The One That Got Away

Helen Adams

{Challenge by J Brooks: "Write us a story inspired by a song. I don’t know about anybody else, but I have a whole list of tunes I associate with the boys and their adventures. Let’s compare Magnificent soundtracks! You don’t have to use the lyrics in the story – we’re not looking for songfic here – but please do include the lyrics at the end of the fic, with due credit."

Author’s Note: This song doesn’t really suit the Seven, being a love song and all, but somehow I couldn’t get this idea out of my head after I heard it. Just a bit of silliness. J

(Moved to Blackraptor October 2009)

"Whoo-hoo! Look at the size of this puppy! Didn’t I tell you midnight fishing was the only way to go?"

As he worked to untangle a handful of fishing tackle by the dim light of the moon, Vin Tanner’s left eyebrow rose. "Uh, Buck? Weren’t you the fella that said this was the stupidest idea you’d ever heard of when the kid suggested we try it?"

That evening at the saloon, Josiah Sanchez had been in a story-telling mood, entertaining his friends with tales of his adventurous youth. One story had involved some bonding experiences he had shared with a group of boyhood pals, where they would go out on hot summer nights to a nearby lake for a little moonlight fishing and swimming. JD had liked the sound of that, especially given the sweltering temperatures they’d been sweating through all week, and had proposed that they all give it a try. Chris and Nathan had bowed out, Nathan because he was slated for a dawn patrol of the outlying areas and Chris because the idea sounded plain foolish to him. Vin and Ezra, in their state of semi-drunken relaxation, had thought it a fine plan. Seeing that they were intent on going, Buck had shrugged and declared himself the only one sober enough to ensure that no one drowned by accident. Only the twinkle in his dark eyes had given away his enthusiasm.

Catching sight of the four questioning looks pointed his way; the moustached man hemmed and hawed for a moment, then looked down at the enormous trout on his line and laughed. "Well, maybe I did say something like that, but that was before I thought it over. Fine idea, this getting back to nature!"

A soft snort sounded from the shadows to his left where Ezra was baiting his line again, having already pulled one good-sized fish out of the pond. "Mr. Wilmington, if you get any closer to nature, you’ll be out here by yourself. That animal magnetism you spend so much time boasting of seems to be taking on quite a life of its own out here in your natural environment."

Squinting suspiciously, Buck looked to his companions for confirmation. "He sayin’ what I think he’s saying?" At JD’s grin, he turned back to the southerner and demanded, "You tellin’ me I stink?"

"Well, brother, you’ll notice that Ezra is the only one of us standing downwind of you this evening," Josiah intoned from a few feet to Vin’s right. Shaking his head, he added in funereal tones, "Poor bastard."

"Luck of the draw," Ezra agreed sadly. "I simply chose the wrong venue from which to enjoy our former cleric’s experiment in familial bonding. I’m afraid that my delicate olfactories are simply no match for such a barrage." Setting down his fishing pole, he placed the back of one hand on his forehead, looking as if he were set to swoon.

Buck set his own pole down and took a step closer. "I’ll show you delicate, you little varmint." He took a playful swipe at the gambler, who laughed and nimbly ducked out of reach.

The two men dodged and pranced along the creek bed. "I believe a bath would appease my senses entirely, Mr. Wilmington," Ezra teased, giving his friend a sly shove toward the water. Buck stumbled back a step but did not fall.

Amidst shouts and cheers of encouragement, the game of cat and mouse continued until at last Buck seemed to gain the upper hand. He had maneuvered Ezra around so that his back was to the water, the heels of his boots just touching the edge of the bank where the water lapped up at them. A devilish grin spread over Buck’s face as he shouted, "Looks like you’re gonna get that bath, Ezra!"

Eyes widening, Ezra obeyed an instinct that had saved him more than once as the bigger man charged toward him. He dropped straight to the ground and rolled toward his opponent. Buck could not stop his forward momentum in time and yelped as his legs were swept out from under him, sending him plunging headfirst into the pond.

"Man overboard!" Josiah bellowed, plunging into the water and nearly drowning the one he had sought to save when his alcohol-fueled movements caused him to lurch forward and press down on Buck’s shoulder for balance. As Josiah took an unexpected seat in the cold water, Buck came up spluttering, coughing and splashing.

Glaring up the bank at Ezra, who had likewise taken a seat in the sandy soil, Buck pointed an accusing finger. "You did that on purpose!"

Ezra could not form words to answer. The sight of Buck Wilmington standing knee-deep in a pond, rivulets of water streaming from his clothing and mustache, a string of some sort of mucky looking plant dangling from his crumpled hat, was the gambler’s undoing. He started laughing and once started, could not stop.

Powerless against the unusual sight of the dignified Ezra Standish giggling like a little boy, barely able to hold himself upright for the force of his laughter, JD and Vin both started laughing as well. Josiah soon joined them, slapping wetly at his thighs and roaring with amusement.

Buck’s irritation melted liked ice under an August sun and soon he threw back his head and laughed along with the rest. "Wait’ll I tell Chris and Nathan about this," he said. "They ain’t gonna believe it."

"Believe what, Buck?" JD asked, gasping for breath.

"Why, that I dang near caught me a silver-bellied, wide-mouthed, five and a half foot long fish right here in this pond!"

As the others burst into laughter again, Ezra looked confused. Then he glanced down at the silver brocade vest he was wearing, not having bothered to changes his clothes before meandering along on this impromptu adventure. Eyes narrowing, he snapped back, "Well, you’d better make it a six and half or even seven foot fish then, my friend. The one that got away is always a great deal bigger than the real thing, you know."

Accepting a little help from a still grinning Vin to pull Josiah up onto the bank, Buck laughed again and leaned forward to slap Ezra on the shoulder. "Reckon you’re right about that. Maybe it was a little bigger than five and half at that. One thing’s for sure, though. That was one mighty slippery fish."

Sketching an absurd little bow from his position on the ground, Ezra grinned. "And don’t you forget it, sir!"


Fishing in the Dark
By Wendy Waldman and Jim Photoglo

Performed by: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Lazy yellow moon comin’ up tonight,
Shinin’ through the trees.

Crickets are singin’ and lightning bugs
Are floatin’ on the breeze

Baby get ready…

Across the field where the creek turns back by the old stump road,
I’m gonna take you to a special place that nobody knows.

Baby get ready.

You and me going fishing in the dark,
Lying on our backs and counting the stars
Where the cool grass grows.

Down by the river in the full moon light,
We’ll be fallin’ in love in the middle of the night
Just movin’ slow…

Staying the whole night through, feels so good to be with you.
Spring is almost over and the summer’s come
And the days are getting long
Waited all winter for the time to be right just to take you along

Baby get ready…

And it don’t matter if we sit forever and the fish don’t bite
Jump in the river and cool ourselves from the heat of the night

Baby get ready.