A Short Story about Fighting for Fish – Reinventing the World
By T. Guy
Max is passionate. He has the type of personality that one once thought all really wealthy people must have, part crazy and part genius, each part keeping the other under control. He tries to reinvent the world. He is the type of person that will not be contained or controlled. He is hard-charging, aggressive, fearless, and sometimes stupid as a result. Yet still, he is one to admire. He has no respect for rules or authority, though he has become an authority himself.
“What are they going to do?” he would say. He has been shot five times. He was hit only once…in the calf. He still got away from the shooter. He was in the air force and loved the exhilaration of flying. He would “push the envelope” in both the F-16 and his, much less equipped blue and tan private plane. He would do things in his small private plane about which other pilots would comment, “The plane just wasn’t built for that” as they shook their head and looked down towards the stable ground.
His theory of crossing streets is that if a car hit him, the collision with his soft and supple flesh would dent the car, and thus damage his aggressor. He would walk out into traffic, unafraid of the fast-moving automobiles. Max is a man of learning. Once at the age of 14 he read the encyclopedia straight through. He also put himself through college and law school.
Max’s style of practicing the law is surely an aggressive one. He would fluster people. Max is a tall man with a good build. This, especially when he really gets going, is extremely intimidating. I have heard stories where he got witnesses so flustered in cross-examination that when the witness was told to go back to his seat, he angrily stood up, pouting, and briskly walked directly into the wall behind them.
* * *
On one of his fishing trips, Max got in a fight with nature. He went to a ranch in the Truchas peaks, at the base of the rocky mountains to catch his fish. The two-day trip consisted of standing in the river, trying to reclaim his fly fishing line from a tree, diving on top of grasshoppers in order to use them as bait, sliding down a steep hill into the river, and breaking branches off of trees to start a campfire, having his tent collapse on him in the rain, catching several whoppers of fish, losing blood, and of course getting smelly.
At the end of the journey on his way home, he stopped by the ranch house with the trout he had caught in a light blue cooler. He smelled of fish, smoke, dirt, grass, tree, mud, and rain. He was inside the immense, dark, creaky, and musty-smelling ranch house when the dog of a ranch hand smelled the fish. Max was learning about how many coyotes were recently caught on the ranch when the dog cleverly discovered how to open the cooler. The dog started to eat the trout only when Max was on his way back out of the house.
Max was not pleased by the state of his hard-won fish. He started yelling, whooping and waving his arms around. The dog, confused by this, decided to move its meal to a quieter location. It pulled its ears back and looked at Max, completely confused as to why he was leaping around. The discovery of fresh fish was not a time to panic. The dog picked up the trout he was eating and started to turn around.
The dog was a part dingo, from Australia. It would often try to follow people all over the ranch. It had a condensed build, one that could handle a lot of abuse without too much trouble. The dog’s fur was a thick brown on the sides and head with touches of white on the back. Living on the ranch the brown faded to black, and the white to tan.
Max was not willing to let the fish go, and dove for it. The sliding caused dust to fly up into the air. The thick plume turned all the colours into pastels of brown, in the sharp New Mexican sun. When the dust finally cleared, Max lay belly to the ground, looking up at the dog. The dog looked down at Max, even more, confused than before. At this point, the dog realized that Max had the tail of its trout in his right hand. Max would not have eaten the fish now; it had dog slobber all over it. However, Max was willing to fight for the fish with all he had.
Both the dog and Max pulled on the fish. Neither Max nor the dog made progress, though both growled. After a short scuffle, the contenders were completely covered in thin tan dust. Max was able to gain the upper hand by standing up. He then proceeded to lift the dog off the ground by lifting the fish. The dog flailed its legs about, as if it were running straight upwards, and defiantly growled as it dangled there, refusing to let go of the fish. Max took his other arm and put it around the dog. He held the fish in one hand and the dog in the other. Then Max whispered to the dog as he used his negotiation skills to get the dog to release the fish. The dog was not persuaded and made a powerful rebuttal by shaking its head vigorously.
This continued until one of the dog’s legs got within pushing distance of Max’s thigh. The dog placed his paw on Max’s leg and pushed off with enough force to jump completely out of Max’s arms. In-flight, the dog was able to twist the fish out of Max’s hand. Max was so surprised by the dog’s move that he didn’t react. He just stood there in the same position, arm still curled as if it held the dog, and hand still held out as if the fish remained in its grasp. The dog, however, miscalculated its landing and landed fish first, then the nose, leaving a fin of dust over its landing strip.
The dog stood up, unwilling to accept that its fish now had rocks embedded in it, and marched off triumphantly. Max collected his remaining fish together, put them back in the cooler, and bought the dog.