Jupiter had seen better days. Another winter was behind him again though, thanks to the old quilt behind the woodstove and Jack’s ample supply of cordwood. Plenty of room there for Beverly’s cat Harmonica too, curled up with her pal.
The pilot on the gas stove fluttered and the old fridge whistled like someone blowing on a beer bottle.
But Jupiter’s bliss in the ambiance of the kitchen was doomed.
“Jack! Hey Jack, I gotta show you this new river gear I won.”
“Ah, sure, c’mon on in, Esther.”
“Look at these waders.”
“You finally win that contest, you know, the one about Woods Wise Women?”
“Nope, won it at the Sportsman’s Club turkey shoot, sort of. Plus, I met a guy who told me where to winter fish the Quesnel River. Get your long johns out, we fish tomorrow, right after lunch when it warms up.”
“I’m wearing my long johns. I’ll burn them in another month or so. Wait a minute, you won fishing tackle at a turkey shoot?”
“Well, somebody else won at shooting. I traded this other guy my quad trailer for this fishing outfit.”
“Don’t matter, Esther. I’m not going out there to flog ice flows and freeze my parts off for a couple of troutsicles. Why don’t we just stay here, watch a fishing show, tie some flies…”
“See you at 10 a.m. I’ll have a grilled cheese.”
The next morning, Jack was pouring coffee, putting out a half gallon of ketchup and burning something on the stove. Sensing an outing, Jupiter whacked his tail a couple of times, struggled to his feet and started to hog the cat food. Harmonica smacked him, no claws between friends of course.
Renowned for his uncanny ability to point and fetch big trout in any water, Jack’s famous dog Jupiter whined at the door.
The burnt grilled cheese flew out of Jack’s hand when Jupiter slammed into him scrambling up onto the bench seat of the old crummy. Wiping the snow off his sandwich, Jack slid in next, making sure not to step through the rusted floorboards. I squished through the passenger door like a Chinese Tire display. Luckily, it was only a half hour to the river.
At the river, we piled out and took stock of the long, slow run. Water shot out of a narrow, ice-bound canyon and surrounded a slab of ice-covered bedrock splitting the current in two before spilling into the pool.
Two guys from the gobbler gab were in a rubber boat, stranded on the rock. White water surged around them, frothing and splashing, slowly swamping the boat, making it impossible to climb out and shove off.
Studying their predicament, Jack says,
“Ah, how’s fishin’?”
“Can you help us? We’re stuck!”
“Can’t you push off with the oars?” I says.
He pointed at one floating out the tail end of the pool.
We had to act fast.
“How’s fishin’?” Jack tries again.
“Geez, can’t you see we’re in trouble here, pal? Sure, we got a couple.”
“Come on, man. Yeah, couple of jacks.”
“You fellas hook the biggest one back on and throw it in.”
“Are you crazy?”
The two drifters splashed around the boat and one held up a fish.
“Grab your rod, throw the fish in.”
The fish hit the water. The rod bent over. Jupiter went for them, but I grabbed his collar and Jack got some rope from the truck. He tied one end to Jupiter.
“Go get him, boy!”
Jupiter shot straight through the current, gently grabbed the fish and swam it to the boat.
“Take the fish, grab the rope and send the dog back.”
His job done, Jupiter swam for shore while they tied onto the rope. Jack hooked up to Freddie, ground into reverse and hauled the castaways off the ice to safety.
After a good laugh on the beach, the men dumped out their boat and paddled off in search of the other oar.
Jupiter was shivering. Jack had gotten soaked wrestling with the boat.
“Well Esther, sorry you didn’t get to break in your new outfit.”
“It’s not about the stuff though is it, Jack?”
He scratched Jupiter behind the ears.
“You’re right, Esther. And it’s not every day your old dog gets to be a hero. Jupiter, the canine interplanetary Pescador. Did you bring any more sandwiches?”
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