“Oh Jeez!!” said the Urban Angler to himself as he was vaulted up and over the handlebars of Quicksilver, the Urban Assault Vehicle. “Ya’ know, I bet this won’t end pretty” he thought, and then marveled at how time had slowed down such that he was able to have these clear, concise thoughts moments before disaster would strike.
It had started out innocently enough. The trail, starting down to the creek, was a bit rough, but wide and hard-packed. There was little sand to cause any concerns. Farther down, the trail shrunk in width and also pitched steeper, making for an adrenaline-laced run to the bottom, where the trail once again opened up into a wide, softer-sanded shoreline next to the moving water of the creek.
The creek, while somewhat difficult to get to (both in distance and in the approach) was a location that harbored large red-breasted sunfish and the occasional bass. The cool creek water was especially nice during the warm summer months; it seemed to be something that the redbreasts liked. The gentle current allowed Urban to toss his soft, white-and-yellow foam spiders up and underneath the overhanging brush. The current carried it downstream, until a “slurp” and a disappearing spider indicated a take. “This is as close as you’re gonna get to real dry-fly Trout fishing here in Florida” thought the Angler.
The approach down to the creek was always an adventure. But Urban had run it enough times to know where to guide Quicksilver: what side of the gully to ride down, where to jump the rock or limb that lay half-buried in the path. Indeed, it was part of the thrill to come to this place; to test your skill and nerve to ride down at-pace, one hand on the wheel, the other holding your gear. And, of course, once you were there, the fishing was generally excellent.
The night before, thunderstorms had dumped a large amount of rain in the area. Urban went to bed that night planning his trip in the morning with the thinking that the rain would have swollen the creek and made for a bit faster of a current flow. “Those red-breasts like a little current” he said to himself as he set the alarm for o-dark-thirty. “If I get there early, it should be optimum”. Right before falling asleep, his wife told him “Be back home early — you have chores. Need to clean out the gutters and then mow the lawn. Don’t forget!”
Before you knew it, the alarm was bleating it’s call; he reached over to turn it off before Ms. Angler woke up. He dressed quickly, gathered up his gear and went out into the garage to saddle up Quicksilver. While still dark, he started on his way to the creek, yawning and pedaling. After about an hour, he arrived at the top of the creek. It was still a bit dark — the sun had not yet fully crept over the horizon — but Urban heard the gurgle of the creek and could not wait.
Down he plunged into the trail, gaining speed. Urban’s excitement of getting to the creek turned to mild concern as he raced down. The creeks trees and shrubs effectively blocked most of the early light, so it was dark heading downward towards the creek. Mild concern grew into panic; he almost missed the second turn, recovered, over-corrected on the next, got the front wheel a little off-line and his weight off the seat when a previously-hidden root now exposed after the hard rains of the the night before, momentarily blocked forward progress. Inclined downward as he was, there was only one place for Urban to go — up and over the handlebars.
It was, as Urban reflected afterwards, a spectacular crash.
Urban had just enough time to unload his flyrod from his left hand and push it away from his body. His hope was that it would miss Quicksilver and land among the brush without breaking. He somersaulted in mid-air, and then landed with a “Ooouumph!!!!” on his back and right shoulder. Quicksilver flipped up and over and landed right next to Urban — fortunately not on him he thought to himself. After a few moments, the pain kicked in — his shoulder and elbow hurt from the impact. Sitting up, still a bit dizzy from the spill, he checked himself for other crash-rash. His shirt was torn on his sleeve, and he felt some scratches on his knee, but it was his shoulder and elbow that had taken the brunt of the impact, and they both hurt like hell. “Damn” said Urban, “that was bad and it could have been worse. Let me see how Quicksilver fared …” and he shifted over to where the Urban Assault Vehicle lay in the trail. He noted the front rim of the bike was now shaped a bit like a twisted taco. “Gonna be a long walk home with Quicksilver hobbled like this” he said to himself. He got up, dusted himself, and walked over to his flyrod, mentally crossing his fingers. The rod lay partially on the trail and partially in the brush. Picking it up and inspecting, Urban saw no breaks. “Thank goodness for that” he thought. He then gathered everything up, and marched the rest of the way down to the creek.
Once at the bottom, Urban began taking stock of his situation. It was still early in the morning — most people were still getting out of bed about this time. His shoulder hurt and his right elbow had begun to swell a bit. No way he was going to be able to fish ……… or could he? Maybe he’d have to cast left-handed. Could he do that?
Urban gingerly strung together the fly rod, tied on a white foam spider, and held the line in his right hand and the rod in his left. He attempted a cast …….. it was not a pretty cast, but it did make it half-way out into the creek, where the fly floated for and instant, and then disappeared with a little “ploop”. Raising the rod set the hook, and a nice red-breast began dancing on the other end. “Well, at least I caught one” thought Urban. He unhooked the little guy, tried a second cast (a little better than the first) and had another strike. Five casts and five fish later, he’d forgotten about the shoulder and elbow and was delighting in the spunky fights the redbreasts were putting up on Urban’s off-hand.
About an hour (and countless sunfish with a small bass thrown in) later, Urban could hear traffic, and decided he’d better leave. His elbow, he noticed, had a knot on it the size of a lemon and his shoulder was stiff and ached. It took him about 20 minutes to get back up the trail and starting on his slow push home. As luck would have it, a truck pulled over in front of him, and out popped AP, his saltwater fishing buddy.
