“When did we become men who fish?” Gregson asked.
“Ever since I got a girlfriend,” Murphy said.
“You mean, we spend time in the river, so you can cope with your lady-problems?”
“Something like that, and I have a surprise for you.”
“You got Bud, rather than Bud Light?”
“You’re all secrets, Murphy—now that a woman has part of your heart. And mark my words—women are not content with just a piece—they want the whole thing. A man has to save part of himself—and never give it away. It’s the piece nobody knows about, but him.”
“Doesn’t that get lonely?” Murphy asked.
“No—it keeps me warm at night. It gives me guts—after I’ve been gutted. It never takes away. If you won’t tell me what’s going on—have a cigar.”
“Naw—I promised Dina I’d quit.”
“She’s already invaded your mind, bro.”
“That might be, but she’s beautiful to think about.”
Gregson and Murphy parked their red pickup truck at the campground, while two women walked out of the river in their underwear.
“That’s your girlfriend, but who’s she?” Gregson asked.
“Dina thought you might be getting lonely.”
“Oh—no. No blind dates. Not after the last one you set me up with.”
“Who was she?”
“The religious fanatic who talked about Satan all the time. You told me that you found her in church, and that she was a good girl.”
“Oh—well, this one is different.”
“Murphy—you’ve violated the male trust. This is our time together—without it—we may forget we’re men.”
“I don’t see how that’s possible.”
“Look at the average man in society—he gets out from under his mother’s thumb—and enjoys two years of independence—tops—although, he doesn’t enjoy it—because he’s been conditioned to feel miserable alone—then he gets with the first woman who reminds him of his mother. Pretty soon he’s trained better than the family dog—and takes his place behind it, and when he does something wrong—he has to share the dog house.”
“You’re being overly dramatic, Gregson. Come on—let’s say ‘hi’ before they guess what we’re talking about.”
“You’ll regret this,” Gregson said.
“Gregson—have you lost weight?” Dina asked.
“Have you stopped eating pizza?”
“No. I’ve been pumping iron.”
“I’d like to introduce you to my friend, Emma.”
“Oh—nice to meet you.” Her hand was like a wet willow branch. It made Gregson feel clammy when he shook it.
“Did you bring the worms?” Emma asked.
“A Royal Coachman—the trout in these waters eat flies. Worms are for bottom-feeders.”
It was normal for Gregson to size-up women without their clothes on, but he was in the mood to fish. Dina had already caught his friend. They were not there to catch fish, but to catch men.
“Gregson—why don’t you warm yourself by the fire?” Emma asked. She wore purple panties, and had pale skin. Her brown hair made her look like a creature of the water.
“The river is calling me,” Gregson said. “I’ll catch dinner.”
“Come back, buddy—girls don’t bite.”
“Nope—you do—they’ve already caught you.”
“You can’t stay out there in the stream for long,” Murphy said.
“Can’t be caught,” Gregson replied. He walked out, into the rapids, with his waders. Slimy stones caused his feet to slip.
“Ahhhh!” The current took him.
“Gregson!” Murphy yelled.
But the PI vanished.