Teach a Man to Fish

A story overheard by me, Mr Bradbury, at Finlicky’s Fish and Tackle Shop and related back to Sir Richard that evening while he sipped scotch and shot his crossbow at stuffed dogs.
Mr Johnny Snr Bailey of Fudgers Close had been learning to fish for two weeks. He had learned all the basics: choosing the correct rod and bait, attaching the spool and line and tying the weights and hook. The one thing Dr Sean ‘One-eyed’ Cronin had not taught him was how to actually cast off his line. Every time it would come to this part of the lesson, Sean would grab the rod out of Johnny’s hands and quickly cast off before handing the rod back without saying a word.
One day, Johnny had plucked up enough courage to ask Sean why he was not allowed to cast off.

“You’re not ready!” Sean roared, staring straight ahead at the still lake.

“But I’ve watched you do it a hund-” Johnny started.

“I said you’re not fucking ready!” He picked up Johnny’s rod, broke it across his knee and stormed through the bushes at the edge of the lake. “And you can walk home!” he shouted back at Johnny.

Two days went by without any contact from Sean. Johnny sat and wondered what he had said that could provoke such a reaction. Finally he decided enough was enough. He went out to the village, bought a new rod and set out across the patchwork of fields towards Swallow’s Lake.

Johnny trudged through the low bushes and pointy tufts of grass at the water’s edge until he found the perfect spot. He laid his fishing bag, his small cooler box and his flask on a nearby rock and stared across the lake. I’ll show him, he thought to himself.

It was the perfect spot, the trees behind Johnny provided excellent shelter from the wind and were far enough back not to compromise his maiden cast. He could see the village below him and beyond, the sea and the lighthouse on Pigger’s Rock. He lay all of his equipment out on the grass and prepared his rod meticulously, as Sean had taught him. As he looked out on the lake, Johnny could see each ripple clearly glistening in the morning light. The silence engulfed him completely and he felt at ease with himself.

He picked up his rod, unclasped the reel, let the line hang out a bit and then began the slow arc of his cast as he had seen Sean do many times before.

‘One Eye’ Cronin found him later that afternoon, his neck broken in five different places. He sunk to his knees and sobbed into Johnny’s lifeless body.

“I told you you weren’t ready,” he whispered in disbelief.


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