“What the Hell happened you you, Urban?” he said with a look of concern “I’m on my way to grab some breakfast, and then to the Fly Shop to pick up some more rabbit strips for my Zonkers when I saw a bum pushing a bike on the side of the road. Imagine my surprise when I see it’s you! Do you need a ride somewhere?”
“Yeah — home if’n you don’t mind. Need to see about my elbow and shoulder, and see to Quicksilver. As for what happened, what can I say? It’s Close Combat Fishing here in the Urban Jungle, and it ain’t always pretty. However, I did manage about a baker’s dozen fine redbreasts and a small bass, all on topwater — left handed even” he said with a hint of pride.
“Based on that lump on your elbow, you might better get good at casting lefty” said AP. “And your wife is going to be PO’ed at you for not taking your cell phone to call in case of an emergency. Lucky for you I was coming by … .. and how did exactly this happen again, Mr. Jungle-Out-There?” he said with a half-laugh.
Urban winced at the mention of Ms. Angler, who would indeed scold him for not taking his phone. She’d ask him why he didn’t immediately head for home, and instead stayed and fished for over an hour, letting his elbow swell and his shoulder go stiff. And he couldn’t let AP know the whole truth. “Yeah, I know ….. I took the trail back there down to my secret spot a bit and ……… you wouldn’t believe it, there was a Gator lying across the path!!” he said. “At least, I thought it was a Gator — was wearin’ an orange shirt and had on blue Crocs. Could have fallen asleep there after a night of rum-drinking or something” said Urban, laying it on thicker. “Anyway, so I have to bunny-hop this Gator, and now I get crossed up goin’ over, so I spin the handlebars and now I’m going down the trail backwards! I almost make it to the bottom, hit the rear brake, up comes the front wheel and I try a BMX kick flip but the front wheel hits a low branch on the 360 and …… well, you see. But I almost made it …….”
AP is laughing. “I call BS, but I have to say that’s pretty good BS there, Urban. He chuckled again “well, let’s get you home so you can take your whoopin’ like a man” and he loaded the Urban Assault Vehicle in the truck bed and bade Angler to hop in the cab.
As they rode down the street, Urban was quiet and was thinking to himself. “AP, the wife is gonna pitch a fit. I need another story, or else I’ll never hear the end of it … and I got an idea. But I need your help” and then he spoke in quiet whispers about his plan …..
Around mid-morning, Ms Angler woke up to the sounds of the garage door opening and a call “I’m back, dear, getting the ladder for the gutters”. She knew Urban had left while dark to go fishing — she never really understood why he had to get up so early — but was glad Urban had heard her the night before and was taking care of house projects ( Urban often slipped away while she wasn’t looking). She heard the clatter of the ladder being hoist against the side of the house, and all was quiet for a minute, until …….. CRASH!!!!
Running outside in her bathrobe and slippers she rounds the corner to see Urban sprawled out on the lawn, the ladder fallen off to the side and next to Urban’s bicycle, which was also down on the ground. Urban yells “OUCH!! That hurt!!” and then says “Look at my elbow!” and offers it to Ms. Angler.
She runs over to him to look, and he explains “Dang ladder slipped sideways on me and I landed a bit awkward on my shoulder and elbow. And will you look at that! The ladder hit Quicksilver! It bent her rim! Now that just isn’t right! – what bad luck!!”
Ms. Angler is looking at Urban’s elbow and saying “Will you look at how that bump came up so fast? Urban, you get inside and put some ice on it right now! We’ll clean this up in a bit. I told you to wait for me and I’d hold the ladder — why didn’t you wait? Now you’ve gone and hurt yourself.”
” …. and Quicksilver’s hurt too” said Urban with a small smile. “yes, hon, I’m sorry, I should have waited for you — I just wanted to give you the opportunity to sleep in. I’ll go get an ice wrap to put on this right now …. and I’ll mow later in the day, OK? Let me run in and take a shower now ……” and Urban hurriedly got up and headed for the house.
That evening, Urban took the dogs out for their nightly duties and while out placed a quick cell call to AP.
“So how’d it go?” asked AP. “I did like you said — opened the garage door, got the ladder and made some noise. I gave it all to you, and then skedaddled”. Urban explained how he staged the fall.
“And she bought it all. She doesn’t suspect a thing” said Urban.
“Urban, for a guy who’s been married for 20+ years, you still haven’t figured out wives yet, huh? How many other ‘chores’ did you have to do today?”
Urban frowned “A few. I had to finish the gutters, mow and edge, then I had to help with dusting and vacuuming the house. Took her out for some dinner, where she stopped at ‘Shoes for More’ and she picked up a few pairs. I had to pay for everything because she forgot her wallet ……. oh crap!”
AP laughed. “Yep. Think Ms. Angler knows all about Close Combat in the Urban Jungle there too …….. Goodnight, Urban”.
Urban hung up, turned around and looked. Ms. Angler was out on the front porch, trying to look busy with a smile on her face.
All he could do was laugh. He walked back to the door, and said, “Hey, honey, did I tell you about the Gator I saw today? About 6’4, with brown eyes and blue crocs ….” and they headed on inside for the night ……