the catch | By: barney dicks | | Category: Short Story - Comedy Bookmark and Share

the catch

The pink rose dawn softly expands across- the Eastern horizon, to the symphonies of awakening birds. While the shifts change between those of the night and those of the day. The young Ranger stands on the bonnet of an old battered jeep, binoculars observing the beauty unfolding before him. From the mist enshrouded river comes the sound of hippos hooting in the lower reaches of the three large pools below him,

The rising steam, maps the river' on its path between the hills towards the plane. Like some gigantic translucent snake winding it way of across the earth. This is the time he loves best with the sounds of awakening life preparing for the arising African sun which later will a beat down with all it is fury driving the hippos into the cool and soothing waters, of the now full flowing River. The recent flood to having caused damage to all of the surrounding arias with destroyed homes, roads and bridges. Has been very kind to the untouched nature of the reserve' flushing the River system clean and exporting all accumulated debris to the lower reaches far beyond. Leaving the conservation aria refreshed with, new grass and full water holes the young man drops he's binoculars, allowing them to hang by their straps on the his chest while stepping into the old Jeep to prepare the day's report's, wear by their management system is updated. Sitting in the left seat with both booted feet up against the dashboard he reflects upon his privileged life style. Having access to uncontaminated nature, clean fresh air, good food, and excellent companions, and with a salary to boot. Although not much, the lifestyle compensate for the others short fall. A deeper cough breaks he's thought pattern, and un starteld looks to the left and watches a pride of lions with swollen bellies, silently padding their way past him, not more than two meters from his jeep. He notes their number and condition and smiling at the antiques off the four adolescent lions swatting at the Tales and haunches of their elders. As they ambled, bye, been led by one-eared well-scarred lionesses with very even temperament whose leadership has insured the survival and a success of the small pride. Watching them as they casually descend the Embankment, -to disappears into the mist.

The sun now a glowing white ball suspended in a grey blue sky begins to destroy' the arising steam. The Lions appear with their thirsts quenched, climbing the elephant engineered off ramp towards the awaiting shade of the acacia trees taking notes of the direction and a possible lair which he will latter radio back to the control who will inform those, whose duties to day will be the transportation and education of the Eco tourists, whose interest make their life style possible. With modern day's insistence of profit, and more profit. any thing unable to- sustain it self will be a discarded and abandoned, and nature of its self has to bend its knee, to the ruling forces of comers.

Starting the jeep with a grating sound, which stutter's to life and at a idle makes his way to the elephant created off ramp on the flood carved embankment, of a the first pool, and smilingly admires the ingenuity of the these large and intelligent creatures, a small herd of, ten Trans located elephants from the excess of a larger game park. To whom they still owe a substantial amount, even elephants now have a second hand value. That of a very expensive sports car.

Exiting the jeep he concentrates on the small herd of a hippos and notes that they are one short. Turning to the jeep he unhooks the radio mike and a reports the position of the lions and the missing hippo, this done he resumes surveying the river, the middle pool' a deep un excisable water being retained by a natural out cropping of Rock's which appear and disappear throughout the property, with a steep cliff like embankments, who are devoid of plants due to the scouring effects of the flood.’

The pool below him has a well-trampled sand bank with the elephant’s ramp, which with time will be modified by excessive usage by all. Directly opposite this sandy bank, the other side of the river is a smaller bank isolated by the High carved bank is a small crocodile, lying mouth agape, a free gift with compliments of the flood. The flashing sides of feeding fish, whose numbers have increased since the flood. Having fished this spot numerous times before with his spinning tackle. He looks forward to do the day where he can test these skills on the yet to be acquired fly rod. A year or of saving, he now has accumulated sufficient funds to obtain this a new to him means of capture. And knowing that next week it will be his turn for the to JOHANNESBURG run, when they purchase supplies and requirement for the farm, normally not the most popular of duties, due to the crime and a traffic, most of them would rather face a raging lion than face the lunatic drivers of the large and dirty city. This time the initiative of for the acquisition of he's fly tackle will make the trip more endurable.

