On March 22nd of this year I decided to head out on an overnight fishing trip. This one was a little unusual because this time I was going by myself. I was going to fish from the shore line (something I hadn't done in a long time) at a lake I knew held some really fine bass and some great catfish.

I loaded up the Emikk mobile (a vehicle that is a pure embarrassment to the wife) with everything I thought I would need, everything from a lantern to bug spray, from tackle boxes to frying pans, from tent to sleeping bags. Everything I needed was packed and secured.

The truck was all gassed up and ready to go, and so was I. It was going to be about a two hour drive one way. I needed to get away from it all even if was only for a night and a day. A night alone, a well deserved rest of pure peace and quiet, no televisions, no phones, no problems, and no hassles.

(I knew I was going to miss the wife, but we all have to make some kind of sacrifices, right?) I kissed my lovely bride and headed out, truck radio tuned to a talk radio station I favor, a cold Pepsi at the ready, and the open road ahead.

It was 5 o'clock in the afternoon when I put the truck in park and turned the motor off. I sat there for a few minutes looking out at the open water of the lake. The water was rippled by a gentle warm southern breeze that reflected the sun in such a way that made it look alive with fire flies.

I snapped out of the daze when I saw a large bass break topwater close to shore not 30 feet from where I sat. That did it -- it was time for me to get to work. (As my father taught me, work before play). I started unloading the truck.

Cooler, sleeping bags, cot, tent, tools, tackle boxes, everything was laid out pretty much where I wanted it. I kept looking back at the water, hoping to see another fish breaking topwater, or even a slight movement to indicate where there may be a fish cruising the shore line.

Within an hour I had my tent set up, the cot and sleeping bag in place, lantern hung on a pole for when it got dark, and I was walking the edge of the woods looking for firewood. After four trips to and from the woods I figured I had enough wood to get me though the night and then some.

I started the campfire and cooked my dinner, (beans, hotdogs, and chips), washing it all down with an ice cold Pepsi Cola. Now this is the way to live, laying back against a log listening to the birds singing, having the warm sun on my face, and not another living soul for miles around.

Well, that's what I thought, anyway. My dream state came to an abrupt end with the sound of a car horn blaring. Looking up, I caught a glimpse of the lake caretaker's truck coming up the dirt path to my campsite.

Pulling his rattle trap of a truck to a halt, a pleasant toothless, grungy- looking elderly gentleman stepped out and greeted me with a firm open hand handshake of the friendliest of natures. "If you plan on spendin' the night 'ere, it'll cost you four dollars", he said in an accent not from this area.

"Not a problem", I said, and handed over four one dollar bills. "You gonna do some fishin'", he asked. I replied maybe a little bass and cat fishing, if all went well. By the time I got those words out of my mouth he had stuck my money into his aged and battered wallet and was stepping back into his old beat-up truck. "Later", he said as he put it in gear and drove off.

Donald S. Cochran

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