Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Gone Fishing (02/01/07)
TITLE: Ralphie's Angling Adventure
By Betty Castleberry
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People have a hard time believing how it happened, but every word of it is true. I’m a pastor, so I shouldn’t be less than truthful with you.
My wife Susan and I had decided to keep her nephew, Ralphie, for the weekend. Actually, she decided. She pleaded with me. “Please Dan. How much trouble can a five-year-old be? Besides, you know my sister needs a break.”
Ralphie showed up Friday night, carrying a little bag, and a dump truck. Instead of watching my usual Friday night westerns, we watched a Sponge Bob video.
Susan entertained Ralphie the next morning, then asked me if I would take him fishing with me. Saturday afternoons are my escape. I go to the lake to recharge my batteries and have some quiet time. I really didn’t want to take Ralphie along, so I was prepared to be firm. That lasted about two minutes.
I did warn Susan that I would have to stop by the church first to take care of some things for Sunday, and confirm a baptism as well. The church custodian was supposed to start filling the baptistery that morning, so I would have to check on that.
After lunch, tackle box in hand, Ralphie and I stopped by the bait shop and bought minnows. I probably could have gotten by skipping the fishing altogether as Ralphie was very excited about the minnows. Honor got the best of me, though, so I decided to take care of business at church, then take Ralphie to the lake.
When we got to the church, I set the minnows inside, explaining to Ralphie the truck would get too hot and they would die. Then I checked the baptistery. It was almost full, and had started heating. I needed to go to my office for awhile, so I sat Ralphie down in the front pew with a roll of Life Savers, and told him I would be back shortly.
My office was right next to the sanctuary, so I didn’t think there would be a problem. Besides, if I left the door open, and craned my neck around just so, I could see Ralphie.
I read a note from my secretary, and returned a phone call. I had been in my office about fifteen minutes, when I heard giggling coming from the sanctuary. I twisted around in my chair, but couldn’t see Ralphie.
I walked out of my office, and stood for a minute, staring at the baptistery. There was Ralphie, with his back to me. A million thoughts went through my head. I hurried to him, and saw exactly what he was doing. The minnows were in the water, and so was his Sponge Bob fishing pole. I watched as his face fell, and he stopped giggling. The minnows began bobbing to the surface, one by one, belly up. The water was much too warm for them. Ralphie threw a handful of Life Savers into the water after them. For just a moment, I was angry, but when I saw the sad look on Ralphie’s face, I couldn’t stay mad.
I spent the next several minutes fishing dead minnows and Life Savers out of the baptistery. When I finished, I led Ralphie to a pew, and decided to have a talk with him. After listening to what the water was going to be used for, he asked me innocently, “If it gives you new life, why did it kill the fish?“
Obviously I had missed the mark somewhere. I explained the water was only symbolic. Satisfied that I had made my point, I shifted in the pew. A stabbing pain shot into my hip. I jumped up, and discovered a fishing lure imbedded in my hip. Ralphie again. As hard as I tried, that lure would not come out. That’s how Ralphie and I ended up in the emergency room on Saturday afternoon. When I told the nurse what happened, she could barely keep from laughing.
As soon as Ralphie left on Sunday, I went to bed. Susan felt guilty, because she asked if there was anything she could do for me. I had her call my secretary and inform her I wasn’t coming in Monday morning. Then I asked Susan to have her post a note on my office door that read, “Gone Fishing...ALONE.”
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