We had agreed to meet at the old rundown bait shop near the end of the road. I had told her that I would wait for her by the old wooden Indian that almost every old bait shop seemed to have. It was to be a simple picnic date out by the river. A little lunch. A little fishing. A little conversation. It was supposed to have been a simple getting to know you sort of date.
We hadn’t been dating that long. It was our third date, unless you count our first chance meeting at the grocery store. We had met over the watermelons and started talking about gardening and other hobbies. The next weekend had me heading over to her apartment to look over her tiny herb garden on her small balcony. Later that week she showed up at my tiny house in the woods to comment and help harvest a few of the vegetables from my own garden.
The fishing trip had been her suggestion. She had never fished before, but she was intent on learning as much as possible to be as independent as possible. I thought it was a grand idea, but somehow I couldn’t see her small, delicate hands cleaning fish or even baiting hooks.
Nevertheless, I found myself leaning against the wall, next to my Indian guard, as I mentally ran through the contents of my tackle box and the picnic basket. Even if she ended up being bored of the fishing expedition, I was determined to make a good day out of both the company and the fishing.
A dust cloud coming down the road had me standing straighter and brushing off the dust from the road. Even if it was just a third date, I wanted to make the right impression. We weren’t close enough to warrant introducing her to friends or family, but our easy conversations were surely a good sign for things to come.
“Hi Johnny!” I smiled as I took in her khaki shorts and tied back blonde hair. She had at least tried to dress the part, I thought.
“Hey Anna Belle,” I said, leaving the wall and walking over to her dust coated car. I gave her a quick hug in greeting before gesturing to both of our cars. “Did you want to ride out with me or did you want to take your car?” I knew that some girls, especially previously city girls, were gun-shy about giving up the control of driving to a guy, a relative stranger.
“Your car is fine,” she said as she started pulling fishing equipment out of her trunk. I was glad to see that she had her own tackle box and fishing pole. I had been concerned that she wouldn’t think to get her own equipment, but to be safe I had quickly dragged my old fishing pole out of storage. I figured at the very least we would both had poles and at the best I would have two lines in the water at once.
“I was thinking that we’d hit part of the river just a little bit down the road from here,” I suggested as I took her tackle box from her and put them with mine in my truck bed. “I’ve been told that there’s decent catfish out there.” Anna Belle nodded, but hesitated after adding her fishing pole to mine in the back of the truck.
“I suppose so,” she said. I walked around to the passenger door and held it open for her as my own father had taught me. “I had kind of hoped to trying some fishing out by the lighthouse.” I watched her climb in and made sure she was completely in before closing her door and making my way around the truck. I was trying to think fast to see if there were any reason why we couldn’t. I didn’t know what sort of tackle she had prepared for, but I had brought my larger box that had a little of everything.
“I reckon so,” I said as I slid into the driver seat. “I think I have enough tackle for the ocean.” I thought I remember putting a small aquarium fishnet in my truck just for catching bait fish. I might actually use it for once, I thought to myself.
“I always wanted to go out there,” she said happily. She just looked out her window, content, as I back my truck out of the parking lot. The lighthouse was just a short distance off from the bait shop. I figured that was the reason it had been built there. It was halfway between the two best fishing spots in the area. I didn’t usually go fishing by the ocean, but it wasn’t because I didn’t like the salty water. I just preferred the taste of the river fish. I had joked in the past about being a born and bred catfish man.
“It’s nice enough,” I said as I turned my truck off of the gravel road and down the path to the lonely lighthouse.
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(Somebody had to get me working on this idea again)