Once again, The Secret of Excalibur is on sale for 99c / 99p until 10-26-2016. I thought this time I would share two of my favorite scenes from the story.
FIRST SCENE : (I love fishing, so this would have to be one. )
“Hit the camera, kid, while I bait some lines. The fish are moving already.” I reach into the bait well and begin hooking up two four-pound Walleyes in the back, like an oversized minnow. I throw three of the lines out, off the boat, and set the rods in holders, then throw my fly out right over the cavern mouth. Using two and four pound live fish for bait differs from minnows. They run all over the place, even setting the drags off.
“How can you tell it’s a fish and not the bait?” Ruth asks with a puzzled frown as she stares at the bobbing rod tips and the lines zipping around in the water.
Good question, kid. “Well, the really big fish should pull a lot harder. I hope anyway.”
As I’m setting the last rod in the holder, it takes off. That’s the fly. I snatch up the rod, rearing back with a strong jerk, as I do when I get excited, and set the hook. The fish races off with the drag singing. I have a firm grip on the six-foot rod, bent way over, and this fish isn’t fooling around. After ten minutes of me reeling in and him pulling out, I’m able to horse him in towards shore. Standing in knee-deep water, I finally net him and with a spine-tingling thrill, see that he barely fits inside the net.
Excited over catching a big fish right off the bat, I yell, “Get the scale, Ruth. Look at the size of this Walleye.”
I lug the fish to the back of the boat, remove the hooks, then she hands me the scale. “Holy shit, kid, look.” The scale stops at twenty-six pounds. I hold the White up for the camera, yelling with a big grin, “Hey, Colly, look what I caught, a record already.”
I drop my fish into the live-well, and I’m about to make another smartass remark, when one of Ruth’s rods shows the difference between the bait and the fish. Zzzing, sings the drag. The rod is bent over nearly in half, but Ruth’s standing frozen with that wide-eyed deer look again. I’m off the boat on the wrong side, and I’m about ready to jump over the side into the boat to grab her rod, when the other line on my side takes off.
“Grab the pole, Ruth, and hang onto it. Go on, kid, get that fish.”
Jerking as though she just came out of a trance, she stoops over and grabs the rod, almost having it pulled from her hands. Sliding in the sand, she barely manages to keep herself from being dragged into the water.
Hell, I can’t even remove mine from the holder; the fish is pulling so hard. But, I finally get enough slack to pull the rod loose, and because he’s doing all the work, just hold on. This fish is really fighting, and I’m busy as hell for a while. Every ten yards of line I reel back on, he takes five back off. I don’t know how long the fight lasts, but my arms and hands are starting to feel the pressure from the seesawing, back and forth of the line. I can feel sweat starting to trickle down my face.
He’s up near the surface now and getting tired. I almost freak at what I see. Three and a half foot of white flashes and whips back down. He’s trying to make a last dash into the cave, and it takes all my strength to turn him around. But he finally surfaces again, and this time he stays. That last run must’ve worn him out.
I know he isn’t going to fit inside the net. So, wading out five feet off the bank into three-foot water, I try getting my hands in his gills, but he’s not cooperating at all, thrashing his head and tail, splashing water everywhere. I faintly hear Ruth yelling, but have no idea what she’s saying. You can get that way with a big fish. And this is a big fish. I finally resort to wrapping both hands around him behind his gills, and with a steel grip, half-drag, half-carry him on shore.
Once on shore, I catch my breath, then straighten with my foot on my fish, and notice Ruth. She’s fighting with her bent-over-rod, and turned sideways in a funny spread-legged stance. With shock, I realize she’s standing on the other rod and the line is unspooling like hell, the goddamn drag smoking.
I whip off my poncho, wrapping my fish in it, then toss them up by the chairs, close to the tripod, then sprint to help Ruth. She’s yelling, face red, tears running and cussing up a storm, but I can’t make out any words. Still, I can tell it isn’t anything she’d repeat in church.
