We were looking for our friend George. Paulie and I knew he was fishing the same river system we were for the weekend and thought he was staying at one of the B&Bs; in town that offered guided float trips. But we didn’t know which, so we starting to check them one at a time.
When we couldn’t find the host at the second place, we went into the adjoining fly shop, where a burly brown-haired man was tying flies behind the counter and barking instructions at a coworker. He looked up when we walked in.
“What do you need,” he said.
“We were wondering if George Blank is staying here?” Paulie asked.
“Never heard of him.”
“He may have taken a float trip with you guys last night,” I offered.
“Never heard of him,” he repeated.
“Okay,” I said and was about to leave when he asked us where we were staying. When we told him, he spewed a loud guffaw.
“I guess you guys are big drinkers,” he said with a winking glance at his coworker. “Hey Joe, look here, we got ourselves a couple of big drinkers.”
“Actually, we’re not big drinkers,” I said, having no idea what he was talking about.
“Well, you must be if you’re staying there,” he insisted.
“But we’re not,” Paulie said.
“Look, you don’t want to stay there. You want to stay here. We’ll tell you where to fish, we’ll tell you which flies to use, we’ll help you get your mojo on.”
“Our mojo?” I asked. “No offense, but I’m not sure I want you to help me get my mojo on.”
“Sure you do,” he said. “We’ll help you get in the zone, you know? Say, where’re you guys fishing tonight?”
“Well,” I said, “we’ll probably–“
“You don’t want to fish there.”
“I didn’t even tell you where yet–“
“No, no,” he spoke over me. “You want to fish the East Branch tonight.”
“That’s where we were going to fish,” I said.
“See that, you guys need someone to tell you where to fish. Book a float with us and we’ll put you on the big ones.”
Thinking I’d rather float the River Styx with the Grim Reaper, I picked up a fly from the selection at the counter. It wasn’t a fly I planned on buying, just something that might offer a distraction from this guy.
“Boy, you really do need help, don’t you?” he said. “You don’t want that fly.”
“I was just looking at it.”
“Here’s what you want,” he said, handing me a big streamer. “You’ve got to fish it straight downstream. I mean straight down. Everybody gets that wrong. Just last night, I took a tall lanky guy from Boston who just couldn’t get it right–“
“That sounds like George,” Paulie said.
“The friend we’re looking for–George.”
“Oh yeah,” he said. “I guess his name was George. Nice kid, but I had to get kind of tough with him. Had to keep telling him to get his mojo on. I told him, Â¿Â¿Â¿George, if you want to catch fish, you better get your mojo on.’ But he just couldn’t get it together.”
“Do you know where he’s staying?”
“Oh yeah. No.”
“Listen, you guys should book a float with us tonight. We’ll tell you where to fish, we’ll help you get…”
* * * * *
By blind luck, we met George on the river that night, and we knew he’d have a story to tell.
“So, George, how was your float trip last night?” Paulie asked.
“Oh my God,” George said. “It was the worst fishing experience of my life. I spent an entire afternoon and evening in a drift boat with the planet’s biggest jerk.”
“That’s funny,” I said. “We met the planet’s biggest jerk in a fly shop today.”
“Let me tell you,” George said, “there’s no way he was as bad as my guide last night.”
“Oh, I think he was,” I said.
“No way,” George insisted. “This guy did nothing but chastise me all the way down the river.”
“Yeah, but Georrge,” Paulie said with a straight face, “it’s probably not fair to place all the blame on the guide.”
“What do you mean?” George said, looking slightly peeved.
“Well, let’s be honest,” I said. “You probably just couldn’t get your mojo on, George.”