They return exhausted from the city and with silent relieve begin to distribute
The purchases, amongst those of the team, who have placed personal orders, for there own personal use.
Even the hermit, occasionally enjoys a small luxury now and then. This completed
Peter with arms full; with a long tube stuck under his chin, 'like a hyena with a
Bone in its jaws, heads towards his rondavel, using the tube to depress the door
Handle and moving his body pushes the door open entering the dark room he feels
The way to the bed, and lowering his load on it, Switching on the light, now sitting on
The bed starts to unpack his a newly acquired fly tackle starting with the Rod
Obtained from the friendly, smiling, Indian tackle dealer who after concluding the
Deal, presented him with fancy multi-pocketed vest, knowing that those pockets, will
Require filling in the very near future. Rather pleased with his acquisition, he
Removes the cloth in closed, rod from its protective tube „ And sliding the two peace
Six weight from its cloth sock, commences to assemble it, sitting with a one eye so
As to insure the alignment of the line guides, this to his satisfaction .now with Rod
Extended before him, heads towards the door. Once out doors, he makes sure that
The aria around him is clear, and whipping the rod back and forth, in the vertical
Position, so as to feel its action. Thrilling to its sharp response. That some whip you
Got there comes the voice of the owner of the farm from, the dark behind
Him. Peter rather startled replies, No Johan! This is a fly rod, Oh yes Johan
Answers, and how many flies do you think you will kill with it? He laughingly
Replies. No man! You catch fish with it! ! He retorts! . How! ! Buy beating of them
Over their heads, he asks, and seeing that there is no line attached he adds,
How, else would it work? Pieter now laughing, knows that the Mickey is being taken. I am just getting the feel of it the line will come later, he explains, stepping closer Johan asks? Let me feel this whip of yours. Peter reluctantly hands over his prize. Johan stepping closer to the square of light coming from the open rondavel door. Examining the thin weightless Rod exclaims this thing will never be able to land even the smallest Tiger fish in our river with out breaking into little bits. No way's exclaims Peter! This is made of carbon fibre and no fish will ever be able to break it irrespective of size. That my son remains to be seen Johan laughingly replies, but anyhow enjoying yourself and maybe later I will join you, then let us see. Any time Peter challengers. Handing the Rod back he wishes Peter good night and returns to his bungalow.

Three weeks has passed and Peter having used all the available spare time to practice with the new equipment feels to it is time to test his newly acquired skills. To morrow being his day off decides this will be it. Arising at false dawn, he loads his picnic basket, and tackle in to the jeep, draping the fancy, multi-pocketed vest over the backrest, on the passenger side, and he cranks the old workhorse to life. Witch protesting this disruption to its slumber, Gives Peter a very hard time, before coming to life, and even then proceeds with great difficulty, Ignoring the encouraging words, softly spoken by its anxious driver arriving at his favourite spot, he manoeuvres the battered transport, so as to be able to get it rolling with the minimum, of effort should it become obstinate, like it sometimes does, he sincerely believes, that it has a life of it own, and has the scars are to prove it. Having a position the jeep, to his satisfaction, he relaxes to enjoy. The awaiting dawn of the new day.

The sun now fully arisen, And his favourite fishing spot clear, of the thirst quenching game, he strolls down to the now much wider down ramp, to commence, the morning's sport, noticing the crock, in its usual spot, starts the first cast of the day. Using a rather unusual fly, a number eight, single hook, with a number, 12 triangular, attached to the bend of the single hook, and a dressing, of white, yellow, and red hairs, and fathers, this concoction lands with a splash up stream, not quite ware, he intended, but at least in the water, allowing the lure to sink, before retrieving, he stands with lowered Rod watching the floating line slowly drifting down stream, two fast hand strip's, and is reward with a good solid take', setting the hook ,he allows the access line to be taken under control, by the now fast running fish. With Rod held high, he slows the screaming real, by adjusting the drag' before trying to, touches the spinning handles. This accomplished, he sets about, to halt the run, dropping the rod, while lifting cranks the fish in. Suddenly there is a hard stoppage, as if a brick wall has come between him and the fish. Even with the drag on full and the rod on full pressure the line disappears off the real at an alarming rate. Locking the real, he walks backwards, until his back touches the vertical wall of the bank.

