"Gone Fishing" Copyright 2010 by Carey Burns
Prissy jumped down from Veronica's lap and skittered to the front of the fishing boat, her paws on the side rail as she barked at the kids fishing on the shoreline.
"Von, will you keep that ratty dog quiet? She's scaring away the fish." Sam reeled in his slack line, wishing he would have left her and that damn dog of hers at home instead of letting her weasel her way into his fishing trip with Bailey. Baily Evers was the only reason Von had any interest in fishing and she flirted with him mercilessly in the truck and for the first hour on the lake until Sam told her to shut her silly mouth. Since then Veronica sat sulking with Prissy whimpering in her arms.
Bailey chuckled. "Maybe we can hang ol' Pris over the edge and see if there really are barracuda in this lake." He tilted back his Dodgers' cap and wiped the sweat from his brow, squinting as he stared off across the lake. "Should we try over in the shade? I'm burnin' up."
Sam nodded and Bailey hoisted the anchor. They drifted for a moment as Sam pulled the starter cord of the old Johnson motor three times before it churned to life and he steered the prop toward the other side of the lake. Maybe they'd at least catch a few blue gill in the shade.
Veronica turned around and aimed her huge round sunglasses at Sam. "How much longer are we gonna be out here? Momma said to be home for supper." The Chihuahua hopped back up on her lap and panted at him, its round black marble eyes matching Von's.
"We'll go when we go. Sit back and enjoy the day, would ya? You wanted to come, remember?" Sam wanted to punt that stupid dog across the lake but his momma would have a fit after what they spent to buy the little turd at the mall. For that kind of money, they could have at least gotten a real dog.
She huffed and shifted on the metal bench seat, rocking the boat from side to side. Sam coasted into a shady spot and cut the motor and Bailey dropped the anchor with a deep ka-sploosh. The shade was a relief and the two men cast out into the murky water.
Within minutes Bailey had a bite and set the hook with a jerk of the rod. He reeled in the line, careful not to lose his catch and whistled as he hefted a good size crappie out of the water. The fish flipped helplessly as he seized hold of it. "Damn thing ate my hook. Gimme your pliers."
"Just cut the line and toss 'er back in." Sam shifted to his left butt cheek and pulled out the pliers reluctantly.
"Nah, I only got so many hooks." He snatched up the pliers and shoved the tips into the fish's gasping mouth. With a quick twist, he freed the hook and slipped the fish back into the water.
Another ten minutes passed without even a nibble and Sam contemplated packing it in for the day. He opened his mouth to speak when a speedboat zipped through the no wake zone sending huge waves right in their direction. "Hold on." He grabbed both sides of the boat and steeled himself for the wakes.
Von squealed, releasing her grip on Prissy and reaching for the sides. As the first wave crashed into the side, she tilted with the boat and poor Prissy slid straight off her lap and over the side. "Sam! Sam, save Prissy!"
Bailey laughed, riding out the proceeding waves. "Dogs can swim, silly, she'll be fine."
Prissy held her tiny head up out of the water and frantically kicked her stubby legs, struggling to get back to the safety of the boat but waves swept her farther away. With a tiny whimper, she went under.
"Shit." Sam kicked off his shoes and jumped into the chest-deep water and swam toward Prissy. He took a breath and went under, searching for the tan colored dog in the shadowy gloom. A flurry of movement caught his eye and as he drew closer he saw Prissy's right hind leg in the mouth of a two foot alligator gar. The beast shook the dog, its mouthful of needle-sharp teeth tearing into her flesh.
Without thinking, he lunged forward and punched the fish with all his strength. Dazed, it relaxed its grip on Prissy and Sam pulled her into his arms.
They broke through the surface and Sam held Prissy up until he reached shallow water. He cradled her in his arms and covered her tiny snout with his mouth. Von screamed and wailed as he took a breath and blew into her nose then pressed on her ribcage. Sam gave Prissy mouth to snout for almost a full minute before she finally coughed up water and shivered in his arms.
"Bring the boat over and give me your shirt, Bailey. I think she's in shock." Sam walked out into deeper water holding the fragile animal above his head.
He passed Prissy into Bailey's hands and struggled to get back into the boat without capsizing it. Exhausted, he pulled himself aboard and collapsed on his seat.
"Oh Sam, you saved her! You saved my Prissy!" Tears streamed down Von's cheeks as she wrapped her sweater around the dog's trembling body.
Sam started up the motor and steered them back toward the dock. "You owe me, Von, and that dog owes me too. And the next time you even think about crashing my fishing trip, you best believe that dog is gonna be bait."