Fishing Lesson – Part 1 of 2
He walked into the Oasis Café for some dinner, as he had done the night before, and wondered if the blonde would be there again. The night before, his waitress, a girl perhaps in her late teens, had sat with her in the corner booth until he had come in and sat down. Besides the two ladies and the cook bustling somewhere in the back, there was not another patron in the place. The young waitress immediately left the blonde and walked to where he had sat down.
“So dead you’ve got time to sit with the customers, eh” he joked, trying to break the ice easily as he always did with cute waitresses. “Oh” she commented smiling, “that’s just my sister”. Hell of a big sister, he noted in his inside voice, with extremely short denim shorts and a tank top, and long, slender legs that, along with her bare shoulders, were tan from being out in the Montana sun and not laying in a microwave somewhere. Hair that was probably light brunette but bleached from being outside spilled over her shoulders. He ordered the biggest damned burger on the menu, and turned his chair ever so slightly so that he could see her out of the corner of his eye. But before long she got up, called goodbye to her sister, and left. “I’ll see you tomorrow” she called as she walked out the door. It was then that he knew he would most likely be coming back here for dinner tomorrow.
So the next day he was slightly disappointed when he entered and neither girl was there. However his disappointment turned to a tingle of satisfaction when the blonde walked through the door from the adjoining bar, and asked if she could get him anything to drink. “Well, as a matter of fact” he said “a beer would be about the 2nd best thing in my evening right now”. She smiled and said “and what would the best thing be?” “The best would be for you to tell me you name”. This time she laughed. “Just name, and not phone number?” He smiled a little. “Hey” he began “you have no reason to know this, but I am a very loose approximation of a gentleman, and I’d rather know what to call you before we get to the phone number thing, and besides, this is Wolf Creek, Montana. I heard you don’t have phones here.” At that she laughed again, and continued to smile a bright, dazzling smile. “Hmm” she said, “let me get back to you on that name thing.” “Ok”, he said “how about a Fat Tire while you’re mulling it over”. “I can do that” she said as she turned towards the bar. “By the way, it’s Amber”. “Yes, he said, “the Fat Tire Amber is exactly what I was hoping for”. “No” she said “my name. It’s Amber”. “Ah,” he said, a slightly sheepish smile appearing along with comprehension. “Interesting coincidence I guess.” She smiled and went to retrieve the beer.
He ordered food, and washed it down with beer, which felt so incredibly good on his throat after a day of rowing the drift boat. When he had just about finished, Amber came back and asked if he needed another beer. “Well, I plan on being out on the river kinda early tomorrow, so maybe I’d better pass” he began. She stood next to him, again wearing shorts designed specifically to showcase her awesome legs, and he was overcome with a moment of boldness. “But if ordering another means I get to see you one more time in those shorts, I guess maybe one more would be alright”. He fully expected some sort of nasty retort for his comment, but to his surprise and delight, she smiled and said “I can do that, and since the bar is empty, and it’s about time for us to close, I’ll have to sit with you so you can tell me what the hell you’re doing in Wolf Creek”.
She brought the beer, and true to her word she sat with him while he talked of world class fly fishing and floating the Missouri in this wild place were the sky went on forever, and the northern lights danced in the summer night from time to time. “I figured you were here fishing, but you seemed a little different than all the others that come through here. Not so rich, not so stuffy”. He laughed. “Well I’m a long way from either of those, and damned glad it shows. Mostly I’m here to slide down the river in the drift boat, and watch the world go by without a sound, and I don’t have any place to be, and no time I have to get there.” “Sounds nice” she said, leaning back in the chair across the table from him. “I’ll have to try it sometime”. He shot her a quick glace. “You’ve never been in a drift boat?” he asked with surprise. “No, funny as it sounds. Been in lots of power boats up on Holter Lake, but since I don’t fly fish, no one’s ever taken me”. His courage level was rising as the second beer dwindled to the last swallow. “Well”, he said, pausing to drain the last of the beer, “I fish tomorrow in the morning to beat the heat, but I’ve been seriously contemplating a second float in the evening to see what happens when things start to cool off. Meet me at the boat ramp below the dam, and I’ll take you for a boat ride and teach you how to row the boat”. He finished his sentence with his heart racing at 1000 miles an hour, fully expecting a gracious decline. After all, they had known each other now for a long 30 minutes. But her face broadened into a wide grin, and she said “Well it just so happens that I’m off tomorrow, so tell me when to be there.” “6:00” he said, showing just enough of a smile to indicate he was pleased, but he somehow refrained from letting out the whoop that he could hear ringing inside his head.
On the way back to his camp, he felt a swirl of a million emotions flying through his head. What would he say? How should he behave? Would she even come? By the time he got to camp, he had pretty much talked himself into believing that she would not. She didn’t know him, and being polite and flirtatious was a key part of getting a good tip jar at the end of the night. It was not part of good waitressing to go off meeting strangers at boat ramps. It was easier for him to believe that. Then there would be no disappointment when she did not show. He slept that night trying to think about rainbows and browns gently sucking down his dry fly the following morning, but drifted off to sleep wondering what the evening rise was going to bring…..
He woke the next morning amazingly refreshed and focused on the morning fishing, and the float down to Craig passed as most of the other mornings did – just a few strong, hard fighting fish, and a lot of gorgeous scenery and time to let his mind wander. He spent the middle of the day cleaning and organizing the boat, and when he had inspected his handiwork for the 4th time, it suddenly dawned on him that he was nervous. Six o’clock approached with amazing rapidity, and he found himself doubting she would show up at all.
But he was very pleasantly surprised to see her already there, at 10 minutes to six, when he pulled up to the ramp. She was sitting on the hood of a jeep, wearing a tank top, shorts and sandals, with a six pack of Fat Tire sitting next to her. As he swung the boat around to back it down the ramp, she slid off the hood and walked up to the driver’s side window. “Hey” was all he could think of to say. “Hey” she said in return, “I hear somebody around here gives drift boat lessons for a six pack of beer”. “Well that would be me” he said, slowly edging the boat down to the ramp. She held up the beer and he noticed that one was already empty. “What do I get for a 5-pack?” she asked smiling. “Gee, I dunno…….” He began looking with mock seriousness at the corrupted six-pack “Well just have to get on the river, and we’ll see what we can do”. He smiled somewhat shyly at her, hoping his anticipation wasn’t showing.