Thanks to my dear friend blackrandl1958 for giving me the basis for this story, her advice, input and, of course, her editing. Thanks toTodd172 and Crkcppr for beta reading.
I was in the mood for some fishing, so I loaded my gear in my truck and left Austin bound for Round Rock. There was a small river with some decent fishing. I had been there before and that was the reason I chose that particular conservation access. I wasn’t going to stay near the car anyway. I was going fishing. There were maybe twenty cars around the gravel parking lot on the small river. I always hate leaving my car there. The kinds of riffraff that hang around those accesses are the kind that don’t mind slamming their door up against yours when they get out, leaving you cursing at the chipped paint and dents when you get back.
They don’t have jobs so they can’t go anywhere that costs money. They manage to scrape up enough money for a case of cheap beer and enough gas to get them to the creek and they get knee-walking drunk and throw their trash in the bushes. I just wanted to get away and fish. I need the time to unwind. I have a high stress job and I just wanted to be alone, running things around in my own head until I’m at peace and just thinking about my next cast.
I was twenty miles from home. I live on the outskirts of a small city, about 150,000, and this was in the middle of nowhere. The people hanging around were likely all local. There were a dozen fat, hairy backed, skinny legged, assholes there drinking and talking at the top of their lungs. The men were even worse, and there weren’t twenty teeth in the whole bunch. There were probably twice that many waif-like kids. One fat broad with huge boobs had a can of beer perched between them, held up by her straining halter-top. I chuckled to myself as I got my rods out of the back. I had on a pair of denim cutoffs and I tied a plastic store bag with some extra tackle on one of my belt loops, pushing my spinning rod into one back pocket and carrying my casting rod in my hands.
I could feel every eye on me as I walked down to the river and started wading upstream. I guess they had never seen a black woman before. Maybe they didn’t think I was smart enough to be fishing. Several men made comments under their breath. I waded across the stream and made my first cast. There was a young girl swimming not too far away. She looked like she was seventeen. She stood up and waded over to me.
“Hi,” she said, “you catching anything?”
“I just got started,” I told her. “I plan to catch some though. Do you fish?”
“I’d like to,” she said, “but I don’t know how.”
I noticed a young man wading toward us. “Claire, why you talking to that nigger?” he snarled.
Stuff like that stopped bothering me years ago. I reeled my spinner bait up to the end of my pole and started to move up the river. It’s always better just to move on if you can.
“You’re such an asshole,” Claire said to him. “I’ll talk to anyone I want to, Danny. I’d a hell of a lot rather talk to her than you.”
He had reached her by that time and grabbed her by the arm. “Shut the fuck up!” he told her.
“Stop it, you’re hurting me,” she yelled.
I sighed. This was just great. I waded back toward her and stopped about four feet away.
“The lady asked you to let her go,” I told him.
“This ain’t none of your affair, bitch,” he growled. “You better get your black ass on out of here.”
“Claire, do you want me to help you?” I asked.
“He’ll just hurt you,” she said. “I don’t want you to get hurt, but I want him to let go of me.”
That was all I needed to hear. I swung that fishing pole like a whip right across his face, leaving an angry red stripe from the bottom of his left ear, across his mouth and onto his chin. The hook of that heavy spinner bait stuck in the side of his neck and the line broke. He screamed and fell down into the knee-deep water, going all the way under. He came up sputtering and I curb stomped him in the face, He went under again and began to scramble backward like a crab. He didn’t want any more but about five of his buddies were now moving toward us. I broke my rod in half and had a very good clubbing or stabbing weapon in one hand and a very good whip in the other. That pissed me off too. I loved that rod and you couldn’t get them anymore. Claire splashed over to the shore behind me and came back with a hefty stick.
I heard a shout from the parking area and a young guy in a uniform came running down the ramp. He was huge, muscles bulging all over him and it seemed like the locals recognized him and they didn’t want to tangle with him.
He waded across the creek and when he got closer, I could see he was a conservation agent. “You girls okay?” he asked.
“I am,” I said. “You okay, Claire?”
