Spring Day on the Bayou
The sun warmed my back as I sat on the bank of the bayou munching on my Ketchup sandwich and watching the red and white cork at the end of my line.
A click sounded to my right. Mouth full, I turned and saw a huge man—not fat—muscular. It would take both my hands to fit around his biceps. His hair was sun blonde and cut close to his head.
I forgot to chew and the sandwich became soggy. I tried to swallow but choked instead, spewing the food out. Tears filled my eyes as I tried to get my breath.
A hand gripped my shoulder. “Can you breathe?”
I couldn’t answer.
The same hand jerked me up when I didn’t respond. “Can you breathe?”
I nodded yes.
“Hey, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. I just wanted a picture of you,” the man said.
“Oh, no.” I jumped up and ran for my cane pole. The cork was out of sight and something big was taking the line fast. I jumped in, got the pole and pulled. After a ferocious fight I managed to lift the fish out and to my disgust saw a gar.
“You got a big one,” the man said.
“Yeah, but not what I wanted.” I waded out of the water and went to my supplies. After pulling on my gloves I grabbed my pliers and removed the hook from the gar and threw the fish back in the water. I flopped on the ground and grabbed my soda.
The man stood over me and stared. A shiver ran down my spine. “Would you leave or sit down?”
“Oh, sorry.” He sat facing me. “You’re going to think I’m crazy but when I saw you, I knew we met ten years ago.”
I looked him up and down. “Nope, I would remember.”
He laughed. “I was a late bloomer. You remember seeing those advertisements in magazines that said if you took their tonic you’d go from a 100 pound weakling to a big muscular man? That’s what the army did for me.”
Unable to hold it back, laughter burst from me. “You want a Ketchup sandwich?”
I reached into my back pack and grabbed another one.
“My name’s Sam,” he said. He waved the sandwich at me. “This and your hair is why I know we’ve met.”
“Sounds like a pick-up line to me.”
“No. Well maybe. I’ve thought about you off and on for years.”
“Tell me the story.”
“I was a senior in high school and it was like today— spring. I couldn’t stand to stay inside so I played hooky. I came here to this very spot and saw a girl with hair so red I thought at first that her head was on fire. Your curls were flying around in the wind like flames. I ran over and there you sat calmly eating a Ketchup sandwich and watching your cork blow about on the water.”
No way. I remembered that day. “Did I tell you I was playing hooky?”
“Yeah. I said me too, and then you replied you’d skipped all week.”
“That was me. When spring came nothing could keep me from the fish.”
“You laughed about trespassing on some rich person’s property,” Sam said.
I pointed to the house behind us. “I knew they went to work every day.”
Sam laughed. “You can fish anytime you want. My parents live here.”
“So, you’re a rich kid?”
“Nope. I’m a sergeant in the United States Army and proud of it.”
I reached over with my hand out. “Let me shake your hand and say thank you for protecting all of us.”
When skin met skin a tingle went up my arm.
I grabbed another sandwich and lay back. “You’re not eating.”
Sam grimaced. “I thought Ketchup on bread must be delicious by the expression on your face, but tell the truth, it’s terrible.”
We laughed together.
I ate with eyes closed and enjoyed the warmth of the sun.
“You still live here in Monroe?” He asked.
“Maybe. Couldn’t wait to leave Louisiana. Took off the day after graduation. Went to Texas, married and divorced there. Now I’m home visiting my folks and thinking about moving back. How about you?”
“On leave. Married and divorced too.”
The sound of bugs and my chewing was all that was heard for long minutes.
“If you told me your name, I’d ask you out,” Sam said.
My heart raced. “Abbie.”
“Abbie, would you like to have dinner and take in a movie with me this evening?”
“Do you like to fish?”
“Love to,” Sam said.
“Then the answer is yes; I’d enjoy going out with you.”
Elizabeth lives in Florida and Texas with her husband. She loves to travel especially in Alaska. Contact Elizabeth.