A Man Fishes In Wyoming 0


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A Man Fishes in Wyoming


When Greg Albenester opened the email, he was confused as to why he — a Naval Architect — had been invited to visit Area-150, in the land-locked and oddly rectangular State of Wyoming.

Continuing to read alienated some of this uncertainty, as it often does. The Foundation area nestled alongside Teton was interested in his research on the large-scale application of thaumaturgical concealment: Dazzel-Runes, as he called them. His invitation to the upcoming symposium had been attached; as he opened to file, his eyes buzzed over the names, unfamiliar and familiar (he spotted the name of Daniel Asheworth, and his talk "Runes 101: Or How Not to Burn Your House Down When Making Morning Coffee", among the list). The event was scheduled to last from Wednesday to Tuesday, with a break over the weekend; it included information on panels, conferences, lecturers, meal times, and accommodations, as well as local security info, travel advice, and suggestions for weather-appropriate clothing — all in five languages.

What the information didn't cover, he noted, was what guest speakers were supposed to do over the weekend: between the Q-and-As and the hot lunches.

Not that that was a problem for Greg, he already had something in mind.

Birds were still singing the dawn chorus as Greg coaxed his rental to the end of the gravel road. Pulling over, and pulling up the handbrake, he hopped out and walked to the flatbed of the pickup. His well-stowed supplies awaited. Slipping out of the white runners and into the familiar forms of the knee-high fishing boots, Greg felt himself settle. The conference had been existing, for sure, but that much time cooped up could make one yearns for an open sky; the lengthy argument he had endured between whether the word was thaumaturgy or thaumatology hadn't helped.

As he walked to the river bend, brow shaded beneath a wide-brimmed hat, tackle in one hand and rod in the other, Greg found himself at peace.

He surveilled the area around him: the water was blue and shimmering — a subtle current towards the center pushed through the languid banks. Down the river another angular stood, a line already cast. Greg gave the figure a wave, before retreating to a mutually understood and agreeable distance — an unspoken recognition based in un-adversarial competition and comradery. Stooping to pick a tackle from the box, he raised himself to his full height, drawing the rod back and casting it forward in a fluid, practiced motion. It glided through the air before hitting the water with a satisfying and resounding 'plunk.'

Now, Greg knew, came the waiting.

He considered himself a patient man. A lifetime of fishing had taught him they would bite when they did, and his role was merely to encourage that event, not cause it.

As he waited, he let his mind wander, drifting over fishing trips long gone. On their honeymoon, he and Susan had gone hiking through the Rockies. At one point they'd come across a bear, haunches-deep in the stream. Greg knew he shouldn't have gotten as close as he had, but couldn't help it. Seeing the animal so in its element, so present, had inspired him: to be sturdy and steadfast, with the reflexes to catch a jumping salmon — that was what it took to be a true fisherman.

But the memories of Susan still hurt even all these years later. He turned his attention to the stream, shutting down high-process thoughts to ground himself in the present.

Which worked, for some time.

However, Greg was beginning to grow a little irritated.

The sun had slowly crept across the horizon, pushing the shadows of the nearby trees in a lazy, curving arc.

And yet, there were no bites.

He had slowly worked his way through each piece of tackle in his box, carefully selecting, again and again, from the numerous colourful shapes and forms — meticulously designed to be irresistible to any fish.

He bought most of them out himself, but some had been handed down to him from his father. Greg had tried making his own, but recreating the natural forms of bug and bait never quite worked out the way he intended. He didn't mind; it was nice to feel tethered to something, someone, in a physical way. No one could be good at everything, and folk just needed to find what they were good at. He picked one of the lures out carefully. It was worn with age, bleached by sun and salt. It was one his father had shown him how to string onto the line when he was just a boy. He cast the line out now just as he had then.

And yet, still, there were no bites.

He had walked up and down along the banks, casting his rod in the shallows, the quick-running river, and along the far bank. He had waded in, stood on the rocks, and even brought a small stool from the truck.

Sitting for a moment, he felt the briefest of tugs: a mere drag on the line. Springing into action, he stretched his eyes to where it bobbled on the surface. Elation slipped into disappointment however when he recognized the cause was nothing more than a snag on a floating leaf. Stealing his resolve, he reeled the line in, and cast it out again. Believing, as he did, that patience and dedication would be inevitably rewarded.

And yet, agonizingly, still, there were no bites.

Greg knew that the fish were there. He could see them: shadows shifting in the icy blue, a row of indecent scales glimmering in the soft sun. But for whatever reason, they weren't biting — not a nibble not a tug.

The disinterest continued as the sun crept lower in the sky, and Greg knew he would have no choice but to pack things up — defeated. As he reeled in the line for the final time that day, he glanced downriver, where the older angler still stood, gaze fixed into the churning waters.

Grabbing two beers from the cooler in his truck, Greg sloshed along the shallows towards the figure. As he approaches, the face of the man grew clearer: weather-aged and battered, hidden behind a great wall of a salt-grey beard. He waved his hands with the drinks as he approached. The man nodded, approvingly.

"So," Greg began inquiring, "how goes it?"

"S'alright." the glacial voice answers, adjusting the rod slightly.

"You come here often?" Greg continues, coaxing out a response as he passed the can to the man.

"Most days, yep." The figure answers, accepting the drink and bracing it against the real.

"Doesn't seem like the best spot for me." Greg admitted, "haven't had so much as a nibble the whole time."

"That's typical," The man answered. He hooked the tab with his thumb, breaking the seal in a hiss before raising the drink to his mouth and swallowing a few slow gulps, before continuing.

"Nothing much interesting ever happens in Wyoming."

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