I cast off my line into the murky water below the Muskie. It was getting dark outside so I decided that this would be my last cast before driving the 25 mile boat ride home to my little family of five and a dog. I always feel guilty coming home with an empty fish cooler. When I do come home empty handed, the family has to look for hours for edible berries or we just eat the cotton out of cattails.
I began to reel in the hook when the bobber sank beneath the surface. I pulled on it and reeled my prize into the fish cooler. It was a small, green fish, but it would last us until morning when I would come back out here. I walked over to the wheel, pushed the throttle forward until I was going at about five knots.
I slowed the boat down once it got really dark to light the kerosene lantern attached to a pole mounted on the bow of the Muskie. I turned the wick up and lit it. I looked into the matchbox and only saw six remaining. There’s another thing I’ll have to buy, I thought with a scowl.
I was returning to the wheel when there was a sharp jerk of the boat upward. I looked around and waited for the wake of the shake to settle. In the black water were around twenty alligators approaching the Muskie. One took a lunge at the boat and narrowly missed my hand, which would have easily been eaten off in the process. I jumped to the wheel and turned the throttle to high.
Zigzagging at twenty knots, I thought I was clear, but they were still behind me. So I disobeyed all rules, straightened out, and left the wheel in search of my rifle. I dug around behind my seat and found it next to the worm can. I turned around just in time to see the bow of the Muskie hit a cypress tree. Not only had it left a dent but one of the roots had torn a hole in the bottom of my boat. The alligators were quickly approaching, so I grabbed my gun and a black drawstring bag and stuffed it with whatever I could.
On the way off the boat, I grabbed the lantern and extinguished it. I climbed the tree that I crashed into, not sure of its stability. From there, I watched the alligators break everything that I left on the Muskie. I was about to call it a night when I heard a snap. I whipped around and saw the alligators clearing out, but leaving my fishing pole broken on the floor. How did I forget my pole? I yelled at myself silently with a frustrated sigh.
The 25 miles was going to be a long way to walk back to. I needed a boat in order to make it out without endangering myself any more than I already had. I looked up at the sky and saw the stars twinkling in the night and heard the cricket symphony chirp away. That’s all I needed to fall asleep and let all of this wait until morning.