“What am I gonna do?” the Angler asked himself. “I just picked it up. Now it’s… it’s …. it’s ……. just gone! Urban sat down in silence and nearly in tears, being soaked by rain. What remained from the brand-new rod was some thread, the guides, the cork handle and the reel seat. The reel itself was laying in the mud. Everything else had vanished.
It all started with the rod.
Urban had just taken delivery on a new rod from his rod-building friend nicknamed “Da’Wand”. Wand was somewhat of a legend in and among the local fly-fishing cosignotti, as he designed and turned out fly rods of unsurpassed beauty and execution. There was fierce debate among some of the more-knowledgeable casters that Da’Wand was doing something really “different” to get the results he did. What exactly that was none was sure ….
Urban had been introduced to Wand through his saltwater friend, AP. AP had a close relationship with Wand, as he was infamous for breaking a fly rod in all kinds of manners (“But it wasn’t my fault!!” he’d claim “I wasn’t even near it this time!! It’s a conspiracy!!”). Suffice to say, AP was Wand’s best customer. Through AP, Urban had put in a special request for Wand to build him a new, ultra-lightweight fly rod capable of casting incredibly small flies long distances. Wand was up for the task, saying “I know just want you need, Urban — I’ve been working on a secret new blank formula: stronger than carbon fibre, lighter than boron, faster than bottled lightning. This new stuff, when used to create a wand, it will change your life forever, my Brother! Amen to that!!” he said with a laugh. “But the material is hard to come by ……. ” and a furrowed brow and a frown came over his face.
“What’s it called, the new stuff?” asked the Angler. Dropping his gaze and lowering his voice Da’Wand whispered: “I call it ….. Unobtanium!!”
Urban put in his order right then and there.
It had taken three months of agonizing wait for Wand to craft the rod. Da’Wand would say “Not yet, Urban … it takes time, my Brother, to craft Unobtanium into perfection of length and weight, proportion and speed and balance. But it’s coming along nicely …..”. Finally the day came and a call from Wand had Urban excitedly pedaling Quicksilver over to Da’Wand’s residence to pick up his new stick.
When Wand answered the door and saw Urban, he broke into a grin and said “C’mon in. I think you’ll find it worth the time you waited, Urban. Wait until you see it! I have to say, I may have outdone myself on this one” and he reached back around the door corner and brought out a rod sock. Untying the bow, he slowly drew out the two-piece rod, assembled it, and handed it slowly over to Urban.
“Hope you don’t mind the color” said Wand, while Urban could only stare in wonderment at the sight in front of him. Finally finding his voice, he said “Mind? It’s beautiful!!”. And indeed it was, a unique pearl-white translucent shine made the rod appear as if it was it was made of half-moonlight and half misty fog. The cork handle was done in bands of dark and light, and with the silver and black thread wrapping the guides stood out from the rod color, but complemented it at the same time. “The unobtainium can vary blank color” said Wand, “and each batch kinda finds it’s own hue and patina. But I have to say, this one is unique”.
Wand went on to say, “Now Urban, watch this!” And he held the rod out at arm’s length, and dropped it!!! The rod slowly dropped from Wand’s hand and drifted towards the floor, finally settling in onto the carpet like a feather. “See, this unobtainium is feather-light. But the rod is strong, almost stronger than ol’ AP can handle….” he said with a twisted smile. Urban thanked Da’Wand and paid him (dearly!) for the rod, and rushed it home. He mounted his new ultra-lightweight reel (not made of unobtanium, he mused), strung the rod, and then slipped outside for some test casts.
It was all that Da’Wand had promised — the rod was amazing. Tight loops, long casts, and no effort!! Urban was casting well into the backing, making roll casts, Belgian casts, parachute casts, mend casts, and curve casts. Double-hauling produced casts of prodigious lengths, and with accuracy. Best of all it was taking next to no push. The rod was doing all the work; Urban might as well have not been there.
As he was casting at his local retention pond, who would drive up in his old battered pickup other than AP, Urban’s saltwater-fishing friend. AP got out of his truck and came down to the water’s edge. He didn’t say anything for a whole minute (that was unusual!) and then let out a long sigh. Urban looked over at him, but continued casting.
Still not looking directly at Urban and staring out into the water, AP sighed again and said “I see you have a new rod. Unobtanium?”
