Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Dead Brain II

     The man was fastidious and organized. His lures all in original boxes. Same for one of the reels, a South Bend model 55 with no visible wear. How many of them are still around? Yet its current value is less than its original price tag. The fact that it sucked as a casting reel might have something to with it. Story of life, the one's worth collecting today were too expensive for a normal man with a family.
     The braided dacron wound on its spool tells another story. The line's rope-like diameter coupled with the reel's zero ball bearings says this was a rig for throwing immense plugs about as far as a one lipped man could spit. Yet John caught his share of walleyes and bass. Extra silky, incredibly strong, nearly invisible Power Pro be damned.
     Of course there were never ending birds nests to deal with. Patience and cigarettes made unraveling them a part of the experience. Can't say I've ever seen Al Lindner or Roland Martin dedicate a show to the joys of being in the boonies with a single rod and working out a Gordian Knot, loop by loop. References to the reel's parentage and the heavens above coming from those gentlemen's mouths would be worth ten minutes of product plugging. I never went fishing with my father-in-law but know for a fact he spent his time in the front of the boat gaining maturity one knot at a time.
     Yup, there's an original Heddon River-Runt in one box. Actually two of them. A red and white and a black and white. Classic. Caught my first smallmouth bass on a larger version of the same lures. Mine had belonged to my brother. He was drafted back in '53. Left his tackle box in mom's basement and never came back for it. So it ended up as mine. I used most of the lures to death. Where the box and remaining plugs disappeared is beyond my memory.
     A lot of the neat junk of a person's life, stuff that was once so ordinary, saw it most every day kind of stuff, sooner or later it just goes away. Maybe thrown out, misplaced, left behind. Who remembers? Then it shows up in dreams. Symbols of a lost past. What do they mean, beyond some things once were and now they ain't any more. Guess that sums up life in a nutshell (or at least in a confusing sentence). Maybe too small a nutshell. Can't forget oatmeal raisin cookies, good coffee and a lot of time with nothing special to do.
     There's a red and white Heddon Flaptail Jr. Can't say I'm familiar with that one. Lordy, lordy, John's frog colored Lazy Ike is made out of wood. Probably a collector's item and worth at least two bucks.
     There's this three piece, aluminum gaff. Got a hook on the end of it suited for forty pound muskies or hanging off the end of a pirate in Never-Never land. A bit of over kill seeing as how John said he was a bass fisherman. He never talked much about it except to say the guy he used to fish with wasn't in it for the sport. Come evening he'd head out on the river and set out a baited trot line. Then head back in to see if the whiskey was still holding out. John never ran on about the one that got away, the big one's he caught, good days or bad days. All that's left is my memory of the trot line and the box in front of me.
     Red and white bobbers. The round, clamp on kind. Wouldn't be a real metal tackle box without them. Thirty years back, in a pinch I tied on a pine cone. I'd like to say it worked just fine but honestly don't remember. That's a problem I have with story telling these days. No jalapenos left between my ears. No fiery, red orb as the sun goes down. The sun simply sets. Blip. You've seen a few and know what one looks like. So it's just two red and white bobbers. Just like the ones I used as a kid trying to find sunnies and crappies but settling for bullheads instead. Oh yeah, now I remember, the pine cone did float and looked natural as all get out. Just like a pine cone. Kind of surprising a squirrel didn't swim out to shuck it and eat the seeds.
     There's a few other lures. A couple by Shakespeare. Not much quality there. A couple of knock-off flat fish. And the most interesting, a tubular aluminum sidewinder.
      All in all, just a box owned by a man who's been dead for sixteen years. But he was alive and carted the box, threw the lures and caught a few fish. Story of life. No matter how long it lasts it sure doesn't last a long time. Like fishing trips. You look forward to them, go on them and then look back on what once was. Looking back is the hard part. But I do. Then get lost in the reverie of if I had it to do over again I'd....

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