I snatch up the rod from the ground, almost having it torn from my hands. Another big heave from the fish throws me into Ruth, almost sending her into the lake. The spool is about empty. Following the line in to the water with my eyes, I see the fish. This bastard has two-hundred yards of line out, and wants more. It takes a few minutes to convince him otherwise, then he’s worn out and I’m able to force him up to the surface and towards me. I’m again out in the water, and my heart jumps into my throat at the size of him. He looks like mine, and just as unhappy about my hands on him. I drag him up on the bank, remove the hooks, then drop him into the live-well.
I’m getting ready to retrieve my second fish, when Ruth yells again. Her head is hanging in exhaustion and her arms are trembling. “Arthur, take this bloody rod, or I swear I’ll throw it in the water.” I grab her pole, and she slowly sinks to her knees, sobbing into her sand-covered hands.
With a start, I realize this bastard is fighting harder than the other fish had. This can’t be a Walleye, not running and diving like that, must be a fucking shark. I know they swim into the lake sometimes, even a few dolphins, and occasionally a whale. Damn. No wonder Ruth’s so worn out; this is the same rod she picked up first, and the fish isn’t tired yet.
Our battle rages on for fifteen minutes, in, out, in, then out. My arms are trembling from holding on and the never-ending slackening and pulling of the rod. The sky’s so dark now I can barely see. Then the fish jumps twenty feet out, and I about have a heart attack. It’s so goddamn long; it can’t jump all the way out of the water. But, I do see a good four or five foot of it, before it falls sideways, with a big splash, back into the water. Northern!
“Ruth, look under the seat of the boat, in my bag, and take out my gun. Now, girl, move.”
Amazing. All my psychic abilities and I completely forgot them. Catching a big fish is a lifelong learned and relearned experience. When you hook a big fish, it’s you or him. I knew Ron kept a 9mm automatic in his kit, and I had transferred the gun to my bag, exactly for this purpose. With visions of the monster Northern zooming in and tearing at my legs, I reluctantly wade out into the water, but not far this time. Of course, he can’t do much damage to me, but do you think I remember that now?
On trembling legs, Ruth wades into the water beside me, to my right, and holds the gun out with her fingertips, like it’s infected. The Northern is running again, in the shallower water now, and not taking out as much line, but he’s far from being done. Trying to horse him around is like pulling a stalled bus. But, finally, there he is, lying about six feet away, gills moving rapidly, and round, gold/black eyes staring back at me. He isn’t done though; he’s not on top, just right below the surface. I’ve seen Northerns do this before in Minnesota, resting and ready to run again, but never a Northern as big as this bastard.
I hold out the rod to Ruth. “Just keep the line tight, and hold on. If I miss, he’s gonna swim off so fast, you can waterski behind him.”
With a glare, deep frown and heavy sigh, she takes the offered rod and holds it with double-fists, pulling back against the weight of the fish, keeping the line taunt.
I slowly wade out a few feet, pulling the action to chamber a round, and he just lies there, watching, gills and fins slowly undulating in the water. I aim at the top of that huge head, between the eyes, and gently pull the trigger.
The water explodes in front of me. I fall over as the Northern blasts into my legs on his way by, with Ruth tumbling over on her back as the line snaps. I scramble to my feet as Ruth is trying to stand. I help her up, and we stand staring, with open mouths, panting with excitement and fear.
The big Northern is lying in the water seven feet away from us. He sure doesn’t look dead, even with that hole in his head. His gills are barely fluttering now, and he’s twitching, blood seeping into the water around him. I wade over by him, grabbing him behind the gills. My hands don’t meet. He quivers and I flinch. I turn him slowly towards shore, towing him along to the bank. What a monster. I loop a rope around him, and hook the scale up to his middle. The scale groans, seventy-three pounds.
Well, I was going to post another scene from when Arthur and Ruth are entering the tunnel, but if you haven’t read the book yet, it will give away too much of the twisty plot. Sorry.
You can buy your copy HERE, and if you have a Kindle Unlimited Membership, it’s free.
So, if you’ve already read the book, which is your favorite part of the story? I’d really like to know.