“Tell me about it again, Grandpa.”
“I’ve told you a hundred times, Billy.”
“I know but I love that story.”
“Alright. Grab the lines and met me by the truck. I’ll tell you on the way.”
“Yes!” Billy spun on his heels and ran in the house. Seconds later he busted out the front, screen door holding two fishing poles and black and neon-yellow tackle box.
Grandpa shuffled around to the front of the house, digging through his cut-off jean shorts for the truck keys. He grabbed the poles from his grandson and placed them in the bed of the truck. Billy stepped up on the tire and stretched his arm over, setting the tackle box down next to them.
“Off we go.” Grandpa opened the door to the truck and climbed in, while Billy ran around to the passenger side.
Before his grandpa could even turn on the ignition Billy was asking about the story. “Tell me about the big one, Grandpa.”
“Hold your horses.” He started the old truck up, and then rolled down his window. Even during the hottest days of summer he refused to turn on the A/C. “Roll that window down, get some of that sweet summer air in here.”
Billy cranked the window while his grandpa backed the truck out the driveway.
“Okay, okay. The first time I lay eyes on that fish, I knew I had to catch it. It was like nothin’ I ever seen before.”
Pablo moved to West Palms when he was just a child. He had been given up for adoption from his parents just after he was born. His fosters told him that his biological parents weren’t equip to handle his handicap, which was just a nice way of telling him that they didn’t want him. It was a rare mutation. So rare he was the only case ever reported. Just below his right elbow, Pablo’s arm became a trout.
His foster parents were well off and had the option to have it surgically removed but noticed Pablo, even at a young age, was attached to it as if it was his pet. They decided to leave it. He grew up receiving many taunts by both children and adults. He had even hid it under a sock while attending middle school. But his parents were quick to comfort him and eventual he grew confident in his mutation. After college Pablo went into business for himself. He was a successful owner of packaging company, shipping and packing products all over the world. He was known for his handshake deals; the man that made promises with his trout hand.
“Hey Pablo, what’s up?” Devon asked, he had been Pablo’s roommate in college and they had stayed close ever since.
Pablo stretched out in the lawn chair. “Not much, sunbathing… waterbathing.” He nodded to his trout hand as it fluttered around in the small Koi pond.
“Brought us some lunch,” Devon said. He plopped down on the chair next him and unraveled a brown paper bag. “Bloodworms.” He pulled out a small, styrofoam cup filled with dark soil and writhing with worms. “And,” he opened a second bag. “Some turkey avocado subs.”
“Excellent.” Pablo pulled his hand from the pond and reached into the cup. The trout dug through the soil, gulping down bloodworm after bloodworm.
They ate their sandwiches in the mid-morning sun, enjoying their weekend and talking about old times. It wasn’t until they heard tires squealing out front of Pablo’s home that they stopped. Both men standing up from their lawn chairs and trying to peer over the bushes that separated the front yard from the back.
“What was that? An accident?” Devon asked. He saw the concerned look on his friend’s face.
“No, I- I think it’s…” Pablo’s words trailed off internally.
Devon heard two doors slam and the murmur of muted voices. He watched as panic flooded over Pablo.
“They found me,” was all he said before running.
An older man and a young boy broke through the bushes carrying fishing lines baited with dangling worms. The boy also had a tackle box full of assorted hooks and lure while the older man had a wire net on an aluminum pole. They chased after Pablo like hungry savages.
“I see him, Grandpa. He’s real. He’s really real,” Billy said as he ran, hopping over the Koi pond.
“I told you boy. And this time he ain’t getting away.”
Devon stood shocked. He couldn’t comprehend what was happening. Pablo had never mentioned anything like this ever happening to him before. It was hard to believe.
Grandpa cut him off, blocking the path to the backdoor. He slung his line back and tossed the wormed-hook at Pablo’s chest. It bounced down to the grass lying flat. Tucking the net under his arm, he began reeling the line in. Pablo’s trout hand immediately spotted the dancing worm and reacted, darting forward, pulling Pablo to his knees.
“No! Not again!” he shouted to his hand.
Billy ran up behind, blocking Pablo in. He set the tackle box and his line on the ground. “Grandpa, toss me the net.”
Grandpa waited until the trout hand lunged onto the worm, before tossing the net to his grandson. Then he pulled the line taunt, snagging the fish hand on the hook. Pablo winced in pain, watching in agony as the hook broke through the side of his trout hand's mouth.
Billy grasped the net from the air and slammed it down over Pablo’s head like he had been training his whole life for this moment. “We got him, Grandpa! We got him!”
Devon moved toward his friend, hesitant to involve himself. “What the hell is going on here?”
“Stay out of this, son,” Grandpa said. “This is our catch, fair and square.” He continued to reel the line in, until he was face to face with Pablo.
“I'm calling the cops,” Devon said, running back to the lawn chairs to get his cell phone.
Grandpa and Billy ignored him, focusing on their catch.
“Thought you could get away from me, didn't you,” Grandpa snarled.
“Let me go.”
“You've been running long enough, time to come home. Got a perfect spot for you right above my mantle.”
“Cops are on the way!” Devon shouted from across the yard.
Pablo noticed Grandpa and Billy glance over at his friend, letting down their guard. He knew it was his only chance. Jumping to his feet, Pablo knocked the net off his head with his free arm and then ripped the hook out of his trout. It tore a small hole, leaving blood running down his fish forearm.
“Grab him! Grab him!” Grandpa shouted.
But Pablo was already running, pushing passed Billy and sprinting to the front yard.
Both Grandpa and Billy gave chase but Pablo was too fast, darting across yards and out of sight.
“Damnit.” Grandpa cursed as he pulled up, out-of-breath.
Billy stopped beside him. “He got away again.”
“Don't worry, we'll track him down. He can't run forever. I'll chase that fish until the day I die.”