With relieve etched on his expression, he observes, the line now moving up stream, moving forward, he reels in as much line as possible, and on the edge, of the water he pumps the rod, trying to regain more line. Not to perturbed, as he is still on the fly line and has 50 meters of backing, so with smiling confidence, he anticipates the fight to follow

Glancing up, he notices the absence of the crocodile, and deciding discretion, the better part of the valour, retreats a good five meters from a of the edge-, of the water. He eyes follow the strumming lines to weir it disappears, some war in midstream. And to his utter amazement sees the gaping jaws, of a crocodile breaking the surface of the water, he minds unable to accept what he his eyes, are perceiving, he ignores all actions and stands dumb foundered while the crocodile disappears, beneath the surface of the water. Standing in the absolute shock he's real screaming, unable to react he watchers, the crocodile ascending to the opposite bank, with his fly firmly attached to the Middle of its toothy upper jaw. Reality breaks trough, to his stunned mind, demanding some reaction from him, his hand slowly. Descends to the now silent reel, and slowly retrieves the slack line, which lifts like flying kites towards the crocks now open jaws. He now with lowered rod, he gathers his confused expression, trying to form a plan wear by he can extract himself from this ridiculous situation. With out damage to him self or his tackle, racking his brains for a solution to this problem.

He now, on after thought, regrets the 25-kilo gram leader and steel trace wire attached to the expensive fly line. Dropping the rod, whilst reeling in he moves forward, Rod extended over the water, gripping the line against the cork handle of the rod, hoping to break the leader. Watching the crocodile intently, who is now feeling the full pressure of the now strumming line, and shakes its head in anger and frustration, trying to dislodge this sleep disturbing irritating devise. Unable to shake the irritation, it decides to follow it to its source. It quietly slips into the water. Peter watching the reaction, of the crock starts recovering line as fast as possible, which retrieves with out any resistance at all, relieve flooding his thoughts, he speedily reels in. thanking his lucky stars that somehow the crock has someway relieved it self of his lure, unfortunately, this relief is short lived, and as the line comes to a abrupt halt, he realizes that the predicament has not changed at all, And with horrified eyes, watches the crocodile acceding the bank, If a crock had a expression ,this one would be of extreme annoyance'. Deciding that his position being rather precarious, it is now time to beat a hasty retreat. With rod held high he runs up the sloping ramp, and following the steep embankment, to stand looking down towards the enraged crocodile. Retrieving the now loose line, he searches his pockets for his pocketknife, with no success. And in he's mind's eye, sees it reclining in the pocket of the fancy multi-pocketed vest, with the sleeping jeep.

And before any other thought could cross his mind, he becomes aware of the sound of something large approaching from his left. He quickly accesses the wind direction, and thankfully notes, that he is in no immediate danger. Crouching down in the long grass, removing his hat, he peers above the grass, and spot an old buffalo, ambling towards the down ramp. With lowered head it descends the down ramp coming to an abrupt halt on detecting the presence of the annoyed crocodile. Shaking its head in anger, and bellowing its displeasure, towards the crocodile, And with scourging hooves, it advances towards the now retreating crocodile. Who with jaws agape, and hissing furiously seeks the safety of the water?

Peter noticing his line now passing, alongside the Buffalo, decides it is now or never. Striking backwards, and is rewarded by a sudden release, and instantaneous re hook. What now he thinks, slowly standing, he sees the crocodile swimming away, but he's line is now tight against the flanks, of the highly annoyed Buffalo. He immediately slackens the line and drops behind the cover of the long grass, Now highly confused pleads', Please Not the Buffalo! This is ridiculous? And looking around four a possible hidden camera, something like this could only be instigated, by some one, with a sick sense of humour. Not even in the wildest dreams, of a comedian, could come a situation like this .be instigate. Is this really happening, or just some very bad dream Recovering from the shock he cautiously raises his head to watch the situation below, And observes the buffalo exploring the fly, firmly attached to its bottom lip, and with its long black tong trying to dislodge this stinging irritation. Unable to remove this annoyance, it violently shakes its massive horns in extreme frustration. Knowing that something must be done! And fast before the enraged old bull discovers his tormentor, who will most likely end up as tenderised steak, and most definitely, be in intense pain. He looked behind him with pleading eyes for some refuge, where by he can save himself with out sacrificing his precious tackle. A young fever tree behind him seems to be the only option, which would possibly at least raise him above the reach of those large angrily hooked horns, but should the annoyed animal decides to bring him to ground, one good shove, from the determined bull and he will be minced meat and his treasure reduced to match sticks Insuring that the ratchet is disengaged and the break is freed' he with raised rod runs baboon style' towards the relative safety of its branches. Ignoring the penetrating protests of its thorns he clambers up the slippery thorn covered trunk to the safety of the leafy in closed branches up the main stem, their between the leaves and thorns, He gathers his thoughts and body for the next situation. The bull trying to ignore this irritation on its lip remembers that it originally came for a drink; stepping in to the water it lowers its massive head and nasally slurps its first drink of the day. The fly now, vibrating in this in a rush, water causes the old chap to raise its head and a below its objection to this foreign object clinging to its lower lips and it tries a another sip, with the same results. This action is repeated three times, the third been the last Straw reversing until its rump bumps into the high embankment and with flaring nostrils and blood shot eyes tries with foaming mouth and extruded tong to twist around to remove this destructive inspiring irritation.

