It was early afternoon when Ben reached the east side of Coeur d’Alene. He was in need of a break, so he pulled off the freeway to look for a private place to park. He hadn’t been looking long when he saw a strange looking building ahead of him. Well, I’ll be. I’ve never seen anything like it, he thought. He was staring at the front of a bar that was shaped like a huge fish, whose entrance was its mouth, a mouth that stood at least ten feet high. He couldn’t resist the urge to walk through the unusual entrance but once inside, it looked like any normal tavern. Disappointed, Ben went to the bar and ordered a coffee.
“You here to do some fishin' or just passin' through, Mister?”
Ben turned around to see an old man who was smoking a pipe and wearing a hat that said, IDAHO FISHERMAN. “You’ve been labeled, I see. How do you do, my name is Ben.” He held out his hand.
“So what is it? You didn’t answer my question.”
“I’m passing through, to do some fishing.”
The man smiled and shook Ben’s hand. “My name’s Harry and if ya ever need to know where to fish in this area, I’m your man. We got the St. Joseph out here, and it fishes just fine, if ya know what I mean. Just where are ya headed?”
“Wind River. Have you tried fishing there?”
“Now, why would I drive that far when all the fishin' I need’s right here? Next time you come this way, take the time to try the St. Joseph. You can usually find me in here, and I’ll take ya out where the good catches are. I knew you was a fisherman when you walked in. You have that look about ya. Let me buy you a drink, Ben.”
Worried about the drive ahead, Ben held his hand out. “Ah, thanks, Harry, but I’d better stick to coffee.”
“Well then, let me tell ya a story. I was out earlier this week an’ I caught the granddaddy of them all. It was cloudy and chilly an’ I was ready to give it up for the day when my line snapped and the reel made that whinny sound. I let ‘em swim out a bit, and then started windin' him in. He was a real fighter, that one. I let ‘em lead me down the river for over an hour. Ben, I played with this guy for almost two hours before one of us got too tired to play anymore. Which one of us do you think that was?”
“By the look on your face, Harry, I’d have to put my money on you, am I right?”
“No! That sucker broke my line after all that time I put in on ’em. I couldn’t believe my eyes. He had to weigh at least fifteen pounds, but ya know the good news?” He winked at Ben. “He’s still out there and I tell ya, I’m gonna get him in one of these days.”
“Harry, that’s a great story, and I’m sure that old fish is waiting for you to come back. You’ve found yourself a Moby Dick and I’m truly jealous. If I come back this way, maybe I’ll look you up and we can go hunt him down.”
Harry smiled with pleasure, his eyes sparkling. “Hey, you in a hurry? We could go out there now and see if we can find ‘em. Ya have to be careful on this river though, there’re deep pockets of water an’ it’s easy to slip.”
Ben looked at his watch and then laughed at himself. “You know? That’s the best invitation I’ve heard since I started this trip. Yes, let’s go find him.”
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