“Hi HotTa HucKin HiSh HoOk Hen Hi HyIp!” he shouted above
“What? Dude, you’ve gotta fish hook in your lip!” I shouted back.
I then watched in awe as he slid down the trough of the wave, the
silver blade of the spinner-bait twirling from his lip like the
propeller of a plane during takeoff. The Spruce Goose in
Appalachia. Ho, ho.
“Hold on, bro! I’m coming!” I shouted.
I beached my boat and pulled a small Home Depot bow saw (Saw
With An Attitude printed in bold letters on the guard) from under
my floatbag. I ran up the bank to the tree where I jumped up and
grabbed a low limb. I pulled myself up past the “Frankie loves
Johnnie” carvings and carefully shinnied out to near the
transgressing branch. I reached out and...commenced to saw!
Green bark then white sawdust flew as the blade bit into the limb.
The limb soon began to bend as I severed its fibers then broke
away completely, falling into the river. Catch and Release, the
credo of modern day Apostles of the Trout; Issac W. would be
I jumped from the tree and raced down the bank to where Timbo
had found an eddy. Hand over hand he reeled in his tether then
chewed through the line until only a six inch strand remained. He
threw the limb and wadded line on the bank.
“Heckfire! This must be at least fifteen pound test line!” he said,
twirling the line between his fingers. “I wasn’t going anywhere!”
“Yeah, some fisherman going after one of those trophy Browns for
sure,” I answered. “Must have been long-casting for that big eddy
across the river and hung his line in the tree, broke it off and left it
dangling. Dangling that is until you came along, Fishface!”
“Son-of-a-bitch, this hurts!” he exclaimed, fingering the lure still
stuck in his lip, pink saliva stringing away. “The barb is all the way
I ran down to my Diamond Back and pulled out a Fourteen-In-One
biketool from the repair bag then raced back to my wounded
“Here, let me see that,” I said. I gingerly held the lure, snipped off
the barb, then pushed the hook back through and out of his lip.
“Want this?” I asked, shaking the colorful fish-carrot at my friend.
“Heck, no! Throw it away!”
We paddled together the short distance to the take-out. I spun my
Diamond Back to the put-in and retrieved our vehicle while Timbo
waited. We were soon on our way out and as we passed Enoch’s
Country Store, I looked at his sign again and began chuckling.
“What’s so funny?” Timbo asked.
“I’m beginning to understand this Sign reading thing a little better
now,” I answered.
“What do you mean?”
“Look at the words “wood” and “fishing tackle” in Enoch’s sign.
Now That was a portent if there ever was one--you just didn’t
catch it! Plus you said that you were going to spend a lot of time
on that wave, which you did. Signs galore--everywhere--in my
“Shut up and drive, smartass! I need for ol’ Doc Zach to look
I turned onto the main road and floored it for home.