The treed Peter decides it is now or never, and quickly reels in the slack line, knowing that the hooks are barb less decides to strike once more hoping that Murphy's Law will no longer apply. Feeling the line tensioning he awaits the responses of his capture of the day. The old bull feeling the presser of the instigator of it displeasure spins like a kuper, sand being dispersed in all directions, with this the offending fly is displaced and a now hangs innocently suspended against the Embankment the Buffalo steps back eyeing this minute cause of his displeasure, And as he prepares to reap revenge this target of his hatred disappear up over the top of the embankment bellowing his frustration to the disappearance of his tormentor. With head held high sniffs the air and with blood shot eyes tries to determine in which direction the object of his anger has taken flight so as to follow and destroy. With very serious damage and as much inflicted pain possible.

Peter closing his eyes in relief offers up a silent prayer of thanks and then keeping absolutely still watches the angry bovine ascending the ramp with head held high and ears attuned to any sound of which may betray the presence of its now sworn enemy Pausing on top of the embankment, it stands and slowly turns to test all directions, satisfying it self that his adversary is not in the variety, turns and at a slow and determined stride disappears down the road towards the long grass

Peter heaving a sigh of relief watches its scarred rump and swishing tail disappearing in to the long grass, waiting a good while before even thinking of the descending from his uncomfortable and precarious position. Now slowly lowers the his precious Rod by its tip towards the safety of the ground, and insuring its safety, before he proceeds to extract him self-from the confines of the retaining thorns hampering his ground ward progress once again earth bound he looks towards the quietly resisting instigator, of the day's events who now lies as if nothing at all occurred. He promises him self that this happening will never be recounted under any circumstances at all. And who will believe it any way, but one thing he is absolutely assured of, the claims of Sollie who sold him the tackle were definitely not exaggerated. Why he did not wear the fancy vest he will never know, had he done so, all of this would never have happened. Well you live and learn.

He painfully moves up the road towards his jeep, hearing an approaching vehicle, from be hind he, he turns to face his colleagues, with a group of tourists now descend the game viewing vehicle. To -a view the reclining open jawed crocodile. Susan approaches him, and exclaims! ! What the hell happened to you! Do you know you are covered in blood! ? He looks down, and notices that he is bleeding from the legs, and with some thorns still embedded in his thighs. These he casually removes, while explaining, my fly got caught in that tree, he gestures his rod! That must be some expensive fly for you to go to this entire sort of extremes to retrieve it! She exclaims well you know how Johan feels about foreign objects on he's reserve, He the slyly, remarks You are so rite she answers .any how, We have just had a rather disturbing encounter, with an old buffalo bull, Yes! What happened! He nervously asks? You see that Lady over there, the one with the white blouse with red, and yellow, flowers on it? Yes he answers' well as she had a hat similar to the blouse, So! He asked, well we just came around this bend, and found this bull standing in the middle of the road and he started to move away, but something in the bus made him swing around, and charge us. I have never seen! Christian reverse so fast in all of the time we'd have worked together. That bull really wanted a piece of us, Then the wind took the lady's hat which landed in front of him; Who immediately hit the brakes and putting one hoof on the hat ripped it to shreds, Not satisfied of having shredded it, He stamped it into the ground until and there was nothing left. And strangely enough with out a second look towards us he strolled away as if nothing happened.

Peter slowly enclosing these fly with his hand. Then answers. Funny things happen in the bush and we will never fully understand what goes on in the minds of animals, we don't even understand our selves. That's the truth Susan! ! Answers. Anyhow enjoy your day off. I must get back to the group! See you tonight! ! She greets and turns towards the tourists. See you! He answers. And painfully limps towards the jeep this day will be etched in his memory forever
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