Urban stopped casting for a moment and looked at AP. “Yes ….. got it today from Da’Wand. It’s incredible!”
“It’s cursed, man. I know.”
“What are you talking about!?!”
“I’m talking about the Unobtanium. Did he tell you what happened to me?”
“No. What happened?”
“What always happens. To me. Will to you too. Do me a favor, Urban. Resist. Resist the urge. OK? Can you do that?? Can you??”
“Sssssure thing, buddy. I’m putting the rod up now” said Urban, kinda confused by AP’s rambling speech.
” OK. Good. Just resist, OK? And maybe it won’t happen.” Another sigh. “Guess I’d better go … just wanted to tell you”. And AP looked at the rod, then back at Urban — his eyes full of sadness — and then he turned around, got back into his car and left.
“That was weird” thought the Angler to himself. “I wonder what got into AP?”
That night, when Urban went to bed, he had powerful dreams. He was casting his new rod, and it was talking to him!! “Cast!! Cast!!!!” it would say, and Urban responded with shooting more line into his backcast. He has making casts of ridiculous lengths, but Urban was placing the fly exactly where it needed to be …….. and the rod was still talking to him “Again!!! Cast!!!” “Again!!!!” …..
Then everything dissolved and spun while a bleating alarm clock woke Urban from his dream. “Wow” thought Urban as he got out of bed and begun putting on his fishing attire, ” that was a strange dream. Never had a rod speak to me before …….” but he quickly forgot about the dream and focused on getting ready to go fishing.
Today would be the first time he would take his new rod out, and he knew just the place to give it a go. The old Miller plantation had a large pond located on it, and the pond, back in the day, had been stocked with fish. Over time the best fishing locations shifted from the shoreline out to a island situated near the middle of the pond. Urban had seen the size of the bass beds near the island, and often saw the school of over-sized bream and tilapia that cruised in and out of the grass-and-sand bottom. But it was too far a cast to get a fly anywhere near the island ….until today, Urban though ….
Mounting up on Quicksilver (the Urban Assault Vehicle), the Angler pedaled his way towards the old Plantation pond, taking in the sights as he went. The weather forecast was not promising — there was supposed to be a front coming through that would produce wind and rain — but nothing was going to deter Urban today. “I’ll cast right through the wind today!” he said to himself and smiled. “No problemo with this magic wand!”
By the time Urban got to the old Miller plantation, the sky had lost all of it’s blue and had gone misty grey. The winds had picked up too — not uncastable, but they were definitely putting ripples on the pond’s surface. Securing Quicksilver to a nearby tree, the Angler made his way down to the shoreline of the pond. Assembling his rod, he once again noticed it’s beauty — it almost seemed to be glowing in the half-light overcast day. “I’m looking for Bass today” said the Angler “no bream or tilapia this time”. And he tied on a large minnow pattern ( a Bendback Beadbutt Baitfish to be exact – dressed in white and olive with some black dashes and a little flash, and the ever-present red bead at the butt) that AP had given him a while back ( AP only tied flies with exotic names or materials, and it usually had some rabbit fur somewhere on the pattern — that was his signature).
Urban was a bit concerned with the size and the weight of the fly, but he shouldn’t have been, as the flyrod acted as if the fly wasn’t even there. His first cast sailed forward, quartering against the wind, and landed 50 feet out in the pond. “Dang! Did I just make that cast, or did Lefty Kreh?” said the Angler. “Yes, I think it was me!!” he laughed. And indeed, cast after cast was effortlessly made, even against an increasingly active wind.
For the next thirty minutes or so, the Angler enjoyed making all kinds of casts into the pond, each one prettier than the next. While not getting any strikes, he availed himself to the wonders of how effortlessly he was able to make cast after cast. But now the cold front was almost upon Urban, and the first drops of heavy rain were making rings on the surface of the pond. “Almost time to go ….” he said to himself, but that is when he saw her.
Her, because in the Bass world only females get to be that big. Urban caught sight of a yellowish sand hole way out in the pond, and had seen a large shape swirl around that hole. Intuitively, he thought “bass chasing tilapia” but what had caught him off guard was the size of the shadow. He squinted, and again caught a glimpse of the impressive dark shadow circling the sandy bottom. Urban had seen 15lb. bass before (in the aquarium at Bass Pro Shops), and this shadow looked larger!! She had chosen a spot on the lake that no one could cast to or reach …. “until today”, thought the Angler.
