Many years ago, back in the 80’s in fact, there was a lake down past where I live and the guy who once farmed the land around here charged people two dollars a day to fish there. The lake is now weedy and overgrown with elodea and no one has been allowed to go back there for thirty years now. But fisherfolk never forget a place where they once fished and they’ll keep coming back to that place, like birds will revisit feeders that have been empty for months. I haven’t fished or had the desire to fish, since I was a kid, and I’m not likely to wake up one day and have the urge to murder worms as a hobby. For those who have done it and still want to do it, my front door seems to be some sort of beacon.
I love it when someone comes to the door and all four dogs hammer down. It’s like being in the middle of a grain silo where someone is dropping a dump truck load of cookware that makes barking noises as it hits. Marco Ladakh has a hammer for a voice and he isn’t afraid to turn the knob to the right, even if he is afraid of his own shadow. Grey Charlotte isn’t as loud or as large, but she can sound menacing. Lilith Anne is not very large or very loud, but she looks like she means it. Tyger Lynn had learned that the table is the best vantage point for scaring away would be trespassers. Of the four, Tyger puts on the best show. I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mean it and she’s never really offered to bite anyone, but there is something about her, all fifty pounds of her, that seems a little fiercer than the others. I worry about a lot of things out here but someone just walking through the door isn’t among those worries.
A guy came by about a month ago and Marco reacted very poorly to him. Even the other dogs stopped and looked at Marco as if they wondered how this got so personal. What no one at the door can see is I get the shotgun on the other side of the door. I’ve never felt the urge to point it at anyone but this guy made Marco edgy which made me nervous. Fisherfolk do not seem to understand the word no unless it is repeated and explained, and I’m used to it now. No, I do not have the keys to the gate, no I cannot give you permission to go back there, no I will not ask for you, no I will not take you back there “just to look” and that just to look thing is something nearly all of them ask to do. Can I go back there just to look? Why would you? Why not leave when someone tells you no? So, you won’t leave when you are asked to and then you want an escort for trespassing? Sorry, I’m busy, please not to come back because there is no fishing to be done here.
But fisherfolk are accustomed to failure. They can spend an entire weekend and a few thousand dollars out in a boat on the Gulf, puke their guts out half the time they’re out, get sunburned to the point past crispy, and still have a good time. No, no, no, and more no, and they still want to ask about the pond beside my house. It’s a weedy thing with more plants than water in it and very few open spaces that anyone could fish in, even if I was inclined towards permission, which I am not. No, I do not want you out here at all, for any reason, for any length of time, no, no fishing, is please to go away and not come back. No fishing.
Well, do you know of anywhere I can fish?
We are having this conversation while four dogs are yammering away and the guy keeps looking at the dogs, looking at me, and he keeps asking, can you shut those dogs up, no I’m not going to because you are leaving and they will be quiet then. I don’t fish, I do not know any place to fish, I do not care about fishing, I do not care if you never fish again, I do not care if no one ever fishes again and I do not want to talk to you about fishing. No fishing.
Out past the porch the man’s car is sitting there with the driver’s side door still open and there is a woman sitting there with that look on her face. She’s agreed to go somewhere with him because he wants to be with her and still do his thing but now she’s regretting being talked into it and part of who he is might be wrapped up in being able to find a place to drown crickets before she really gets disgusted and demands to be taken home. He doesn’t realize it but she’s balancing the trouble he’s worth against the idea of spending a Saturday afternoon knocking on the doors of strangers and listening to dogs bark. I’ve seen this before; guys will take a girlfriend along with them because they want the best of both worlds and wind up with the good of neither. Women do not want to tag along. They want to be included. This one isn’t feeling it.
“Are you two married?” I ask and he realizes that I’m looking past him and at his woman.
“Uh, not really, no, uh..” He’s at a loss to explain why I have asked. He looks back at her she looks at us as if wondering if there is some resolution to any of this noise and I wave at her. She waves back. And smiles. He’s only sees her waving and he isn’t happy.
Okay, thanks, we’ll be on our way now.