“Yeah, I think my arm is going to be bruised and I think I just lost my ride home,” she said. “Thanks, Jacks.”
“You two know each other?” I asked.
“Yeah, Jackson is my neighbor,” she said. “I’m sorry I got you involved. What’s your name?”
“Slate,” I told her. “Slate Blevins, and you didn’t get me involved, honey. I should have seen this coming when I got out of the car. I should have gone somewhere else but I badly wanted to fish.”
“I’m sorry you didn’t get to,” she cried a little. “Now your rod is broken. I’m sorry he called you those names too.”
“It’s not your fault,” I said. “Jacks, are you going to arrest us?”
“Do you have a fishing license?” he asked.
I looked at him as if he was crazy and we both burst out laughing at the same time. “Yes, yes I do, as a matter of fact.” I took off my sunglasses and wiped my eyes. “You had me going there for a minute.”
Claire didn’t get the joke, but she was a happy girl and she laughed anyway. “Well, I’ll give you a ride home,” I told her. “It looks like I’m done fishing anyway. Thanks, Jacks,” I offered him my hand. “See you around.”
He took my hand and it was like shaking hands with a grizzly bear. “I’ll walk you girls back to your car,” he said. “I don’t want you killing any of those assholes on the way out.”
There was some muttering as we walked up the ramp but a look from Jacks shut that down. I put my stuff in the trunk and changed out of my wading shoes into some flip-flops. I got out a couple of towels and gave them to Claire. “Wrap up in one and sit on the other one,” I told her. “I never got my clothes wet.”
All she had on was a red bikini. She was a tiny little thing but she filled out that bikini in all the right places. We said goodbye to Jacks and she gave me directions to her house. It was a little town, maybe a thousand people. I’d been there before to the farmer’s market and it was quaint. She chattered like a parrot the whole way home and I liked her a lot.
She asked me all kinds of questions about where I lived and what I did. When she discovered I was a professor at the university she got all excited. It turned out she was going to go to school there as soon as she graduated later that year. She was a senior and her parents were buying her a car so that she could commute when she started college. I offered to be her advisor and she was ecstatic.
We exchanged phone numbers and she wanted me to meet her family. Her mother and father were a very nice couple. They were little like she was. I’m a big girl. I’m slender but tall and I felt like a giant around them. She had the cutest little sister too. She was thirteen and she was going to look just like Claire when she grew up. Claire told them what had happened and her mother scolded her for going with a bunch of “trailer trash,” according to her. They all thanked me profusely and her dad, his name was Robert, asked me what I would have done if Jacks hadn’t shown up.
“I’d have hurt some of them badly,” I told him. “There were five of them and I wouldn’t have had time to be careful.”
“Do you think you could have won a fight with five men?” he asked.
“Not without some advantage,” I told him. “Actually, I was armed and they weren’t. Claire was going to help me too, weren’t you, honey?”
“Yes, I found a solid stick,” she smiled ruefully.
“Let’s not think about that,” her mother, Martha, said. She looked genuinely horrified. “Robert is a man and he’s interested in violence.”
He laughed. “Only when it’s performed by gorgeous women,” he said. “Slate, you have to stay and eat dinner with us. It’s the least we can do to thank you.”
I really didn’t want to impose, but they insisted and I had a blast. They were funny, smart and very kind. We played board games afterward for a couple of hours and I was sorry when it was time to go. I exchanged numbers with them and Robert and Claire walked me to my car.
He fell in love with it right away. I have a 1951 Mercury Custom. I promised to give him a ride in it sometime and I drove back home. It was about nine when I got there and I jumped in the shower. I was toweling off when my phone buzzed. I didn’t recognize the number but it was my area code so I answered. Students sometimes call me at home.
I was very surprised to discover that it was Jacks. “How did you get my number?’ I asked him.
“Well, I knew your name and being in law enforcement has its advantages,” he said. “Besides, I asked Claire. Since your fishing got blown up, I was wondering if you might consider going fishing with me,” he said.
.... There is more of this story ...