By now, the cold front’s leading edge was driving the rain down harder, and the winds were blowing directly into Urban’s face. No matter, since Urban began his false-casting he could feel the rod come alive in his hands. The dark clouds were ominous, but Urban ignored everything except the timing of the cast. Back …forth (Cast!! he thought he heard) …back …….. forth (Again!!!), each time extending more and more line, back, and he double-hauled for the final forward cast (CAST!!!!!!!!) ………………………..
CRASH!!!! BA-BOOOOOOOMM !!!!!!!!!!!!
Urban was knocked off his feet and momentarily stunned. There was a cloud of …. something around him that quickly blew away. And that’s when he saw ….what was left of his new rod. Not the rod, but just the parts that had been attached to the rod. The rod had disappeared, and the reel was sitting at his feet, in the water and mud. Urban shook himself, and then gathered up all the remaining parts ….
AP was sitting on Urban’s front porch when the Angler peddled up to his house, dirty, soggy-wet and carrying a small plastic bag of parts ….
“The Missus said you went fishing” said AP and then looking at the bag said softly “looks like you couldn’t resist either”.
“What are you talking about, AP? I was struck by lightning!!”
“No, my amigo, you were cursed by the Unobtanium”
“What curse? I was casting to the biggest bass I had ever seen, when ….”
“No Urban, there are no bass in the Miller Plantation lake”
“What!?!?! No, I saw it — It was huge, over 15lbs easy!!”
“So did I, only it was a bonefish that would have weighed 20 lbs or more”
Urban looked at AP all confused, and AP continued, “It was out on the Lagoon. It was almost dark, a full moon was up, and I was about to paddle back in, when I saw the tail come out of the water — 5 feet of water! The tail was as big as a industrial broom ……. I thought it was a shark, then a big red, then I caught a glimpse, and it was a damn Bonefish!! Did I tell you I had Da’Wand make me a 10wt rod of Unobtanium? No? I did ….. and the rod was like nothing I had cast before; so perfect — you know what I’m saying …. anyway, so the bonefish turned, and when I got a look at the size of the wake it was making, it was like a miniature submarine …. it turned and started moving away from me …. I had to make a cast, quick … a long, long cast that had to lead the fish perfectly, but I knew this rod could do it, and when I made the cast “BOOM” everything disappeared and the reel fell into the bottom of the KAYAK ….
Urban shook his head …. “AP, you were mistaken — there aren’t any bonefish in the Lagoon. Too far north”.
AP replied “I know ….. but did you know that the Miller’s had chemically treated their pond about 2 months ago and killed off all of the fish? They were tired of people fishing their pond, and then leaving their trash behind. So they wiped everything out of the pond with rotenone. There are now no fish left there.”
“None? But I saw …………”
“I know …..” said AP and sighed. “I saw too, and made the biggest cast I ever made, and now I have nothing to show for it …… except a bag like yours”.
Urban sat down, stunned with the news he’d just been given.
“Damnedest thing though …” said AP, “all the time I was casting, I swear I could hear the rod talking to me …..”
Da’Wand built replacement rods for both AP and Urban, telling them how he also had found out about the fatal flaw of Unobtanium. “Yeah, it was too good to be true …” sighed Da’Wand, “when it hits that perfect vibration point, it amplifies through the entire rod and each molecule fails at the same moment, and the rod explodes into powder”.
“Just curious ……” said AP, “but where did you get the Unobtanium?”
“Now that’s a funny story ……” said Wand. “I get it from a fish I catch”
“Huh?” said both Urban and AP simultaneously.
“Yeah ….. this sounds strange, but I go fishing down at this bridge, and I catch the same fish over and over each time. And when I do, it always coughs up a pellet of this stuff…… shiny, hard and ….. well, then I let the fish go. But I always catch him again.”
“Well what ever possessed you to use this to build rods with?” asked AP.
“Well, when it coughs up the pellet, it makes a sound like “Build!” “Build!!”. I know that sounds strange, but that’s what the fish is saying to me ….”
Urban thought a moment and asked “Say Wand, what does the fish look like?”
Da’Wand replied ” I don’t know …weird. Like a cross between a black bass and a bonefish”.
AP and Urban just looked at each other and gulped …………………………………