“Notice: Smokers and chewers please spit on each other and not on the stove or floor,” read the sign posted behind the potbelly stove at Jake’s General Store. It was here that the old fishermen gathered each Friday. Four men perched atop stools that set on a creaky plank floor. Behind windows cluttered with signs advertising Nehi soda and Mail Pouch Tobacco, Joe, Bob, Ed, and Zeke recounted their brackish tales from by-gone days.
Zeke was the oldest of the group. His exact age was unknown. For as long as anyone could remember, ol’ Zeke had lived and breathed in Possum Creek. When telling fish tales, Zeke had been known to color the truth a bit.
Ed was born in bib overalls. No one had ever seen him wearing anything else. Bodily noises were as much a part of Ed’s vocabulary as words were. He balanced the stool on two legs as he sipped his Nehi soda.
Joe was a little hard of hearing. He was a brother-in-law of Bill. Bill was the youngest of the group and took delight in these informal exchanges of fishing prowess.
Zeke was the first to speak, “Back before any of you were alive, even before the flood of ‘95, I took my little old boat out on Possum Lake. I was catching bass with each toss of my line.” Zeke was knitting this antediluvian yarn with each sentence. “Then, just when I was using my last worm, I had a tug that pulled the bobber to the bottom of the lake. I started reeling as fast as I could and…”
“Your wife showed up” **burp** “and you lost the fish?” Without even an ‘excuse me’, Ed fished his handkerchief out of his pocket then loudly blew his nose.
“No,” without floundering Zeke continued, “the pole was jerked out of my hands and into the water. I stood up in the boat. Then, this old jack tar lost his balance and fell into the water. It was here, at the bottom of the lake, I saw for the first time, what man for centuries has been searching for.” Zeke cleverly devised his fable.
“What did you see?” impatience getting the better of Ed.
“Did you find a treasure chest?” angled Bill.
“What I found at the bottom of that lake,” Zeke was reeling them in hook, line, and sinker, “was the lost city of Atlantis.”
Joe leaned in to Ed, “What’d he say? What’d he say?“
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