The Rattlin Rap

Back in the 1980s my brother lived in Michigan and loved to fish.
He couldn’t come home because there was no Green Card but we loved to open the presents he sent. My sister got
a quilted jumpsuit and I got a fishing rod and a few lures.
One dark rainy night in March, while eating battered onion slices outside the chipper in my friend Brian’s car, he
convinced me to go fishing with him on Sunday. He had an orange fibreglass dinghy.
Brian collected me before daylight. The Stainless Stanley flask from Michigan was first to the car. Then the tomato
sandwiches, “cup a soup” and anoraks. Brian said that he would go through my fishing stuff at the lake.
He opened the fishing box and his eyes went wide.
“Where are you going with them toys?” He laughed as he rummaged through the silicon worms and the spinning
lures which bore every colour of the rainbow. The biggest guffaw came when he held up the twin pack of
“Rattlin’Raps”. They were both tiger-patterned, one black and one yellow. They were heavy and made to sink.
Strangest of all, they each had a ball bearing inside and sounded just like a baby’s rattle. Brian was shaking with
laughter as he set up my rod for me.
We set anchor and started to fish. Brian cast and retrieved a brass spoon on his side of the boat while I dropped the
Rattlin Rap overboard. It hit bottom and instantly, I got hung up. On a branch or a weed. I didn’t want to lose it so I
tried pulling the line from side to side. Nothing. Then a little give. Then stuck again. I asked Brian what to do. He
shook his head and reeled in.
“I’ll row towards the shore and you keep a light tension on it and we will free it at the angle” he said while pulling at
the anchor. Suddenly, I had no pressure on the rod. I looked at him.
“Ahh, you’ve snagged the anchor “But when the anchor surfaced there was no sign of the Rattlin Rap. I started to
reel and the rod was bent over.
“Take it easy! You must have a log. Or a dead dog in a sack”
Slowly, I wound the line waiting for the snap and loss of my American present. Brian had the anchor by then and was
peering into the brackish water to see what garbage I was pulling in.
The water erupted and it was a fish! I had caught a fish! It was huge, about three feet long with a yawning mouth
and it seemed like millions of razor sharp teeth. It twisted and we could see eye to eye.
“That’s not coming on this boat!” Brian wailed and I told him to get the net. He looked at me with real fear and said
that it was too big. Indeed, it was too big to fit in the boat, but we netted it any way and pulled it in. It lay quietly on
top of the anoraks.
“It’s a mammy pike” Brian whispered “You could fit a baby’s head in that mouth!” With that, Mammy Pike closed
her mouth and we watched the Rattlin’ Rap slip out and spring in to the air. Without thinking, we lifted the anorak
and rolled the monster back into Descart Lake. She slipped away without as much as a backward glance.
We exhaled, looked at each other and I swear that I heard Brain ask:
“Can I have that other Rattlin’ Rap?”